Reading Struggles (again) in 4th Grade


The lack of phonics knowledge came back to haunt Kieran in 4th grade.

He showed no growth as a reader from November until the end of the year.

He was still “too high” a reader to qualify for support.

He started to abandon independent reading because what he was interested in had too many words he didn’t know.

Thank goodness for graphic novels.

Thank goodness for The One and Only Ivan.

Thank goodness for my training in phonics, so that I could sneak lessons in over the summer.

Thank goodness that he ultimately didn’t give up and also discovered Rick Riordan’s books.

I became a renewed advocate for a balanced literacy approach for all students.



I’ve been playing the clarinet since fourth grade.

I thought it would be a good choice for me since I played the recorder in third grade and earned a black belt in “Recorder Karate.”

I was one of the first in my grade to do this.

By the end, everyone had a black belt.

That was nice.

I really enjoyed playing clarinet in fourth grade.

I also played the cello.

I didn’t like the cello as much.

I didn’t want to practice.

I practiced the clarinet more.

Sometimes, I would just go into my room and play ahead in my clarinet book.

I taught myself the notes.

My dad helped too.

He played clarinet when he was in school.

I chose not to play the cello in fifth grade.

So, my mom wanted me to play the alto sax so I could be in the brass jazz band when I was older.

Clarinets cannot play in this band because they are woodwind instruments.

But I didn’t really like playing the saxophone.

I understood the notes.

It took a lot of air to play it and I always felt tired afterward.

One good effect was that it helped me with my clarinet playing.

I played stronger.

I like playing trills.

I learned how to play them from You Tube.

I just searched how to play them, and there were lots of videos to show me how.

In the beginning of sixth grade, we had to practice scales all of the time.

I liked doing this.

It made me think about math.

I love math.

I am the only boy who plays the clarinet.

Another boy plays the bass clarinet.

That’s a different instrument.

I don’t mind that I am the only boy.

I think that I am good at playing the clarinet and I like it.

That is what matters most.



Of all the writing I have to do in school, I like poetry the most.

I like it because I can write exactly what’s on my mind about the topic.

I don’t need to have to plan out everything, like in a narrative.

I don’t need to do research before I write, like in information or argument writing.

Here are some examples of poems I have written:

Fat Cat

Leaping up to the windowsill,

The fat, fluffy cat chases the fly,

As the bright sun warms her fur.


Prancing across the dining room,

She continues to pursue her prey

As she looks up and bats

like a boxer.


She won’t care if someone comes,

Because she’s determined to catch the buzzing bug

(For a snack).


Poet Tree

What grows on a poet tree?

Poets or poems?

I assume the only way to find out would be to plant one.

But nothing would grow if you planted poetry

Or a poet tree (probably because they don’t exist).


Tennessee Hike

We went on a hike in Tennessee.

Many misty mountains around the path—

which was 5 miles.

The trail was tiring, though it was paved.

Hiking up to Clingman’s dome

one and a quarter miles of the ground

way above the evergreens.

The height made a great view

of the Smokies

far away in the distance.


Kieran was far up ahead

then Mea followed by Dad—

while I was in back with Mom.

The coiled snake we passed

and other wildlife were in view

while we enjoyed the hike.

The feeling of love

when you’re with your family,

seeing things you can’t at home,

on a hike, on a vacation in Tennessee.



Arrival at the chess table

Waiting for an opponent.

He comes and sits down.

The chess match begins.

My pawn out two spaces.

His knight, ahead two, over one.

The match continues.

Capturing a pawn.

Opponent takes my knight

Without noticing the bishop in the corner

that ambushes his piece.

Minutes pass.

Down to my king

against a king—

and a rook,

as well as the smashed bishop.

11 moves until an tie is forced.

But as I think that I am forced to lose,

My opponent makes a huge blunder

And a stalemate ends the game.



I don’t love holidays.

It’s not that I don’t love my family – I do very much.

But holidays are usually days when I have to interact with more people than normal – people who I don’t know very well.

People who don’t “get” me.

Thanksgiving Day started out okay, except for the fact that, for some unknown reason, I wasn’t allowed to play video games much.

Something about family and being thankful.

I’m very thankful for video games.

They help my mind stay busy and keep me entertained.

I’m really good at video games and feel a lot of pride in being able to beat levels.

I don’t get upset when I lose because I enjoy facing the challenge of solving a problem to beat the level.

I know that there’s no point in arguing with my parents though, at least not today.

Oh well, at least I’m allowed to watch tv.

Somehow, this is more “socially acceptable.”

We had to drive a long way.

I wasn’t allowed to play video games in the car, so it was a really boring ride.

I fell asleep, which helped to pass the time, but napping is bad because it usually means that I will have trouble falling asleep later on.

I had a snack, as it was almost lunchtime.

I’m not sure why on holidays we eat at different times than the regular times.

This is not a very good idea, as when I don’t eat at regular intervals throughout the day, my blood sugar drops and I get very upset.

Did I mention that I had to wear my socks ALL DAY?

They really itch!!

And our dog was slobbering on me the whole way in the car – gross!

When we got to my Grammie’s house, I had to work hard to remember what I practice in speech and in social skills about how to be interested in who I was talking to.

The tv was on, which was great, but it made concentrating on the people talking to people a bit more difficult.

My mom kept pestering me to stop laying down on the couch.

I don’t understand why I couldn’t lay down on Thanksgiving.

Holidays have a lot of rules that are not that fun.

Can you believe we never ate lunch?

I had another snack, but that’s not the same.

By the time we all sat down to eat dinner, I felt agitated.

It did not help at all that I was told that turkey was on my plate.


I hate turkey!

Why are we eating turkey?

I didn’t like much of the other food either.

The potatoes were okay, but then my mom tried to give me more – seriously?

I often just eat bread at holiday meals.

Why doesn’t anyone serve what I like to eat?

It was good that my mom let me chill out in one of the bedrooms with a tv after dinner.

But then my brother came in and took the remote from me.

I called for my mom and he called me a tattle-tale.

I don’t know why I get in trouble for telling when someone else is doing something wrong.

That doesn’t make sense.

And then it was time to go.

I didn’t get to watch all of “The Incredibles,” but I don’t get upset like I did when I was younger when things I’m doing get interrupted.

It used to be so hard to stop what I was doing, what I was enjoying, without any warning.

Then came more saying good bye and “eye contact” with relatives.

Finally, it was back in the car.

This time our dog slept.

I understand that holidays are important.

I understand that my family is important.

I love my family.

It’s just that on a day like today, I have to work so much harder to act “expectedly.”

It takes a lot out of me.

I hope that everyone knows that I held it together as much as possible because I love them.



The hallways in middle school are unpredictable.

One time, a boy came out of nowhere from around a corner and hugged me.

Then he ran away.

I don’t think that I knew him.

Another time, I was on my way to math class.

I dropped all of my books onto the floor.

I was upset, so I sort of let out a cry of frustration.

Three kids were also in the hallway.

One of them said to me, “Can you make that noise again?

I’m not being sarcastic.”

The problem is I think he was being sarcastic.

They didn’t offer to help me with my books that were all over the hallway.

Instead, they laughed and then the one made that comment.

I wasn’t bothering them, so I am not sure why he had to say anything to me at all.

I became even more upset.

Mostly though, students are nice in the hallways.

They smile or let me walk with them in the morning.

I walk with different people each morning.

I hope I don’t run into that hugger or that sarcastic kid again.



I was in fifth grade chorus last year.

It was fun and at the end of the year, I got a solo.

I was very nervous because I don’t like to be famous or have too many people notice me.

I did very well in my fifth grade solo at the end of the year.

When sixth grade started, I had to try out for chorus, but I think everyone who tried out made it.

There are about 80 students in sixth grade chorus.

Most of the people are really nice in chorus.

I only attend chorus once a rotation because I have band and seminar during that same block of the day as well.

I go to chorus with other students in band who sing the same part that I do.

One day, I was running up and down on the bleachers.

A student there said that I should stop and bumped me hard after he said it.

I got very upset.

I don’t understand why he couldn’t just ask me to stop.

I would have.

Why did he have to bump into me too?

Then, he said to me, “Bet you $20 that you are going to tell on me now.”

Why did he say that?

I have to admit that I probably was going to tell because he bumped into me which was completely unnecessary.

I think that makes it a good reason to tell.

I’ve learned that I can’t always tell the teacher what is going on.

Some kids make fun of me about that.

Sometimes it makes it worse to tell.

Other times, it’s very important to tell.

I thought that this was one of those times.

So I told anyway.

I don’t think I will have to give him $20 because I didn’t shake on the bet.

When I told the chorus director, she said that I did the right thing.

I actually had to talk to the guidance counselor too.

I don’t stand near that boy on the risers anymore.

He leaves me alone.

And I learned that maybe I shouldn’t run up and down the risers because it might bother other people.



Last year, I learned about Scratch.

It’s a computer programming website.

It taught me the basics of programming.

I’ve made lots of games on Scratch.

I’ve made a Mario game.

An Angry Birds game.

And a bunch of other games.

When I was younger, in fourth grade, I always wanted to learn how to make video games.

Now I know how.

Some people have played my games.

One person favorited my Mario game.

I like doing Scratch in my free time.

It’s more fun than just playing video games because I get to decide how to create it.

I have a say in every detail that goes into the game.

I found out that Scratch was made by this college called MIT.

My mom said that this is a great college.

I might want to go there to meet the people who made Scratch – I think it’s that great.