Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Winter Wonders Blog Hop

Welcome to my humble little blog! One year ago today, a group of teacher-bloggers launched the website Adventures in Literacy Land to share tips and tools for effective literacy instruction. I am so excited that I have been able to be a part of this amazing group of ladies!
In honor of reaching our first full year of blogging together we are hosting a Winter Wonders Blog Hop and Birthday Celebration. Join us, if you will, to read a short post by each author, download a free literacy resource, and enter a raffle for a chance to win a Barnes and Nobles gift certificate at the very end!


As an upper grades reading teacher, one of my students' biggest struggles is finding the main idea and supporting details. There are SO many ways to review this skill, so I just wanted to highlight a few of my favorites.
  • Have students fill out main idea and details graphic organizers for writing. I like teach this for basic 5 paragraph essays anyway, and then you can expand it to where they come up with three details to support each original detail. They get to practice the skill on their own and also learn a great way to organize their writing.
  • Create short "headings" for paragraphs. This is one of my test-taking strategies, but I think it's very beneficial for the students. I emphasize SHORT headings and even explain to my students that it doesn't always have to be a complete sentence. I just want them to understand what key words are important in each section.
  • Highlight key words that appear frequently and/or use tally marks for most common words/ideas. This really helps students visualize what the author continues to discuss, and it can also help with multiple choice questions to narrow it down to the best option.
  • Let students come up with the main idea or detail when given the opposite. I begin the year giving them the main idea because it's easier to create details about a topic. But about halfway through the year, I switch it up. Then it's great practice for students to focus on key words and ideas to come up with a main idea that really matches all of the details. They really struggle with this one, but it's so important.
  • Give students main idea and details to sort into the correct pairs. This is actually the freebie that I prepared for you! I use this a lot in my independent centers, but I like to make sure that each set is similar enough that it's a bit of a challenge to the students. Some of the cards require students to really pay attention and decide what fits best.
Click on the graphic below, but be sure to download soon because it will only be free for 24 hours! Sorry, the time has now expired on the freebie, but you can still purchase it for $2 in my shop!

Snowmen Main Idea and Supporting Details

Hope you enjoy my freebie and the rest of your journey through our blog hop!




Thursday, January 1, 2015

Currently A New Year!

It's 2015!! We had a little get-together at our house last night which was lots of fun, but unfortunately Keagan didn't care that we didn't go to bed until 2. He was wide awake barging into our room at 7:30 anyway. Oh well, at least he didn't wake up when the sun rose.

Farley posted this yesterday, but we were busy getting ready.


Listening: I love Jane Austen, and Mansfield Park is one of my favorites. I've never seen the movie, but it's been on my Amazon Prime watchlist for a little while. Since the boys are napping, I decided I would watch it!

Loving: We've had a great break so far, and the weather is supposed to be nice this weekend. Today is just windy, but I'm hoping to get some more great family time in!

Thinking: Keagan turned 3 just before Christmas, but he has almost NO desire to potty train. It's driving me crazy! I know he'll get there, but I would rather not have two kids in diapers at once. Plus he will need to get there by fall if we're going to send him to preschool.

Wanting: I'm a huge fan of Annie, and the new one looks so cute! Steven is even willing to see it. I'm going to try and convince him to take me tomorrow while we have free babysitting.

Needing: We took down the Christmas tree, but nothing else has gone yet. I want to have it done before we go back to work, but we'll see. At least with the tree out of the living room, we have more space. I want to get it done so we can start getting the guest room ready for Keagan, although there may not be any reason for that.

Yes: By healthy pregnancy, I mean that I want to eat right and continue to exercise through it. So far, I've done alright with it, but I want to keep it up.
Maybe: We actually drove around this morning looking at houses. It seems like we actually can afford a few really cute houses in the city that are a little larger than what we have now (hence maybe not needing to move Keagan out of the nursery yet). It's just a matter of being able to sell our current house. Prayers! I'd love to have more space for when the baby gets here!
I wish: I've already done laundry a few times this week, but it seems to pile up almost instantly. Maybe that has to do with the chunky sweaters, but I just want to feel like I'm ahead for once.

Oh, and don't forget. A lot of stores are having sales that end today on TPT, including mine. Happy shopping!

Photo: Who's up for a sale to ring in the new year? http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Melissa-Dalton-34

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fourteen in '14

This is my second year participating in this linky, and it's always fun to reflect and join!




Haha, I love Paramore! And I get so tired of people whining and complaining (students and adults). This song was just great, and I actually made my own printable (not this one) to stick in my classroom. Yes. Really. So far no one's cried about it...

I embraced the leggings this year, but my favorite has become chunky sweaters! Let's be honest. Part of that has to do with the fact that I'm preggo and don't want to buy many maternity clothes yet. But these sweaters are so comfy AND I can wear them again next year when I'm still working off some baby fat!




This one is easy! I've been a Veronica Mars fan for years and was literally distraught when they cancelled the show after only three seasons. Fortunately for me, Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas (director, not singer) were as heartbroken as I was and never gave up hope to continue. They started a kickstarter campaign (which I DID contribute to) to make a movie that would finally give the marshmallows (fans) some closure, and maybe open up new channels for the show to kind of continue. I LOVED it! My husband and I actually drove all the way to DC for the closest theater showing it just to see it, and then we bought the DVD as soon as it came out. Actually, I pre-ordered it on Amazon. I'm a little obsessed!


We cancelled cable, but we finally broke down and got a Roku AND a subscription to Netflix to go along with Amazon Prime. I'm torn between two favorites for the year, and I'm left hanging on both while we wait for the rest of the episodes to post.


I started Downton Abbey at the beginning of the year and immediately was hooked! I've been a Jane Austen fan for years, and this kind of resembles that lifestyle. The hubs won't watch with me, but I spent every Sunday afternoon nap for quite a while catching up and was very sad when I finally finished season four back in the summer. Oh well, now I can watch it live starting Sunday!!


The hubs and I tried out White Collar together, and we're both crazy about it! Neal is gorgeous, and the storyline is just so fascinating. Bonus: Steven has started dressing even nicer trying to mimic Neal's wardrobe. Not complaining!


Well, my favorite from last year closed down, which I was very disappointed about. HOWEVER, Richmond has quickly become a restaurant hot-spot, and Steven and I have discovered quite a few great ones!


Hill Cafe is just one of many, but it's a great affordable option with lots of good choices. We've actually been twice to eat this year (we're still trying a long list of other places), and it's totally worth it!


I had my very first Pinterest party this year, and it was a lot of fun! We made citronella candles. They were pretty easy, and we had a great time hanging out and eating yummy Pinterest-inspired foods. 


After this one, we had one more in the fall to paint pumpkins, which was also lots of fun. We need to schedule another one, though!


I got a new camera for Christmas, and it takes such great pictures! It will be perfect for when the new baby arrives, and I could already see a big difference in the quality once I switched to it last week!


I'll be honest. As much as I love Pinterest, it has kind of taken a backseat this year. I just don't have time for it. I did find this one, however.

Instead of having the regular cake or even cupcakes... doughnuts might be an interesting twist to a policeman themed birthday party.

For Keagan's 3rd birthday, we did a police theme and ended up buying doughnuts from THE BEST local doughnut shop (Country Style Doughnuts). We still had cupcakes, but the doughnuts were a hit!


I'm cheating on this one because they all go together, but my Robust Vocabulary book study was something I was very proud of over the summer. The book was so informative to me, and I still want to create and share some resources that relate to it. Once I finally don't feel so exhausted from teaching, being mommy, and being preggo. So maybe next year?


I reached my largest month of sales yet in November, and I had my largest day by far during the Cyber Monday sale. You guys have been amazing supporting me, and it really helped this Christmas!



Even though I'm not in it, I just LOVE this one! We took Keagan to see the Christmas lights downtown, and my sister-in-law caught this one. It's so sweet!


There were lots of great memories, but the best would probably have to be when we found out we were expecting again. Of course, I was planning on it, but I had started to worry that it would take longer this time and I would end up being due in September. Teacher's nightmare! But God was gracious and let me have my way. We can't wait to meet our new little gem in early June (and I'm dying to know girl or boy - 3 more weeks!), and we have a lot of decluttering to prepare!




When I was pregnant with Keagan, I ate everything I wanted and barely lifted a finger. And it showed by the end. I'm very small, but I gained 50 pounds and really had to work hard to get back to a place where I was comfortable. With this pregnancy, I'm trying to stay fit and go to the gym when I can (at least 400 minutes each month, which is part of a work incentive). So far, I've only gained 8 pounds and am hopeful that I will continue on the right track!


NEW

With a new little Dalton greeting us this summer and every new step Keagan takes as he continues to grow, I'm loving every minute of being a mommy right now! I'm so excited for 2015 and everything that will take place!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Talk Thursday: Silver Packages


My sweet friend, Andrea, does Book Talk Thursday every week, and I have found some great new books from it. During the holidays, she has opened it up for us to also link our favorite books. I meant to link up last week, but I forgot. So this time I posted ahead and scheduled it to make sure it was done.


I mentioned this book Monday, but it truly deserves a post all to itself. It's that amazing of a book. I will say that it is out of print, so sometimes it gets a little expensive on Amazon. Last year when I looked, there was a time when it was going for $100. I waited until the summer and bought it dirt cheap, but it looks like Amazon now carries their own copies of it.

Anyway, the story is based in West Virginia (no surprise, it's Cynthia Rylant) and is based on the true story of a "Santa Train" that would come around and bring presents to children who were less fortunate. It follows one particular little boy who dreams of getting a doctor kit every year.

The vocabulary is amazing, and the book sets you up for some great questions and conversations. Plus the pictures are just beautiful. I honestly don't know why this book didn't win any awards. And if you want to have some pre-made activities so you don't have to put too much thought into it ahead of time, Carla from Comprehension Connection has a GREAT package to go along with the book. I ended up just discussing it this year, but I did use some of her questions and vocabulary words to guide my instruction. If I had more time with each class, I would have done all of these activities.

Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant Guided Reading Unit

One piece of advice: read through the story on your own first. Especially if you are prone to crying. It's a super sweet story, no sad endings, but I don't want anyone getting mad because they cried in front of the class and I didn't warn them!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Questionairre


I had a surprise day at home with the little one today because our babysitter has two sick kids, so I'm enjoying extra time with my little sweetie and getting the house clean and ready for us to go out of town. While he's taking a nap, I thought I would join Fabulous in First for this fun little linky!

1. When do you decorate? 
We usually decorate right after Halloween (yes, we're "those" people). This year was a little later, but we still managed to have everything up but our tree (we get a real one) before the week of Thanksgiving!

2. Elf or no elf? 
No elf, although I kind of want one. Not to push Keagan to be good (we will do that on our own), but I think I'd have a ton of fun setting it up every night. Steven thinks it would give him a ton of headaches and is adamantly against it. Oh well! I will live vicariously through your pictures!

3. Christmas Cookies or No Baking for You? 
We LOVE making Christmas Cookies! I don't know when we'll get around to it this year, but I hope we still do it! Keagan got to help for the first time last year, and it was so much fun.


4. Favorite Holiday Tradition? 
This is tough because I love everything about the Christmas season, but I guess my favorite may be Christmas Eve. We usually attend a church service and then come home to eat a nice dinner. Before bed, we read "The Irish Night Before Christmas" and each open one gift (usually pajamas). Then we put Keagan to bed while getting everything ready for Christmas morning!

5. Favorite Christmas Movie? 
I love Christmas movies, so it's a hard choice. I would have to say Elf is my favorite, but A Charlie Brown Christmas is a close second. I just love when Linus lays out the true meaning of Christmas!

6. Snow or No Snow? 
If it has to be cold, it might as well snow. 


I saw this shirt on Etsy, and it's totally me. I actually can only handle snow for a little while still. Last year, it was SO miserably cold and yucky every time we got snow, and I was completely over it.

7. Favorite Christmas Song? 
I have to agree with Michelle. "Mary Did You Know" has been a favorite of mine for years. I have been teaching Keagan some Christmas songs this year, though, and Frosty is his favorite!

8. Favorite Gifts to Give and Get? 
Usually I love to get clothes, but it's a little more difficult this year with me being pregnant. I've found some great oversized sweaters that I could actually wear next year. When it comes to giving, I love to find unique or special gifts. This year, I scored a set of Ghostbusters that I was able to split between Keagan and Steven (he's been missing all but Winston for his set, and Keagan always wants to play with his). It's okay. Steven already knows!

8 Inches Retro Action Ghostbusters Lot of 5 Peter Ray Egon Winston Janine


Monday, December 15, 2014

Deck the Classroom


We have been in full-fledged Christmas mode at work and home, and I'm loving every minute of it! I'm in the second trimester and have my energy back, but we have barely been home enough for me to even think about blogging. Christmas is my favorite time of year despite the fact that it is so busy, and this year has been the best so far with Keagan old enough to really start understanding more of it. Last night we went to look at lights in downtown Richmond and were surprised to find Santa sitting under the big tree! Keagan wouldn't go on his own, so Papa (and his little cousin) had to come with him. Still, he was a big boy and told Santa what he wanted (apparently so did Papa!) and then sat near him for a quick picture. First picture without tears, so I'd call it a success!


But that's not what I originally started this post for. Amy (you know, THE Amy Lemons who I just adore?) from Step into Second Grade has a cute little linky going on over at her blog that I've been meaning to join for at least a week. Then again, I just finished decorating my classroom this morning. 


I dug my tree out of school storage, where it had been since the year I had Keagan...so three years of cobwebs...and put it up last week, but I'd been meaning to bring the extra string of lights to put around my Promethean. Today I finally remembered, and it makes everything so much cheerier! I know there's only one week left, but if it brings a smile to my face, I don't care. Plus watching Rudolph like this is WAY cooler!



Last week, I went the serious route with my fourth and fifth graders. We read Silver Packages, which I will have to do a separate post on later this week, but it's a must read. And then I also did an infographic with my 5th grade students on childhood poverty in the United States. I want these kids to realize that it's not all about the presents and that some kids, even in our own country, don't experience the pleasures that they have. They really did a great job, but I figured it was time to change pace for the week before break.

This week, I'm doing some review of plot with 5th grade, so we're watching Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer and then making a plot tree. Then I kind of copied that for 3rd, and we're watching Frosty the Snowman while finding the problem, solution, and events leading up to it. Of course, I have Erin from Lovin' Lit to thank for both of those things! The problem/solution activity is part of her Interactive Notebook, and we'll finish it later this week. And the Rudolph activity is just one of many in this amazing pack!

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer ~ Common Core Literary Anal     Grades 2-3 ~ Interactive Reading Literature Notebooks *Ele

Fourth grade is having fun with one of my mysteries. My first class had so much fun with it that they actually started making suggestions for New Year's mysteries. We'll see if I find time to actually make one, but I'm definitely interested in trying!

The Case of the Cookie Thief - an activity for drawing con

My small groups are also looking at the lyrics to You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch to practice some context clues and have some fun with it. Plus I make a deal with them that we can watch the song if they are good listeners and work hard. I'm never opposed to Christmas music!

We get out Friday, but I have the day off tomorrow to celebrate my little boy's birthday. Can you believe he turns 3? I guess it IS time for another ;-)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Currently December

My favorite month (well, maybe after the summer months) is finally here, and I'm SO excited!! I love pulling out all of my Christmas books and activities and have had the entire month planned out for a few weeks already. Last night, I spent about an hour cutting out my adorable new advent calendar to start with Keagan. I bought it from a friend's etsy shop here! She has some amazing products!


I swear, Christmas just gets more and more fun as he gets older. This is the first year he really understands the concept of Santa and presents. He already told me that Santa was bringing him ninja turtles. Good thing I already know my child pretty well because we're almost done shopping!


Listening: I'm in between students and already have all my lessons done for the month. And copies are ready for the week. It's nice actually being on top of things! I'm not usually like this...

Loving: You may or may not have seen my announcement, but the Dalton family is adding a new little member!


Keagan is so excited and has started talking to my belly. It's precious! Anyway, we're due June 7, so it's perfect timing for me to have all of summer without using up all of my sick leave.

Thinking: Honestly, this year has been fine, but Thanksgiving is always such a teaser. Plus I LOVE Christmas! I am excited about the activities I have planned, but I will be just as excited, if not more, to walk out that door on the 19th and enjoy my two weeks of Christmas break!

Wanting: I guess with this being the second pregnancy (even though I've really behaved and am not overdoing it on food like I did with Keagan), they were right that the belly pops out a little earlier. I've only gained about 3 pounds, but most of my pants already don't fit. I have some maternity stuff from last time around and plan to treat myself to cuter things with some of my TPT funds, but I really don't want to buy a lot of sweaters. I've bought a few loose-fitting ones that I can wear next year, too, and I'm going to try to avoid "maternity" sweaters. By spring, I can stock up on comfy dresses and make it through!

As for the phone, mine stinks. I told Steven that's what I want for Christmas (but before), and we found the one I'm probably going to get. We aren't under contract anymore and want to stay that way because our plan is amazing and no longer exists, so that means no iPhone for me. Still, I found the Motorola Moto X and Moto G that are both really well-made. I think we're going with the G. Now I just can't wait to get it!

Needing: Why is it that when I'm pregnant, I want even more sodas? I crave coke. It's bad. So far, I've been sticking to just one a day (although that "one" may be a large from Chick-fil-a). I have been better about drinking more water, too, though. So that's not as bad, right?

Giving: My brain isn't working, except in the form of shopping, which I have been killing it at! I'm down to just 3 people to buy for! So I want to make sure you know that you can get free shipping on ANY item at Target right now, with or without a red card. Although if you don't have a red card, you might want to consider it. And you DEFINITELY should download the cartwheel app on your phone for shopping in stores. I may need a Target intervention, but I do know how to shop there!