I joined up with the Teacher Blogger Exchange for a fun Holiday gift exchange!  The theme this year was "My Favorite Things"!
For my partner, Jen from Jen's Kinder Kids, I sent her one of my ultimate favorite things - a Thirty-One bag!  In her email, she said she likes all things polkadot and also monogrammed.  Since I wasn't sure of her middle name, I had her first name embroidered on the bag.
Via www.mythirtyone.com
For my gift, I got a set of goodies from Katie at Adventures of Ms. Smith!  She sent me 4 of her favorite items, and included a cute little tag explaining it all!

  • Fingernail polish - this is currently one of my favorite colors!
  • Lip Gloss - this lip gloss is one of my essentials... and it's only $1 at Target! 
  • Chocolate - I love anything chocolate!  This peppermint kind is one of my favorites during the holiday season.
  • Pens - Since we are both teachers I figured it was only appropriate to include one of my favorite school items.  I love grading papers in all sorts of fun, colorful pens (not just red!)

It was like Katie read my mind - I LOVE all of these goodies, too!

Did you participate in any fun gift exchanges this year?  Maybe you can sign up for Holly Bloggy Christmas next year!

I'm joining up with Christina from Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge for 2012's Blog Best and Brightest linky party!

Most Popular Post
My most popular post is the one I did about Integrated ELD last spring after visiting Myers Elementary in Salem, OR.  This school uses Integrated ELD and OCDE Project GLAD® strategies to teach all students.  They also use the Daily 5 and some teachers were starting Guided Math groups, as well.  It was amazing to see the learning taking place at this school!

Favorite Freebie
Another popular post of mine is my post about Whole Brain Teaching.  I made a freebie of the rules, and included different genders and races to accommodate all classrooms!  And after I posted this, the teacher from those awesome videos emailed me.  I have to admit, I was a little star struck!! I definitely plan to incorporate more WBT strategies in 2013!

Favorite Post
One of my favorite posts is about boosting vocabulary in the classroom.  I shared how I utilize table group names and TPR to teach difficult vocabulary words.

Favorite Product 
My favorite product is my Calendar Starter Set.  The math program at my new school does not have a calendar component, so it is up to me to create one.  I found an old pocket chart in a drawer and have been making calendar pieces each month.  So far, I have 3-D shapes and place value in my TpT store.  I'm working on a time set, as well as a money set.  Those should be out by at least the end of January.

Favorite 2nd Grade Blogs
Now for my favorite bloggers - this year has been so amazing for me since I started my blog.  I joined Teaching Blog Traffic School and met so many other bloggers.  From commenting on blogs, joining linky parties, and participating in fun things, like the Teacher Blogger Gift Exchange and the Product Swap from Mrs. Stanford's Class, I have met even more amazing bloggers!  On my side bar are my absolute besties that I love to chat with online and even text and talk on the phone with some of them!  Here is a list of my must-read 2nd grade blogs:
Falling into First      
What are your favorites from this year?
Last week my colleagues and I did a round robin with Holidays Around the World!  Ms. B did Italy (she studied abroad there!), Mrs. S did Mexico, and I did The Philippines!  85% of our school's population comes from The Philippines, so I felt it was important to include their culture in our studies.

For our Around the World unit, we used Jen Ross's unit from The Teacher's Cauldron.  It was so fun!  It included teacher cheat sheets, a passport, crafts for most countries, a mini book for each student, a world map to color in, and writing sheets.

Since the Philippines is not included in this set, I asked Jen if I could make an Add-on set and she said yes!  You can head to my Google Docs to grab a copy.

I also used Christina Bainbridge's scrapbook freebie.  You can find that in her TpT store here!

I realized that some teacher's would like a stand alone Philippines unit, so I made a little pack, too.  It's originally $2, but will be on sale for $1.50 all week!  It includes teacher directions, a colorful info page, vocab cards, writing pages, a Venn diagram for comparing and contrasting, and an ornament craft.

If you are at work this week, I hope you have an amazing week with your kiddos.  If you are on winter break already like me, enjoy your time off to relax, rest, and plan ahead for an amazing 2013!

First up, congrats to Stephanie from Falling Into First for winning The Together Teacher giveaway!
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To wrap up my gingerbread week, I made my kids a cute gingerbread hunt!  I started doing this when I taught kindergarten in Portland.  The kids LOVE it!

Since my son and daughter have been sick and I had to be out last Friday, my class is doing our gingerbread hunt this week.  But I couldn't wait to show you!

I made some cute, rhyming cards to hide around the school as your class goes on a hunt to find the missing Gingerbread Man!  Before you go on the hunt, the students will make missing posters to put on display.  The lesson can be about descriptive writing.  I'm not sure about you, but my kids have SUCH a hard time writing descriptively.  We've been working on adjectives for weeks now (Thanks to Kelley Dolling's Gingerbread Adjectives pack! :)

Once you go on the hunt and get back to the classroom, the kids will find the gingerbread man and you can give them ginger snap cookies or actual gingerbread cookies as a treat!  You can also do this freebie writing that I whipped up!

There are 3 options for the writing prompt, so you can choose which one works the best for your class. 

I love that The Gingerbread Man is not Christmas specific, but is still fun and has a holiday feel.  Do you teach with the gingerbread man in December?  

My scholastic box came in!  Yay!  The box FILLED with tons of new gingerbread books!  You see, the gingerbread books I used to have in my classroom library belonged to my old school.  So when I moved, no gingerbreads came with me.  So sad.  They would have loved it here.  But no need to cry, I got new ones!

And what better complements to a bunch of new gingerbread books than some gingerbread activities!

This week in word work we are doing this adorable adjective activity from Kelley at The Teacher Idea Factory.  We'll be doing the craft project on friday, too!

We are also doing this present and past tense verb game that is a freebie from Jen at The Teachers' Cauldron.
And the Christmas Tree sentence fluency game from Michelle at Teach123.

From my friend Reagan at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits, we are doing her Gingerbread Week pack (perfect title for me, huh?).  I love her gingerbread story graphic organizers!

And I'm throwing in this amazing freebie from Lori from Teaching With Love and Laughter at the end of the week!

What fun activities do you plan to do this week  Any gingerbread goodness?

This time every year I re-evaluate my systems.  Did I train my kids in Daily 5 well enough?  Do they all know the opening and closing day routines without reminders?  Did the changes I made to last year's schedule work well for me and the kids?  In December, I ask these questions and observe.  Then, in January, I make a News Year's resolution to make changes and re-train based on those observations.

So when I had the opportunity to review The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin, I knew this gem of a book could help me set up my routines and expectations even better.

In the book, there are twelve chapters, focusing on subjects such as making a calendar, creating organizational systems, establishing solid routines, taking notes at staff meetings and anecdotal records of student behaviors, planning ahead, managing email, cleaning your classroom, organize student "stuff" (backpacks, supplies, etc), and dealing with your mounds of papers that need to be filed, graded, and filled out.  Seriously, this book has it all.

And, it has a CD to boot! It has several templates to use in your classroom that are in Word or Powerpoint, so they are completely editable and customizable for you.  I love that!

This paragraph from the forward really hooked me:
An inveterate organizer, [Maia] crafted minute-by-minute plans for each day, orchestrated routines to keep students on-task, and carefully assigned desks.  She distributed elaborate writing assignments with step-by-step instructions   She constantly circulated among her students, clipboard in hand.  She asked for "exit tickets" at the end of class to track student progress.  She handed out "differentiated homework so students' nightly assignments were customized to reflect precisely where they needed to review or to stretch toward more challenging material.  Maia's relentless consistency made her students feel safe, productive, and self-sufficient.
Now isn't that the classroom we all want?  I feel I am a highly organized teacher and person, but this book really helped me zone in on the areas that I can work on to be even better.  At a Daily 5 workshop last summer, Joan Moser said "Our students deserve the most exquisite instruction and teaching."  It's true!  And this book can help us all get there, just by tweaking systems, routines, and habits.  We all know WHAT to teach (standards) and WHAT to do (best practices), the hard part is HOW to do it.  This book offers some real solutions for finding that how.

So, who wants to read this book?  Enter the rafflecopter below and I will mail you my extra copy from Shelton Interactive! a Rafflecopter giveaway