Five on the Fifth

Happy Five on the Fifth to you guys! If you're new around here, I like to {try} to share five great ideas I've come across while reading blogs in the past month on the fifth.  You can see the other ideas I've posted about on Five on the Fifth's very own Pinterest board.

School is slowly sneaking up on me (or more like bearing down like a freight train), so it's time to start thinking about real school stuff.  Here are five awesome posts from ladies who were thinking about school stuff this past month.

Does anyone want to join my Amanda Madden fan club? Anybody? This lady is amazing.  Her is her second post in her Reading through Genres series and it's on teaching strategies in the classroom.  Perfect timing for back to school!

Speaking of back to school, Sabra from Teaching with a Touch of Twang has an awesome post just in time for back to school on having an interactive open house.  You'll want to head on over to read it.

Ummmmm, this is amazing.  The fabulous Jillian from The Starr Spangled Planner wrote this post over at iTeach Third.  Back to school friend wanted ads.  Get them writing AND building community right away.  Genius.

Ginger from Ginger Snaps shared a few snappy ideas (sorry, Ginger, couldn't help myself) on our collaborative blog, Owl Ways Be Inspired, to get kids talking and working collaboratively.

Huge class book resource here from the fabulous Molly at Lucky to be in First.  Want to make more class books but having a hard time coming up with good ideas or the time to create them (or am I just describing myself?)  Molly has monthly sets, and her September set would be amazing for the beginning of the year.

Five on the Fifth BONUS! Linda from Around the Kampfire wrote about using this book in her class the first week of school.  I kind of want to bust in somebody's classroom at my new school and borrow their kiddos for these activities.  Not weird at all.

Hope everyone has a great first day!

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A Sale, a New Set, and a Freebie

Hey hey! Happy BTS sale to you! I hope you’re finding lots of TPT goodies to load up on during the sale.

I finished up this new Jumbo set about 30 minutes before the sale started.  Talk about cutting it close. Never say I’m not a master procrastinator.

I’m really excited about starting school this year at my new school, so I definitely have a lot of back to school excitement on the brain.  It turned into this happy new set.

Which turned into this freebie set available only on my blog as a thank you for letting me product spam you.

Happy shopping! (Recognize that frame???)

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Every Paper Every Day

Sometimes you start to update an old product, and then it becomes a whole new thing.  I was going to update an old papers (one hour, tops!) and ended up creating two new growing products.

The paper set has 400 papers.
Yep.  400.

There are 10 patterns in 20 colors.  Additional colors will be added in the future.  Each pattern was created in both solid white and tonal.

The frame set has 200 frames.

Each of the 20 colors is included in 5 different styles.  Again, the new colors will be added to the set.  Each style was created with color on white and white on color.

You can create almost anything you need with these sets!  Any special requests for the additional colors?  I'm thinking I'll definitely add an olive and rusty color for the fall.  What else would you like to see added?

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Blog Baby Blog Week 6: Blogger vs Wordpress

I'm back for Blog Baby Blog this week with a Blogger vs. Wordpress showdown.  Want to catch up on the other posts from this summer?  Here you go:

Maria from Kinder Craze and Emily from Education to the Core were nice enough to help me out.  Not only are they amazing bloggers, but they are kind of Wordpress bosses.  These ladies know what they’re doing.

I thought it would be funny to photoshop pictures of us looking tough and facing off on a field, but it's not actually at all accurate and would have been time consuming and maybe a little creepy.

So, you get nice smiley pictures of them instead.
I've been on Blogger for three years now, and I'm very happy where I am.  Maria and Emily made the switch to Wordpress some time ago and love it.  The two platforms are very different though, so it's good to know about both.  It's not like Walgreens and CVS, identical concept but different logos.  There are pros and cons to both, and you have to think about what's going to be best for you as a blogger.

Here's a very basic break down:

Blogger Pros:

•If you’re just getting started, Blogger is easier to learn.  You go to, click on new blog, put in your blog name and address, and you’re ready to post.  There is also a log of support and tutorials within the teacher blogging community to help you get started.

•Blogger is free.  You may choose to pay for a design or .com yourself, but actually blogging on blogger is free.

•You don’t have to do anything to your blog.  Since it’s hosted on Google, they’re doing all the work for you.  Those widgets on your sidebar? They update themselves.  You never have to update your Blogger software.  Everything is stored for you.  Getting a lot of traffic or writing a ton of posts? No need to worry about storage, bandwidth, etc.  Google’s got you covered.

•If you do want to purchase a blog design, they are many options out there in a wide variety of price ranges.  The WP designers aren’t trying to rip you off.  It’s just a lot more expensive to design for Wordpress sites.

Blogger Cons:

•There’s a whole wide world of widgets and plugins out there.  The Wordpress world is a lot bigger giving you a lot more options.

•Blogger’s layout is pretty limited.  You can make customizations to it, but it takes a lot of HTML knowledge to override that.  Also, since it is an override, it can make your website kind of clunky-slow to load and many overrides don’t work on mobile view.

•Google owns Blogger.  They own the servers.  They’ve got your stuff.  They can shut you down.  (Before you go in panic mode, the same is true for Instagram and Facebook, but you’re not going to run screaming from them.)  With Wordpress, you’re paying for the hosting, so it’s all managed by you.

Wordpress Pros:

•That wide world of plugins? If you are looking for a more business driven site, this can be very useful.  You have a lot more options for functionality and layout than with Blogger.  (Be careful though-sometimes I visit a blog and can’t figure out where the heck the blog posts are.  You can do a lot with Wordpress, but don’t try to do it all or the site can be overwhelming.)

•SEO say what? Search Engine Optimization (helping people find your content) can be optimized in Wordpress if you are willing to put the time into it.  You would think that a Google owned site would be best for helping people find you, but you can do more to make your content searchable with Wordpress.

•Wordpress is a more professional platform. You can do more with it and customize it to fit your needs.  It much more easily lends itself to a website looks and layout.

Wordpress Cons:

•Wordpress is more expensive.  And I don’t just mean the designs.  You’re going to need to pay yearly hosting fees which add up quickly, you’ll need to purchase a framework, and a theme.  The plugins? Many are free, many aren’t.  I just set up a practice site for designing Wordpress, and all I can say is ouch.

•You have more maintenance.  You have to make sure your software and plugins are up to date to work properly and keep your site from being vulnerable.

•Making the switch is not cheap.  If you have been on Blogger for a while, migrating your content over can be expensive.  I know there are plugins that will do that for you, but a plugin like that is a bandaid.  If the plugin goes down or Wordpress stops supporting it, where is your content?

So how do you know which one is best for you?  This part is my personal opinion based on my blogging experience and experience designing blogs for others.

Are you a . . . .

New Blogger?

Completely just my opinion, but--Don't do it.  You will hear people say, "I wish I had just started in Wordpress."  Keep in mind those people are B4Ls (Bloggers for Life).  Blogging is in their blood, they live for it, they love it, they are killing it.

I work with a lot of new bloggers.  Often, I install designs for people that try it for a few months and quit or even never end up writing a single post.  And you know what?  That's perfectly okay.  How do you know if you like something without trying it first?  Because of the up front expenses as well as yearly expenses associated with starting on Wordpress, it's not something I would recommend.  (Yearly self hosting fees, framework, theme, additional design costs, it adds up quickly.)

Established Blogger?

What kind of established blogger are you? Do you post routinely or is it hit or miss whenever you can squeeze it in during the school year?  If you blog routinely and you are ready to take your blog to the next level and really maximize it (i.e.: put time and effort into learning the extra work necessary to do that), then it is time for you to really think about making the transition.  Since there is greater cost and learning involved, it needs to have recognizable added value other than it sounds cool.

Professional Blogger

You've grown your blog, social media outlets, and you are ready for more.  Sounds like a Wordpress switch would make sense for you.

**Side note on sounding cool
Someone did actually say that to me recently, and she meant it in the best possible way.  She is an awesome blogger and definitely has the knowledge, skill, and drive to take her blog to the next level, so all the good things she heard about Wordpress did sound cool to her.  As in, it is really cool that I can get all of these additional features to maximize my blog.  Don't do it if you're talking about it sounding cool in the way Girbaud jeans were to me in junior high.

Feeling nostalgic?  You can go buy some Girbaud jeans on Etsy:

So, why am I still on Blogger?  I'm lazy.  That's it.  I love blogging.  Love love love it, but there are times that this little blog gets neglected.  I know with teaching, TPT, blog designing, and my family, I'm pretty much lucky to get anything on here.  I really can't do more during the school year other than hope to post once a week.  Plus, I have Etsy listings for Girbaud jeans in my post for gcrying out loud.  How serious am I about blogging?  Could that change in the future?  Absolutely.  But for now, I'm good.

Having said that . . . .

I'll be making the switch to Wordpress for A Bird in Hand Designs.  It does make sense there.  I'm going to start offering Wordpress designs in the next few months.  For me to do that authentically, I need to know what the heck I'm doing not just design wise but with the actual experience.  It also offers bloggers a chance to "see" me in Wordpress action there and in Blogger action over here, as well as giving me some other features and configurations that are not possible in Blogger.

What do you think? Are you Blogger for life or seeing the Wordpress light?

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Top 5 Takeaways from The Daily 5: Second Edition

I recently read the new edition of The Daily 5 and discussed it with teachers at my school.  Even if you're not a Daily 5 kind of gal (or guy), there are some really great points in this book for your big picture teaching.

I read the first book about 10 years ago.  Does anybody remember  Before there were blogs, was about all we had.  One summer, everyone was talking about this new book-The Daily 5.  I read it and immediately fell in love.

This summer I nervously read the new version.  I was glad to see there weren’t any HUGE differences between the first and second book.  Having said that, I am very glad I read it because there were a few things that rocked my world a little bit.

I thought I’d share some bits that were powerful to my thinking as a reading teacher.  Even if you’re not ready to fully dive into The Daily 5, these are ideas that can challenge the way we think about our instructional time.

This is hands down probably the #1 reason the Daily 5 works so well.  Once kids are part of the process,  they feel like they have some involvement with the learning instead of just being told all of the time what to do.

Time to be honest-As a teacher, how much do you hate being given a schedule that tells you what time you HAVE to teach math, reading groups, social studies, etc.  Does it really matter if you do science then social studies?  Nope.

The same is true for our students.  Does it matter if they do word work before or after independent reading?  Nope.  It might be easier to manage it for them, but it's worth the effort to get your kids on board with their learning.  Kids on board=maximizing instruction.

I'm just going to stop for a moment and let that sink in.

To be honest, when I read the first book about ten years ago, I completely blew off the idea of mini lessons between rotations.  It seemed choppy and messed with my reading group flow.

Since that time and now having taught third and fourth grade, I realize my lessons were too darn long.  You know how kids start kind of rolling around or playing with their socks or they all need to go to the bathroom?  You can keep going, but the learning is done.

10 minutes.  That's all you've got.  So, a brain break or turn and talk or breaking your long lesson into several lessons may take time away from your instructional minutes.  BUT, if all they are getting is 10 minutes of your 20 minute lessons, it turns out as teachers we're wasting a lot of instructional time, too.

So, picture this: It's the first day of school in second grade.  1:00-1:20 is independent reading time.  So, at 1:00 we start reading.  They whole class lasts about two minutes (maybe), and then the staring at the ceiling, endless book shopping, and trips to the bathroom begin.  Sound familiar?

Turns out I was doing it ALL WRONG.  The concept of building stamina goes hand in hand with the sisters 10 steps to building independence.  You have to teach your students explicitly what to do, and then slowly (ever so painfully slowly) build them up.  In the beginning of the year, that 20 minutes is more likely to be 18 minutes of mini lesson, modeling, placing around the room, and checking in with 2 minutes of reading in there somewhere.

And that is a good thing.

What choice is to students, flexibility is to teachers.  I have used some mishmashed version of the Daily 5 for years.  It's looked different almost every year depending on what grade I was in, my students needs, and how my instruction has evolved over the years.

This was another big whoa moment for me.  Have I given my students time to practice and grow?  Or am I so busy trying to teach them all the things I think they need, that I don't give them enough time to apply it as readers and writers?

The best thing about summer for teachers is having time to read and reflect on these types of big pictures ideas.  Any of these strike a cord with you?

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B2S Giveaway

I know.

Those words hurt your heart a little.  I’m hoping a big ole giveaway will help with that.

I know some of you just got out of school, but seriously-some of you guys and gals are going back NEXT WEEK.  Who plans this stuff?  It’s July?? How can your summer be over???

Now to the good stuff . . . the prizes.  I’m teaming up with the girls from Owl-Ways Be Inspired for a pretty awesome giveaway.  From me:
Let’s be honest, you’re going to need a caffeine boost on the way to school.  And probably on the way home.  Here’s hoping a Starbucks card can get you through those sleep deprived first few weeks.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
You’ll want to hop on over to Owl-Ways Be Inspired, too.  We’re giving away three gift cards:

AND a bunch of other bloggers are hosting giveaways to get you ready for back to school time, too!

Good luck!
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Blog Baby Blog: Week 5 Five Tips for Bloggers

For week 5 of Blog Baby Blog, I thought I would share 5 things I think you should be doing as a blogger.  Want to catch up on the previous posts?  Here you go:

1. Claim your blog on Bloglovin'.

This is a must.  Want followers?  Make sure you are providing people ways to follow you.  The most common is Bloglovin'.  Do it.  Now.

**To paste the code into your sidebar, go to your blog-->Layout-->Add a Gadget-->HTML-->Paste code-->Save.

2. Stop being a No Reply blogger.  

{And you probably are one even if you think you aren't one)
This happens ALL THE TIME.  Even if you've changed it before, Google is sneaky about changing you back.

What the heck is it?
Whenever you leave a comment, the comment shows up in the blogger's email.  It is #1 a million times easier to reply to comments, and #2 a million times more personal to reply by email instead of posting a reply for the whole world to see.  It is a real and beautiful thing.  Trust me.

You can follow this tutorial to stop the insanity.  (Does anybody else remember this????)

3.  Break. Up. Your. Posts.


(See what I did there?) Don’t give your reader a giant blob of text.  Their eyes are going to glaze over.  We’re teachers, and we’re tired.  If it looks hard, we’re not going to do it.  See the numbers I’ve been using?  They’re pretty darn cute, but they also serve the important job of visually break up the post for the reader.  

Before you click on publish, click on preview.  Is there too much text running together? Add in a photo, so number graphics, a row of colorful dots, whatever!  If you have a post divider or a sidebar divider on your blog design, you can use that, too.

4. Take advantage of your real estate.

Go to your blog’s homepage.  No scrolling.  What greets your readers? This view is what pulls your readers in when they first visit.  Make sure that you are promoting your blog and giving readers a chance to connect with your on social media.  Make it easy on them.  Nobody wants to dig around to find out how to follow your blog, social media, find your store.  Promote you first, others second.

5. Blog

I know.  Seems silly, right?  Sometimes we get so caught up in everything else and don't blog.  Just go do it.  Maybe your photos aren't perfect or arranged in beautiful collages.  You don't have to have fancy graphics.  It would be amazing if you did have time for that with every post but don't let that stop you.

Content is king.  Just share your good stuff.  Here are a few ideas:

•Link up! There are lots of linkies out there, and they're a good way to connect with other bloggers.  Try to stay focused on content related linkies (Five for Friday, Mentor Texts Monday, Tried It Tuesday, there are tons!).  Do link up with the fun ones, but try to keep your blog more content focused.

•What were your excited about this week? No matter how big or small.  There are times it's taken me a little while to figure that out.  And that's kind of sad.  Both for me AND my students.  It doesn't have to be something elaborate, maybe just an aha moment.

•What went terribly wrong and what will you do next time.  This is real.  It's just as real as your happy moments and relatable to us all.  Bonus?  You may get some good advice.

Just blog.  Pinterest is forever.  One of most pinned posts (last time I checked) is from when I had ZERO followers.  What can I say?  I peaked early.  If it's good, people will come.  Maybe not tomorrow, but it will happen.

Anything important you think I missed?

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