Happy Anniversary Bulldogs!

The Bulldog Reader Blog is FOUR years old!

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Yes, I can’t believe it either! This blog has been going strong for four years and one month. (I couldn’t celebrate on the actual date because I was on vacation.) The Bulldog Reader Blog began on July 2, 2010 after I took a class on different technology tools I could use in the library. Blogging was one of the tools shared, and within a few days, we launched on a virtual journey into the reading, tech and library world. Oe of the first posts was about Theo Boone: Kid Lawyer, a series by John Grisham.. That series now has had four installments since we began.

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 It’s amazing to me how many visitors we have had through the years. The ClusterMap above shows how many have visited since July 9, 2013. Sadly I made a bad mistake last year, clicked the wrong thing at the wrong time, and the original visitor map disappeared. Poof – and GONE! I was very sad, but you know, sometimes things like this happen and you just have to move on. In the last year, people from every continent except Antarctica have visited the blog, including over 21,500 from different states within the USA and over 8,000 from countries around the world.

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 The one counter I haven’t touched since the beginning is the visitor counter. I didn’t set it up on the first day, but close enough to the start. We have had over 171,000 page hits on our blog, and almost 100,000 of them are unique hits. A page hit is when anyone clicks onto the blog from wherever they are. A unique hit is when a person who has never been on the blog before visits. Returning, unique, first time, returning visitors is all kind of confusing for sure. What matters is that people from around the world connect with us everyday!

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We have formed friendships with wonderful students and teachers. We have exchanged presents, holiday cards, reading photos, and countless comments through the years. I’ll never forget the day a box arrived from a teacher in Russia. She and her class had put together a box with a teddy bear, a flag and other items to celebrate our new friendship and share their country with us.

Here it all is! Thank you Burravoe Primary School!

Here it all is! Thank you Burravoe Primary School!

Another box came from a very small primary school in the Shetland Islands, including a book that none of us could read because it was written in the native language of the islands. They just celebrated their third anniversary as well! Congratulations Burravoe Primary School!

yollis

Mrs. Yollis, my mentor from California and I have had lots of fun conversations, dinner and photo exchanges. She runs a classroom blog and also a photo 365 blog that I try to contribute to periodically. She introduced me to Mrs. Morris in Australia, who introduced me to a very special blogger named BB.

AA and BB in Australia. Not pictured, BB's cousin.

No mention of the history of this blog could happen without mentioning AA and BB in Australia. When BB and I first met virtually, she had a blog of her own, and we commented on one anothers’ posts regularly. BB is now older and busy with other activities, but her mom AA still visits us and keeps us up to date on what is happening in Australia. We have talked to each other via Skype and online, but have never met and sat in the same room. Someday, I hope to visit Australia, and then we will meet! In the meantime, we have fun comment conversations and share photographs with each other. The conversations that happen via blogging is what I cherish the most.

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Last year during Super Bowl series, Mrs. Arnett’s class dressed up in their Broncos gear. We had a fun exchange about football and what it means to be a good sport.

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During the Poetry Month we exchanged poems with Mrs. Camp in Klein, Texas. Our students wrote acrostic class poems which we published on our blogs.

partner poem

So much has happened in the last four years, that I can’t begin to mention all the highlights. What I do know through writing 368 blog posts is that I love blogging. If it wasn’t for blogging and the Incredibly, Awesome, Fabulous, Newbery Winning book The One and Only Ivan, we wouldn’t have met Katherine Applegate at our school! ivanc

On October 7th, her new non-fiction picture book will be released and ubookshe will be visiting the University Bookstore here in Seattle!

Woo-hoo! We can all share some Ivan love all over again! Here is a link to the premier of the new book trailer.

true story

Another connection that really matters to me is our partnerships in our Books to Africa program. In September we will begin year three of sending books overseas. This summer I had that opportunity to Skype with some children in Sovenga, South Africa who had just received a shipment of books from us. Wow! Look what technology does for us now!

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Recently I had a chance to meet a fellow librarian who follows this blog. “Don’t you ever take the summer off?” she asked. “Nope!” I never do. Blogging is certainly not something I have to do because it’s assigned to me. It’s something I have to do because the words are just itching to get out of my system. I like to write, not as much as I love to read, but I enjoy writing. Until four years ago, I thought I would eventually write a children’s fiction book. I slogged through some drafts and kept putting it aside. The book wasn’t working at all. Then book trailers entered my world. I  love to make book trailers. It’s my style of writing. The One and Only Ivan, Breadcrumbs, Real Boy, Duke – book trailers have played a huge role in my life in the past two years.I don’t make as many as I would like, but everytime I read a book, I think about how I’d make a trailer for it. 11387515 The creative juices are always churning in my head. Because of blogging and my experiences with book trailers, I’ve learned what kind of writer I am. I’m not really a fiction writer at all. I much prefer creating something that is a mixture of fiction, non-fiction and storytelling. What a relief! You don’t have to be just a fiction writer, or a non-fiction writer. You can be a mixture of it all. It doesn’t matter! I do have a book goal in mind, but it won’t be a picture book or novel. I think it will be a non-fiction book series for K-2 readers. Now, with all the advancements in technology, eBooks and eReaders, the question is more about when I will make the time to write the words.   Which leads me to my goals for the upcoming year. Next year will be our 5th anniversary. What do I hope to accomplish by next July?

  1. Continue the fabulous connection with our Books to Africa program. I had the chance to Skype with some students in South Africa this summer. Those few moments weren’t enough – I want to get there somehow, some way!
  2. Create a makerspace area in the library and begin incorporating more STREAM activities into blog posts and classroom lessons. STREAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Reading, Art and Math.
  3. Experiment more with digital tools to advertise books whether it’s through book trailers, or podcasts, games or other activities.
  4. Write the draft to a book series.
  5. Celebrate reading with our students and teachers!

That’s it – 5 goals. I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to try. If you noticed, none of them are “do it now or fail” type of goals. They are all long-term. By next July, I need to review these goals, see what’s worked and figure out what to change to make it succeed. That’s what blogging has taught me. Things may not work out the first time or fifth time. You just need to persist, try again,figure it out and have fun!.

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What goal have you made recently?

What post do you remember the most?

How will you connect with someone this year?

Leave us a comment and let us know!

 

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8 thoughts on “Happy Anniversary Bulldogs!

  1. Dear Mrs. Hembree,

    Has it really been four years? Time seems to be flying!

    I love the idea of an annual anniversary post. We are so busy moving forward all the time, I think it is valuable to stop and review and reflect on accomplishments. In addition, I love that you wrote down your ideas for the future. Goal setting is an important aspect for growth.

    You have done remarkable things with your blog. The Books to Africa program is simply amazing! I know you will get there and deliver some books personally some day! 🙂

    I love how you celebrate reading through the summer with your photo posts! I still need to submit one for this summer. I better hurry…only one week left!

    Julie, I feel lucky to have met you and I value your friendship so much! I look forward to the next time we can spend some time together, but in the meantime…I’ll see you in cyberspace! 🙂

    One goal I have for my class is to create and publish class books. I went to a PlayDate professional development program yesterday and dabbled with iBookAuthor. I’d love to create some non-fiction books with my students. I don’t understand how to get them to the ipads via iTunes…yet! There. I’ve written a goal and now I’ll make it happen!

    Thanks for the wonderful years of learning and friendship!

    ~Mrs. Yollis
    California

    • Dear Mrs.Yollis,
      Thank you so much for visiting our blog and making a comment! It seems just like yesterday that it began, yet four years have gone by. It’s even longer for you. When did you start blogging Mrs. Yollis?

      I got the idea of an anniversary post from the Edublogs anniversary post. As I read their article, I thought it might be something I could do as well. Writing the post helped me reflect on what has happened over the years and focus on my goals for the future.

      So many kids stop reading during the summer, so I really think it’s important to stress that reading happens year round and can be fun! I have loved your photos from past summers and hope you have a new for me this year. Will it be with Bud?

      I am curious about your “PlayDate” professional development. I have not heard of Play Date before. I have heard lots of positive feedback about iBookAuthor. Since we are a PC school, it’s not an option for us, although I may try it with my 1 iPad mini! I look forward to reading your classbooks. We’re both set goals.

      I have found lots of K’Nex and some Legos for my new Makerspace library area. I’m also going on a trip to Alaska where there will be no internet or phone service for a week. I want to use some of the time on the boat to write an outline for my book series. I’ll let you know how that goes!

      Have a great start to your school year and let’s keep connecting!
      Mrs. Hembree

  2. Hi Mrs Hembree

    Congratulations and Happy 4th Anniversary! Time flies when you’re having fun blogging and connecting with others from around the world.

    From here in Melbourne, Australia I am constantly being inspired by all you do. Why am I not surprised that becoming an author is on your list of goals. (one I know you will achieve!)

    Have a fabulous year of reading and learning and inspiring your students…I’ll be tuning in!

    Miss Y 🙂

    • Dear Miss Y,
      How wonderful to hear from you all the way from Australia! It’s chilly down there at this time of year. Do you think perhaps you could send us a photo of you reading in the August “winter” for our reading program please? I know my students would be fascinated so see that it’s chilly in August in Australia.

      You have always been such a strong supporter of this blog. Sometimes it seems like the posts go out there into cyberspace and never get read by anyone besides myself. However, with you, I know that’s not the case. I have some down-under readers and I really appreciate it.

      As I replied to Mrs. Yollis, this book series is really on my mind. Ideas have been swirling around in my head a lot lately. Sometimes, I’ll be walking down the street or digging up weeds, and a sentence comes into my head. It’s like the words are germinating inside my brain, and when it’s the right time, they will come out and will be ready for me to write them down. Good thing I’m not in a rush, because it’s not a very speedy system!

      I just finished a lovely book called Ice Whale. It was the last book Jean Craighead George wrote. In fact, she died before the manuscript was finished. However her family was able to complete it and have it published. It’s about the bowhead whales of the Alaska arctic. Since I am going to Alaska soon, I thought it was an appropriate book to read. I have been a lifelong fan of this author. I can’t tell you how many times I read My Side of the Mountain when I was a young girl. Do you have a favorite book from childhood too?

      I look forward to more virtual chats this year!
      Mrs. Hembree

  3. Dear Mrs Hembree,

    Wow where has the four years gone! On that note Happy 4th Anniversary this is just awesome.

    I still can remember the day BB connected with you. She was over the moon. Hopefully one day real soon we will be able to meet in person. Now that is one goal I have set for myself.
    When it comes to remembering special posts you have posted have a few I just can’t pick. For like Mrs Yollis and Miss Y wrote you are an amazing person where you do such inspiring acts of kindness and good will. I feel BB and I are so very lucky to have connected with you.

    Keep up the great work Mrs Hembree. Hope to send a photo of BB reading soon.

    Also thank you for including BB and I in this special anniversary post. 🙂

    Cheers AA 🙂

    • Dear AA,
      I am sending you virtual hugs through the internet! My blog wouldn’t be what it’s become if not for our connection. You write the BEST comments. It is my goal to get to Australia, hopefully before BB has graduated from school altogether! 🙂
      I am looking forward to seeing that photo. I bet BB has really changed over the past year. I’m going to get a photo of me reading in Alaska. My husband is taking me there soon on a car ferry and I can’t wait. I think it will be amazing to see all the wildlife and scenic areas. If you don’t hear from me, it’s because we will be without internet for a week.
      I have a thick pile of books to bring with me!
      Always your friend,
      Mrs. Hembree

  4. @ Mrs Hembree,

    Huge hugs right back at you Mrs Hembree.

    Wow what an amazing holiday you and your hubby are going on. Do hope you can write up a post about your trip to Alaska.

    I too hope one day we can meet that would be the icing on the cake.

    Now take care and keep safe.

    From your pal down under,

    AA 🙂

  5. Dear Mrs Hembree,

    Happy birthday to your blog!

    It was fantastic to read through this post and fondly remember all the terrific things you have done in just four years!

    I was overjoyed that you made such a strong connection with my very memorable super blogging duo, BB and AA. It’s so lovely to hear that you are still in contact with AA. I do hope you get to visit Australia one day.

    It was so fabulous to meet you in person in San Diego in 2012! I do hope I’ll get to travel to the US again one day to catch up with you and my other buddies.

    When we met you gave me a copy of The One and Only Ivan to read to my class. We all loved it and I’m sure the students still remember that story fondly. You were lucky to have a visit from the author. I look forward to reading the book to my daughter in the future too.

    Congratulations again and good luck with all your future pursuits. Although I’m not teaching at the moment, I’m always interested to read what you’re up to. You’re an inspiration to the education community!

    Your friend,
    Mrs Kathleen Morris
    Australia

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