How much do you love your dog?

Are you brave enough to give him away?

 duke picm

I originally wrote this post in November 2013 after Kirby Larson’s book launch for Duke. Recently I had the chance to create a book trailer for her book, so I decided to update and repost the article. I took the majority of the photographs myself in Seattle. Using the PhotoStudio iPhone app, I artificially aged the photos to make them look old. I also used Creative Common photos, where people give permission for you to use the photo. I did obtain permission from the artist of one photograph and received another from Kirby herself. I wonder if you will know which picture is of Kirby’s dad?  Usually I make book trailers using Photostory3, Windows MovieMaker or Animoto, however, this time I decided to try out the iMovie app on my iPhone. There is a book trailer template available, and within an hour or so, I had the rough draft of my book trailer made. Really, anyone with a little patience, some photos and love for a book can make a book trailer! Here is the original post, with the book trailer at the end.


The poster in his classroom seems to be screaming at him. Are YOU doing all you can?  Hobie struggles inside. Is he really doing everything he can to help his dad? He’s saving all his dimes to buy war stamps. He’s helping his Uncle Tryg and trying to be the man of the house for his mom.

Is it enough? Hobie hears about the Dogs for Defense program where people with well trained dogs can donate them to help the war movement. Hobie has spent hours training Duke and the military could use him to sniff out mines or help patrol borders. It is important work and Duke would be a great defense dog.


From the moment Hobie says yes, and watches Duke leave, he regrets his decision. What if Duke doesn’t come home? What if his Dad doesn’t come home? Does Hobie have what is takes to be this brave? You will have to read Duke and find out!

Kirby had a book launch party at Third Place Books in the fall of 2013. She talked about her love of history, the research about Dogs for Defense and the backstory she used from her own family that developed into the book. You can also watch an interview with Kirby talking about her book.

Duke launch collage

Kirby is a serious dog lover and a portion of the proceeds went to Reading with Rover, a local reading organization where children read to dogs and practice their reading in a fun and non-stressful way. Along with some other Reading with Rover teams, Reese and I had the opportunity to attend the launch of Duke at Third Place Books.


If you would like to learn more, visit Kirby Larson’s website and find out about other books she has written. Update: April 2014 – Reese has now retired from  Reading with Rover. At almost 7, he is  considered an old dog in the Bernese Mountain Dog breed.  He really likes his naps and occasional walk around the block. The Duke launch was his last official outing and I’m thrilled it was to promote a book featuring a fabulous dog!

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Kids Write Poems

We are back from Spring Break and continuing with our Fabulous Poetry Month Lessons! This week the younger grades are creating class poems about some of their favorite things. The lesson is based on Regie Routman’s book Kids’ Poems: Teaching First Graders to Love Writing Poetry.
kids poems

Here are some of their creations!

dogs poem

pizza poem

Stop back again for our next post about Paperbag Poems. You can read about Paperbag Poems on the Bobcat Library Blog

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April is National Poetry Month


April is here. Winter is over. Birds are chirping. Flowers are blooming. Days are longer.


 It’s the perfect time of the year to celebrate poetry.


National Poetry Month is a month-long celebration of poetry established by the American Academy of American Poets in 1996. We are celebrating all month as well with special poetry displays, lessons, and book features.

poet tree

Each day a poem is read on the morning announcements, and a copy is on display on the library door. We began our poetry lessons before spring break. Here are some poetry highlights. The first photo shows 5th grade Blackout Poems. The second set of Tiger Poems were written by some second graders.

black out poem collage

 tiger poems



On Poem in Your Pocket day, April 24th, we are having our First Poetry Café during lunch. When I was looking for ideas, I saw that the students at Barrow Elementary Media Center would be having a Poetry Café at their school and thought it was a terrific idea!. Now that we have a stage and a microphone in the lunch room, we have all the equipment needed for performance poetry.

Students will read or recite an original or favorite poem up on the stage. during lunch. This is a completely optional event. Students can perform solo or with a partner. It’s going to be an awesome celebration of poetry at school and I encourage anyone to sign up and give it a try! Come to the library to sign up. Poets from kindergarten to 5th grade are welcome. Families can come and watch as well. All performances will be during lunch: K-2 (11:50-12:10) and 3-5 (12:20-12:40) Spring Break is a perfect time to visit your local public library and find a book of poems. You can also find wonderful poems online. Be sure to ask your family for help. You create a poem with interactive websites. I have links on our school library catalog page. Look for the Poetry section.








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Washington Children’s Choice Votes

Today I submitted our votes for the favorite Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award!


The Washington Children’s Choice Award is selected annually by Washington State’s K-3 students, who may vote for this award through their local teacher-librarian. This award is given through the Washington Library Media Association! Last year, there were over 114,000 votes, which was a record number of votes. The winner was…


Our students have voted for their favorite 2014 winner, and the top results are as follows.

First place

Creepy Carrots

Second place

The Monster's Monster

Third place (a tie)

Kel Gilligan Chloe and the Lion

Fourth Place

The Lonely Book

Fifth Place

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

What really made a difference in helping the primary students vote were the advertising videos that the 5th graders made for them. When I went to the Washington Library Association conference in October 2014, I attended a session by Kathy Davis from the Renton School District who shared how her students made this type of video. The purpose was for the students to produce a short video to persuade voters in grades K-2 to vote for a specific WCCPBA nominee. This project met numerous Common Core State Standards as well as Lake Washington standards, Librarian and technology standards such as writing and expressing an opinion, demonstrating creative thinking, using digital media and practicing legal and ethic behavior.

In pairs or groups of three, the students selected a book, read it, wrote a script, found props (optional) and then filmed the video. They also made posters and bookmarks as additional advertisements. This week the primary classes viewed the videos and then voted for their favorite. The best part was hearing how excited the younger students were seeing the 5th graders on film. “That’s my sister!” “That’s my brother” or “He’s my buddy!” were shouted all week! Here are two video examples:

Next week when all of the votes are tabulated, we will find out how our votes match with with the Washington state votes! If you would like to see the complete list of books, they are listed here. You can also view the 2015 nominees there as well!

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Best of Barcelona


Last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Microsoft in Education Global Forum held in Barcelona, Spain. The forum is a professional development event that gathers together educators and school leaders from around the world  sharing how we link everyday subjects like reading, science and math with  technology to make learning fun, engaging and memorable. In other words, I went to school for a week. The school it just happened to be in a really wonderful city, far, far away from here.

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I flew into Barcelona before the forum began to do some sightseeing with some of the other teachers from Team USA. We stayed at a hotel along a street called Las Ramblas. This street is really a long pedestrian walkway lined with people day and night.


The first place we visited was Park Guell (Catalans pronounce it “gway”) and saw Barcelona’s famous dragon and colorful tilework by the artist Antoni Gaudi.

5 park guell


The next day a group of teachers spent the day sightseeing. We first visited Sagrada Familia (Holy Family Church) which is a large, modern style church that began in 1883, and  is still under construction.  It’s a very modern, colorful structure, designed by the same person who did the tile work at Park Guell.

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At the top of many of the towers are colorful spheres that look a lot like candy, yet they are all made with tiles. I’ve never seen anything like these tower toppers!

16 sagrada familia

To get to the top of the towers, you take an elevator, but you must walk down the spiral staircase. You can’t got too fast, or you get dizzy!

17 sagrada familia

After we saw the cathedral, we walked to the Arc de Triomphe, which is a smaller version of a similar structure in Paris, France. There is a large walk area where street performers entertain the tourists, venders sell balloons, and teachers can get a little crazy.


22 crazy teachers

I also had the chance to visit a bookstore in the mall. I loved seeing Dork Diaries, Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid in Spanish. I came home with some books too. Stop by the library to see what I brought home for you to read.



 On Tuesday, the conference began. The organizers welcomed everyone and then it was time for the teachers to set up  the teacher booths. Each teacher had a booth to use for showcasing their work. We hung posters and decorated our spaces so people who walked by could get a quick idea of each project. Our booths were arranged in alphabetical order by country. When you look at the top, you can see the name of the project and then the country of origin. We also were evaluated by a judge who met with us individually.


Each project was given two judging times over the course of two days. A judge would come to your booth for 15 minutes and we had to present our “digital story” and then answer any questions the judge had. One of my judges was from India, and the other one was from France. I gave them the thank you cards the Books to Africa group made for them.


It was a very busy time. When we weren’t being judged, most of us tried to go visit other booths to connect with other teachers and hear about different ideas. I met another teacher from South Africa who would like to be part of our Books to Africa project and a friend of Mr. Malakane in Lesotho, who is one of our partner teachers.


When we weren’t being judged, we were listening to presentations or in classes about technology. Everyone had received a Surface RT, so it was fun the learn about some of the great apps we can use with it.


We had a welcome reception that evening. Each country wore something to indicate their team. It was a lot like going to the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Some people had team jackets, others had hats, or scarves. We all had our special name tags that we had to wear everywhere we went. Team USA had red, white and blue shirts with USA across the front and our name on the back.

team usa

In addition to the project judging was a learn-a-thon. Teams of teachers had about eight hours to create a student project using technology to solve a real-world problem . I was partnered with teachers from Belgium, Israel and Japan. We created a project called Trees Please, drawing attention to the problem of deforestation in China because 11 million acres of trees are cut down each year to make disposable wooden chopsticks. In the photo below you can see us hard at work.


The next morning we took turns presenting our project to a panel of judges, including a student judge from the United Kingdom.



After that we had some free time for sightseeing.  Mrs. Arnett, my teacher friend in Colorado, and I went to the beach and picked up seaglass and shells to bring home to our students. The Barcelona beaches are beautiful!




The closing keynote, or assembly, had many inspirational speakers, including Felipe de Borbón y Grecia, Prince of Asturias.  Many of the teachers in Team USA, including me, sat right behind him. There is no question – we had some great seats!


Whenever I travel I like to bring something back that reminds me of my experience. This time I returned with some sea glass, some shells, a few souvenirs and a signed copy of The Dot. Whenever I could, I asked fellow teachers in Barcelona to sign my copy. I wish I had everyone’s signature, but I just wasn’t possible. The message of The Dot is to make a mark and see where it takes you.


The highlight of the last day of the Global Forum was a reception and dinner in the convention center, followed by an awards ceremony. I have never been to the Olympics, but I think this event closely matched what it must be like at the awards ceremony. As teachers from different nations proudly wore their flags and came to the stage for their awards, the rest of the room clapped and screamed in support. When they announced our team was the 1st runner up for the sustainability learn-a-thon, I was completely in shock. Someone wrapped the American flag around my shoulders and I headed down to the stage to accept the award with my team-mates. It was a moment I will never forget. Each of us is now looking forward to putting our project into action.


The day after the forum ended, I got up early and went on a tour to a medieval village in the Pyrannes Mountains with Mr. Bergman and Mr. Wettrick, two other teachers from Team USA. Most of the day we hiked up through trails in the countryside and had a chance to step back in time and see a different side to Catalonia. I brought The Dot with me on the hike. This book helped begin our Books to Africa journey, and it needed to be with me at the end too!

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Now I am home, recovering from some serious jet-lag and thankful for the experience. I was reminded that sometimes life takes you down a path you never expect. If you are willing to join the journey, there is so much that can be learned. I spent a week with some of the most energized, innovative teachers from around the world and their stories have changed my life. Still, I couldn’t trade places with any of them because as Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “there’s just no place like home.” 


Lastly, I know this isn’t directly student- related, but if you are a teacher reading this post, I urge you to join the Partners in Learning Network. It’s free to teachers and schools. You have access to all of the global forum teacher projects, free tools, professional development, and information about 21st century learning design. I hope you will join the network and apply for the 2015 Expert Educator program. I have had the opportunity to attend two Global Forums now, and I can whole-heartedly say the experience will change your teaching life. I am so grateful to Microsoft and humbled by the support of all the global educators I met. So long, Global Forum Barcelona! It was a great ride!




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Read Across America Week


March 3-7, 2014 is Read Across America week – a Seussical celebration kicking off a week of reading across the nation as students, parents, teachers and community memeber together share their love of reading. All week I will be giving away Cat in the Hat stickers, Dr. Seuss bookmarks and celebrating the importance of reading here, there and everywhere!


The Bulldog Readers will kick off the week with a Cat in the Hat Day on Monday, March 3, 2014 for the 17th annual Read Across America Day. Students are encouraged to wear red and white to school. Please have your children leave their fun hat at home, as the Cat in the Hat red and white hats can become a distraction for learning in the classroom.

Wocket Seuss

Tuesday is Rhyming Day. Any student who brings me a paper with 5 original rhyming sentences will receive a prize. Again, the sentences need to be original material, so we don’t violate any copyright/plagarism rules. An example of a rhyming sentence is The fat cat sat on the flat hat.


Wednesday is World Read Aloud Day. This will be the third year we have participated with the LitWorld organization.World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.

As a special treat on World Read Aloud Day, we will be Skyping with two authors: Kim Baker, author of Pickle and Tara Lazar, author of The Monstore.



Thursday, is our traditional Green Eggs and Ham Day!


Everyone is encouraged to wear orange and green. Then lunchtime will include a little creative fun! District -wide the lunchrooms will be serving green eggs and ham with a special Dr. Seuss birthday cookie. Even our cooks will be dressed up for the day and you might see Cat in the Hat stop by!


Friday is Socks Day! In honor of Fox in Socks, everyone is invited to wear some fun, colorful socks to school. I’m telling kids to find something already in their closet- no pressure to buy new socks for Friday.

I hope everyone – students, family and staff will remember that Reading is Fun and Important!

“The More that you Read.

The more Things you will Know.

The More that you Learn,

the more Places you’ll Go.”

~Dr. Seuss


What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

Leave us a comment and let us know.

If you are a BulldogReader, go onto my Library Haiku page and take the Favorite Dr. Seuss book poll!

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Julie of the Wolves


Photo: Wikipedia Commons

What do you think about wolves?


Wolves have always fascinated me. I know they are predators and have legendary howls, but they seem like cuddly wild dogs to me. Earlier this year, we had an assembly where the presenter brought a wolf puppy. I was in heaven! Here was my chance to touch and see a wolf up close.

wolf pup1
This particular pup had been rescued, and was being taken care of by professional animal handlers. However, it was still young enough to be touched and cuddled by humans.

wolf pup2Photos by Mrs. Gabriel

I got a lifetime supply of wolf puppy kisses and hugs. It also sent me to the book shelves to re-read one of my favorite series – Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George. Actually I listened to the series. I love to listen to audio books while I am driving to work and home each day. I haven’t found anyone who will read to me anymore, so this is the next best thing.


Julie of the Wolves is about a young Yupik girl in Alaska who is trying to find her way between the culture she has always known and the ways of modernization. In her village she is known as Miyax, but her friend in California calls her Julie. After her mother dies, and her father goes missing, she is forced to live with her Aunt Martha. Her aunt only wants to marry her off to Daniel, and soon Miyax realizes her only escape is on the tundra.  Without food or water, she befriends a pack of wolves who allow her to become part of her pack. Mijax struggles to find where she belongs – on the tundra with her wolves, or in town with people.

Julie of the Wolves is an American classic and won the Newbery Award in 1973. I love the realism the author uses to describe life among the wolves. It is based on real-life experiences and research she did when she went to Barrow, Alaska to conduct research for an article about wolves. When I read this novel, especially in the dead of winter, I want to trade places with Miyax, and crawl into the wolf den with her friends. It may help that we share the same first name.

In any case, whether your name is Julie or not, I hope you will pick up Julie of the Wolves and the two sequel novels and experience life among the wolves. It is available in print, audio, eBook formats in a library near you!

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And the Winner Is….

dark Fires


On Thursday, the Cuddly Koalas and Dark Fires teams met to face off for the final round of the Battle of the Books competition. In the last battle, the teams answered 20 questions. It was stiff competition. The teams matched each other point for point and were tied until question 20. I don’t think I have ever seen such a close completion. The very last question broke the tie, and we had a building winner – DARK FIRES, with their second building win! Dark Fires won last year as well and moved forward to the district round in 2013.


With every win, is another team that has to face the difficulty of accepting loss. Cuddly Koalas put up a fierce fight and deserve the honors as runners-up. I equate these results to gold and silver medalists, just like in the Olympics. Both are winners and have everything to be proud of. More than that, this competition is about creating life-long readers. When 53 students read 12 assigned books on their own time, I can only feel happiness! I am so proud of every student who put reading first and participated in this competition!

The Dark Fires will compete again after vacation at the district level using our Lync meeting set up. The winning teams from participating schools battle it against each other until we have a district champion. Let’s all cheer for the Dark Fires!

Team members are holding their favorite Battle of the Books novels. The books are no longer reserved for battle participants, so stop by and check one out today!

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A Lesson in Sportsmanship


Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks – Champions of Superbowl XLVIII!

We are all so excited about the Seahawks! What people outside of our area may not understand was that this game wasn’t just about football. It was about connections. We connected on the playground when we formed ”the 12th man” at recess. We connected in the hallways as we proudly wore our blue and green from class to class.  It connected classrooms too.

My friend Mrs. Arnett in Colorado teaches first grade and loves her Denver Broncos. When the Superbowl game meant that the Seahawks would be facing the Broncos, we thought we would have some fun too. On Friday, she sent me a photo of her Broncos fans in her classroom.


She wrote me this message:

Good morning to our friends in the Seattle area! Here in Colorado we are excited about the Super Bowl! We hope the best team wins! If the Seahawks win, our teacher, Mrs. Arnett, will wear a Seahawks shirt all day Monday! If the Broncos win, we challenge Mrs. Hembree to wear a Bronco shirt on Monday! Good luck to you and your team… Go Broncos!!

I posted a photo of our school and a silly photo of Mrs. Paul and myself all dressed up in makeup and decals. We were ready for the weekend, and curious to see what color we each would be wearing on Monday morning.

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On Sunday, the Seahawks scored in the opening seconds of the game and the score kept getting higher and higher. It was clear I wouldn’t be wearing any orange on Monday. But….I felt badly. I thought Mrs. Arnett had enough punishment watching the game, and I let her know that she didn’t need to wear the Seahawks shirt after all.

No! No! No! She didn’t want any part of that. This experience was a lesson about teams, opinions, and sportsmanship. We don’t always agree, but we can respect each other’s opinions. On Monday she sent me this photo of her students. They are GOOD sports!


Mrs. Arnett shared that since her students knew she would be wearing a Seahawks shirt, many of them showed up in blue and green to class as well. What an amazing group of students! So I say “THANK YOU” to Mrs. Arnett and her class! Mrs. Arnett – I can’t wait to see you in person in Barcelona, Spain!

You rock it in sportsmanship!


What connections did you make because of the Super Bowl?

Leave us a comment and let us know!


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Awards, BookFair and Battle

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Are you surprised? Happy? Excited?


The Newbery and Caldecott awards were announced this morning at the American Library Association mid-winter conference in Philadephia, Pennsylvania. We have two copies of Flora and Ulysses already, but I will need to purchase a copy of Locomotive to add to our library collection.  The complete  list of awards including the honor books and other awards, can be found on this link.

Flora and Ulysses is also available at our Scholastic Bookfair running all week in the library.


We are open for sales after school daily, and during the middle recess on Wednesday. We hope families will stop by before or after their teacher conference and see what we have to offer. Students will have a chance to preview the books during their library classes this week. The book Minecraft is not on display, due to printing issues, but is available for purchase by request. Students interested in the book can purchase it and as soon as it’s shipped to me, I will deliver it personally to the student’s classroom.

New this year is our Buy a Book, Pick a Prize program. I got this idea from another librarian, who posted it on Pinterest and I decided to adopt it. I don’t know who originally had this idea, but it’s working well for us. While supplies last, for every book purchase, students will be able to pick a FREE prize from the prize box. It’s a BOOK + PRIZE win for everyone!

Our teachers love the bookfair too because it’s a great opportunity to add to their classroom libraries. Most teachers have set aside a few books that they wish they could add to their rooms. You have to power to make a wish come true !



All of our earnings from the Scholastic Book Fair go to our library to purchase new books for our school. I hope you will stop by and see what we have to offer. We accept cash, checks, debit and credit cards for payment.

Next week our Battle of the Books “BATTLES” begin during the intermediate middle recesses. Teams should be ready by Monday to battle it out and answer the questions to find our building champion. Battles will take place Monday- Friday at 12:40 in the library.

Happy Reading!

Mrs. Hembree


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