Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Variety of Van Allsburgs

My class recently completed an author study
We read a variety of books by the author, Chris Van Allsburg
It was magical!

By Tim Pierce (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Compare and Contrast

As a class, we read several Van Allsburg books: The Garden of Abdul Gaszasi, Ben's Dream, The Sweetest Fig, Jumanji, A Bad Day at Riverbend, Widow's Broom, and Two Bad Ants After reading each book, we did a compare and contrast of each story and the illustrations included in each. We loved Van Allsburg's award-winning illustrations and delightful drawings. Some illustrations had color, while others were black and white using pen and ink. Many had a dreamlike appearance to them. 

We often found a special dog named Fritz either as a main character or hidden in the illustrations. Who is Fritz? We also saw similar images between books. For example, we saw the train from The Polar Express in Jumanji, and the kitchen from Two Bad Ants in the book Ben's Dream.

Summarize Your Favorite

After we read and discussed six Van Allsburg books, students picked their favorite picture book to  summarize. Each student was given a Google doc via  Google Classroom.  Students planned and wrote a summary on a Google Doc using the summary poster below.  

Here is one student's 


digital plan for Riverbend. 


Once each student completed a summary, I grouped students together according to their favorite book. They read each other's summaries and selected the best summary to represent their group. What criteria was used to determine the best? Following the Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then format, incorporating high level vocabulary, and inserting useful phrases.   Then students made revisions and made the best summary even better!

Here are the group summaries: (Click to enlarge.)


Ben's Dream

A Bad Day at Riverbend

The Sweetest Fig

Two Bad Ants

The Widow's Broom

The Garden of Abdul Gasazi

Which is your favorite Van Allsburg? 
Give at least two reasons with support.

Compare (what is alike) and Contrast (what is different) your favorite book with another book. 

What illustration is the best? 
Give at least two reasons with support

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Decades Day!

Last Friday was a special school spirit day, 
Decades Day!

This spirit day gave us a chance to talk about fads. A fad is something that is very popular for a short time, and fads can be a lot of fun! Fads often involve fashion, an activity, or some kind of toy or trinket.

The 1950s were popular!
Check out those poodle skirts, rolled up jeans, white t-shirts, and even a pink lady! 

 A 1950s black leather jacket. 

I see two pairs of saddle shoes...very 1950s.

How many poodles? How many poodle legs?
Hint, use mulitiplication! 

The 1960s hippies were happening!


Cool man! Look at those groovy threads! 
I see head bands, daisies, peace beads, and braids.

Photo by Stella

Nice looking neon colors and wild hair! 

✌     ✌     ✌     ✌     

Often times, there are dance fads that are associated with a decade.

We learned The Twist from Chubby Checker. This dance craze was popular in the 1960s.

We also learned a more complicated dance from the 1970s, The Hustle. For this dance, we needed to take: four steps back, four steps forward, a grapevine turn to the right, a grapevine turn to the left, ten "Travoltas", two egg beaters, two chickens, and a front, back, side, turn. Repeat.This group dance was a lot of fun! 

Photo coming soon! 

We had 100% participation, so we get to keep Corky, the school coyote mascot, for the week! Here are some photos of Corky and students during Fun Friday!

What was your favorite decade and why?

Tell us about your costume!

Tell us about your decade! Who was president? What was a fad?  What musical groups were popular? Movies? What fashion was popular? Popular phrases?  (Ask your parents.)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Join our 366 Project!

The world is a magical place! 

If you are observant, you can capture some great images on your digital camera or phone. Here at Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog, we invite you to be a part of our class photo-of-the-day blog called

Yollis' 366 Project 

~ Daily Digital Documentation ~

To contribute to this online digital community, 
just email a photo to Mrs. Yollis at:

In your email, be sure to include the following FOUR items:

1.  An interesting photo.
It does NOT need to be taken on a specific day. However, the photo must belong to you. Only submit photos that you, your family, or your teacher has taken. (A smaller file is better, around 200 kb is a good size.) Try not to include too much personal information in your photo.

Not sure how to take a good photo? Here are some tips from my third graders:  How to Take a Good Photo or Video

2. Attribution.
Who took the photo? Who wrote the text? It is important to credit the photographer and writer of the photo-of-the-day. Feel free to include a hyperlink back to your blog! This helps build community!

3.  Text to complement the photo.
Write a few sentences explaining the photo. Here are some possible questions to include when composing your description:  Where was the photo taken? When was it taken? What is special about the subject of the photo? Are there any facts you could share so we can learn something new via your photo and text? 

4. End with a question. 
Think of a question or two you could ask that would start a conversation in the comment section. Ask OPEN questions that cannot be answered using yes or no. This is a great opportunity to get some feedback on your photo or gather new knowledge about the subject of the photo. Invite readers to make up a story about your photo. 

Be sure to check back and see if your photo received a comment. It is good blogging netiquette to respond to a comment.

Here is a wonderful annotated example from Allison, one of my third graders. Be sure to include these four elements when you submit a photo. 

Photos and text must be approved by Mrs. Yollis. :-) 

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For bloggers who are interested, the above email will set up a post in the Blogger platform. This is an easy way to collect and publish photos.

To set this feature up in your Blogger account, go to: settings>mobile and email>email>posting using email. Add a "secret word" and you will have an email to share with others. As you can see, I set my setting for "Save email as a draft post". I approve everything before publishing.

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Here is a link to the Yollis' 366 Blog which has been building for five years!

Check out some of the photos and text for examples and ideas.
 Feel free to leave a comment on a photo that you liked! 

We hope you will join our international, collaborative project in 2016!