Friday, December 17, 2010

Best Class Blog • First Runner-Up!

A big THANK YOU to the students, parents, and readers who voted for our third grade blog!

Here is a video we made about why we love blogging so much!

I am honored and proud to have won the Edublog Lifetime Achievement Award. The educational blogging community is such a wonderful, dedicated group of people and I appreciate all the support I receive. This is a great win for educational bloggers everywhere! 

If you're interested in starting a classroom blog, here is an educational blogging wiki with ideas that might be helpful.  

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What else have you learned from blogging?
How does blogging make learning more interesting?


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Party! 2010

What was your favorite part about the party?

What are your vacation plans?

Where is Nonno? - Dove e' Nonno - Courmayer, Italy - The Story of Rhémy de Noël

Nonno is Ben's grandfather who lives in Italy. He is a guest blogger. Check out his "Where's Nonno?" series in our archive!

Nonno is going back to Courmayeur after his visit to Florida and California. Nonno wants to leave you this story about Rhémy de Noël, il Babbo Natale di Courmayeur (The Father Christmas of Courmayeur)

This is a story about Father Christmas in Courmayeur. It is a tale based upon folk stories and stories people in the mountains tell about the magic of Christmas in Courmayeur. 

Rhémy de Noel is the Father Christmas of Courmayeur, our village at the base of Mt. Blanc, (Monte Bianco) the tallest mountain in western Europe. Its elevation is 15,782 feet. (4,810.45 m)

Rhemy de Noel is a Father Christmas who talks about the issues of today such as the environment. His story begins at the time when there was less snow in Courmayeur. Rhemy decides to go face the unknown to find out what happened to the snow.
Ben in the Summer Waiting for Snow

Rhemy and his courageous, loyal friends, help him get where no one has arrived before, on top of Mont Blanc. Up there, Rhemy meets a giant at the giant's tooth, who, for reasons that Rhemy discovers, has imprisoned the snow. 

The story is in Italian so we will have to wait for Francesca to tell us how it ends. But it is a story that should fill the dreams and imagination of people of all ages. This year Christmas in Courmayeur has a very special visit based on the story of Rhemy de Noel, Father Christmas and Mont Blanc/Monte Bianco.

For many years Father Christmas, passed in a sleigh through the streets of Courmayeur handing out sweets to kids and adults. Then he stopped his visits. Since then, letters to Father Christmas continued to arrive in Courmayeur from all over Italy from people who continued writing to the Father Christmas they had met on the streets of Courmayeur.

The highlight of the Christmas season will be the day Rhemy de Noel, returns to our village so he can meet his friends large and small.

And in the meantime, those who want to can post a message to Rhemy de' Noel, the Father Christmas of Mont Blanc in the special mail box for Rhemy situated near the Jardin de l'Ange on the via Roma, or send by mail to:

See Rhemy Pointing To His Mailbox
Rhemy de Noel,
Father Christmas in Courmayeur
Viale Monte Bianco -
11013 Courmayeur - Valle d'Aosta

Thank you, Nonno, for a wonderful holiday folktale!

Which Where's Nonno? post is your favorite and why?

Merry Christmas, Nonno and Francesca! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Help Fund Our DonorsChoose Project!

Mrs. Yollis' class makes a lot of movies! 

Sometimes they are big productions like this video about our trip to Asia!

Sometimes they are smaller productions like our How to Write Quality Comments video.

Sometimes they are used to kick off a new project.

And sometimes they are quick tutorials to helps students learn from home. 

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A frequent problem Mrs. Yollis' class has with movie making involves sound. Often times, the microphone they use shorts out or makes static and they have to re-record over and over. Mrs. Yollis' class has submitted a project to purchase a microphone at Kelly Tenkely from iLearn Technology will be funding the classroom project with the most votes.
Please click here to help fund our project!

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Reminder: Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog is nominated for FOUR Edublog Awards!
Voting ends Tuesday!
Vote here if you haven't had a chance!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Visitor Count Palindrome!

This week we noticed that the Visitor Count number was a palindrome!

pal • in• drome (noun)
a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backward as forward, e.g., madam or nurses run.

Do you see any palindromes in your life?

Reminder: Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog is nominated for FOUR Edublog Awards!
Voting ends Tuesday!
Vote here if you haven't had a chance!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Beautiful Gift from Australia!

Mrs. Yollis and her class are dear friends with  2KM and 2KJ in Australia. These blogging buddies have developed a wonderful friendship over the last year. 

The classes  connected through Skype in November, they worked together on The Ugandan Global Project which was a big success. Last June, 2KM came to school an hour early and Mrs. Yollis' class stayed an hour late so they could have a Skype Show-and-Tell Party! There have been gifts sent from the class and also from  Bianca and AA.  Mrs. Yollis' class sent a California gift pack to Australia!

Today we received a beautiful Air Mail package filled with lovely holiday gifts!

A precious Christmas recipe book filled with family favorites for the holidays! Yum!

Australian pencils for all!

A souvenir booklet of Australian money!

Everything was wrapped in a fabulous Australian flag! 

Included in the package was a ♬ ♫ CD of Aussie Christmas music! ♬ ♫

Here is a thank you video filled with our special holiday ♬ ♫ wishes ♬ ♫ for our friends down under!

We treasure your friendship and we wish you well in your new grade!

What's fun about having friends in another country?

What is your favorite memory about the 2KM and 2KJ connection?

How can we keep in touch with our friends?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Skyping with NYC: The Borough of Brooklyn!

On Wednesday,  Mrs. Yollis' class had the pleasure of making new friends in New York City!

Meeting Mrs. Bova,  Mrs. Barbaro, and their third grade classes.

Alexa, Kristen, and Adia keep notes of the call using TodaysMeet.

We shared about California, the Golden State. 

We learned many things about the state of New York and the city of New York.

New York state bird:    bluebird
New York state flower:   rose
New York state's highest point:    Mount Marcy  5,344 ft.  (1,629 m)  
New York state's population:  18,000,000
New York state's area:  54,556 sq. miles (128,403 km2)
New York state nickname:  Empire State
New York state tree: sugar maple
New York state mammal:  beaver
New York state insect: lady bug
New York state fish:   brook trout

 We did not have all of the answers for the New Yorkers, so we researched and now can share!

  • The highest point in California is Mt. Whitney is 14,505 feet (4421 m). That makes Mt. Whitney the tallest point in the contiguous United States. 

  • The population of California is approximately 37,000,000! California has the highest population followed by Texas and New York.

  • The state of California is 158,706 square miles which makes it the 3rd largest state. Does anyone know which two states are larger? 

Thank you, Finn, for being our photographer! Thank you Alexa, Kristen, and Adia for taking notes for us at TodaysMeet.    Here is the  transcript from the call.

What was the most interesting fact you learned from the call?

How is their community different than ours? How is it similar?

What else would you like to know about New York?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Skyping With B4 in New Zealand!

On Monday, we Skyped with our blogging buddies, Open the Door to B4 in New Zealand! We often leave comments for each other so it was nice to get a chance to talk face to face!

Locating Reefton in New Zealand.

Placing an orange marker to show we have Skyped with a class in that country.

TodaysMeet is a great website for students to record what they've learned.


We both have classroom blogs and like to use HTML code in our comments.
Both have around 20 students (Yollis-23/McKenzie-22)
The elevation in our community averages 800 feet above sea level and in Reefton, New Zealand, it is around 650 feet.
Students everywhere enjoy having pets!


They have a Pets Day!
They live in a rural area, and we live in a suburban area.
Our population is around 24,000, while their population is around 1,000.
Their annual rainfall is approximately  86 inches (218 cm), and we get a mere 14 inches (36 cm)! Wow!
It was Monday for us, and Tuesday for our new friends!
Their school year ends this week, and our year ends in June!

Thank you Miriam for being our photographer. Thank you Jaden, Iman, and Adia for being our recorders on TodaysMeet. Here is the transcript.    (The computer was responding slowly, so a few lines got repeated accidentally. )

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What fact surprised you the most? 

Which animal did you enjoy seeing at their Pets Day?

What do you like about Skyping other classrooms around the world?  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Family Blogging Month Winner ~ Miriam Plays the Piano!

Family Blogging Month just ended and Miriam was one of the top three commenters. Each student won their own post here on Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog! Here is a video post Miriam created with her family about the piano.

The pianoforte originated around the year 1700 in Florence, Italy. It was the invention of an Italian harpsichord maker. It has since undergone many changes in appearance and sound. The word piano is a shortened form of the word pianoforte, which comes from the original Italian name for the instrument.

What instrument do you play?
What kind of music do you like to listen to and how does it make you feel?
Do you have any questions for Miriam?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Where is Nonno? (Dove e' Nonno) - Barletta

This week Mrs. Yollis' class continues with their unit on fantasy. The story of the week is called The Mysterious Giant of Barletta by Tomie dePaola.

As luck would have it, Nonno's been to see the giant!
(Nonno is our guest blogger.  He is Ben's grandfather and currently lives in Italy.   
He shares his Italian travels with all of us! Enjoy his guest post!)

We visited Barletta during our trip to Puglia after Mrs. Yollis told us you would be hearing a story about the Mysterious Giant of Barletta. We wanted to see the giant and take some pictures to share with you.

Barletta is also in Puglia, on the heel of Italy.

The giant statue is located right in the city on a busy street.

People park their cars in front of the statue, ride their bicycles past and also wait for the bus right by the statue.
The statue is more than five meters tall. Five meters is more than 16 feet. Here is a picture of Cecca right next to the base, or pedestal, of the statue so you can judge how tall the statue is.

And also took one of her standing on the pedistal near his leg. Cecca is one meter 54 centimeters tall.

Barletta has many farms and fields around the city where they grow grapes and olives. (Can you imagine the giant meeting Captain Minekion out here in one of these fields?)

Very close to Barletta is a place where they make salt from sea water.

Barletta is now a modern city, but years ago it was a city of the Roman Empire. Years ago the coast was often invaded so the people built a huge fort for protection. Now it has a modern harbor that is overlooked by the huge fort where people can visit.

Is That Luigi?
Movie stars can be seen near the statue.

Now the statue is called The Colossus of Barletta. Here is what the people of Barletta tell us about it.

The Colossus of Barletta is a bronze statue of the Early Middle Ages, hollow on the inside and over 5 meters high. It most probably represents an emperor or famous warrior as shown by his military uniform, his rich, imperial robe and the bejeweled crown on his head, trimmed with two strings of pearls. Maybe Hercules, maybe not.

We are not sure how the statue arrived in Barletta. According to one story the Venetians stole the statue from Constantinople. On the journey back to Venice, the ship was wrecked in a storm and the statue was found on the beach near Barletta. According to another story, the Colossus was discovered in Ravenna, north of Barletta. Transported by ship, it was brought to Barletta’s harbor, probably to be used in some celebration.  When the statue came to Barletta it did not have a base, that was built later so it would seem even taller.

Did you remember the statue is hollow?

Do you think it floated to the beach because it is hollow?

In the story you heard the giant went to the fields and cried, I wonder if the giant went to one of the fields like these.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

We've Earned Four Edublog Nominations!

I am very proud that our classroom blog has received four
Edublog Award Nominations!

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Voting is open until 12 P.M./ U.S. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday December 14th.
Below are links for viewing the nominations and casting your vote.
We hoped we've earned your vote!

(Mrs. Yollis / Mr. Salsich)

Vote Here:  Lifetime Achievement - Linda Yollis

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It is a great honor to be nominated and we are all thrilled!

One vote per computer!
Family and friends are invited to vote as well!

National Geographic's Giant Traveling Map of Africa: Resources

Mrs. Yollis is passionate about teaching geography!
  In fact, she is the coordinator of the Giant Traveling Maps program for her school district.  Starting in January, each elementary school will have the
 26’ x 35’ Giant Traveling Map of Africa for one week.

To find out when it will be at your school, see your principal. 
To find out how to get one for your district, click here.

Information About the Maps from National Geographic:

National Geographic Giant Traveling Maps are enormously entertaining and educationally powerful tools for introducing geography and map reading skills to students, grades K-8.

What better way to teach young people the power of maps and the limitless depth of geography than a basketball court-sized map of a continent on which they can explore, travel from country to country, hop around, compete, collaborate and have lots of fun?

National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps, produced by National Geographic Live, tour the country’s schools, bringing hands- and feet-on geography education to 300,000 students each year. Designed to promote geographic literacy by igniting interest in geography, the maps and accompanying activities incorporate physical movement and games to teach students place names, physical geography, and cultural geography as well as map reading skills.

These floor maps of Africa, Asia, North America, and South America are available for loan, each accompanied by a complete teacher guide, activities, game props, and educational resources.

Information About Using the Map: 

I recommend giving all students a 5 minute exploration time BEFORE beginning any directed lessons. This gives the students a chance to walk the map and familiarize themselves with the legend, the colors, and whatever locations interest them. 

Photograph by Trent Cambell

Lesson Plans from National Geographic:  

A binder with the following lessons will be available for you to use. However, to make the most of your time on the map, please review the lessons ahead of time. Feel free to modify the lessons to fit your class. A trunk filled with needed materials will be in the MPR for use. Depending on the size of your school, there could be opportunities to visit the map more than once.

Let’s Explore Africa (PDF)
  • Recommended for K-2, but these lessons offer some great introductory information about geography. These lessons could be modified for older students.
  • Materials: Scavenger Hunt Cards, yellow rope, cones
  • Vocabulary:  tropical areas, deserts, rivers, Nile-longest river, animal locations, Mt. Kilimanjaro -tallest mountain, coast, cape, towns, capitals, lakes, elevation -shaded relief used for illustration, borders, countries, and islands
  • Scavenger Hunt Game:  Students with parent helpers or older students are given cards. They place a cone on the location listed on the card.
Simon Says…Explore! (PDF)
  • Recommended for K-8
  • Vocabulary/locations: political boundaries, coast, cardinal directions, capital citiies, Sahara Desert, Kalahari Desert, Nile River, Okavango Delta, Atlas Mountains, Congo Basin, Lake Victoria, Atalntic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Gabon, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Madagascar, and Egypt.
  • Materials: Simon Says cards (2-sided) and colored lanyards
  • Simon Says statements are provided on the lessons plans.
How Big Is Africa? (PDF)
  •  Recommended for grade 3-6
  •  Materials: blue nylon straps
  1.  How wide and how long is Africa? Students lie on their stomachs, head to toe, across Africa along its widest area. Another group does the same with the southern most coast to the northernmost coast. 
  2. Use blue nylon straps for the exact. (Each strap = 500 miles)
  3. The East – West distance from the coast of Gabon to the coast of Somalia is 4,655 miles. The
    North – South distance from the coast of Tunisia to the tip of South Africa is 4,989 miles – only
    334 miles difference.
  4. Make comparisons by sharing these facts with the students:
    • Distance from New York City to Los Angeles, California is 2,462 miles.
    • The total area of Africa is 11,686,111 square miles.
    • The total area of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) is 3,537,438 square miles.
    Africa is more than three times the size of the U.S.
    • Lesson plan has a table included:  Size of Africa in Relation to the U.S. States
    Cardinal Directions (PDF)
    •  Recommended for 2-6
    • Materials: colored cones, large hoops, map legends, cardinal directions game cards, teacher set-up key
    •  Vocabulary: cardinal directions
    • Students are divided up into teams. Student navigators draw a cardinal direction card and guide the student explorers  to the location on the card. Each explorer can only take one step at a time in the direction given by the team navigator. 
    • See lesson plan PDF above for more details.
    A Legend-ary Exploration (PDF)
    •  Recommended for 4-8
    •  Materials: 4 map legends/keys, 4 sets of photographs, metal photo holder, teacher key
    • Vocabulary: regions, symbols, tropical rain forest, desert, savanna, uban area, legend/key
    • Students are divided up into 4 teams and use the information they learn from exploring the regions of the map to correctly place regional photographs. (Photographs: dunes, pyramids, animals, people, aerial views, rivers...)
    African Population (PDF)
    •  Recommended for 4-8
    •  Materials: country cards, laminated climate and vegetation maps, colored plastic chains (5), plastic colored chips, orange polyspot
    • Vocabulary:  region, population, culture, economy, physical characteristics, political identity,  religion, biome, climate, landforms, vegetation.
    1. Divide students into 5 groups (Red Team • Western Africa,  Green Team • Northern Africa,  Yellow Team • Middle Africa,  Blue Team • Eastern Africa, Orange Team • Southern Africa)
    2. Teams are given plastic chains to mark each region and plastic chips to represent population. Each chip = 1 million people
    3. See lesson plan PDF above for more details.
      Additional Activities (PDF)
      •  Geo-Gym! Collaborate with a Physical Education teacher to create fun games on the map that combine exercise with geography! Use school Nerf balls, hoops, and flag football equipment to invent your own games! Remember: No shoes on the map! Running on the map is not recommended.
      • Music!  Invite a music teacher to lead an activity on the map using the sounds and instruments of Africa. Go to or play the compact disc included in the trunk to sample music from Africa.
      • Hemisphere Jumping! Place nylon strap on Equator. Jump from northern hemisphere to southern hemisphere. They'll get warm like they are at the Equator!
      • Ocean, Coast, Boundary, and Landlocked! Stand in the ocean, jump to the coast! Examine the lines that form countries. Are they straight or formed by a river? Look for landlocked countries! Explore!
      • Find It Fast! Divide class into teams. Students are given country cards and must locate the country within a given time.
      • Team Quiz! (See above PDF link.)

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      Two years ago we had the Giant Traveling Map of Asia. 
      Here is a movie we made!

      One year ago, we had the Giant Traveling Map of North America. 

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      What place do you want to locate on the Giant  Map of Africa? 

      Do you have any other ideas about what we could do on the map? 

      Can you share any facts about Africa?
      We ♥ learning!