Friday, October 19, 2018

What is Family Blogging Month?

This is a post written by Linda Yollis sharing her idea called Family Blogging Month. It is cross-posted at The Edublogger. I hope this post inspires you to host your own Family Blogging Month! 

I have been an elementary school teacher for 32 wonderful years. Building relationships, fostering a love of learning, and promoting reading and writing are the foundations of my classroom. 

Mrs. Yollis Classroom Blog

I started blogging in 2008 and quickly found it to be a fabulous way to meaningfully connect parents and other learning partners with our classroom. I use the classroom blog to share what is happening in our room. Everyone enjoys seeing what we are learning, but it is the comment section that I really love.  The comment section is where the blog comes to life, where learning is extended, and relationships are built. Reading and writing in an authentic way with a real audience makes learning and connecting fun! 

Why Host a Family Blogging Month? 

In an effort to promote blog commenting and family interaction, I created Family Blogging Month back in 2010. The idea of Family Blogging Month (FBM) is to encourage as many family members and friends to contribute to our learning via the comment section.  FBM has proved to be a successful way to create an online learning community and build relationships. 

Why November?

I run FBM annually in November for a couple of reasons. First, after being in my classroom for two months, most of my students and their families are following the blog and understand how to navigate it. Everyone seems to enjoy reading the blog, so I feel that it is time to step up the process and encourage commenting. By November, everyone is ready to level up!  

Second, Thanksgiving in America is in November. Our school has a week off and many families travel to spend time with their relatives. FBM provides a great opportunity to introduce the blog and connect new friends to our learning community!  

How Do I Kick It Off? 

I update and publish the following blog post every year and "November is Family Blogging Month" begins!


Mrs. Yollis and her students  to share what they are learning and experiencing. In an effort to include more family members in our online community, we are proclaiming: 

November is Family Blogging Month!

Each student made a list of their family members. 

After looking through the archive of our class blog and our Yollis 365 blog, students selected specific posts tailored to the interest of a particular relative. Selecting a good post for mom and dad, another for grandma.

A dog post is a great one for siblings!

We're inviting everyone to comment: moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, and cousins. 
We welcome friends, too!

Students will be inviting their family and friends to participate in a conversation! 
Maybe we'll get some 2-point comments

(We frequently evaluate the comments that our blog has received. In order to earn the 2-points, a comment must be error-free and add something to the post.   Many of Mrs. Yollis' third graders have already met the challenge!)

If you don't know what to say, here is a video made by Mrs. Yollis' third graders. 

Learn FIVE tips for writing a quality comment! 

If you don't know How to leave a comment, here is a video tutorial about HOW to leave a comment on our blog.

Here is the key we will use for  Family Blogging Month.

The top three bloggers with the most comments will win a free post on Mrs. Yollis Classroom Blog, a free meal at a local restaurant, and bragging rights! 

What do you think of our idea?

Who are you inviting to be a part of our online community?

Please leave a comment and introduce yourself!


Too Many Comments?

Yes, that can happen! The enthusiasm is often very high, and we end up with too many comments in our kick-off post. When the comment section gets too long, it makes it difficult to read and to follow. So, once the comment total gets too high, I start a new blog post. This directs our bloggers to a new topic. 

Ideas for additional November is Family Blogging Posts

Having at least one new post per week during the month of November helps keep the comments fresh and interesting. I often come up with a new blog topic from the comment section! Here are a few ideas I've used over the years. 

  • Veterans Day is in November and that has become one of the annual FBM posts. I email the parents at the beginning of November and ask them to share a photo and information about family members who are veterans. There is tremendous pride from military families. For many students, it is the first time they are hearing about their grandparents or aunts and uncles who have served our country! Here is a sample post: Family Blogging Month :: Happy Veterans Day 2015

  • A blog comment about travel opened up a discussion about the 50 states. Soon families were counting and sharing how many states each family member had visited. It was a great post integrating geography, data, and proper nouns! Here is the post Family Blogging Month :: The 50 States

Beautiful Moments from Family Blogging Month!

Everyone benefits from the quality reading and writing opportunities that blogging affords. But I must tell you, there have been some truly magical connections made over the years. Here are just a few. 

  • Where Nonno? Series  Ben's grandfather lived in Italy and was a guest writer on the blog for a year. Everyone loved learning about Italy from Nonno and then meeting him when he came back to America.

  • Meet Grandma Barb Troy, Nolan, and Faith's grandmother has been a fantastic blog commenter over the years. When she comes to California from Wisconsin to visit, everyone wants to see her! 

Tips About Family Blogging Month!

1. When you publish a post, email all the parents so they know a new post is available.

2. Feature people and ideas from the comment sections in your blog posts like I shared above. It's a wonderful way for the class to get to know one another. (Reminder: limit personal information!)

3. Provide blogging time during your ELA block. I have found that not every family participates, so a student can grow as a blogger and earn blog comments during class with their friends.  

A Few Former Family Blogging Month Winners!

Here are some former winners and their guest posts!

What do you think of Family Blogging Month?

How would you tailor it for your students?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Teaching Commenting Skills!

Mrs. Yollis' class is participating in the International Student Blogging Challenge!

The focus of week 2 is composing QUALITY comments!

Parts of a Blog

Blogging has many parts: the post, the comments, and the sidebar. If you do a good job with all of the parts, your blog will be more interesting. Today we will focus on quality comments! The comment section is where the blog comes to life and a learning community is built. 

Content is key!

In our class, we evaluate our blog comments. A one-point comment is a general comment that doesn't add very much to the post.   Example: I like your blog. Please visit mine! 

two-point comment adds something to the comment conversation. A commenter might compliment the writer in a specific way or add new information. Another idea is to make a connection. Maybe the post reminds you of an experience that you've had. Share that connection!  Try to end your comment with a relevant question. That way, an interesting conversation can develop.

What should I say in my comment?

Here is a video made by Mrs. Yollis' students called How to Compose a Quality Comment!  It offers FIVE tips to help you take your comments to the next level!

We like to open our comments with a greeting and end with a closing. We choose to do this as it makes it easier for us to follow the conversation within a comment section.

How do you get comments typed and published?

-For Advanced Bloggers-

Some bloggers like to use HTML code to make their comments better.  Learning to write HTML code, or HTML tags, is a somewhat simple way to take your comment to the next level.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is a language.

*     *     *     *     *

To write HTML code, use the following symbols:

Important: Do not add a space between the HTML tag and the word or sentence.


1.  To put text in italics, place this HTML code around the text:



The sentence will look like this when published:

Bloggers should always proofread a comment before publishing.


2.  To make text bold, place this HTML code around the text:


The sentence will look like this when published:  

Bloggers should always proofread a comment before publishing.



3.  To make a hyperlink, it gets a little tricky.

Use the following HTML code around the URL and add your own link word/words:

  [The URL is the address of the web page. It starts with http://www…]

The HTML code below:

Will become this hyperlink when published:

                                                                 Mrs. Yollis’ Website

Sometimes it is hard to remember the HTML codes. I keep an HTML word document on my desktop with all the common codes, especially the one to create a hyperlink. Here is a video demonstrating how easy it is to a create a hyperlink if you have the code set up in a Word doc.

If you like to add fun are those codes!

My class, DO NOT sign into anything. Instead, choose NAME/URL


What did you learn about quality commenting? 
 Why is it important to proofread a comment before pressing publish? 

Here are some comment starters:

What do you use to learn typing?

What are some famous landmarks in your country and have you visited them? 

What are some traditional foods from your area? 

What are some professional teams in your area? 

What languages do you speak? 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Student Blogging Challenge Begins!

Mrs. Yollis and her students love blogging! They are excited about joining other bloggers from all over the world to learn together!

What countries are participating? 

What are some of the tasks for this week? 

Some Information About Us! 

Meet Mrs. Yollis  

Our teacher is Mrs. Yollis. She has been teaching elementary school for 32 years and has been an educational blogger for 11 years. She is the administrator of this class blog, but also runs a class photo-of-the-day blog. It is called the Yollis 365 Project, and it is a fabulous place to share photos, creative writing, and poetry!

Meet the Third Graders 

Our class is a third-grade class filled with 11 boys and 15 girls. We are 1:1 with Acers, so we love integrating technology. For example, we LOVE watching BrainpopJr videos, looking at the National Weather Service's forecast, educating ourselves with Freckle,  creating and sharing our learning with Seesaw, and "going places" using the Chrome Extension Earth View

Meet Beverly the bear, Barnaby Bones, and Flat Panda! 

When not at school, the class has a lot of hobbies and interests. We are only about 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean, so many students like to collect shells, swim, boogie board, climb the rocks, search for sea glass, build sand castles, and surf. One student recently went deep sea fishing and caught over 18 fish, some sand dabs and rockfish. Several students have made the trip to Catalina Island. 

Sports are a big part of everyone's life. Numerous students play soccer. Handball is popular, and so is baseball. At recess, some popular games are prisoner, jump roping, kickball, soccer, tetherball, dodgeball, and hula hooping. 

One student goes to the local public pool to do laps.

Food is an important part of life and we have many favorites! Some popular foods at lunch are pizza, hot dogs, corn dogs, pasta, and chicken nuggets. Sometimes they serve pancakes! 

For fun, we like to play Silent Speed Ball, learn sign language from one of Mrs. Yollis' former students, and of course, juggling! 

 Our Avatars 
We used Seesaw and our Acer cameras to make avatars. An avatar is an image used to represent you online. Notice how we limited our personal information! 

Where Are We?

Mrs. Yollis' third graders live in the northern hemisphere. It is fall. North America is our continent. Our nation is the United States of America. However, sometimes our country is abbreviated as the U.S.A. or America. Our country is divided up into fifty states, and we live in one of the fifty states, California. 


California is the third largest state after Alaska and Texas. Out of all the 50 states, we have the largest population. There are more than 39 million Californians! Our state capital is Sacramento, and our largest urban area is Los Angeles. We live in a suburb of LA. 

Here is the Californian flag. 

What hemisphere and country do you live in?

What are some popular foods and games played at your school? 

What fun games do you play for a brain break? 

What questions do you have for us?
We will reply to your comments. 

Tell us about your class!