August Wrap-Up

My goodness, what a start to the school year!

I remember planning for this year over summer. I prayed for each of my future students, that they would be happy and safe where they were. I felt heartache, knowing that it was likely that they’d have to begin the year without being able to safely attend schools in person.

Kids are so awesome.

The school year began, and I saw students showing up, day after day, to our virtual Meets. They had created learning spaces where they could station “school” at home.

Actually, I wouldn’t even call it “school.” It’s School!

I saw students raising their hands, communicating, contributing to discussion. I watched as they devoured every assignment I threw at them these first couple weeks of distance learning. They have been so willing to try every assignment and task I have set before them in our current virtual platform. And it’s working! We have successfully launched just about every part of our core curriculum.

This hasn’t been without its challenges. In a normal year, students would have to mentally cope with a new classroom, get the feel of their new books, get used to their new teacher, and all the other things that make a school year both exciting and nerve-wracking. This year, they have to do all of that PLUS cope with scary stuff on the news every night, financial hardships in our country, being far away from their school and their friends, AND learn a totally new set of virtual education tools just to do homework which would have normally taken them 5 minutes.

It’s a lot.

I point this out because I want children everywhere to know how phenomenal they are. When they show up, day after day, tired or frustrated from the technology and emotional burden of the pandemic, and they are willing to read, giggle, write, learn, think, wonder, discuss, persevere in problem solving, AND click programs which seem to have a built-in crash experience….they are superheroes.

I’m so proud and happy for these students, and students everywhere. They get themselves prepared and ready. Stuff crashes, internet connection goes down, and they get frustrated. Then you know what these magnificent kids do? They feel their feelings, catch their breath, get adults involved and make a plan, and get back to work! They are showing up, and telling the world with all its problems, “I have a future.”

I’d like to think I would have the same strength of character when I was 9 or 10. But the point is, I’ll never know because I’ve never had to be so strong as students are today.

To these super students here and everywhere, I can’t speak enough about my feelings of respect for each of them and how they are facing the challenges of this school year head-on. And for any kids who wonder: no, that doesn’t mean I’ll be any easier on grades LOL!!! In fact, you will probably find that I will always give you an opportunity to choose to improve. After all, you are showing up like a champ to work through an unprecedented school year. You are here, doing the work, trying, failing, trying again. I’m here to help grow and refine your mind–your vehicle–so that you can take yourself as far in life as you choose to.

The fourth grade adventure continues…..

Margaret Yakhnenko, M. Ed

What’s Happening in Math This Year?

Multicolored Abacus Photography

Begin with the end in mind.

-Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

It’s a big question: Mrs. Yakhnenko, what are you planning to teach in math?

We have a great math curriculum to keep students learning and inspired throughout the year! Be sure to stop by the classroom to check out our math projects–I’ll be posting as many as possible as soon as they are graded.

Here’s a list of all the big ideas and concepts we are planning to talk about in math this year!

Big Ideas in Mathematics

  • Number Uses, Classification, and Representation
  • Numbers and the Number Line
  • The Base-Ten Numeration System
  • Equivalence
  • Comparison and Relationships
  • Operation Meanings and Relationships
  • Estimation
  • Properties
  • Basic Facts and Algorithms
  • Variables, Expressions, and Equations
  • Solving Equations and Inequalities
  • Ratio and Proportionality
  • Patterns, Relations, and Functions
  • Geometric Figures
  • Measurement
  • Data Collection and Representation
  • Practices, Processes, and Proficiencies
White Graphing Notebook

What Successful Math Students Do

Here are the Standards for Mathematical Practice, as listed by the Common Core Standards. These are the types of behaviors I will be focusing on teaching in class, but it’s good for students to start thinking about what they look like as soon as possible.

I think about these behaviors like this: if I took a look at as many students as I could who succeed in math, they’d probably be able to do all these things:

  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
  • Model with mathematics
  • Use appropriate tools strategically
  • Attend to precision
  • Look for and make use of structure
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

Fourth Grade Is A Big Math Year

Our class has definite missions in mind for mathematics this year. I’m thrilled with this curriculum and can’t wait to show your child that learning math can be challenging, exciting, and fun!

Sincerely,

Mrs. Yakhnenko

My Child Is Sick: Tips for Students Missing Class

Being sick is no fun–and being sick during a pandemic can be worrisome. The last thing you or your child needs is to fear falling behind in schoolwork! This post is to help reassure and support you as you keep your child healthy and safe.

I cannot stress enough how important it is for your child to stay home if he/she is sick!

If your Child is Nervous About Falling Behind

Here’s a letter from Yours Truly to help them know that I think rest is best when you are sick:

Dear Super-Awesome Student,

I’m so sad you can’t be with us today in class. I’m leaving this little note here so that you’ll know I will be praying for you and thinking happy thoughts about you until you are well and can come back to us.

I know you don’t want to get behind in school. Don’t worry, just get better! I have some stuff you can work on at home, if you are well enough to make that choice. We will work together to make sure you are caught up–I’m on your side, and everything is going to be alright!

Stay safe, think good thoughts, and get well soon!

Love,
Mrs. Yakhnenko

Sick Day Checklist: Focusing on What We Can Do

Here is a general checklist of what your child can do if he/she is missing school due to illness:

  • FIRST: follow school guidelines for letting them know your child will be absent. You must contact the office, and they will let me know. Do not send me a text, email, or call–the office has to take care of attendance!
  • Check homework postings. To see what we’re working on, visit the page for the current month. I’ll be keeping a log of homework assignments and things to work on there, so that your child can stay caught up.
  • Make arrangements for picking up or dropping off homework assignments, as needed. Some assignments can be submitted through Google Classroom.
  • Check out the enrichment page for ideas and inspiration that your child can browse. These projects are not formally assigned or graded, but they will provide extra challenges and fun.
  • Need extra help or tutoring? Or perhaps your child wants to get ahead and study for the spelling test? Check out our classroom podcast for tons of good stuff–perfect for students who need to rest but aren’t ready to give up getting ahead. They could even listen to the podcast and study with their eyes closed!
  • Gonna be out for a while? Send me an email and I would love to write your child a letter or send a handwritten Get Well Soon card just for him or her.
  • Please refer to school handbooks and follow protocol for students who will miss more than a couple of days of school.

Support and In Closing

Studies show that missing school has consequences for learning and progress. Taking time to learn at home (when possible) can help minimize those consequences–and get your child caught up again in no time!

My hope is that these resources help you feel supported as you keep your child healthy and safe. I am, as always, here to help your child succeed and make the most of the phenomenal opportunity of attending St. Stanislaus School!

All the best,

Margaret Yakhnenko

Classroom Rules

During the first week of school, we will collaborate as a class to generate a list of our classroom rules.

Guiding Principles

I will be providing parameters for these rules based on these principles:

  1. The teacher has the right to teach.
    We will discuss what good teachers look/sound like, equitable instruction, and what behaviors might get in the way of a teacher’s right to teach.
  2. The students have a right to learn.
    We will discuss what good students look/sound like, building a growth mindset, and what behaviors might get in the way of a student’s right to learn.
  3. Everyone in the classroom should feel safe, included, and respected.
    The classroom should be exciting and inspirational, as well as a source of safety both emotionally and psychologically.

Getting your child ready to talk about it:

We are going to come together as a classroom community. We each have different talents, as well as different learning needs. I’ve found that a great conversation starter in the classroom is this photo depicting equitable instruction:

Equity vs. Equality | Master Teaching
If a good teacher wants all her students to “see the game,” which side has the best approach? What might that look like from a student’s point of view?

After we have discussed our class rules together, I will post them in several places:
-On display in the classroom
-In a Newsletter
-On this blog

Questions and Discussion

With any questions, concerns, or comments regarding classroom rules, please email me at my school email address. I’ll be happy to discuss these with you!

Video Enrichment Recommendations

Here is a list of videos which are recommended/inspired by our Social Studies text. Many of these are available either online first through platforms such as YouTube, or through the public library. I recommend checking out the library using apps like Hoopla!

Please note: Mrs. Yakhnenko does not encourage or support students to use apps or digital media without parental supervision. Please discover videos at your own risk.

Check Out these Educational Videos:

Our Thirsty World, National Geographic 2010
Yosemite National Park, Finley-Holiday Film Corporation 1985
California Missions, Huell Howser Productions/PBS Los Angeles
Great Ships: The Galleons, The History Channel New Video Group
Hernando Cortes, Hispanic and Latin American Heritage Video Collection, Schlessinger Media, 1995
Living History, Huell Howser Productions/PBS Los Angeles
The Donner Party, PBS Video 1992
Chinatown, from the series Neighborhoods: The Hidden Cities of San Francisco, KQED San Francisco
The Great San Francisco Earthquake, PBS Video, 1989
The Iron Road, PBS Video 1990