Last night’s screening of the film Beyond Measure by Vicki Abeles moved The Saklan School closer towards fulfilling its promise of being an Educational Lighthouse to the East Bay and beyond. The documentary itself validated that many of the things we do here at Saklan are on the cutting edge of what excellent schools do. That is not to say we do not have work to do; we do. But it was clear from our conversation with Vicki (who attended the viewing and held a Q&A after) that we are poised to be a leading voice in educational best practices.
What was even more exciting was that there were many attendees from outside the Saklan community. Teachers and parents from the area came, and in speaking with them, they were not only interested in the documentary, but also in Saklan. We are in a unique place at Saklan to be a leading voice in the conversation about 21st Century education.
I feel fortunate to be part of this community and truly believe that what we are doing here is important work bigger than just us. The students that we touch become bright spots in the high schools they join; the parents we reach think about education in a different way.
If it sounds like we are on a mission, you are correct. Saklan has been a “hidden gem” for far too long. I am asking for your help in spreading the word about Saklan by promoting our Open Houses in the coming months. While every parent who attends our Open Houses may not join us, they will see that there is a different and engaging path to educating children – one built on strong relationships, hands-on real-world work and giving students autonomy in their education.
Please share our Open House events with friends and families through your social media and other contacts. This small act will not only help Saklan but will further an important discussion our society desperately needs to have.
The eighth graders have been working on an extremely important unit, The Linear Equation, in which they explore the interconnectedness of equations, graphs, tables, and patterns. First, the students used different tile patterns to make tables, write a rule or equation, or play games. They then looked at the relationship between the patterns and their graphs. Using what they found, the students were able to draw conclusions about the tables and graphs to write equations and to do it all in reverse, quickly drawing graphs and making tables from equations. This mastery of linear equations or y=mx+b will greatly help these algebra students as they move on to more complex quadratic equations.
After finishing the remainder of Algebra 1 at the beginning of the year, the students have moved on to geometry. Right now they are learning how to write proofs using various games to make it more fun. They will also continue to do challenging logic puzzles, focusing on writing clear justifications of the conclusions they reach. This will help them solve the complicated proofs that await them this year.
Fifth grade students have been working on their Autobiography projects. They are producing some amazing writing! After they had learned about sensory words, the students went on a sensory walk, off campus, noting many sensory items.
They returned back to do a silent sensory experience with a cookie. Students were able to describe their cookies using sensory vocabulary. Lots of “sparkle words.”
Judy Chicago’s installation The Dinner Party is the inspiration for this clay project. In 1974 the feminist artist created 39 table settings reminiscent of the Last Supper for influential women who might have never been celebrated for their contribution to society. The students researched women in history that follow the criteria Chicago used to choose her 39 women. Some of the many she dedicated her work to include Sacajawea, Sojourner Truth, Virginia Wolf, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
After choosing the woman the student is most inspired by, they have to find a dish that suits the woman’s culture. Using our new ceramic kiln, the students will create the plate/bowl and food out of clay. While the 6th grade has been in Yosemite this week, the 7th and 8th grade have started on making the cups for their table setting. Ultimately, the students will also install their work as a group in celebration of the The Dinner Party.
The sixth grade has spent the last few weeks learning about our Earth’s plate boundaries and earthquakes. They have seen how each plate boundary has moved our continents to where they are today and are continuing to move them. Students have researched historic earthquakes and reported on them to the class. They also learned about new technologies that help those in earthquake zone areas stay safe in buildings.
Along with this, the students were tasked with building a four story building that could withstand an earthquake. The students were allowed to use different earthquake building technologies which can reduce the shaking to a building. These included x-braces, cross braces, mass-dampers and extended building shapes. Each student created their own design and we tested them to see which building would allow for the least amount of shaking.
The Kindergarten has been working on a project in music centered around Camille Saint-Saens’ work Carnival of the Animals, a collection of music based on the movements and behaviors of many different wild animals. This Thursday, the project culminated with a trip to the Oakland Zoo.
Our Kindergartners re-listened to each song on a Bluetooth speaker, and used the musical clue to figure out the animal they were looking for. They then collaborated together with basic map skills to find the animal. Once there, they observed the animal and decided whether it’s behaviors were consistent or different from those expressed in the music.
This outing allowed our students to unify teamwork with excellent listening and observation skills by using their natural curiosity and love of animals. When the students return to class, they will finish with an in-class art project. Stop by next week to see the finished products!
4th graders were in the Science Lab the last 3 weeks and were studying about electricity and currents. They learned about static and moving charges, what items are considered insulators and conductors, and built both a number of series and parallel circuits.
In conclusion to that unit, the students got to work with our new STEM kits and build their own inventions. They had light up Koala cups, beeping cat rear ends, a cat car, a galaxy vehicle and a cloud spinning car. It was a lot of fun!
The first class novel in third grade was Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. The story centers around a girl named Opal who just moved to a new town and is having a hard time making new friends. She adopts a stray dog that she names after the grocery store where she found him. Everything that happens to her and the new friends she makes are all “because of Winn Dixie.”
The students learned many new things through this novel study including new vocabulary, identifying character traits, and about the theme of friendship. They also wrote chapter summaries and made predictions about what was going to happen next in the story.
One of the characters in the book was a candy maker who developed a type of candy that made you feel sad when you ate it. For a creative writing activity each student created their own candy that evoked different emotions, such as Lilah’s Laughter and Crying Caramel. They then created an advertisement to persuade people to want to buy their candy.
Tuesday was “Because of Winn Dixie Day” in third grade. The students celebrated by watching the movie and having a party. They talked about their favorite characters from the book. They played a compare/contrast game where they used a Venn diagram to determine if something happened in the book, the movie or both. They had a party just like the one in the book that Opal throws for her friends. Many students tried new foods they had never tried before like egg-salad sandwiches and dill pickles! This day was a wonderful way to celebrate friendship and share our joy of reading!
For the month of September, the Owlets had fun learning about community helpers. One of the community helpers they learned about were firefighters. To end the unit, they had a special visit from the firefighters from Station 41 in Moraga. The firefighters came to Saklan and the students got to see one of the fire engines.
The kids saw the firefighters all dressed in their fire gear, tried on their fire jacket, and even sat in the driver seat of the fire engine. It was a blast and the Owlets were very thankful for Station 41 taking the time to come to visit!
The Saklan School recently held an election for Student Council. The students campaigned by writing speeches and presenting them at Flag. The students voted later that day. We announced the results of the election to the middle school students on Tuesday. Here is a list of the elected officers.
Max B. (8th grade) and Harrison L. (8th grade)
Jordan D. (6th grade) Makenna C. (6th grade)
Evy A. (6th grade) and Elishka G. (6th grade)
Lauren A. (8th grade) and Phoebe K. (6th grade)
We are very proud of all the students who ran and we are excited for a great year!