I would like to start by thanking all of the wonderful grandparents and special friends that came out this morning for our annual event celebrating this important aspect of our community. The day was truly enjoyable and our students were thrilled to show off their campus, teachers and classmates, and engage in a fun activity with their guests.
This is the time of the year when our 8th graders find out which high school they will attend in August. Finding the right high school is important and the middle school faculty at Saklan has worked hard over the past months helping our graduates make the right choice to match their skills, interests and goals. I am pleased to announce that this year’s graduates were accepted to the following list of high schools:
The College Preparatory School
The Athenian School
Monte Vista High School
Campolindo High School
Las Lomas High School
Benicia High School
Concord High School
Northgate High School
This is very much in line with the pattern of high school attendance for Saklan graduates over the past 10 years. Of the independent schools, the top destinations are Bentley, Athenian, College Prep, and Head-Royce. An important fact to note is that over 90% of our 8th graders got into their high school of choice.
We now go into our Spring Break, which I hope will be restful and re-energizing. Upon our return, we will have less than two months of school left, and in this time, we have a number of big activities planned at Saklan. These include the Middle School Musical, the Spring Arts Festival, Book Fair, Family Fun Night, Graduation, and a number of interesting field trips.
During March, the Hoot Owls have been learning about sea life. This week the Hoot Owl class went on a field trip to Crab Cove in Alameda where they learned about some of the creatures found in San Francisco Bay. The children walked the beach during low tide and found many shells, seaweed and of course crabs. After a visit to the aquarium, we ended our field trip with a picnic and a game of tag!
This week, the seventh grade spent the afternoon focusing on our SEL topic wonder and awe that surrounds us in our world. They learnt how people around the world celebrate those things around us. To do this, and to excite the students about this theme, the 7th grade welcomed in spring by having a small festival of colors, a modified Holi festival, more like a color explosion.
Students welcomed in spring, wished away bad spirits and played by getting all colorful! They were quite beautiful!
March is biography month in second grade. We have been reading about many people who have made a difference in our world. Each student then selected one person to study. They read a biography, looked at internet information, and took notes about their historical person. The next step was to transfer their notes to note cards, organize props, and plan a costume. We invited all the parents and some of the other classes at Saklan to come and hear the presentations.
The fifth grade class just completed their State Reports and shared their reports with their parents on Wednesday morning. Each student chose a state they wanted to learn more about. They thoroughly researched their state and created a report including the following information about their state: history, attractions, geography, important people, agriculture and industry, and unique features. They also created a “choice chapter” where they each showed their creativity through models, collages, travel brochures, writing on topics of their choosing, and even an original rap song! The states represented in their reports are Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. Please stop by the fifth grade classroom to take a look at their reports and take a virtual tour of some of our great states of the U.S.!
For the past two days, Saklan faculty and parents have come together for our second set of parent-teacher conferences. The close connection between teachers, parents and students is a hallmark of Saklan. These meetings which focus on celebrating student growth and setting goals for improvement are critical in forging the bond of collaboration, which will provide each student with an outstanding educational experience. If you have not been able to schedule a parent-teacher conference in these past two days, just ask your homeroom teacher or advisor to schedule a meeting at another time. It is important to us that we have a chance to meet and discuss your child’s growth at Saklan.
For the past few years our middle school students have been doing student-led conferences. This is a process whereby students play an active role in the conference and discuss and reflect upon their own progress and goals. This is a powerful way of having students engage in and show ownership over their own learning. Here are some student thoughts on doing these conferences:
Victoria (Grade 8) – A student led conference is a great way to check in on how you are doing and to figure out how to do better.
Tyler (Grade 6) – Student led conferences help us to know what we have to work on and take action.
Claire (Grade 8) – Student led conferences let you and your parents bring up and share your issues and it’s a nice way to check in with your teachers.
Olivia (Grade 7) – Student led conferences allow you to share your perspective on things and if you are in trouble you can create your own action plan.
Dhilan (Grade 8) – Student led conferences allow you to be comfortable in talking about your successes and issues in class.
Next week, our middle school students will be taking the National Spanish Exam offered by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish. The National Spanish Examinations are online, standardized assessment tools for Grades 6 -12, given voluntarily by about 4000 teachers throughout the United States to measure performance (interpretive communication) and achievement of students who are studying Spanish as a second language. The National Spanish Examinations are the most widely used tests of Spanish in the United States and are administered online. In 2016, a total of 169,697 students registered for the National Spanish Examinations. The purpose of the National Spanish Examination is to:
recognize achievement in the study of the Spanish language
promote proficiency in interpretive communication in the Spanish language
assess the national standards as they pertain to learning Spanish
stimulate further interest in the teaching and learning of Spanish
The results of the exam come out about a month after they are taken and students can receive a Bronze, Silver or Gold award based on their results.
Next Friday, March 31st we will hold our annual Grandparents and Special Friends Day. This will start at 10:00AM with grandparents and special friends being greeted by and sharing refreshments with their grandchildren during morning recess. This will be followed by visits to the classroom where grandparents and special friends can see where our students work and participate in a fun collaborative activity. We will end the morning with a flag to celebrate a great day of fun, family and community. Our students are excited and looking forward to spending a fun morning with some of their favorite people. Please RSVP today so that we can be prepared for your visit.
In our continuing “Democracy in Action” study of race relations in America, our stellar 8th grade class just wrapped up an immersive project about the Abolitionist Movement. I’m proud of their serious–and fun!–approach to this project.
The assignment first involved researching historical power players in the 19th century struggle to end slavery. Students then created class presentations addressing the various methods of activism (e.g., writing books, giving speeches, educating the public, working within the system, tearing down the system, being a conductor on the Underground Railroad, leading armed rebellions, etc.). Significantly, the kids were challenged to try to dig into the psychology and motivation of major historical figures like Sojourner Truth, Harriett Tubman, and Frederick Douglass. The students also had to work hard to make connections in effort to understand how backgrounds and life-changing experiences shape personality and actions. During their presentations and impromptu role play debates, the kids aimed to embody the distinctive characters of our nation’s preeminent freedom fighters. In this way, the kids gained insight into what it truly means to stand up for your beliefs against all odds and make a difference in the world.
After learning all about the ear and how we hear the second graders began the study of color and sight. Once again, they did many experiments to see how light travels and how prisms work. They even learned how to write their names in Braille. The highlight of this unit was when members of the Contra Costa Dog Raisers visited our class. They gave us a short lecture about preparing puppies to become guide dogs for the blind. We also presented our donation of $355.00 which we raised from our school bake sale.