This month, the Hoot Owls have been learning about deciduous trees, trees that lose their leaves. With leaves falling all around us, the Hoot Owls made leaf prints to save the image of the leaf after the real leaf has crumbled and blown away. To start, Hoot Owls chose a leaf they found most interesting from a basket of different types of leaves.
Next, Hoot Owls painted the leaf paying close attention to the shape of the leaf and the veins running through the leaf. Step two was to firmly press a piece of paper over the top of the leaf. The most exciting part was pealing the leaf off to reveal a beautiful leaf print that could last forever.
The students at Saklan are preparing the altar for the Dia de los Muertos celebration which takes place Oct. 31st – Nov. 2nd. This is a traditional Mexican holiday celebrated in Mexico as well as in the United States. This Middle School elective course is taught by the 4th – 8th grade Spanish teacher Maestra Padilla and K – 8th Art instructor Ms. Natalie.
Here the students are painting the skulls they sculpted in clay after making traditional flores de papel (paper flowers) that will surround the altar space. Dia de los Muertos is a time when people come together to remember and honor those that have passed. The students will be choosing people in the community and prominent figures that they will honor in the altar.
Last week, the 6th grade took off to Yosemite for a week of hands-on science, team building, connecting with nature, learning about themselves, and becoming more independent. It was one of our best trips ever. Between hiking below Half Dome, climbing through giant sequoias, seeing amazing wildlife and supporting each other when they needed it, I know they won’t forget their Yosemite trip. Here are some of the thoughts from their week away.
“Another motive of going to Yosemite, besides the educational part, is that it’s a great class bonding experience where you can hang out with people you maybe weren’t so close to and leave with them being one of your best friends! Also, it’s an awesome experience. Up close with nature you see animals and your classmates being crazy! It’s just an awesome experience!”– Elishka
“Although I didn’t have a favorite part about the trip (the whole experience was amazing), I especially enjoyed the bear cave. It was on our second day in Yosemite. I was with my trail group, and we climbed through tight spaces. We were standing in front of the cave, and our leader José led us to a small hole, and then he started going in. At first I had thought that he was just joking, because the crack looked too tiny to fit in. But soon enough, I was inside, and it wasn’t as tiny as I had expected it to be!” – Isabel S.
“My favorite memory in Yosemite was probably when Ryder, Oliver, Reese and I set the record for the most people inside of a bear box together. First went Reese, then Ryder, then Oliver and I went in. “Oh boy was it uncomfortable”- Oliver. “Worst Experience Ever”- Carson. “I was squashed against my applesauce”- Reese – Carson
“I felt connected to the rest of my class because I talked to new people and learned more about them. Specifically, I felt connected to those who were in my hiking group. We bonded over silly things and we told funny stories about our siblings. When we did the caterpillar line and the spider tunnels, we built trust for each other and learned to guide others in the right direction.”– Makenna
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.