Head’s Corner

“We are a small school, you have probably never heard of us, but if you have heard of us, you have probably heard good things.”

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17-29-19, those are the attendance numbers of our last three Open Houses. 17 and 19 at our two Lower School Open Houses and 29 at the Middle School Open House two weeks ago. As a point of reference, when we have held lower school open houses in the past, we have never had more than a handful of people and the most at a middle school one would be 15.

Why the increase? I would like to say that it is due to the banner at the Orinda Bart, the yard signs, or our Facebook push. But every time I ask a family who tours how they heard of us, they inevitably tell me a current or former family told them about Saklan. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising out there. In the independent school world, it is the most important reason people decide to join a school.

We hope you place our Saklan magnet on your car out of pride, but also to give others a chance to ask you about our work here at Saklan. The more children that experience an education like the one Saklan provides the better it is for our world.

So hopefully we will be soon saying, “We are a small school, you’ve probably heard of us and heard good things.”

Warm regards,

David

Students Experience Rain Forest in Virtual Reality

This week, the 7th grade spent time in the Borneo Rain Forest using virtual reality viewers. Students were able to have a 360 degree view of the forest and see for themselves different plants and animals that make their home there. While their main job was to learn about different adaptations organisms have for living there, the students also seemed to really enjoy the feeling. Whether it was standing in a mangrove forest, being in a cave with bats, or being inches from a cicada, they seemed to “feel” like they were there. If it did get a bit too much, as it is quite a different experience, students could take a time out and use a tablet to experience this as well.

Invention Exploratorium

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The first grade class learned about Simple Machines. They each invented their own machine using various scraps of recycled materials. During their presentations, they had to explain how this invention would work and why it was helpful. Way to go First Grade!

¡Felices Fiestas!

Saklan’s students had a “POSADA” this week. Posada is a tradition that gives the opportunity for students to enjoy a fiesta in a true Hispanic fashion. As part of this tradition, middle school students decorated their classmates’ candy bag to show how well they know each other. In fact, a student said “The person who decorated my bag knows me very well.”

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The students took turns swinging at the piñata filled with candy while onlookers sang an encouraging verse “Dale, dale, dale; no pierdas el tino, porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino.” Once the piñata was broken, kids collected the falling candy to fill their bags. It was a party filled with cheerful socializing and wishing each other Happy Holidays, Felices Fiestas, in Spanish.

Kindergarten Field Experience

The Kindergarten class have been learning about our community. They learned that a community is a group of people living and working together. We talked about the various communities they are part of including their families, school and neighborhoods. The children also learned about community helpers and the job the community helpers do to make our community better.

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Last week, we had a field experience visiting the Moraga Fire Station. The children heard about the many jobs firefighters perform besides putting out fires. On the walk home we visited the Moraga Community Garden.

The children were surprised to see chickens and growing food right in their community. Thank you, Meredith, for sharing with us your beautiful garden! Added to our fun, Jerry the Bear, on his world tour, accompanied us on our adventures!

5th Graders Choose Kind

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Fifth graders just finished reading the book, Wonder. This is an amazing story about a fifth grade boy, August, who was born with a severe facial deformity. Up until now, he has been home-schooled by his mother. Now, his parents feel it is important for August to go to school and meet other students. Going to school is filled with many challenges and successes, not only for August, but for many of the other characters. This story has many important themes. One prevalent theme is: Kindness. Fifth graders discussed the many ways they show kindness to others.

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Students chose twelve ways they show kindness and have written them on their “Rainbows of Kindness” art projects. If you are looking for an exciting story, this is the book for you! Fifth graders choose “kind.”

Hopscotch Tournament

The Saklan School’s Third Annual Back to School Hopscotch Tournament has concluded. Back in September over forty contestants started a single elimination tournament playing hopscotch during recess.

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The matches where very close, with a few perfect games. Aaron (7th) finished fourth. Sadie (4th) finished third. The final match was between Niko (3rd) and Harrison (8th). Both finalists played perfect games and another finals match was needed to determine a champion. Harrison pulled it off with Niko close behind!

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Shout out to all the competitors, they all did a great job! The next recess contests will be a hula-hoop competition and the Saklan Cup soccer round-robin.

If I Were Trapped in a Snow Globe

The third grade students have been busy working on a creative writing piece titled: “If I Were Trapped in a Snow Globe.” They used the strategies we learned in our personal narrative writing unit to create such fun, original stories!

Their writing, along with a picture of their snow globe, is on display in our classroom. Please come by and take a look!

Middle School Art Elective

This Middle School Art Elective focuses on the human form in Sculpture. Students can proportionately sculpt the body or be inspired by artist Alberto Giacometti’s figures. The students create their figures out of foil, pipe cleaners and tape, before using paper mache.

Some of the students are making separate props for their figures such as a skateboard, surf board, book, and a lacrosse stick. The last class will be spent painting the figures.

Head’s Corner

You Say Tomato, I Say Field Study

If you have heard us talk about our students’ “field trips” recently, you may have noticed that we try to exchange the word “trip” with “study” or “experience,” or even used the term “field work.” Words matter, they send specific messages in our educational culture. The phrase field trip is predominately used when describing experiential learning. But “field trip” sounds close to going on a fun excursion as opposed to doing the work of real world learning.

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Today, our kindergartners went “into the field” to do the serious work of researchers. They are currently studying the different aspects of what makes a community and traveled to the Moraga Fire Station. At the station, they interviewed the firemen about the different roles they play in our community. They discovered that a fireman not only puts out fires but helps with medical emergencies, educate citizens, as well as participates in activities that bring our community closer. While I am sure the students had fun (engaged learning is fun), make no doubt about it, the students were doing the work of researchers in the field.

Next week, our 8th graders head to Washington D.C. to do field work. Their objective is to understand how D.C. represents American cultural values. They have been doing research over the past two weeks in order to do a real world investigation of their driving question. To understand their question at a deeper level, they will be examining artifacts, hearing from experts, as well as learning from each other.

In the case of both the 8th graders and the kindergartners, students are doing the serious work of researchers. They are investigating, talking with experts, reflecting and revising their understanding. In other words, they are approaching learning like graduate students. Which is why we prefer the phrase “field experience” or “field study” to field trip as they more accurately describe the serious nature of the work our students do.