Field Experience to One Room Schoolhouse

Last Monday the third graders went back in time to 1888 and experienced life as a pioneer child at the Tassajara One Room Schoolhouse. They came dressed in their finest pioneer clothes and brought their lunches in a basket or a kerchief tied to a stick.

They learned that the schoolhouse is over 130 years old and was built when Grover Cleveland was president. The students got to write on slate boards with chalk and also use a quill pen dipped in ink. Some fun recess activities included playing jump rope, walking on cans and walking on stilts. They also sang songs and played instruments popular in the 1800’s. The third graders had a great day and decided that school was fun in 1888!


5th Grade Life Size Keith Haring Paintings

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Learning about the significance and lasting impression Keith Haring had in communities all around the world, the students found inspiration in his animated, whimsical, and political work. Working life size can be intimidating, so they started drawing outside using chalk. The students had no boundaries using the ground as their canvas and the energy was high and full of excitement!

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Exercise two was moving the body to recreate the expressive poses Haring’s characters have. After striking many poses, the students helped trace each other to keep the drawing life size. They then stylized the hands and feet with Haring’s signature style and painted in the figure. This project will be showcased among others completed throughout the year at the Spring Arts Festival next Friday, May 3rd from 3-6PM.


Earth Day Promise

The Owlets and their 6th grade buddies got together and did an Earth Day project. They worked together to create a mosaic Earth out of small pieces of paper. Then they had to come up with ideas to help keep the Earth clean and beautiful.

After they finished their projects, they got to play together on the turf. It was a lot of fun and the Owlets sure do love their big buddies!


Here Comes the Sun

Singing is such an important part of any school. It is a way to be loud when often we are told to be quiet, to join in with our peers and elders and those who look up to us. It is a quick way to become a community, a way to be silly, to celebrate, and to just live in the moment and create something beautiful that comes from the inside.

The pitches don’t have to be perfect, and not everyone will sound the same, but when we sing we enjoy the uniqueness of every person who joins in. At Saklan, we love to sing!


Middle School Personal Projects

At the start of Trimester 3, the entire Middle School began thinking more and more like artists. The students came up with a proposal that covered what, how and why they are making their artwork. They could work in groups or individually. They could make one time consuming work of art or work with a series and create multiple works. Options in material choice was anything in the Art Room.

Over the course of the last two months, the students have developed their work, started over and came up with new ideas to complete and wrote an artist statement to represent themselves. The process of creating your own work of art from start to finish is extremely important in keeping kids creative. All of the finished work will be shown at the upcoming Spring Arts Festival next Friday, May 3rd from 3-6PM.


Head’s Corner

Bouncing Forward

I was recently meeting with a couple of teachers and parents to discuss a student’s progress. The student had come to Saklan from a more traditional school and was struggling with how we approach learning.* What emerged from the conversation was just how difficult it is for a student to move from an educational system that feeds a student information to one that asks a student to synthesize what they previously learned into questions that lead to new understandings. In my former life as a teacher, students would often say “Just tell me what I need to know for the test” or for an essay “Tell me what to write about.” For students, the quickest way to “learn” something is to be “told” it. But this only leads to a shallow understanding of the material.


The easy way out for all of us, is to show the students exactly what to do, to tell them what they need to know, or to accept mediocre work. But in the long run, we are not setting them up for a truly successful and fulfilling life. Our 8th graders will be going off to high schools that will have a different culture than Saklan. Those 8th graders will one day graduate from high school and go on to a university that will require another culture shift. And on and on.

What that meeting reminded me of was just how difficult it is to switch cultures. In the case of the student above it was about moving into a culture that places a high value on student questioning and discovery. A culture that is reluctant to tell you what you “need” to know. To do a “culture switch” takes a large measure of perseverance and resilience. Both those characteristics are difficult to teach. As a matter of fact, they can’t be taught but have to be nurtured and learned.

At Saklan, we work behind the scenes to build  those inner muscles of resilience and perseverance. Kids fail and struggle and sometimes do not get it. We are there, like a family member, to support and help, but not to give them the answer. In the words of Rob Evans, we want to prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child. So when they do meet with failure, defeat and ambiguity, they do not just bounce back – they bounce forward.

*  I intentionally chose the word “learning” instead of “teaching” as teaching feels like something that is done to us by others while learning tends to be both collaborative and self-directed.


Gold Rush Field Experience

Our Saklan 4th grade 49ers spent two days at the Coloma Outdoor Discovery School in Coloma last week. The students tried to strike it rich as they stepped back in time to 1849!

This outdoor adventure was full of hands-on learning, understanding our place in protecting nature and history, all while trying to “leave no trace.” Bringing history to life through exploration is exactly what Saklan is all about!


Save Endangered Species

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The 6th grade has been learning about climate change the last few weeks. In doing so, they not only learned how that may affect human health, coast lines, and society, but also ecosystems and some species that can not adapt quick enough.

Due to this, the students picked an organism that needs our help. These included the Snow Leopard, Polar Bear, Galapagos Penguin, Sea Turtles, Arctic Fox, and Narwhals. Students researched where they are located, why they are important in that ecosystem, and what threats there are to their species.

In order to help them, students are going to be holding an election next week. Starting on Monday, you will see decorated buckets that will be on the tables when you enter the school. We are hoping you will add your spare change to the organism you want to help the most. Each cent will count as one vote. So, one penny counts for one vote, a quarter 25 votes, a dollar a hundred votes, etc. All the money raised will go to the World Wildlife Fund which are working to help these organisms. We will symbolically adopt the organism that wins and let you know the winners! Thanks for helping out!


New Benches On Campus

We have two new wooden benches on campus! The benches were completed as part of Cole Peters Eagle Scout Service Project. Eagle Scout is the highest achievement rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts are required to complete 21 merit badges and one Eagle Scout Service Project. Cole completed his 21 merit badges and decided on making two benches for our school.
The Eagle Scout Service Project gives the scout an opportunity to demonstrate leadership of others while performing a project that benefits his community. He and Mr. O’Connell worked on a design plan together. Supplies were donated by Home Depot. Working with his scout adviser, Cole organized the volunteers and dates for the building of the benches. The volunteers spent about 12-15 hours finishing the benches.
The students have already been enjoying the benches. Thank you for a job well-done, Cole!!

Exchange Students at the Exploratorium

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Two weeks ago, the Japanese exchange students went to the Exploratorium in San Francisco with their 8th grade buddies.

While at the Exploratorium, the students investigated how energy is transferred throughout different experiments, experienced how forces play a part in every day activities, and how different wavelengths affect the flow of energy. Our students and the Japanese students enjoyed the museum. They also got to visit the gift shop. The students can’t wait to do this again next year!


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