Middle School Music Ensembles

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As the first month of school winds down, the middle school music ensembles are beginning to ramp up the energy, and are diving deep into technical concepts and tonal flexibility.


The Band class is beginning to work on expanding their focus and ability to read notes on a page, and extending their range. The Orchestra is finishing a tonal and rhythmic review, and the Choir is in the midst of basic sight singing using moveable “do”. They are also working on the Beatles piece Let It Be., and a Choral Mix from Hamilton.


Philosophically, students are really focusing on the way their unique abilities and talents contribute to the ensemble, and discovering that the way they play and practice directly affects others around them. We are beginning to discover that we fly or fall together, and that in order to succeed, every person needs to be a part of play. As our philosophies and brains change, it is incredibly exciting to see the beginnings of true musicians.


INKtober 2019


It’s that time of year again! It’s INKtober! Every day for the month of October, students 5th-8th have a homework challenge to create a drawing based upon a word of inspiration. INKtober was started by artist Jake Parker in 2009 and has become more popular every year. Jake wanted to develop his drawing skills and create good working habits.

Inktober is for students to become more comfortable, confident, and creative with drawing. They are to draw for at least 10 minutes a day and can color in their drawings if they choose. They can choose a theme like Halloween or challenge themselves to draw something they find hard, like people or hands. A lot of great work comes from this project every year! You can participate with your kids, too!


Yosemite Field Experience

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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, we know they won’t forget their Yosemite trip. Here are some of the thoughts from their week away.

“I learned that I really like hiking with my friends outdoors and I really enjoy crawling through caves”- Bjerre

“I learned a lot about myself in Yosemite. For one thing, I thought I hadn’t packed enough, but turns out I over packed! Also, I learned my first assumptions about people are not always right. I thought some people were annoying, but after spending a week with them, I realize they are funny, kind and I like hanging out with them.” – Cassidy

“I learned that people want to get to know me more, I just have to open up more to others. We all actually have a lot in common.”- Ethan

“I felt connected to nature on this trip when Thomas lead me to a tree in one of our activities. It felt different and unique.” – Mac

“I felt connected when I threw a rock and watched it ripple and what that affected and that I was changing the natural flow of things. That made me feel connected to the moment.” – Dillon


Fourth Grade News


Kinder Celebrates John Chapman

Kindergartners learned about Johnny Appleseed. Legend is told that a man named John Chapman walked the countryside of 6 states planting apple seeds starting bountiful and still producing apple orchards. John Chapman, who became known as Johnny Appleseed, would have been 245 years old on September 26.


The children had fun with apples. After learning about Johnny Appleseed, the Kindergarten tasted apples and graphed which apple they liked best. We read the book 10 Apples Up On Top! by Theo. LeSieg, which the Kindergartners learned is also Dr. Seuss, and worked on a follow up project gluing apples in numerical order.


They had fun painting with apples, making apple prints, and they enjoyed a “Let’s Find Out”, about apples. The best part was using real knives to cut up apples and make applesauce.


After all these experiences the children brainstormed descriptive words about apples. Who knew apples could incorporate so many areas of learning? From literature to history and Math, cooking and art, apples allowed Kindergartners to “grow”!


Head’s Corner

What Does Society Value? 

In my last blog post, I wrote about Family Groups and the critical work they do in reinforcing essential character traits. Likewise, a few months ago, I posted a piece that shared research stating that there is often a disconnect between the character traits we want our children to develop and what our children think we want them to possess. In that post, I talked about the fact that most parents want their children to be honest, compassionate people, but most children believe the adults in their lives want them to get good grades. Well, the people over at Gallup just released a study that demonstrates that this “values disconnect” is pervasive in our society.


In Gallup’s Success Index study, they show how Americans’ definitions of success are different from perceptions of how society defines success. Moreover, we often underestimate how inline our definition of success is with the rest of American society.

Some examples of this “values disconnect”:

  • 97% percent of respondents said, “pursuing one’s interest and talents” meets their definition of what leads to a successful life. Conversely, 92% of the same respondents believe society values fame and fortune over all else.
  • 96% of us personally believe that success is not comparative, that we can be successful regardless of what others do, but we believe only 14% of the rest of society thinks like this.
  • Out of 76 attributes, individuals ranked trustworthiness as number 3 but thought society ranked it at number 30.
  • We believe being a parent and having a strong family connection is essential to a successful life, but think society places that value towards the bottom of the scale.

According to the study, there is a significant variance between what we believe society values and what we value. But a deeper dive into data seems to reveal that what we value as individuals and what society values are more closely aligned than we think. More importantly, though, sometimes we feel like we are fighting societal tides when we talk to kids about the values that are important to society. Maybe those tides are not as strong as we think.


Library Part 2 – Saklan’s Infamous READ Poster

Last week, we highlighted our parent volunteers and their work in the library. Last week, we received our READ poster from the printer featuring last year’s Auction winner Lilia Ghassemi. Lilia is an ardent reader who loves reading because it allows her to imagine herself in different situations. She is a fan of both comedy and drama.


One of her favorite books is Click’d by renowned author Tamara Ireland – a story of girls, coding and an ethical dilemma. Lilia is currently reading Switched at Birthday by Natalie Standiford. The novel is a story of two young girls who have the same birthdays but nothing else in common. Thank you, Lilia for supporting reading at Saklan!


Create a Culture


Each school year, 7th grade begins the year with the Create-a-Culture Project. This project offers the seventh grade students a wide array of activities that immerse them in all the elements that make up a culture. The main objective is to increase students’ understanding of what makes culture unique, as well as to help them see and appreciate the similarities and differences that exist among cultures. Students work in cooperative groups of three by designing a fictitious culture and deciding its history. Through that they will learn how cultures develop, change, and grow.


The Create-a-Culture Project is divided into five sections: making decisions, creating the culture, project ideas, culminating activities, and the Culture Fair. They have been working creatively and cooperatively problem solving issues that arise. Ultimately, each student group has compromised and worked collaboratively to bring forth a completely original culture.

We are inviting all seventh grade parents to a culture fair on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 10:30am. The fair will allow parents to see and understand each of the six created cultures, as well as enjoy yummy food. We look forward to celebrating and showcasing all of the students’ hard work.


All About Me


As part of their All About Me Theme, Hoot Owls have been learning about different kinds of families. Based on the book, The House That Jill Built by Phyllis Root, the students built their own homes both real and imagined. They were encouraged to draw their family members inside. Many Hoot Owls also constructed a narrative about their families while working on this activity. 

In addition to learning about different kinds of families, Hoot Owls also learned that skin comes in lots of different beautiful colors. They read The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler and The Colors Of Us by Karen Katz. Just like in the book, The Colors Of Us, the students mixed red, brown, yellow and white to make their own unique skin colors. Later, they used mirrors to study their facial features. The Hoot Owls paid special attention to their eyes, nose, mouth, ears and hair to create their first self-portraits of the year!


4th Grade Inventions


The 4th graders were in the Science lab for the last three weeks to study about electricity and currents. They learned about static and moving charges, which 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.

From Segways and vehicles to alarm clocks, hair curlers, treatment delivery systems and musical hovercrafts – it was really fun!