Head’s Corner

Why We Do “Standardized’ Testing

In the middle of May, students in grades 3-8  took standardized math, reading, and language usage tests.  Traditionally, Saklan has used the ERB Test to measure the success of our students and program.  The ERB was a paper and pencil test that was the same for every student in their respective grade level.  The data gained from that test gave us information about how we were doing as a school against other schools, but little else. 

In September of 2019, we switched to the NWEA MAP test ( Measures of Academic Progress).  The MAP test is a very different tool from that of the traditional ERB test.  To begin with, the MAP test is dynamic, meaning that as a student answers questions correctly, the test adjusts. The student begins to see more challenging and complex questions, which often take them well beyond their grade level.  If a student begins to struggle, the test will start to ease up on the questions.  Through this process, the MAP test can determine exactly where a student’s strengths and challenges lie.   

The second significant differentiator of the MAP test is that it is untimed.  The actual testing is predicted to take 45-60 minutes, but students can take as much time as they need.  This approach emphasizes knowledge and ability over speed, giving a more accurate indication of what a student knows and taking away pressure that leads to mistakes and inaccurate data. 

Thirdly the MAP test does exceptionally well in giving parents and teachers useable data to help support students and take them to the next level.  Student progress is recorded year on year, giving a picture of a child’s overall growth.  That information is then used to predict future growth as well as college readiness. Moreover, the test breaks down each curriculum standard by what content and skills the student has mastered or needs reinforced.  This information helps teachers differentiate their approach and  individualize instruction.  It also can be used to connect students to educational software such Khan Academy or IXL, helping students narrow in on gaps.  

We will be sending out end of semester grade reports in the middle of June.  At that same time, if you are a parent of a 3rd -8th grade student, you will receive a MAP Growth Report. This report will give information regarding how your child did on the testing as well as next steps we all can take to academically grow.  

Have a great weekend

Ending the Year on a High Note…Literally

The return of school musicals to end the year has all of Saklan ready to break out in song! After so many months of uncertainty, Ms. Chaffey went above and beyond to make sure that musicals could happen in some form this year, and we’re so grateful for her creative thinking.

To start off, today the fourth and fifth grade classes performed Seussical KIDS, leaving all their hard work on the outdoor stage. Students, teachers, and the performers’ parents were treated to a spectacular display of singing and dancing, featuring favorite characters such as Horton, the Cat in the Hat, and the Sour Kangaroos.

Next week, the seventh and eighth grade students will have their chance to put their talents on display! Their film version of Into the Woods will be screened on campus for the rest of Saklan to enjoy. Stayed turned for more details on how the rest of the Saklan community can view this film as well.

Congratulations to all of our Saklan performers, and another huge round of applause for Ms. Chaffey for making this happen and to the entire Saklan faculty and staff for their support.

The show really must go on!


Saklan’s Annual Art Gallery

Saklan students have been working hard all year with Ms. Natalie, learning about different art mediums and styles and ways to express themselves through art.

The culmination of all that hard work is Saklan’s Online Art Gallery, which launches today. Like last year, the students’ artwork will be displayed on Artsonia, which all Saklan families can access. In addition to viewing art works, you can also comment on different pieces, or purchase commemorative items featuring your child’s artist masterpiece.

Students were able to select for themselves which pieces they wanted to feature in the gallery, continuing the focus on self-expression. We hope you’ll enjoy a taste of these pieces below, but please be sure to browse the full gallery on Artsonia.

A huge thank you to Ms. Natalie for making this happen, and to Kim Anderson and Daisy Coby for helping to photograph all of the student work. We’re so proud of what all of our Saklan artists have accomplished this year!


Eighth Grade Goes for a Ride

Last Friday, the eighth grade class headed out for a field experience to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where they put their physics knowledge to the test by riding roller coasters and other amusement rides.

While they were there to have fun, they were also there to determine speed, acceleration, and which forces were acting on them throughout the different rides.

Students applied Newton’s Three Laws of Motion to see how physics plays a key role in the design, fun, and safety of roller roasters. They timed the rides, wore accelerometers to test the amount of g-force the ride exerted on their body, and filled out a packet to record all of their physics observations.

It was a fun day for everyone, and a special final field experience for the eighth grade class.


Piñata Fun

As the academic demands of a challenging year begin to wind down, there is an opportunity to invite additional fun into classroom learning. For some lucky Saklan students, that meant exploring piñatas in Spanish class with Maestra Padilla!

Middle School students spent time making piñatas as part of their hands-on learning about Spanish culture. They used colorful crepe paper to cover piñatas made to represent familiar shapes and characters.

The fourth and fifth graders also got hands-on piñata fun! To end the day on Thursday, each student took a turn hitting the piñata in an attempt to get it to break and spill its treasures–snacks, beaded necklaces, and more–onto the turf.

While each student gave it a valiant effort–even breaking off the top completely– in the end, Mr. Crabtree had to step in to really break the piñata open!


Ending the Year with Roller Coasters

It has certainly been a roller coaster of a year, so it only makes sense that the eighth grader’s final physics project would be to build roller coasters of their own.

Students were tasked with designing and creating a roller coaster for a marble that: utilized the forces learned about in class, had enough momentum to fulfill a loop, and had a slow down stop. The groups of students had to use their creativity, math skills, and the scientific method in order to design, evaluate, start over, redesign, and eventually finalize their coasters.

Before getting started, students found inspiration for their designs from informational video clips, where they learned the need for gravitational pull to power the coasters, centripetal force and air resistance to provide thrills, and of course friction to stop safely!

This project has its challenges, including aligning creatively with your design partners, troubleshooting problems with limited time, and getting the proper speed for the coaster to work.

We are extremely impressed the effort and enthusiasm the eighth graders put into this project, and are excited to see them using the skills they’ve learned at Saklan, which will serve them well as they head off to highschool!


Call for Library Books

The end of the year is approaching fast, which means students are running out of time to return library books! As we head into the last two weeks of school, please check in with your student to see if they have any checked out library books, and remind them to return any books before the last day of school.

Ms. Meredith and Ms. Joy will be sending out overdue emails next week, and we appreciate your help in ensuring your student gets their books returned on time. Thank you!


Fifth Grade State Projects

Saklan fifth graders have been hard at work on their State Report Binders and State Floats, and this week they were able to present all they had learned!

To begin the project, each student chose a state that they were interested in learning more about. Many of the students had personal connections to their selected state, which included Nevada, Hawaii, Maine, New York, and more! They were all excited to begin research to see what information they could find for their binders.

Each binder consisted of eight chapters, informing readers on various state facts. Students also drew the state bird, flower, and flag, and a map of the state that included a map key, major rivers, the state capital, and all of the states that are along the border.

Students were also able to pick an activity associated with their state to bring their presentation to life. Many students chose to make a food related to their state, which they brought in to share with the class following their oral presentations.

The project also required students to create a state float, which could visually represent many of the facts that were researched for their binders.

Each student did an amazing job on their project and learned so many about their state, which they could share with the whole class. Way to go, fifth graders!


Saklan Stays Sunny

The good energy and sense of appreciation and joy from Teacher and Staff Appreciate Week is still very much alive at Saklan! This year’s theme of “Here Comes the Sun” resonated with the entire faculty, especially as we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel after a challenging year.

In order to show the Saklan parent community that all their hard work is noticed and appreciated, the Saklan faculty put together a little video to express how we feel. Please enjoy the video here – and thank you again for this year’s incredible Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week! You truly made us feel like the sun is shining once again!


Signs of Spring

Spring is in full swing and the Hoot Owls and Owlets in Ms. Jessica’s class are seeing signs of it everywhere! They’ve been learning all about the parts of nature they’re seeing more of as the world comes alive.

For almost a month, students have been tending to and observing the radish seeds they planted back on Earth Day. To further their plant learning, the Owls created and labeled the parts of a plant. They’ve taken the opportunity to observe and interact with many different types of plants by using magnifying glasses, dissecting flowers, and creating collages with plants as well! As a class, students planted bean sprout and pea plant seeds in a transparent planter so they could observe the seed coat softening and the roots growing down into the soil. The Owls made their own plant life cycle wheels while observing the bean and pea plants, and noticed which plants were in different parts of the cycle.

Beyond plants, spring also brings new bugs! The class has been using nets and bug catchers to collect and observe bugs from the play yard! They learned that all insects have certain feature: six legs, three body sections, and antennae.

The Owls will bring their learning to life with a special performance at next week’s Friday Flag, so tune in on May 28!


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