Head’s Corner

MAP Testing – Measures of Academic Progress

Over the next two weeks, if your student is in grades 2*- 8, they will spend a few hours taking the NWEA MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test. The MAP test is a “standardized” test in Language Arts, Reading, and Math, but is different from most other standardized tests.

The MAP test is computerized and adaptive; as students take the tests, the program feeds them either more challenging or more accessible questions, depending on their performance on earlier questions. In addition, the algorithm is designed to find a student’s strengths and challenges in the subject area. 

When we administered the test last spring, I recall 8th graders lamenting that it was the most challenging test they had ever taken, and they thought they must have failed. But, it turns out, those same students scored above the 90th percentile. The test was hard because it worked to stretch them, feeding them questions meant for 10th and 11th grade students.  

While the MAP test will benchmark students to other students across the country, that is not the emphasis. Instead, the test provides data for teachers, parents, and students alike that will help leverage strengths and fill gaps. Each teacher receives a report on their class and individual students to assess their competency in a subject area. In addition, parents receive a report on their child that offers suggestions for improvement and links to resources that will spur academic growth.

Compared to other standardized tests which would take a week or more of instructional time to complete, the MAP test is not timed and takes approximately 50-70 minutes (some students are done in 45 minutes, others take 80) per subject area to complete. Therefore it is less intrusive to our instructional day.

We look forward to sharing the information gathered from the MAP test as we move into the year and share your child’s results during conferences.

For more information on the MAP test, please click here

Warm regards,


*This is the first year we are testing 2nd graders. They will only be taking the reading portion of the test – it will last between 45 and 75 minutes.  

Overnight Field Experiences Return

Last week, the 6th graders participated in the first overnight field experience we have been able to offer in 18 months. They attended Westminster Woods, an environmental education and character development program, nestled in 200 acres of redwood forest in Sonoma County. Students hiked through the redwood forest, scoured the Dutch Bill Creek, took part in many team building challenges and ventured through an incredible high-ropes challenge course under the redwood canopy.

Students not only learned about ecology, teamwork and the natural environment, but they got to learn more about each other as well. Here are some of highlights from the experience:

“I think Saklan has us go on these field experiences to learn about ourselves and our class. We now feel like we are all friends.”


“I faced some of my biggest fears (heights) on this experience. And trusting my classmates made that easier.”


“I think these trips are important because it makes you try new things. I was scared when I left home about what the week might be like, but then I was so happy I went!”


“I feel like I am more connected to my class after this week. I feel this way because we learned more about each other. So many people have such interesting traits, I thought it was cool to get to know more about them.”


“I felt really connected to my class after the ropes course. We had to work together to get through the activities.”


“Something I will never forget is taking my blindfold off and finding we were at the top of a hill and had an amazing view of a valley, that was cool!”


Miss O and Mr. Zippin joined the students for the week at Westminster Woods. Upon returning to campus, they shared that they loved seeing how the students were are to able bond through the experience and how compassionate they were to each other. The week was filled with moments where the students were lending a hand to each other when they needed it and encouraging people they only met 3 weeks ago as if they had known each other for years.

It was a great week!

#SaklanFieldExperience #SaklanCompassionate


If you were able to join us last Friday for CLAS, our bi-weekly community gathering, you know what a terrific job our 5th graders did hosting and presenting their fall haiku poems. The fifth graders ran the assembly, introduced presenters, and delivered their poems with calm, collected confidence. However, what looked seamless didn’t start off that way. The students began practicing for CLAS on Wednesday, and with specific feedback about posture, pace, volume, and eye contact, each student’s presentation improved.

The fifth graders took all the feedback they received about public speaking during the week and gave great presentations to the Saklan community on Friday morning. While we are incredibly proud of the fifth graders for their courage to stand up in front of their peers and parents and share their poems, equally important is what was reinforced behind the scenes. This was a great opportunity to show the students that practice, effort and persistence pays off. While some things in life come easily, others take more effort, and with practice, being open to feedback, and lots of work, we can all grow and improve.


Colors of Pre-K

Last week, the Hoot Owls read the book The Colors of Us, by Karen Katz. In the story, a little girl notices all the beautiful and different skin colors of the people in her community. Her mom is an artist and teaches her how to mix black, white, red and yellow paint to make the skin colors of the people that she sees. She then paints portraits of the members of her community, declaring them “the colors of us!”

After reading the story, the Hoot Owls mixed paints to create their own self-portraits. The students tried to get as close as they could to their own skin color; each Pre-K student decided when the color was correct, or close enough. Next the Hoot Owls looked into mirrors and added their eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth and hair to their portraits.


Hot Air Balloons

In chemistry, the eighth graders created hot air balloons to test the ideas of buoyancy and Archimedes’ principle, along with Charles’ law and thermal expansion. Using paper, glue and tape, the students worked in teams to engineer balloons that would create the largest lift when filled with heated air.  

In the church parking lot, the students worked together to fill their balloons and create lift. Some balloons went higher than others, but all took off!  Some groups had to make alterations on the fly, and some tried adding different amounts of air or waiting for wind gusts, but they finally got lift off!

While flying their hot air balloons, and with the help of the wind, the students noticed how fluids move in and push matter. Additionally, the engineering process was in full effect with the eighth graders as they attempted to fly their balloons. When hitting snags in their designs or having environmental challenges, the students were able to problem solve and determine changes they could make to their designs or process to get their balloons off the ground!

#SaklanAcademic #SaklanHandsOn

Got Sand?

Has your child has been coming home with enough sand to fill your own sandbox? If so, it’s probably because many of our students have been spending their recess time playing in the sand. Their play differs by grades, but students of all ages love to use their imaginations as they dig in the sandbox.

The sandbox not only provides our students with outdoor fun, but also numerous learning opportunities. During their time in the sand, our students are working on social skills, including: communicating their needs to one another, sharing space, sharing sand toys, compromising, collaborating and taking turns. 

The Hoot Owls and Owlets have been using elbow pipes and water to create lakes, rivers, dams, tunnels, bridges, mountains, volcanoes and any other geological feature they can think of. They have been setting up their own “challenges” to knock down walls of sand by pouring water into the pipes and allowing it to flow out.

The Kindergarteners have been working together to create bridges and lakes in the sand. The first through fifth graders have been working together to dig really deep holes, searching for clay or other items what might be under the sandbox. They have also enjoyed trying to create bridges over the deep holes, as well as trying their hands at some baking.

The sandbox is a great place for our students to explore with their hands, try out imaginary play, practice their social skills, strengthen their arm muscles, and have fun!

Meet Our Specialists

Drumming Teacher: Isaac Narell

Mr. Isaac has been with The Saklan School since 2014 and has added tremendous value to our Music program. Although he has many talents, including arranging and playing multiple instruments, this year Mr. Isaac is teaching drumming to the third through fifth graders and a Learning by Doing (LBD) class for middle school students.

Mr. Isaac teaches traditional West African drumming from the Anlo-Ewe speaking people of Ghana, Togo and Benin. The drums used by our students were handmade for The Saklan School from Ghana. We are so lucky and grateful to have Isaac here to share his knowledge and help fill our community with rhythm!

#SaklanWellRounded #SaklanCreative

Moon Festival

One of our second grade students shared his family’s tradition of celebrating Moon Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival, with his classmates. He started his presentation by sharing background information on what Moon Festival is and how it is celebrated.

Moon Festival is a big holiday celebrated in East and Southeast Asia. It celebrates the harvest and it is a time to be thankful for what the year has given to you and your family. It is kind of like Thanksgiving.

Moon Festival is also when the monthly full moon is the biggest and brightest of the year.

During Moon Festival, people eat moon cakes and hang up lanterns. Buildings and streets light up with colorful lights. Families get together for big meals, then watch the bright floats in a parade together.

Kids do not have school for one week and parents do not have work!

Moon cakes are big and round like the moon. They bring good luck to you the whole whole year.

After learning about Moon Festival, the second graders were invited to try moon cakes. These were a big hit with the second graders, and David too!

#SaklanDiversity #SaklanStudentsasTeachers

Music Enrichment Classes

We are excited to offer music enrichment classes this fall! The classes, listed below, will begin on Thursday, September 30th and run through December 16th.

  • Music & Movement for Preschool & Pre-K on Thursdays from 2:30 – 2:50 p.m. Students will experience music through play, movement and singing games. Students will work towards development of perceiving and performing the steady beat in music, identifying and understanding musical form, and recognizing musical opposites such as fast and slow, loud and soft and high and low. In addition, the classes will emphasize the development of proper vocal technique and health. Students in this class will receive complimentary Extended Day care from 2:00 – 2:30 p.m. on days the class meets.

  • Beginning Choral Habits for K – 2nd Grade on Thursdays from 3:00 – 3:30 p.m. The K-2 after school music course will be an opportunity for students to develop beginning choral habits and structure. Students will learn proper body alignment, breathing and vocal techniques and will work on developing beautiful blend with several unison choral arrangements. Later on in the year, students may work towards arrangements in canon and two-part harmony. Singing games will also be incorporated to allow for musical enjoyment and allow the students to engage the music with movement, imagination and creativity.

To sign your child up for one of the above classes, please click on the class name.


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