As we take a breather (poor choice of words considering the AQI) this week leading up to Thanksgiving, I have been pondering the relationship between the Saklan Annual Giving Fund and gratitude. As a nonprofit, Saklan depends on the generosity of others to give students a unique experience. A couple of quick examples would be the marine biology field study we took students on a few weeks ago or importing drums from Ghana.
When I think about the Annual Giving Fund, I want to be sure that the message behind it is that we are grateful for anything that people can give. We sincerely value the fact that families make significant sacrifices to send their children to Saklan and support our community. When we seek a donation for the extra, we want it to come from a place of pride, love, and inspiration. But more importantly, we want you to know how grateful we are that you support our school.
Some of the things that I am grateful for is the fact that you allow us to spend significant time with your children, that you trust us, that you understand we sometimes make errors, and you help us grow as a school. But mostly, I am grateful that Saklan feels like family and we are all in this together: raising good people.
And yes, to do some of those extra things it takes money, but I do not want this to be about the money. I want it to be about a family school coming together. Thus, we are measuring not dollars, but participation. I ask you to give what works for your situation, be it one dollar or ten thousand dollars. Whatever you decide you can give, I want it given because you believe that what we do together at Saklan is life changing.
The kiln is getting used to its fullest potential! The photo on the left is the middle school Dinner Party Project bone dry and ready to go into its first firing. The photo on the right shows the work completed to bisque ware and ready to get glazed! After the work is glazed, the work goes back into the kiln for its final fire. Working with clay is quite a process, so the students are learning all the science behind how clay works.
Each student read a book of their choice. After students read their books, they created a new brand of cereal that was related to their story somehow. The cereal boxes have creative names and illustrations on the front. The sides of the boxes explain the main characters, setting and story summary. Inside the boxes, students made a free prize, just like some real cereals have. Also, book recommendations were included.
Another part of the report was for students to create their own commercial presentations that we gave to our classmates. The purpose of the commercial was to “sell” their cereal and get kids to read their book.
If you are looking for a good book to read, our cereal box reports might give you some ideas. We will be putting our boxes in the library for you to look at. Way to go fifth graders!!
Kindergartners have been learning about bridges. The children learned the name and structural style of a few different bridges: arch, beam and suspension. They read a few versions of Three Billy Goats Gruff, about three hungry, billy goats and a troll that lives under a bridge.
The children, using one of the class tables as a bridge, acted the story. One afternoon, they walked to the bridge on the walking path behind Saklan. The children trip, trapped over the bridge, looked for a troll beneath it, and identified it as a beam bridge. A few even noticed the beams were cylinders! Finally, the children built their own bridges using Duplos, Legos and blocks. Little engineers at work!
Last Thursday, the middle school went to the Alameda County FoodBank. They worked for a little over an hour and helped pack produce to go out to needy families in Alameda County. Our students helped package 6,333 pounds of oranges to go out to those in need; seniors, families and children.
The students also got a tour of the facility and learned how most of their clients are not who they envisioned to be hungry. Most are people with jobs, who are having to decide between rent or food, or between medicine or food. One in six Alameda County residents receive help from the foodbank and of them children and elderly make up the largest group. In fact, one in every three children are getting help with the assistance of the foodbank.
We were proud to help such a great organization and live our mission.
The 8th grade Humanities class recently wrapped up its month-long, collaborative, map-making, research project on US cultural geography. Academically, the students were challenged to understand how the way people live affects where they live (and vice-versa). On this level, the project is about making connections from the land to the people and trying to grasp the breadth of interconnections that goes into everything.
Students must work individually, in small groups, and as a cohesive class to discover and find a way to visually represent the personality of each state in an effort to understand cultural similarities and differences in various parts of the country. They also learn how to problem-solve creatively and work efficiently in a deadline situation.
For maximum creativity on the artistic part of the project, the kids tried to employ “Think Like a Genius” methods, including looking at problems from multiple angles, making novel combinations, and using symbolism. In terms of working together, they were asked to follow a number of “Cooperation Guidelines,” including listening, asking strong questions, encouraging others with positive feedback, disagreeing in an agreeable way, and the ever-popular STAY ON TASK. They would track their progress with weekly reflections, and regular formative assessments also led to greater self-awareness and personal growth as the project proceeded.
The result is a beautiful map, a solid introduction to US cultural values, a more cohesive class, and a toolbox of powerful strategies for collaboration, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving.
The HootOwls have been very busy learning about deciduous trees! They have been working on a multi-step project to create their own unique trees. First, they painted a background on cardboard. Next, they experimented with oil pastels on top of the dry paint. Finally, they constructed the tree using real tree branches and small felt leaves.
They learned about the main parts of trees, the roots, trunk, bark, branches and leaves! They discussed some fun facts about the oldest and tallest trees in the world. Both are in California! They also thought about all the different animals and bugs they have seen living in trees. They used the left over branches to build log cabins.
Just in time for Halloween, the fourth graders shared their personal narrative spooky, fictional stories about walking in the woods. They used their plot diagram skills from reading to make sure they told complete stories. The number one goal for each student was to write with elaboration (including similes) to paint clear pictures in the mind of the reader. Who knew they were such great story tellers?
Each student did an amazing job practicing their public speaking skills and delivering truly chilling tales that the parents really enjoyed!
Since Ms. O., our Science Teacher, worked with NOAA this summer on a research vessel, she wanted to share that experience with her students! Two weeks ago, the 5th and 6th grade students joined the Marine Science Institute for a four-hour expedition of the San Francisco Bay aboard a 90-foot research vessel, the R.V. Robert G. Brownlee. The students discovered what lives in the estuary and how we are connected to it. They rotated through three stations using scientific methods and equipment to examine different types of life.
First, they went to hydrology to understand the water quality, and then performed a plankton tow to see the basis of the food chain. After, they used a mud grab to collect a benthic mud sample to look for invertebrates. And lastly, they worked together to deploy a 16-foot trawl net to bring fishes on board. In small groups, they studied the fishes using dichotomous keys. Students were inspired to observe and touch the live animals that they collected. Between sharks, crabs, halibut and sting rays, they saw a bunch of cool marine life!
Kindergartners began journal writing in October. They started with the reading of Good Dog, Carl, by Alexandra Day. This is a book with only pictures, no words. Good Dog, Carl, demonstrated to the children that a story can be told through pictures allowing them to tell a story through pictures, too. The children drew and then shared their stories with the class. After a week, the children began labeling some of the objects in their pictures during journal time. They sounded out words or the initial sound/letter in their label. Eventually, the children will begin writing sentences using inventive spelling. They are working towards the agreement between picture and words. Kindergartners are always excited to see Journal time on the class schedule.