4th graders are deep into their animal adaptation unit, and had the opportunity to go on a field experience to Lindsay Wildlife Museum. Students were thrilled to see their textbook come to life as they observed/touched many creatures and discussed special features that help these creatures survive. It was so amazing to see academic vocabulary fly out of their mouths (such as migration, hibernation, instinct, learned behavior) when answering questions, and their proud faces as they connected the dots between the classroom and the real world of nature.
When the instructors at Lindsay learned we were beginning our unit on California Birds, they tailor-made our tour so we really got to see and learn about the birds in their care. Almost every bird being researched by a Saklan student was found at the museum. One student even got to go see his bird back in the nursery as she was recovering from delivering an egg!
Because the students were so engaged in their research, they were let in on a very special treat of seeing a bald eagle brought into their hospital. The eagle had been electrocuted by a power line, and behind the glass we observed doctors and nurses working very hard to save its life. Even in this situation, Lindsay made it a learning moment and the students observed the adaptations of the bald eagle up close.
As the students were leaving, they brought out a turkey vulture that was 40 years old! He had amazing adaptations that were so unique, and it was such a treat to see it and ask questions of the person in charge of his well-being.
4th graders are so inspired to return to class and begin researching their particular bird, especially with this field experience to recall.
Fourth graders have connected reading to writing in their personal narrative unit. After learning that stories follow a plot diagram, they were ready to tackle their first fictional personal narrative. They aren’t silly enough to start their stories in a boring, predictable way, but have learned four interesting hooks to engage their audience.
At Friday Flag, they read their “Great Beginnings” by sharing the first sentence of their haunted mansion story. They could begin with an action, dialogue, thought, question, or sound beginning. Wow! What a difference!
Fourth graders were proud to present their “Spooky Forest” stories to parents. They showed off their new skills of great beginnings, building suspense, word choice, similes and metaphors, all while following their plot diagram format. They sure were spooky!
They loved presenting a second time to their second grade buddies. They got to catch the vision to read quality books to help them become amazing authors. Fourth graders learned how powerful it is to paint a picture in the minds of those who read or hear their stories! They look forward to carrying these skills on to their next expository unit!
Fourth graders had such a fabulous time going to Berkeley and seeing “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.” What a wonderful opportunity, as they prepare for their own play to be inspired by a live performance. The play also tied in with their class novel, “The Earth Dragon Awakes” and students were able to draw many text to play similarities!
Fourth graders each finished their own mystery novel and presented a plot diagram poster to the class. Learning the parts to a piece of fiction is a perfect foundation for them as they begin to write their spooky personal narratives. Students are finding that not all novels are alike. Some authors really make good word choices that paint a picture in the reader’s mind. We want to read those types of books and also write with that quality in mind!
In Ms. Burton’s class, it is not uncommon to see students teaching students. It is helpful for students to see what strategies others use for math… and to hear their thinking out loud! It takes a lot of courage to come and model math at the board. Taking that time to develop a safe atmosphere where kids are willing to take risks and make mistakes is the only way this is possible!
Fourth grade starts every day on the right foot with a Morning Meeting! On this day, we played “Toss N’ Talk” where we toss a ball and answer a question. Having this time to connect on a social/emotional level is a wonderful way to transition from home to our academic day.
Fourth graders learned how to take the information they learned about California’s four regions and turn that information into a Google Slide presentation. Integrating History with technology is something students really enjoy! Presenting to their peers helps them to practice their public speaking skills.
This summer, seven Saklan teachers (Mrs. C, Ms. Puno, Ms. Prizeman, Ms. Rokas, Ms. Burton, Ms. Ivonne and Mr. Crabtree) attended a four-day intensive Responsive Classroom training seminar. For those of you who may not be familiar with Responsive Classroom, it is an evidence-based approach to teaching that merges engaging and challenging academics with the social emotional needs of each student. Much of what Responsive Classroom recommends are practices we already do and believe in at Saklan, but the training has enhanced our toolbox and solidified our approach to working with students. To discover more about Responsive Classroom please click here.
The 4th graders wrote to one of their favorite author’s, Kim Kennedy. They tried to use their best persuasive writing skills to convince her to write a sequel to a book they read in class, Misty Gordon and the Ghost Pirates. They even gave her fantastic ideas, in case she had writer’s block.
Last week, the 4th graders received a box from Ms. Kennedy!!! She not only wrote each student back individually, but included Madame Zaster glasses (a very important feature in the mystery). Our class could not have been more thrilled!!! We hope, we persuaded her to continue writing!
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!
The 4th graders have taken the content they learned about the California Gold Rush and created their very own board games! Students played the games in class to review and prepare for their trip to Coloma on April 11-12.
On Thursday, March 7th, the 4th and 5th grade embarked on a journey down the hill into Lafayette to visit our local community theater, Town Hall Theater. We experienced a beautiful play called “Brooklyn Bridge,” which on the surface seems to be about a 5th grade girl trying to find a pen so she can write a report, but is really about human connectedness and the small things that bring us all together. The students were able to ask the actors questions after, and for our Saklan students, they were able to tie the experience of actors they saw to their own memory of what it feels like to be on stage.
Different students were able to understand the play on different levels. There were moments of stillness and silence when the meaning of the play reached their hearts, and all of them laughed at the “plant moving people.” Experiencing such beautiful theater so close by is thrilling, and helps our students to understand that they are a part of the larger artistic community in Lamorinda and the East Bay. They walked away joyful, inspired, and empowered. Many thanks to Town Hall Theater for hosting us! #SaklanExperiental