Sixth Grade Studies Climate Change

Over the past few weeks, the sixth graders have been learning about climate change during science class. They’ve gained an understanding of how climate change can impact human health, coast lines, and society, as well as ecosystems and species that cannot adapt quickly enough.

To continue their learning, the students wanted to help a species in need. Students researched several species, including the Adelie Penguin, Arctic Fox, Beluga, Red Panda, and Monarch Butterfly. They found out where each species is located, why they are important to their ecosystem, and what threats there are to the species.

In order to raise money to help these species, students are going to hold an election, and the entire Saklan community is invited to participate. Starting on Monday, you will see decorated buckets on the tables near the office, and you can lend your spare change to vote for the species you want to help the most.

Each cent you contribute will count as one vote. One penny will count as one vote, a quarter will count as 25 votes, a dollar will count for 100 votes, and so on. All of the money raised will go to the World Wildlife Fund, which is working to help these species.

We will symbolically “adopt” the species that gets the most votes, and will announce the winner to the Saklan community.

Thank you for your help!


Upcoming Field Experience

On Thursday, April 15, the sixth grade class hit the road for a field experience at Challenge Sonoma! They’ll spend the day participating in a ropes course and other team-building activities, designed to build self-confidence, improve teamwork skills, and get students outside for a day in the Sonoma Redwoods.

We are asking students to return a filled out and signed student release form by Wednesday, April 14.

If you have any questions, please email Grace Chaffey at or Kim Parks at

We are so excited for this opportunity to take students off campus and give them a day to remember!


Welcome Emily Cashen

All of us at Saklan are pleased to welcome Emily Cashen to the Saklan community, in her role covering middle school Language Arts for Mr. P, who is on extended leave. As a teacher by training who educates with her whole heart, Emily is an incredible addition to the Saklan faculty.

Emily has been a professionally trained teacher since 2004, when she received her teaching credential from Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga. Throughout 10 years of teaching in the Orinda School District, Emily simultaneously continued her own education through Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

After leaving Orinda, Emily taught middle school math at East Bay Waldorf School, and considers working with those middle school students to be the highlight of her teaching career thus far. After taking some time off to help her daughters transition to new schools and distance learning, Emily is excited to be back working with the students, staff, and families that make up the Saklan community.

Since jumping into her new role, Emily has quickly put together a plan for the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade classes.

In sixth grade, the class will read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. As they read, the class will dive deep into learning about Malawi, and will align their learning with science class with Ms. O. Students will explore a variety of writing genres as well, and will practice the full writing process, including peer editing, citing evidence to support ideas, and composing bibliographies.

The seventh grade class will share the heartbreaking truth of the Japanese-American internment camps through the book Farewell to Manzanar. Reading discussions will align with Ms. Kim’s studies of Hawaii in Humanities class. Writing will happen in many ways, with a focus on fluency and peer editing.

Eighth graders will read Animal Farm by George Orwell, and will study the allegorical meaning of animals, not only in Orwell’s work, but also through shorter stories. They will learn about the historical context of Orwell’s work, as well as how he uses character development and language to get his points across.  Students will write in a variety of genres, with a focus on peer editing.

In all three grades, weekly book shares will help expose students to new genres and unfamiliar authors, and help to broaden their awareness of worlds other than their own.  

Please join us in welcoming Emily to the Saklan community in her new role!


Eighth Grade Rockets

Since February, the eighth-grade students have been learning about physics in Science class. To start, they’ve learned about the forces on our planet: gravity, air resistance, friction, and centripetal force. They have also been thinking about Isaac Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, and working on ways to put those laws into real-life scenarios.

For example, eighth graders were tasked with creating a rocket that could fight air resistance and gravity, and that could exhibit all of Newton’s three laws. They started by designing paper airplanes, to learn how different designs could create different amounts of drag. Then, they graduated to rockets.

Working in pairs, students designed different wings and types of cones for the tops of their rockets, with the goal of building a rocket that could not only defy gravity, but also fly the highest out of the whole class.

All of their hard work culminated in an epic rocket launch in the parking lot across the street from the school. Students used an altimeter to measure the height of their rocket as it blasted into the air; while all the rockets reached great heights, one design made it an astonishing 40 meters–approximately 131 feet–in the sky!


Science in the Garden

On Wednesday, the sixth grade class went to the local Moraga Garden to do some nature drawing, writing, and learning about the space itself. The visit was in connection with the Ecology and Energy science unit.

At the garden, students learned about how the ground is prepared each year before the planting season, what gets planted, and the garden’s practice of using local, organic fertilizer.

During the visit, students also spent time drawing, journaling, and getting a sense of the space. When asked what they thought was beautiful in the garden, they had a lot to share:

“The lemon beebalm flowers.” – Noah
“The birds chirping.” – Damon
“The soft grass below me.” – Danny
“The fresh oxygen – I mean fresh air.” – Sonia
“The hawks flying around us.” – Juliet
“The tangling roots that are growing up the trellis.” – Loralyn
“The chickens!” – Sadie


Eighth Grade Acts of Service

A group of eighth grade students spent the Valentine’s Day holiday fulfilling an important aspect of Saklan’s mission – to ‘act compassionately.’ As part of the Team Compassion group with youth volunteer non-profit Pledge to Humanity, students made homemade Valentine’s Day cards and delivered them, along with a rose plant, to every resident at Aegis Moraga Senior Home.

This act of service not only brightened the spirits of the senior home’s residents, it also was fulfilling for the students. They enjoyed helping seniors who have been especially isolated during this difficult year know that they are not alone, and in fact, are remembered and loved!


Species Interactions

The sixth graders, as part of their ecology unit, have been looking at species interactions. Working with a partner, the students were asked to portray the relationship of two organisms found in nature. Each pair of students was tasked with taking pictures of their organism portrayal, and then use the pictures to make a comic strip. The sixth graders used their laptops to create the impressive comics below! 



During January, Saklan students have been focusing on being hardworking. The eighth grade Family Group leaders created a video to explain what hardworking means and how it can help students reach their goals and overcome challenges.

After hearing suggestions from the eighth graders, each of Saklan’s first through seventh graders wrote down one goal, project or activity they want to work hard to accomplish or improve on. Check out the many areas in which our students are working hard!

#SaklanSocialEmotionalLearning #SaklanFamilyGroups

How Many Steps in a Mile?

The students in kindergarten thru eighth grade have been equipped with pedometers while exercising during P.E. lessons. The devices are simple and only measure “steps,” but are equipped with a reset button. P.E. classes have had fun experimenting with what types of activities generate the most movement or steps. Students have had the opportunity to see how dribbling a ball compares to swinging on the swings, and how walking a mile compares to skipping rope. Some of the third graders came to the conclusion that shaking the sensor generates a higher count than spinning it on a finger.  Overall, it appears that students focus on generating a count with their pedometers, and that feedback adds a little extra motivation to continue to exert effort while participating in physical education exercises.

Lucas in kindergarten asked Mr. Crabtree to take a picture of the pedometer he was using in P.E. and send it to his mom, as he was interested in one for home use as well.  For any other parents that have received requests for pedometers, here are the pedometers the students are using at school:


Life Lessons of 2020 in a Zine

What is a zine? A zine is short for Magazine and is a self-made booklet that tells a story, informs about an issue, and is fun to make! It’s origin dates back to 1776, with Thomas Paine’s self-published pamphlet, Common Sense, which advocated for the thirteen colonies to become independent from Great Britain

In returning from Winter Break online and entering into the new year, 1st-8th graders were asked to reflect on what lessons they learned about themselves and the world in 2020 and what they were excited about striving for in 2021. 2020 forced the world to face reality, good or bad, and with so much to learn from, the children triumphed over all of these obstacles to share what they found most rewarding, difficult, and inspiring. In seeing these zines created, we hope it inspires us all to continue to persevere, fight for justice, and take care of each other and ourselves.  

#SaklanCreative #SaklanThoughtful