Update Alert! The students are loving clay!

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.

¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!

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The Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, takes place during the first two days of November. While the holiday’s observances include spending time in cemeteries, making shrines to the dead, and displaying skull and skeleton decorations, the occasion is joyful, rather than scary. Death isn’t seen as the end of one’s life, but as a natural part of the life cycle. During Día de los Muertos, it is said that the spirits of the dead come back to visit the living. First those who died as babies come home, then the older children, and finally those who died as adults.

Students set up an altar or ofrenda on the middle school deck. They decorated them festively with bright colors and had photographs, things that the dead people enjoyed, and items representing the four elements: fire (candles), water (drinks), earth (fruit), and wind (fluttering tissue-paper decorations.) Decorating with happy and cheerful calaveras (skulls) and calacas (skeletons) and eating pan de muerto (bread of the dead, made in honor of the holiday) is part of the Día de los Muertos celebration.

Dia de los Muertos

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The students at Saklan are preparing the altar for the Dia de los Muertos celebration which takes place Oct. 31st – Nov. 2nd. This is a traditional Mexican holiday celebrated in Mexico as well as in the United States. This Middle School elective course is taught by the 4th – 8th grade Spanish teacher Maestra Padilla and K – 8th Art instructor Ms. Natalie.

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Here the students are painting the skulls they sculpted in clay after making traditional flores de papel (paper flowers) that will surround the altar space. Dia de los Muertos is a time when people come together to remember and honor those that have passed. The students will be choosing people in the community and prominent figures that they will honor in the altar.

Sixth Grade Yosemite Trip

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Last week, the 6th grade took off to Yosemite for a week of hands-on science, team building, connecting with nature, learning about themselves, and becoming more independent. It was one of our best trips ever. Between hiking below Half Dome, climbing through giant sequoias, seeing amazing wildlife and supporting each other when they needed it, I know they won’t forget their Yosemite trip. Here are some of the thoughts from their week away.

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“Another motive of going to Yosemite, besides the educational part, is that it’s a great class bonding experience where you can hang out with people you maybe weren’t so close to and leave with them being one of your best friends! Also, it’s an awesome experience. Up close with nature you see animals and your classmates being crazy! It’s just an awesome experience!”– Elishka

“Although I didn’t have a favorite part about the trip (the whole experience was amazing), I especially enjoyed the bear cave. It was on our second day in Yosemite. I was with my trail group, and we climbed through tight spaces. We were standing in front of the cave, and our leader José led us to a small hole, and then he started going in. At first I had thought that he was just joking, because the crack looked too tiny to fit in. But soon enough, I was inside, and it wasn’t as tiny as I had expected it to be!” – Isabel S.

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“My favorite memory in Yosemite was probably when Ryder, Oliver, Reese and I set the record for the most people inside of a bear box together. First went Reese, then Ryder, then Oliver and I went in. “Oh boy was it uncomfortable”- Oliver. “Worst Experience Ever”- Carson. “I was squashed against my applesauce”- Reese – Carson

“I felt connected to the rest of my class because I talked to new people and learned more about them. Specifically, I felt connected to those who were in my hiking group. We bonded over silly things and we told funny stories about our siblings. When we did the caterpillar line and the spider tunnels, we built trust for each other and learned to guide others in the right direction.”– Makenna

Eighth Grade Math

The eighth graders have been working on an extremely important unit, The Linear Equation, in which they explore the interconnectedness of equations, graphs, tables, and patterns. First, the students used different tile patterns to make tables, write a rule or equation, or play games. They then looked at the relationship between the patterns and their graphs. Using what they found, the students were able to draw conclusions about the tables and graphs to write equations and to do it all in reverse, quickly drawing graphs and making tables from equations. This mastery of linear equations or y=mx+b will greatly help these algebra students as they move on to more complex quadratic equations.

After finishing the remainder of Algebra 1 at the beginning of the year, the students have moved on to geometry. Right now they are learning how to write proofs using various games to make it more fun. They will also continue to do challenging logic puzzles, focusing on writing clear justifications of the conclusions they reach. This will help them solve the complicated proofs that await them this year.

Middle School Clay Project

Judy Chicago’s installation The Dinner Party is the inspiration for this clay project. In 1974 the feminist artist created 39 table settings reminiscent of the Last Supper for influential women who might have never been celebrated for their contribution to society. The students researched women in history that follow the criteria Chicago used to choose her 39 women. Some of the many she dedicated her work to include Sacajawea, Sojourner Truth, Virginia Wolf, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
After choosing the woman the student is most inspired by, they have to find a dish that suits the woman’s culture. Using our new ceramic kiln, the students will create the plate/bowl and food out of clay. While the 6th grade has been in Yosemite this week, the 7th and 8th grade have started on making the cups for their table setting. Ultimately, the students will also install their work as a group in celebration of the The Dinner Party.

Earth Science

The sixth grade has spent the last few weeks learning about our Earth’s plate boundaries and earthquakes. They have seen how each plate boundary has moved our continents to where they are today and are continuing to move them. Students have researched historic earthquakes and reported on them to the class. They also learned about new technologies that help those in earthquake zone areas stay safe in buildings.

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Along with this, the students were tasked with building a four story building that could withstand an earthquake. The students were allowed to use different earthquake building technologies which can reduce the shaking to a building. These included x-braces, cross braces, mass-dampers and extended building shapes. Each student created their own design and we tested them to see which building would allow for the least amount of shaking.

Kindergarten at the Zoo

The Kindergarten has been working on a project in music centered around Camille Saint-Saens’ work Carnival of the Animals, a collection of music based on the movements and behaviors of many different wild animals. This Thursday, the project culminated with a trip to the Oakland Zoo.

Our Kindergartners re-listened to each song on a Bluetooth speaker, and used the musical clue to figure out the animal they were looking for. They then collaborated together with basic map skills to find the animal. Once there, they observed the animal and decided whether it’s behaviors were consistent or different from those expressed in the music.

This outing allowed our students to unify teamwork with excellent listening and observation skills by using their natural curiosity and love of animals. When the students return to class, they will finish with an in-class art project. Stop by next week to see the finished products!

4th Grade Inventions

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4th graders were in the Science Lab the last 3 weeks and were studying about electricity and currents. They learned about static and moving charges, what items are considered insulators and conductors, and built both a number of series and parallel circuits.
In conclusion to that unit, the students got to work with our new STEM kits and build their own inventions. They had light up Koala cups, beeping cat rear ends, a cat car, a galaxy vehicle and a cloud spinning car. It was a lot of fun!

Jazz in the Classroom

Grades 6-8th in Green Block are learning about Jazz music and creating their own record album cover. They learned about the history of Jazz in America and the artists responsible for the album covers.

The music department loaned us a real record player! So we have been listening to musicians such as Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong while creating our own album covers! The last part of the project the students are currently working on, focuses on writing their own song using a little bit of alliteration.