We began the 2018-2019 school this week and so far we are off to a good start. We brought in the year with most of our core subjects and two electives. We will be adding more as we go until we have graduated into a full course load. This week, we studied the TaNaK, Mathematics, Grammar (Grade 7 only), Spanish (Elementary Spanish & Spanish I), Piano (Elementary Piano & Piano Techniques), History & Geography, and Multicultural Literature.  The week before, we had an orientation week where I gave them a quick run-through, introduced our schedule and any new changes/updates, allowed them to explore their books, and ask me any questions so all hearts and mind were clear for the following Monday. We begin each day with our Young, Gifted and Black Studies (YGBS) where I introduce a new historical figure and give them their accomplishments/stats. Throughout the week, I share more on that person until they have a summarized biography. (Sometimes, I add learning material and at other times I simply read.) I also alternate two intentions, one ancient proverb, and one African-American quote. We discuss them each morning and aim to practice its truths throughout the week and beyond.


Young, Gifted and Black & Morning Intentions


This week we learned about Mary Seacole, also known as “Mama Seacole.” She was a Jamaican Brit who was known for her Caribbean medicinal knowledge. She was a business woman (a hotelier) and a nurse. She is known for caring for the British soldiers during the Crimean War. (We’re using Young, Gifted and Black as our spine.). We also sing this song every morning to kick-off the day and that make it extra special. 🙂 Shout out to Ancestor Nina Simone!


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Image Credit: Wikipedia


Buddha’s quote was by far the hardest one for them to apply all week! However, they did manage to intentionally check themselves to be in control of that inner man and in turn the outer man. It was so good to see them try. They both admitted by the end of the week that is not easy to discipline the will of man. My 7th grader definitely thought it was a greater feat to conquer 1,000 until he tried to conquer himself. 🙂 Oh, the joys of this homeschooling boy-mama.

History & Literature: TaNaK


We read through the narrative in I Samuel 20-23, studied the Battle at Keliah, analyzed Psalm 34 (where we revisited the acrostic style in Hebrew), 54, 56, & 63, crafted three arrows (I Samuel 20), and added two notebook entries to your TaNaK notebooks: David & Saul’s Character and David & YAH. We discussed loyalty, friendship, war, stability, and how relations with a woman could be distracting (I Samuel 21:4). Throughout the year, we are learning about canonization and authorship. One of my frustrations with the TaNaK is distinguishing the difference between the time the story occurred (if it actually occurred in then real-time) and the time it was written. If you’re reading intently, you’ll notice oddities and nuisances that deserve reconciliation. The issue is–do you have the resources to reconcile it and what do you do when have them and still cannot seek reconciliation? As we attempt to sort through it all, we’re building a canon consistent to the time of authorship as best we can. This week, we added Samuel understanding that originally it was just one book.

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Grade 4

It’s best to summarize our learning in the review,  practice, introduce form, so here we go:
>Adding three numbers
>Conceptual addition (including add and carry)
>Conceptual subtraction (including borrowing)
>Checking subtraction by addition
>Applying the inverse concept to addition and subtraction
>Rounding to the nearest ten and hundred
>Commutative property
>Equivalent fractions
In Grade 4, we begin self-scoring our own work, especially in math. I do not know what it is, but children love to score their own work! He was so excited.

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Grade 7

>Number basics, writing large numbers
>Expressing ratios and rates
>Converting decimals, fractions, ratios, and percents
>Statistical and non-statistical data
>Writing equivalent expressions
>Plotting polygons and interpreting their value on a graph
This Week Math Vocabulary: solution, variable, coordinate pair, quadrant



This week was a light week where we reviewed basic grammar rules concepts, synonyms, and the verb “to be.” I introduced different dialects of English and we read a poem written in the Jamaican English dialect, translated it into the Standard Form (English and Caribbean.) Our cultural component was “what’s in a name” where considered the many names a Black child could/would go by, including why and how. In fact, I’m reading a collection of short stories to my oldest son and in the beginning the narrator says,
Everybody had nicknames where we lived. People had two, three, sometimes four or five of them. If you didn’t go to school or church with a kid, you could go your whole life without ever ever knowing his real name. ~ Asim
We instantly made a text-connection and found humor in its truth, as we both have few.



In Spanish, it was a pretty standard introductory week. Each of them have their own Spanish teacher and covered mostly the same topics, which was the alphabet, greetings, and farewells, and the classroom vocabulary.

Piano & Music


In piano, it was rhythm week! They both have the same piano teacher and she is amazing! (If you’re in Metro Atlanta and desire piano lessons, please let me know. You’re in for a treat with this excellent pianist.) They both learned about rhythm, note values, and meter. I love that the musical theory concept is the same, but the application and practice differs per level. My 7th grader is practicing Fur Elise by Beethoven van Ludwig and my youngest is learning piano geography, finger placements, and notes C-D-E. (P.S. This year in our Fine Art Studies, we’re learning about a few Black pianists. Stay tuned for that upcoming blog or vlog post.)
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History & Geography ~ Australia



In History and Geography, I introduced Australia from a different angle this year and they were all over it. We had such a great time learning about the history and geography.  To begin, I gave a review lesson in longitude and latitude and allowed them to explore the globe completing an activity sheet that asked them about hemispheres and coordinate planes about several countries. Since we are concentrating on the East, I spent some time explaining the major differences between the West (where we are) and the East. We also labeled a map of Australia to better understand its geography.
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 Who was James Cook? He was an European explorer who apparently “discovered” Australia 1770 behind the earlier Dutch “discovery.” We already know how the story will unfold, right? It’s the same pattern all across the world with European explorers, traders, and missionaries. So, one can pontificate what happens to land, the natives, and the natural resources. In fact, the novel we’re currently reading opens with,
It happened many years ago, before the traders and missionaries first came into the South Seas, while the Polynesians were still great in numbers and fierce at heart. ~ Sperry
 We studied four physical features (Uluru, Great Victoria Desert, Great Barrier Reef, and the Coral Sea). We love learning about new land forms as most natives have a rich heritage in these natural places, and they often are spiritual too. For example, Uluru is sacred to the local Aborigines being the focal point of many of their creation stories. (I read a few creation stories to them in our multicultural literature class and crossed the history and geography with literature in that way.)
Did you know that “aborigines” means “there in the beginning?”
We were all love struck with meaning. We had just learned the day before that Uluru is also called Ayers Rock in honor of the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. Of course, we choose to call it Uluru.
What’s up with that? Why do Europeans feel as if they can “discover” what’s already known and rename it as their own?
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This led to a conversation about how Brown people view land and ownership verses Europeans, and I imagine we will be having this discussion all year. Last, we learned about climate and population. They were surprised to understand that mainly the coastal regions are occupied, but that the outback is only sparsely populated with native peoples. Looks like it’s too hot for non-melaninated folk.
By the way, did you know that the skin cancer rate is high in Australia among European Australians?
I’ll allow you to speculate on why that is so. My sons shared some rather insightful possibilities. As a quick formative assessment, they each completed their own Australia Country Poster (by Mainly Middle School) and the Australia Overview Chart that I made for them. They each completed both sheets with ease and I knew they were retaining what they were learning and enjoying how they were learning, which made my mama-heart glad.

Multicultural Literature ~ Call It Courage



In Multicultural Literature, we’re all reading Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry and it has been a major hit! I am so pleased with myself in choosing this title and my decision to kick the year off the year with it. (Goooooo Alizah!) The book is set on the Polynesian island of Hikueru. It’s packed with culture and specific geography terms that we appreciate. I am teaching my 4th grader how to effectively define unfamiliar vocabulary words while reading, and at the same time, teaching my 7th grader how to properly annotate and close read. Both of them are also identifying various literary devices during and after reading.
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I also read other genres of literature to them so they could be as immersed as possible in the culture they are currently exploring. So far, I’ve read a poem, a psalm, a few creation stories, and a portion from the script of Moana, the movie. They had made many connections with the creation story in Genesis and with the movie Moana as well. It’s such a treat to sit back and observe them “get it” and be overjoyed in doing so. We are very interested in the spiritual and ritualistic systems of Black and Brown people, especially the native understanding and application.
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The first task we aim to learn are the deities. That alone tells so much about the people and their daily lives. There are several gods in ancient Polynesians beliefs, but our novel focused on three main ones: Moana (the sea god), Maui (the fishermen god), and Ta’aroa (the chief deity, also known as the hero-god). The narrative also identifies sacred places, sacrifice, and vows and thanksgiving prayers. (We compared Mafatu’s thanksgiving prayer to Ta’aroa with one of David’s thanksgiving prayers to YHWH.) For a teacher-mama with a love and passion for literature, my sons filled my heart and this was hands-down my favorite time with them each day all week.

Current Events



We watch CNN Student News about twice a week and they have a news report template to complete with each episode. I also inform them of major current issues in the world, the U.S., and in our state as it is relevant. One of my goals in home education is to produce global thinkers and watching news reports is one of the ways I meet my goal. Of course we learned about Aretha Franklin’s death as well as Senator McCain’s. They knew about the Queen of Soul, but had no clue who McCain was. In my explanation of his run for presidency, they could only take shots at my age. So, you know…whatever. Don’t know who the man is, then. 🙂 It was as if they could not handle that you can be old enough to live through past presidential elections and still be a young adult.
My oldest teased,
“Yeah, mom. It doesn’t matter. Just saying you remember when someone ran for president just sounds old.”
We also learned about a surfing business in California, robots, NASA, and China. They wondered if robots will take over the world as well as China. Already crushed  with age jokes in my McCain campaign retelling, I hesitated to explain Y2K. I decided to take a leap with it and shared that in 1999 Americans were concerned about a reset to 1900. Also, that if you were a child or teen in the 90s, you were probably told stories about how robots and flying cars would take over the world in the 21st Century and our reality would be something close to an episode of the Jetsons. However, we’re almost two decades in and cars still move on the ground and people are still very much involved in many human transactions. So, there’s that. 🙂  But, I’m all down for imagination. It’s cool to think you’ll live in another reality when you’re a kid.


I’ll see you all next week for Week 2! We’re adding Spelling (Grade 4) and Science (both). Blessings and peace in your next week of teaching and learning.