Jargonsmith Merge with Home Grown Hub

I am so happy to announce that Jargonsmith has merged with Home Grown Hub to offer learning opportunities for homeschooling families locally AND in blended learning environments on-line.  We are excited to be working with families across the US and beyond our boundaries, including Australia, Canada, the UK and even Spain.

We invite you to join us at www.homegrownhub.org AND check out our events, blogs, and courses!

Sign up to be on our email list so you don’t miss anything!!

Visit us on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/HomeGrownHub

We will be hosting Monday Homeschooling Discussions on FaceBook beginning June!  Don’t miss out!

Happy Homeschooling,

Sabrina Albrecht

Mom, Educator at Home


The Basque Table

The Basque Table

Basque of Northern Spain

The Basque Table is a borrowed title from author Teresa Barrenechea with Mary Goodbody

As we ready ourselves for Basque Studies to begin April 16, we reflect on who we are as a family in our community.  Although we have no bloodline connections with the Basque people, we share the fact that our parents and grandparents immigrated to America and we share cultural contributions within our society.  Our venture to learn more about the Basque is to discover the Basque influences that continue to thrive in our Nevada communities.  We are most eager to share the experience of Basque food, as it lends itself to the culture of a people.  For the Basque, their food is the topic of daily conversation.  They take their meals, both lunch and dinner, very serious!  It’s an honor and a luxury in their culture to head home for these meals, no matter what age.  The Basque embrace shared time with family and friends as a major part of their meals to the extent that children often do not move out of the house until married and sometimes they wait for the birth of their first child.  This is an obvious sign of the strength between child and parents in the Basque culture and legend suggests it just may be due to the culinary art produced by mom.  We embrace strong family bonds for ourselves and hope to learn more from the Basque.

My husband, our son, and I are Native Nevadans.  I have subtle memories of Basque peoples as a child, through the eyes of history from expeditions my father took us in the Southern Nevada desert.  We hiked a lot and explored the ghosts towns of the old west often, where remnants of the Basque people remained in the form of rickety fences for housing their sheep, a lone plaque noting a trail they frequented.  However, I do not recall recognizing the Basque for their culture, traditions, and as a people who played a role in the formation of Nevada communities.  As a parent, and a teacher, I am intrigued with learning more about the people who were part of the establishment of the old west.  The Basque, to me, seem to be the quiet people of our land whose old world traditions continue to thrive here.  When I was in college at the University of Nevada, Reno, I learned more about the people and their contributions by eating at the variety of Basque food restaurants in downtown Reno.  I also toured small, almost deserted towns, like Empire and Gerlach, North of Reno where I further discovered a taste of Basque influence at Bruno’s Restaurant.  If you find yourself heading to the Black Rock Desert, be sure to stop and say hello to the old-playa-salt-Italian–Bruno.  He serves a mean Picon Punch,  considered the Western version of the Basque cocktail; a mix of American Picon (Torani), soda water, grenade and brandy, with a lemon twist.  But you don’t have to go all the way to Gerlach, Nevada, you can find the Picon Punch at any Basque restaurant and it’s my experience that each has its own twist.  

Picon Punch

Although we won’t push the Picon Punch on our 8 year old, we will savor the slower pace reflected in the Basque peoples living style.  The idea of building stronger bonds as a family experienced through the eyes of a different people is one we are embracing for this journey.  Our plan is to engross ourselves in the culture to any extent we can discover from the history we find in museums, art shows, festivals of music, food, and our local Aspen trail in the high Sierras where the Basque sheepherders roamed their sheep.  It is here they left the messages of their people behind, as carvings on the Aspen trees.  We hope to discover first hand these symbols to share their meanings with others.  I’ve noticed Spring offers a slew of Basque festivals in Northern Nevada.  I’m curious to find out if there is a connection between Spring and a Basque tradition…maybe it’s just a pleasant time of year to have a festival.  We’ll find out and we’re excited to share our discoveries with YOU!

Our preliminary studies give us a little insight to the Basque immigration from Northern Spain and maybe Western France to Latin America.  They came to discover a new life.  We are not sure yet as to why they left their homeland, but hints of political furos, regional law, suggest a distinction between Basque people–Spanish and French.  The Spanish region did not appreciate the French rule as it denied them some of their cultural freedoms; i.e., their native language Euskera.  Once in Latin America, they established themselves as sheepherders and with new world skills learned from the natives, a natural progression North landed them in the southern part of the United States.  The Old West certainly held Basque characters as they traveled the Nevada Gold Rush Trail along with others who came to dig for gold and strike it rich.  However, the Basque had an innovative purpose for following the Gold Rush Trail–to raise sheep and feed mining camps.

Holland Ranch, Elko NV

We invite you to experience with us the Basque culture and how they evolved with American society, while maintaining some of their old world traditions.  Our goal is to discover and share.  Your invitation is to do the same.  I have written a guide for Basque Studies that can be used by anyone in any state.  It can be a homeschool journey, an enrichment experience, or simply be a spectator as we report our discoveries on-line at Home Grown Hub’s blog @ www.homegrownhub.org Social Studies.  Our local group of homeschooling families are participating in our local expeditions and plan to report via pictures, self produced videos posted to YouTube, and written descriptions via blog.  

Here’s a list of states we have learned the Basque people migrated through and established themselves:  California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Idaho.  This is may not be a complete list, but it suggests the Basque migrated throughout the North West possibly due to the vast land for herding and feeding their sheep and created businesses.

If you live in one of these states and want to use our Basque Studies guide to explore and share, please join us at www.homegrownhub.org at our Social Studies link as of April 16, 2012; currently Jargonsmith’s Home Grown Hub at www.jargonsmith.com until our launch April 16th.  Feel free to contact me direct at sabrinagentner@me.com.

Hope you join us…
Happy Homeschooling,
Sabrina Albrecht
Mom, Educator at Home

Picture of Holland Ranch, Elko, NV is from Sheep Herders of Northern Nevada, University of Digital Conservancy

Aquaponics Gone Fishy



On March 2nd we kicked off sustainability studies in honor of Dr. Seuss, The Lorax, and his literary/philosophical contributions to society.  All month, we visited the aquaponics greenhouse at the Tahoe for Environmental Sciences building at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village and we keep going back for more!  Our kids are experiencing the aquaponics garden hands-on!  There is so much more to it than meets the eye and the kids dive in for information.  Our tour guide, Graham, is the innovative thought behind the self-sustaining project.  He spends quality time with our kids talking with and guiding them through the process of aquaponics for soil free, greenhouse gardening.

Our curiosity was sparked last February after reading about Graham’s efforts to build a self sustained garden.  It’s a project that is extended to the students at Sierra Nevada College as part of their sustainability studies, a degree well worth the earn.  In fact, you can stop by on any day and find a student watering, harvesting, or using microscopes for observation of leafy matter.  One day, we caught an art student heatedly sketching the month’s radish sprouts as part of an art class project.  All the students are helpful when the little ones show up to chat.  Everyone is willing to spread the word…I feel Seuss smiling.

The key to this aquaponics garden is the unique fact that fish are used to fertilize it…protein eating fish, no less–black bass.  The first question out of our 8 year olds mouths is the question I immediately thought, “Doesn’t the fish poop ruin the lettuce?”  In fact, quite the opposite.  Fish “poop and pee,” Graham uses laymen terms with the little ones, “helps our vegetables grow.”  And when the water leaves the fish tank, the fecal matter is spread throughout the vegetable garden returning to the tank purified and leaving nutrients for healthy plant growth behind.  The garden is a cycle of sustainability down to the fish food–earth worms.  Graham composts to grow healthy worms to feed the fish, as black bass are meat eaters.  The boys dig in and pull out some worms for the feeding process and their excitement heightens.


In addition to the worms, Graham does feed the fish a dried, pellet, protein base fish food for variety.  It helps to balance the ph levels for fertilizing purposes.  From the fish tank, the water is sucked up to the highest suspended barrel where herbs, including cilantro, mint, and thyme are growing.  Graham offered the boys a taste of fresh mint and it was a hit!  PVC pipes are set length-wise across five gallon barrels that have been cut in half, to house vegetables.  The pipe has a series of holes drilled below to provide an even flow of water to the garden.  And the rhythm of splashing water is like being in a mediation garden…music to our ears.

A light weight soil substitute, an aggregate of perlite and vermiculite, acts as the soil.  It’s a clean and friendly way to garden and holds moisture without sacrificing nutrients to the vegetables.  When harvest time rolls around, the students simply wiggle the root vegetables out of the aggregate, soil free, leaving no trace.  There is a system to planting in aggregate, however.  It involves growing the vegetables from seed until they are big enough to be transplanted in the aggregate.  This is done in an all organic sponge base pod and kept in a mini-greenhouse and watered….looks like this…


Graham created a dynamic analogy for the difference between aquaponics gardening and our age-old system for growing food.  He wanted to be sure we left understanding that our current system is set up in a linear fashion, where consumers demand production of which is consumed and eventually disposed.  The aquaponics paradigm for production is a closed loop system–a cycle.  Apparently this made a lot of sense to the kids who commented, “a cycle like the cycle of life” and further, “…yeah, like the weather cycle.”  Wow!  I’m still savoring this learning moment.

Before leaving, we learned the fish themselves are up for harvest when they are big enough to eat, about 14″ in length according to Graham.  At the moment, the bass are only 5″-6″, so they have some time.  The idea is these fish will procreate, therefore sustaining the tank.  And Graham points out that all the materials, including the fish, were donated by a variety of agencies to further the efforts of his innovation.  His entire project equates to ‘zero impact’ to our Tahoe environment.

Like I said, we continue to visit the aquaponics garden.  Our hope is to further the idea and bring it into people’s homes.  I presented the idea of building an artistic, aquaponics home garden to my husband, who loves these kinds of challenges.  I want to use copper pipes for aesthetic reasons, but we learned that will most likely alter the ph levels to an unfriendly degree and negatively effect our vegetables.  So, we continue to ponder our science project coupled with art.  One thing is for sure, we have Graham on our side for developing aquaponics home gardens.

Home Grown Hub Springs Into Action

Easy Stuff

Capture and share learning moments

In an effort to build learning opportunities and share insight with as many children as we can stuff in a single blog spot and virtual classroom, I’ve developed some guided courses that you can pick up and facilitate on your own end…but the trade off is to share!  It’s free, fun and a safe zone for learning on line for your kids.  My inspiration is from my 8 year old son, Otto.  If you read my blogs you know his name already, which by the way is ‘Toot’ inside out; he’s the first to spring that on new friendships.  Toot is a kinesthetic learner, basically interpreted as one who bounces to glean information from a particular context and/or a set of criteria presented for the purposes of learning information.  Since he can’t sit still in a classroom chair neatly poised in front of a desk, we take advantage of expeditionary learning experiences.  And he loves the camera.  And since his mum got a Mac with iPhoto and digital video making software, Toot can explore as a student and develop his own teaching tools for others.  All the while, he’s learning outdoors, about relevant concepts, in real life, and applying his knowledge through technology.  Did I mention he’s 8 years old?

Toot and I want to share our world with yours.  For quick examples of expeditions last Spring and Summer (2011), check out these Youtube videos he created:  seriously…stop and click…come back when you’re done.

http://youtu.be/70tkLX15Vd8 and this one: http://youtu.be/7fcFoFvki50

Okay, simple stuff, Right!  We are inviting you to part take in your area with our topic so we can all chat about what we learned.  Our next Guided Journey is Basque Studies.  While we are gathering and compiling information in Northern Nevada via journals, pictures, drawings, and videos we want others out there to do the same in their own area.  I provide the Guided Syllabus with online resources and good reads and you gather up a group of interested kids, a camera, a few journals and pencils, water bottles if you got ’em, as some of our expeditions are trail hikes…or a snack while you view the hikes from our perspective.   Here’s a very quick peek at the syllabus, of which is more detailed upon the start of our journey…but it gives you a hint as to where we are headed together:  http://jargonsmith.com/Basque_Studies_Quick_Peek_Syllabus_.pdf

Please feel free to contact me for more information and with any questions regarding the process.

Happy Homeschooling and we hope you join us,

Sabrina Albrecht

Mom, Educator at Home, addicted to blogging and Twitter!

Fight for Human Capital!

Drumming my dream...


Fight for Human Capital

I don’t believe in drop and leave!  As a country, we drop our children off at day care at very young ages.  We expect our children to fulfill a complete 3-6 hour day by the time they are 5 years old.  By age 6, our children are expected to pull a full 6 hour shift and by 7 years that day is extended to include homework, enrichment programs, activities, and sports–as a general rule.  I question how much time parents get to spend with their own children.  The development of the drop and leave program originates from the Industrial Age–the time education was implemented into our system for life and it hasn’t changed since.  Essentially, an 8-10 hour day is not uncommon for our babies.  Yes, they are babies.  I use Seth Godin’s words from his manifesto, “Stop Stealing Dreams”, exemplifying the disconnect of the human spirit from institutionalized educational systems, following his visit to Harlem Village Academy, New York City,

…top-down industrialized schooling is…threatened, and for very good reasons.  Scarcity of access is destroyed by the connection economy* at the very same time the skills and attitudes we need from our graduates are changing.

While the internet has allowed many of these changes to happen, you won’t see much of the web at the Harlem Village Academy school I visited, and not much of it in this manifesto, either.  The HVA is simply about people and the way they should be treated.  It’s about abandoning a top-down industrial approach to processing students and embracing a very human, very personal and very powerful series of tools to produce a new generation of leaders.  

 Avoiding the drop and leave is a conscious decision between my husband and me.  We home school and we place our son, Otto, in the driver’s seat in our effort to abandon a top-down industrial approach for his education.  We ground ourselves in an un-schooling and humanistic approach, which gives him the purest of opportunities for student driven learning; where ideas are guided by what he wants to learn from them.  We value Otto’s choices for learning as a human.  It works because he is genuinely engaged with his learning.  Our goals are to foster that engagement for learning, support his independence, as he grows to be a passionate, self-initiated learner for life.  He already discovers new ideas and innovative thoughts, ponders choices before he makes decisions–reflective of leadership–and a far cry from institutionalized thought where he waits for direction.  No, this kid is in control!

Despite Otto’s strengths, he still needs us.  He is only eight years old…after all and we let him know we are here for every tiny step he takes with his life.  Knowing he is supported is the meaningful piece that builds the bond between child and parent–teacher–coach.  His ideas and thoughts are valued and that offers ownership for his learning–the key to developing his strengths.  My husband and I divide and conquer.  He is the coach for sports and I am the teacher, and we use these labels interchangeably since guidance is our goal.  Neither of us relies solely on our own resources, rather we turn to our community for support.  The process in and of itself instills a connection beyond our classroom walls at home.  Otto’s classroom is life, his community, his cousin’s backyard, Grandma and Grandpa’s house, the trails we hike, the schools we visit, the museums we relish, our treasured camp trips together.  The list doesn’t stop–neither do his dreams.

One of Otto’s dreams is to play the drums and play them well!  His  interest sparked our search for a drum teacher, since we know it isn’t a discipline either of us can delve.  We were excited to discover a local prodigy who has extensive experience and displays all the quirky characteristics of an individual who is profoundly talented with music.  Perfect choice!  He has scheduled drum lessons with his teacher, but at home Otto gets to practice anytime he wants.  His learning environment is set up for it.  Time is not an issue, because we don’t have to fight the clock to get things accomplished.  While he is furthering his talents at his own speed, Otto is also genuinely enjoying the process.  And the fact that he gets to play in his dad’s band is a plus.  We recognize Otto’s need to explore the drums whether it’s short lived as he discovers the drummer within, or long-term as a dream he decides to fulfill.  Which ever, the learning experience is one wrapped in unity–a team effort with vested players.

Although homeschooling is not for everyone, It is a process that …[embraces] a very human, very personal and very powerful series of tools to produce a new generation of leaders.  Babies still need parental involvement in their education and embracing a child’s needs and desire to learn is potential for humanizing education.

*connection economy concept coined by Seth Godin in relation to the understanding of advertising and the use of a variety of mediums to sell products that essentially leave the consumer empty; supply and demand based on want not need.

Environment, Sustainability, Conservation…Dr. Seuss!

I found my eight year old son crying…not earth shattering news. Right?  Except that he was crying from the realization of the message being furthered in the movie The Lorax (Universal Studios).  March 2nd, was Dr. Seuss’ birthday and for me that means the onset of teaching a bit of history coupled with science and the ideals of capitalism.  Since Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite author’s, what better choice than The Lorax (book) as it makes Its debut in movie theaters on the birth day of Dr. Seuss.  While Hollywood has the capability to capture children and parents for profit, I like to think I can take advantage of the hype to engage my eight year old son with literature, history, conservation and capitalism.  We kicked off our month using Dr. Seuss as a springboard to our studies…

In our small community in the Sierra mountains lives a partnership between the University of California-Davis on the Sierra Nevada College campus and the Desert Research Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno/Las Vegas.  The Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences houses this partnership right here in Incline Village, Nevada.  It’s a scientific research center for the understanding of alpine lakes and the preservation of the environmental quality for our important resources (www.sierranevada.edu).  Sierra Nevada students have teamed up to further develop ideas for sustainability in our very delicate environment, where ‘Aquaponics’ has gone fishy!  Sounds like a Seuss theme in there–somewhere.  In fact, The ‘Aquaponics’ Greenhouse is a self-contained agricultural system for growing plants and raising fish in a symbiotic relationship. (Jason Paladino, The Eagle’s Eye, http://www.sierranevada.edu/UserFiles/file/ENG/EE/EE_02_16_12.pdf).  Our small community’s sustainability realizes the impact of high tourism and an influx of families moving to our area, therefore, ideas for less impact  on our forest and lake are viable concerns.

Having read Seuss’ The Lorax numerous times with my son the past eight years of his life, I decided to look beyond reading for rhythm and start talking Seuss’ themes.  How to deliver it to the developmental level of a child is always the challenge and who better to rely upon than the experts in Hollywood.  Yes.  I said it.  I canned Hollywood as ‘experts.’  I’m fully aware of the controversy surrounding this statement, but rest assured, I take the time to expel the truth of using children for capitalistic gain with my own kids.  I’d rather begin unraveling the tangled web of trust through mediums children are exposed–movies, television, advertisements, and radio (does that even exist anymore?)–than have them learn to rely on the messages they’re fed.

My son, Otto, and I spent our morning hovering over the ‘aquaponics’ greenhouse invention and decided we needed an in depth tour.  Our journey led us to the Department Chair of Science and Technology studies and she was very helpful with references to help guide our yearning for knowledge.  We came home and together constructed emails to everyone involved, asking for tours of their facility.  The response from students and professors was quick, as were invited to chat further about Lake Tahoe itself from our local lake biologist.  We are excited to get started, but had to schedule the tours.

While Otto was able to feel the process for organizing his own learning, he was not satisfied to “call it day.”  So, we headed to Carson City, The Lorax book in hand, and straight to the theater where the movie was making its debut.  Aside from the fantastical bombardment to our senses with the 3-D effects, the story’s theme hit home with him.  During the movie Otto continued to ask, Mommy, are you crying?  I responded that I certainly could cry, but I wasn’t actually at that point.  Never during the movie did I think my eight year old son was crying himself.  It was only when we got outside I noticed his red, puffy eyes and I asked him, Otto, did you cry?  He nodded yes.  I was so excited I wanted to jump for joy, but I managed to eek out, What parts made you cry?  He explained the two scenes, which in retrospect were powerful, but an oversight on my behalf.  I suppose over the years I’ve grown a thick skin to the ideas that could essentially destroy our way of life and the potential for tainted and irresponsible choices.  The fact that Otto was moved to tears by Dr. Seuss’ themes stands to represent the importance for teaching them.

These were the ideas we talked about during our drive home.  A strong reminder that when parents take the time to teach an idea, its meaning can have a powerful impact and more likely than not, that idea is furthered.  Rather than begging me for a Lorax toy, the remainder of our afternoon together was spent talking about sustainability where we live and the power of human choice.
Happy Homeschooling,
Sabrina Albrecht
Mom, Educator at Home

Yoga For Literacy

Mom, will you read me a story...

Yoga practice enhances flexibility and is a healthy choice, but when coupled with literature, yoga becomes much more.  A few years ago, I attended a yoga retreat in San Francisco to learn how to teach yoga to kids.  My premise for signing up for the workshop was simply as a refresher course with my own yoga practice and for something to do with my son.  What I got was a deeper understanding of yoga and the role it plays with a child’s learning process.  At that point, I combined yoga with literature.  I wanted a different venue for reading with my son.  What developed was a program that builds literacy especially awareness and skills for kids who tend to be kinesthetic learners; i.e., the need to move to learn.  Our practice strengthened our mother-son bond and provided a powerful message for us both–a message to further.

When I got home from my kids’ yoga retreat years ago, I was fired up to use this new method of literacy learning with my kid.  Originally I stuck to the book of stories provided by the yoga teachers at the retreat, as they were well guided and simple poses with stories.  I started to branch out to Chinese and American proverbs, no particular reason except that I was interested in the two and they had a good flow with yoga.  This developed into a deeper appreciation for story telling through yoga when my son initiated question sessions as we practiced.  Our conversations were simple and usually regarded the story itself, but more importantly emphasized why we practice yoga and do the Chinese practice yoga like us?  We talked a little about the differences/similarities between our culture and the Chinese culture, including food, all the while we continued to move through our series of poses; he was three years old at the time.

Usually my day with my son is indicative of trying to wear him out with long hikes and trampoline sessions.  I was so moved by our interaction during yoga while engrossed in literature, I decided to canonize our time together.  Our experience made me appreciate our time and of course I had to share this idea with parents.

The teacher in me realized the potential for children to engage with literature while practicing yoga and my target group was three-four year olds at the time, as it followed suit with my own child’s age.  I offered yoga literature classes for children and found the boys tend to need it most.  While both girls and boys equally enjoyed our 45 minute story telling sessions through yoga, the boys made huge strides with listening more attentively.  Over the course of a six week session, where consistency with the structure of the class was key, the boys made larger strides lengthening their attention span.  This is not to suggest the girls lacked in attention span growth, rather, they didn’t seem to need the outlet for movement to listen to the story as much as the boys tendency.  All the kids understood the story lines, the message, and the poses as they related to the story.  It’s proven successful to the testimony of a child’s craving for movement while learning.

The past five years I have been compiling lists of stories and restructured yoga poses accordingly.  I delve into our practice with the intent of telling a story that carries a message.  Our discussions following our interactive story telling are spent gleaning the messages from it and applying them to our daily lives.  Using folklore and proverbs, our sessions are interactive with a global perspective as we grow to appreciate people of all cultures through the mediums of story telling and yoga.

I am offering two Yoga For Literature courses this Spring 2012, May 8-June 12.  If you are local, nearby, or visiting Lake Tahoe, your children are invited to join us.  For more information, please contact me at sabrina@jargonsmith.com.

Happy Homeschooling,
Sabrina Albrecht
Mom, Educator at Home