Learning in the 21st Century: How to Connect, Collaborate, and Create Book Review


Homeschooling families this day and age have a broad range of resources and opportunities to choose from. In fact,  there are so many options out there, we just have to know how to find them, especially with technology on our side.

I just recently was given the opportunity to read an amazing book that I think you as a homeschooling parent could utilize in your homeschool as a parent resource.  It’s called: Learning in the 21st Century: How to Connect, Collaborate, and Create by Ben Curran and Neil Whetherbee. (Perspectives in Gifted Homeschooling Series) It’s a very easy read yet full of important and very useful information that I am excited about.  Though I already utilize a few of the recommended resources as a mom blogger, I was excited to find new ideas that I will most definitely be checking out.

Here is a summary as seen on the back cover of the book:

“The world has transformed on an epic scale, but education has barely budged.  How can you incorporate all the creativity technology has to offer into your learning experiences, even if your technological abilities are limited?  How can online tools help students, especially gifted and twice-exceptional students, connect with others from around the block or around the world to collaborate on  projects?

Ben Curran and Neil Whetherbee of Engaging Educators give you step-by-step instructions to get you started using technology in your learning experiences.  Discover new online tools geared toward collaborating and creating.  Try out projects specifically designed with these tools in mind.  Create a positive and interesting online portfolio to share with college recruiters and potential employers.

Regardless of educational choice, Learning in the 21st Century: How to Connect, Collaborate, and Create, will fill you with ideas and inspiration that will revolutionize how you approach learning.”

I am so excited about the online portfolio.  I have been searching for something to this effect that will not only keep track of everything learned, but also be impressive to future colleges and employers.  Though my girls aren’t of that age as of yet, I will definitely tuck this resource away for future use.  An online portfolio even for the younger years is a great way to showcase everything your child has learned.  We as homeschoolers most definitely want to jump on board for what technology has to offer us.  It’s the sign of the times.

What else does this resourceful book contain?  Here is what is listed in the Table of Contents of Learning in the 21st Century: How to Connect, Collaborate, and Create:


  • Subscribing to Blog with Google Reader
  • Using Twitter
  • Blogging with Blogger
  • Social Bookmarking: Diigo


  • Google Drive
  • Voicethread
  • Wikispaces
  • Edmodo


  • Part One: Creation Tools
  • Screencast-o-matic.com
  • Xtranormal.com
  • Animoto.com
  • Prezi.com
  • Edu.glogster.com
  • Part Two: Ready-Made Projects
  • Blog

Are you curious of some of the resources mentioned?  I know I was.  I am more eager now than ever to really research what is out there for us as homeschoolers.  To celebrate this new book, the authors and Homeschooling and Detroit would like to give away a copy of Learning in the 21st Century: How to Connect, Collaborate, and Create to one of our readers.  Just enter through Rafflecopter below.  Be sure to read the terms and conditions before entering.

You can currently purchase this book on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Happy Homeschooling!

Girls Know How: Raising the Roof Book Review


Just recently, my 9.5 year old daughter got to read a book from The Girls Know How Series #2: Raising the Roof written by Ellen Langas Campbell.  She couldn’t put the book down.  Prior to her reading adventure, I skimmed the book and found it to be a lot of fun for this particular age group.  It also incorporates every day life lessons which is a plus. Here is a summary of book #2 as stated on the back of the book:

Grab a hard hat and join fifth-grade friends Tori, Angie, and Kelly as they attempt to outwit a rival group of boys who have taken over their clubhouse.  Encouraged by Lucinda Alvarez, the head of a major construction company, they accept the challenge to build their own.

But stormy weather, differences of opinion and the boys’ attempts to undermind their efforts test their friendship.  Follow the antics of these spirited girls as they get a first-hand look at a real construction company and learn there is a lot more to building than just hammers and nails.”

“I learned to treat people the way that you want to be treated and work together.” ~Kelly

Because she liked it so much, she is wanting to check the rest of the series out at the library!  The other two books in the series are:

  • #1 Girls Know How: Will Stephanie Get the Story?
  • #3 Girls Know How: Teaching

What do you want to be?  Explore careers with the Girls Know How Series at www.girlsknowhow.com.”

Ruby’s Studio Friendship Show Review

ruby's studio

As a homeschooler, have you included character training in your curriculum?  As a second year homeschooling family, I have discovered that character training is very important.  I have tried different methods and I am always researching new ideas.  I was just recently introduced to a brand new episode of the Ruby Studio Series: The Friendship Show.  It is now available for website download here or watch the trailer here.  The new DVD’s for Ruby’s Studio: Friendship Show will be released on 12/14/2012.

The Friendship Show is a continuation of their mission to “Help Parents Raise Good People.” “This time, Ruby’s focus is friendship – helping young kids to make and nurture lasting friendships, with fun animated sequences, art projects and original music all geared toward helping kids to resolve conflict, show compassion, and encourage kindness toward their peers. Renowned parenting expert, Dr. Robyn Silverman, has contributed the Pop-Up Parenting tips for all of us who can’t seem to get to those parenting books on our night table anymore.”

Just recently, I was given the chance to review the new download: Ruby’s Studio: The Friendship Show.  Because I have never seen the first episode of Ruby’s Studio, this was all brand new to me and my girls, so this was definitely a fun experience for all of us.

The beginning/intro is very cheery and colorful.  Grabs attention right off the bat. The Ruby character is so delightful. I love her fiery red hair, haha.  My 6 year old was instantly drawn to it as there were kids about her age in this episode.  Since the topic was on friendship, Ruby these 4 children on a magical journey.  Here is an idea of what the episode covers:

  • Stories on Friendship: How to treat friends, how to handle bullies, how to help friends in times of need, etc.
  • Music and Movement on Friendship
  • Craft: Friendship Trees

and more.

The episode of Ruby’s Studio does a great job of getting the point across about friendship.  I love their goodbye gesture: “Finger, hand, blow a kiss.”  My 6 year old and even 3 and a half year old have been doing this since the episode ended.  It’s a great way to introduce the concept of friendship.  Even though my girls have all established friendships outside of the home, it’s also important they learn that concept with each other.  Getting along and working together has been somewhat of a challenge since our homeschooling adventures first began, but we are slowly but surely getting there.


National Park Mystery Series Review

Do you have a child 9+ that loves reading age appropriate fictional mysteries?  Just recently, a fellow homeschooling friend handed me two books to review:

  1. National Park Mystery Series: Stolen Treasures at Pictured Rocks by Mary Morgan, illustrated by Dawn McVay Baumer
  2. National Park Mystery Series: The Face at Mount Rushmore by Mary Morgan, illustrated by Dawn McVay Baumer

Because they are easy reading geared towards this particular age group, I was finished with both books in a total of 4 hours.  Stolen Treasures at Pictured Rocks I think was my favorite.  I honestly could not put it down.  My oldest daughter (9) is currently reading it and loving it as well.  Here is a brief summary of Stolen Treasures at Pictured Rocks as printed on the back of the book itself:

While exploring Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park, twins, Ben and Bekka Cooper, along with a new friend Eli, discover not only the beauty of Lake Superior, but encounter more than they bargained for.  With keen eyes and quick thinking, they came upon thieves planning to steal artifacts from sunken ships.  Needless to say, their vacation was more than just a camping trip.” ~Mary Morgan

Here are is one of two reviews also stated on the back of the book:

Mary Morgan’s book teaches the core values of scouting.  Kids will have a hard time putting down this book, while at the same time learning about the great outdoors and what our National Parks have to offer.  I can’t wait to go camping there myself.” ~Tigh Conroy, Asst. Scoutmaster troop 4312, Unit Commissioner Great Sauk Trail

Interested in purchasing this book?  Visit www.buttonwoodpress.com.

National Park Mystery Series: The Face at Mount Rushmore is also an exciting book.  This one might be for the ages 10+ crowd as it starts out on the slow side, but it’s also mysterious and exciting. Of course this depends on your child’s attention span while mysteries unfold. Here is a brief summary as stated on the back of the book:

Looking forward to spending the 4th of July in South Dakota with their uncle at Mount Rushmore, Ben and Bekka have no clue about what awaits them at the national monument.  Is there a diabolical plan?  If only the presidents could talk…..~Mary Morgan

Here is one of three reviews as stated on the back of the book:

“I think other kids will like this book as much as I did because it is filled with mysterious adventure and laughs.  It was awesome from the beginning to the end.” ~Caleb Allen, 9 years old, Lansing, Michigan

I would like to thank my friend Victoria for letting us borrow these series.  I would also like to thank author Mary Morgan for allowing me to do this review and giveaway here on Homeschooling in Detroit.  It was a pure joy. The illustrations were also fun thanks to Dawn McVay Baumer.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel

The Third Wheel Book 7_ABRAMS

As a homeschool mom, I’ve always said that my main goal was to raise children that loved to read.   When my girls were struggling readers, it was difficult to get them to love reading.  However, once they found something they were interested in reading, they were able to overcome their struggles and become much more fluent.  It was really a matter of finding that “magic book.”

For my youngest daughter, the magic came with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.   Prior to discovering these books, recreational reading happened very infrequently; but, once the first Wimpy Kid book came into our home, her reading habits changed for the better.

Because of this, I have quite an affection with the Wimpy Kid books and I’m thrilled to not only tell you about the newest book in the series, but to give you a chance to win a copy for yourself too!

About The Third Wheel
Love is in the air—but what does that mean for Greg Heffley?

A Valentine’s Day dance at Greg’s middle school has turned his world upside down. As Greg scrambles to find a date, he’s worried he’ll be left out in the cold on the big night. His best friend, Rowley, doesn’t have any prospects either, but that’s a small consolation.

An unexpected twist gives Greg a partner for the dance and leaves Rowley the odd man out. But a lot can happen in one night, and in the end, you never know who’s going to be lucky in love.



About Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Before the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books were published, stories from the first three books appeared digitally for free on the website www.funbrain.com, where they are still available. Books in the core series by Jeff Kinney include Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2007), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2008), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (2009), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2009), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth (2010), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever (2011). Jeff Kinney has also written and illustrated The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book and The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary. The series is a fixture on the USA Today bestseller list and the Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. It has also remained consistently in the top spots on the New York Times lists since publication of the first book in the series in 2007.

About the author
Jeff Kinney is an online game developer and designer, and a #1 New York Times bestselling author. Jeff was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. He spent his childhood in the Washington, D.C., area and moved to New England in 1995. Jeff lives in southern Massachusetts with his wife and their two sons.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the series yet, you can get them at Amazon and in e-Book form too!

Teen Book Review: Glow

Glow (Sky Chasers)

Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Age Group: 11+
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Rating: 7 (out of 10)
Recommend?: Yes

Description: The Empyrean is the only home fifteen year old Waverly has ever known.  As a member of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space.  She and her boyfriend, Kieran, will be pioneers of New Earth.  Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children to carry the mission and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband.

But, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage .. and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant, Seth.

Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean’s sister ship, the New Horizon.  In one, pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.

Mandy’s Thoughts: This is a great book, especially for those who like science fiction.  With both the action and romance, boys and girls alike with enjoy reading it.

For the age group, I listed “11+” because it’s a higher reading level.  Not too high, though, just a couple of tricky words here and there.

The book was very appropriate.  The only sexual content in the book is a kiss and there is no swearing.

Glow (Sky Chasers) is very exciting and keeps you wondering.  Whether or not you are a science fiction fan, I recommend reading this book.

This post was written by:


Mandy is a homeschooled student in high school. In addition to hanging out with her friends, she enjoys reading and painting. She hopes to earn her Ph.D. in Psychology after she graduates from high school.

Share your homeschooling journey with people like you.