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Back-to-school help online

Today's kids are born digital. And their world of information is increasingly an electronic one. But so far, there is no advanced GPS to help kids click their way through the traffic jam of cyberjunk and digital temptations.

To help kids get back on track, we asked a few education experts to recommend some good web destinations to help with schoolwork and enhance learning.

One clear favorite is KahnAcademy.org, a free educational site packed with learning materials ranging from instructional videos to interactive exercises as well as a data dashboard to track your progress. Subjects run the gamut from basic elementary school math to college-level science and economics.

"It's the newest, coolest thing online," said Mary Padgett of Amathoasis, with tutoring centers in Sebastopol and Petaluma. Not only is the information well curated, it's presented in a way that is fun and engaging.

"The videos are well done and funny. They're not hard to watch. And you can go at whatever pace you want. If you need to repeat, you can," she said.

Padgett also is a fan of young mathematician Vi Hart's clever Doodling Math videos on YouTube. Hart, who also works for Kahn Academy, visually demonstrates math concepts through scribbles. "She's making concepts so presentable and so fun. You could be in third grade and loving this stuff, or in college."

Tom Hruschka of MindGarden Tutoring in Santa Rosa loves Wolf-

ramalpha.com, a site that can help students through basic math problems. It can generate the answer but also talk you through the steps and give links to other useful resources to help in understanding the concepts.

He recommends Google Calendar to manage your time and set up a schedule for classes, assignments and extracurriculars. It will send out reminders to your phone, desktop or tablet. Other good digital tools for scheduling are Checklist.com and Toodledoo, which also has a good phone app.

For reliable research beyond Wikipedia, bookmark Refdesk.com. Bao Alderson, who teaches computer literacy and education at Santa Rosa's Montgomery High School, said it functions like a library reference desk with a search engine and links to a vast amount of sources for researching papers. For creating talks and presentations with multimedia, he suggests Edcanvas.


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