FutureFive NZ - Back to school essentials

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Back to school essentials

Well, the holidays are almost over, and students across the whole country are returning for another year at school. Now more than ever, the Internet is playing a larger part in education, and knowing the right sites can really help with starting the year off on the right foot.
Most schools in New Zealand require school uniforms, and the Internet can be a convenient way to purchase them. Sites like www.schooltex.co.nz are a good place to start searching, and most school Web sites list their local uniform suppliers.
Starting School
Whether you are a parent preparing your child for their first day, or a senior student moving to another school, knowing when the terms begin and end, as well as when the holidays are, is extremely helpful when planning out your year. The Ministry of Education has a list available at tinyurl.com/crzqah And don’t forget to check with your school for the dates of special events.
Parents whose children are starting school for the first time should visit the TeamUp Web site (tinyurl.com/ydu8ll4), which covers the major aspects of preparing your child for primary school, and what to expect.
Parents of both primary and secondary school kids will find the information available at www.minedu.govt.nz/Parents useful, while students starting NCEA should keep in mind the official Web site (www.nzqa.govt.nz/ncea) which includes helpful information such as study techniques, previous exams and help boards.
Of course, one of the most important things about going back to school is being able to get there in the first place! The Ministry of Education publishes a list of bus routes and other related information at tinyurl.com/y8neku2 and most school Web sites will have a list of their own bus routes available.
Homework Help
The library might not be the destination for research homework it once was, but that hasn’t stopped them from helping students out online. www.anyquestions.co.nz re-opens on February 8th and is targeted at pointing students in the right direction.
Students of all ages will find the site www.howstuffworks.com helpful. It covers a huge variety of topics, lists sources and related articles, and is overall a great site filled with user-friendly explanations of everything from maths to politics.
Math.com covers everything from basic addition to advanced calculus. The site is fairly easy to use and includes handy exercises for all levels – definitely a good site to keep in mind, whether you are starting to learn a new topic, or need to revise for exams!
The Ministry of Education operates WickED (www.tki.org.nz/r/wick_ed), an educational Web site targeted at those aged 7 to 12 (years 3-8). It offers a variety of resources, ranging from quizzes to handy research links, and even a help forum that opens up with the start of the school year.
Older students doing NCEA should look into the ‘Communicate’ section of www.studyit.org.nz, which is an online forum for students studying English, maths and science to share helpful advice with each other.
NCEA English students should also check out www.novelguide.com It is not a terribly pretty or user-friendly site, but it provides very helpful resources for many of the common books studied in high school English.
The CIA World Factbook (tinyurl.com/ciafactbook) is packed with useful information on countries. It is a rather dry read, but contains a wealth of data in one place and is incredibly helpful for finding recent facts and figures. Remember to always write in your own words and to cite your sources! Plagiarism can have serious consequences!
Wikipedia.com is another great site, but remember to check its sources for more information and credit those, rather than the Wikipedia article itself. Vandalism (misleading editing of an article) can go unnoticed for months on unpopular articles, so be very careful when only looking at Wikipedia!
Useful Applications
Whether you take a laptop to school, or only use a computer at home, using the right software is vital. Perhaps the most important work application would be an office suite. While many computers come bundled with Microsoft Office, it is usually only a trial version and purchasing even the student version can be expensive. Open Office (www.openoffice.org) is a freeware alternative compatible with Microsoft Office. The Google Apps suite is also useful, as it does not require a download and will keep your work stored online – this can be really handy for those who don’t wish to risk losing their work, or if you move computers frequently.

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