Find out where your spam comes from….

Ever wondered where spammers get your email address from? This is how you can find out – it only works when you start with a new domain or new googlemail account.

Method 1

If you have a custom domain you registered e.g. fiendishlyclever.com you own all the email addresses at that domain. If you set all the emails to forward to your current email address you will get all the email that comes to every address. Then all you need to do is when you sign up for a site, you include the site name in the email address you give for that site. For example if you were shopping on Amazon, you would give your email address as amazon@domainname.com where you swap domainname.com for your own. When you start getting spam email you can see where they have come from.

Method 2

This is very similar but uses Googlemail (Gmail). Google mail has a set of features only recently documented. Because of the way Google parses the email addresses, you can change your email address in 2 different ways and still receive your email. Googlemail takes no notice of where the dots are before the @ sign so you can change these when you give out your email address – although this is not as useful as the next feature. You can also add a plus sign (+) and extra characters after your username and before the @ sign. This has been confirmed to work with regular googlemail and googlemail for domains. This can be used now in the same way as method 1. When you sign up for a new site, add +sitename before the @ sign. For example username+amazon@gmail.com if you were shopping at Amazon. You could also do this when you give out your email address to friends. When you start to get spam email – have a look and see who sold you out! I’ve started using this method so it will be interesting to see if the email addresses of my incoming spam change!

Science demonstrations

I was at the Nottinghamshire Subject Leaders’ conference lately and one of the sessions looked at impressive science demonstrations. I’ve taken some of these back to school and rehearsed them. Methane soap bubbles were fun (even after burning all the hairs off my arm!) and this week I blew the bottom off the water cooler bottle whilst doing the whoosh bottle. For those who have never seen these demonstrations before, have a look at these videos on teachers.tv. You will have to register with the site.

http://www.teachers.tv/video/20295

http://www.teachers.tv/video/20297

Assessment for Learning

afl

It’s amazing how many people I meet on my travels who struggle with the concept of assessment for learning (AfL). Some people think it’s a new invention, others think that it is something that must be shoe-horned into schemes of work in a formulaic way along with a 3 part lesson. Some people get obsessed with the idea of tests.

The cartoon explains simply the AfL cycle. It’s a simple process of assessing where a learner is now (that’s the assessment part!) and looking to see where the next step is. Knowing how to get there is an important step and completes the cycle.

So what does AfL look like in action?

  • Marking of work: Comments that tell pupils what they need to do to improve their work, so the pupil knows what they have to do next
  • Oral feedback: Do comments given to pupils in lessons deliver the 3 steps above? (telling them where they are and what they need to do to improve and how to go about it?)
  • Self assessment: Pupils assessing themselves against a set of levelled learning outcomes. They can see how they are performing and where they need to focus their efforts.
  • Peer assessment: Pupils are very good at assessing the work of their peers. I’ve worked in mainstream schools with pupils who have been very good at assessing each others work and setting a target for improvement. Even at a special school level the pupils are very good at recognising success and giving helpful advice for improvement.
  • Level assessed tasks: These have suddenly become very popular in science amongst other subjects. Free and commercial tasks are given to pupils which have a set of levelled outcomes, so pupils are able to see what needs to go into their own work, they can assess each others work and see how to get to the next level. (This is classic AfL and also very good for getting pupils working together).
  • Target setting: IEPs are a classic idea of setting targets that are not only achievable but give the learner an idea of how to reach that target.
  • Learning objectives in lessons: If you’ve heard of WALT (we are learning to/will all learn today) and WILF (what I’m looking for) when you’re doing this already. Setting learning objectives at the start of lessons and then checking pupils have reached this learning objective is nothing new. Good teachers have always done this – but it is still good AfL practice.

I hope that this overview has been useful. Feel free to get in touch (contact us) if you have any comments or questions.

Rainbow over Long Eaton

I was shopping at Tesco early Saturday morning (sad but true) and I saw a huge rainbow over Long Eaton. I snapped it with my camera phone and here are the snaps:

Science lessons now on YouTube

My pupils wanted to watch some of my experiments over again – so I decided to video the good ones as I do them in future. For those of you that haven’t seen this before – it’s called the screaming jelly baby. If YouTube is blocked by your filter, you can also watch the video here. Details of the experiment can be found on the RSC website.