Electronic lesson planning

For years I have used a paper diary – having trialled a PDA some time ago and moved back to paper.  Being a user of technology I decided to look for a better way of planning using technology.

First of all I trialled Google Calendar as advocated by Doug Belshaw in his blog.  I liked the idea of the planning being available anywhere, even on my phone.  Setting up repeating slots for my lessons was easy but then I found several other snags that made me give up on Google Calendar for now.  I actually liked way you could integrate different calendars (eg public holidays).  I could cope with not being able to customise the time-frame displayed on the calendar.  But I found that entering the lesson details was fiddly and that there was no satisfactory way to view them.  I would have liked them to be displayed on my calendar .  I could even have coped if my emailed daily schedule information had included the description for each lesson that I had entered.  I decided to give up on Google calendar for now.

Determined to try out electronic planning I searched the internet and found the TPIM (Teacher’s personal information planner) which appears to be the best implementation of lesson planning and personal time management I’ve seen in a commercial product.  I downloaded the trial and found the interface very simple to use – with information readily at hand (this is a daily planning sheet).

Even with extra options such as an electronic register and markbook, electronic post-its and reminders I still found it more convenient to plan using my old paper teacher’s planner/diary!

Is there really nothing to beat planning on paper or am I just set in my ways?  I’d be interested to hear how anyone else has used technology to help with their planning….

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!