Mac App Store Review

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I have waited a while before doing a review of the Mac App Store, I wanted the initial excitement and hype to die down before adding in my two cents. Since I converted to the Mac, I have been looking for software that meets my needs and wants, but sometimes it is a bit of hit and miss whether you “find” what you want or if what you have found is the best for what you need, especially games.

So when Apple announced that it was going to create the MacStore, that would be similar to how they sell Apps in iTunes, I was looking forward to seeing what I would find here and have looked around and ordered software or should I say Mac Apps through the Mac App Store.

Product Name: Mac App Store
Company Name: Apple
Type: Desktop Software
Website: http://www.apple.com/mac/
Company Product Description:

Great apps for your Mac. Right on your Mac.

“The Mac App Store is just like the App Store for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. So it’s as easy to find and download Mac apps as it is to add your favorite magazine to iPad or a new game to iPod touch. You can browse Mac apps by category, such as games, productivity, music, and more. Or do a quick search for something specific. Read developer descriptions and user reviews. Flip through screenshots. When you find an app you like, click to buy it.” – Taken from http://www.apple.com/mac/app-store/
Below is a screenshot of the Mac App Store’s start page:
Screen shot 2011-01-29 at 7.40.32 PM.png
How much does it cost? Free, but you will spend money there.
Is this the first time reviewing this product: I have never reviewed the Mac App Store before.
Do my students have easy access the product? Not this year, but there are rumors that it will be part of the MLTI image next year.
Do I currently use the Mac App Store in my classroom? No.  However, if it is part of the MLTI image next year, I will feel obligated to teach my student how to safely use the Mac App Store.
Is the Mac App Store intuitive and easy to use or is there a steep learning curve? I found the Mac App Store very easy to use, almost too easy in some ways.
How does the Mac App Store apply to Special Education? There are several “apps” that will help students be more successful in the classroom and outside of it that can be downloaded for free or purchased.
What I like: That the Mac App Store provides a “one-stop” shopping place for finding, buying and/or downloading software for your Mac. I was very happy that they didn’t put it in iTunes and created a separate application outside of it.  I like that when I download software from the Mac App Store that it will be safe and virus free.
What I don’t like: Unlike now where you can download and try a software product for a limited amount of time or with less capabilities, when getting new software from the Mac App Store, you cannot download trial versions to see if it is what you are looking for before you buy it.
I have a hard time using the word App for the software on my computer, but that is what I guess software will now be called for Macs – an App
I foresee a day in the very near future that the Mac App Store will be the primary way to find, purchase and download software for your Mac. When this happens Apple will have the ability to deny other software developers access to their store. Based on the experience of the iPhone App store there is the probability that this will happen and it will not always be in the best interest of the consumer and will at times be based on corporate interests.
In this way Apple will be able to influence what products are developed and used by Mac owners. I wonder how many good software packages, will we miss because they are not allowed in the Mac App Store or if future versions of the Mac Operating System will be similar to the IOS and only allow software downloaded from the Mac App Store to be installed?

Maybe I am being pessimistic about Apple’s intentions, but their track record for wanting “control” of their product is not something new. Corporations are supposed to create ideas that maximize their profits and I don’t have a problem with that, but I wonder at what point the Mac App Store becomes too much of a good thing.

The reality is that buying Mac software is extremely easy through the Mac App store, it was made to be that way.  I am an admitted Apple fan-boy and love how their products just work. However, I am concerned about the amount of control over software development for the Mac, the Mac App Stores will give Apple  I wonder if this will inhibit or help small software developers – I hope it helps but I am not optimistic about the direction that Apple might go.

Only time will tell.

Recommendation: While I am hesitant to put all of my eggs in one basket, the Mac App Store is a very convenient and easy way to find buy, download and install new software for your Mac.

GRUML – RSS Feed Reader Review

Image representing Gruml as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

When I looking around in Evernote’s “Trunk” (their link to other services that work well with Evernote), I came across something Called Gruml, which is a desktop RSS reader that syncs with Google Reader.  I have been using Google Reader as my primary RSS since I discovered it and have loved it ever since.

The biggest problem that I have had with gReader is that it is not readily available offline and this is where Gruml comes in.  It is desktop software that syncs directly with Google Reader and allows you to read your gReader feeds offline.  It also keeps a local copy of the feed available in your desktop, so you can search for information within Gruml.

Product Name: Gruml – Google Reader for Mac OS

Company Name: Gruml is a trademark of Andreas Schwelling, registered in Germany and other countries.
Type: Desktop Software
Website:  http://www.grumlapp.com/
Company Product Description:
“Gruml allows you to view and manage your feed subscriptions of your Google Reader account on Mac OS X.  Read your newsfeeds, manage them in folders, tag them, and much more – all in sync with your Google Reader account.”  Taken from http://www.grumlapp.com/
2011-01-29_1613.png
Along with manage folders, post notes, and works with Snow Leopard.
Below is a screen shot of how Gruml main screen looks.
Gruml 1-29-11.png

As you can see it looks very similar to Apple Mail and definitely looks like an Apple Native product.

How much does it cost? Right now it is in beta and is free.  I don’t know what will happen when it comes out of beta.
Is this the first time reviewing this product: I have never reviewed Gruml before.
Do my students have easy access the product? No this is a download and most of my students have not been shown the benefits of RSS.
Do I currently use Gruml in my classroom? No I haven’t introduced my students to RSS feeds yet.
Is Gruml intuitive and easy to use or is there a steep learning curve? I found Gruml to be very intuitive and easy to setup.  The layout is very similar to Apple Mail, so if you are comfortable with that layout, it is very easy to use.  However, it took a little bit to get used the gReader opening a post in a tab beside the list at first, which is not how Apple Mail opens up, but now that I am more used to it, I do like it.

How does Gruml apply to Special Education? It does not apply direction to Special Education, but more as a way to receive new information/news from the Maine Department of Education via their RSS feed or from the Federal DOE.  I use my Google Reader to subscribe to several Special Education focused blogs that have helped me learn more about different topics and information related to Special Education.  Gruml will allow Special Educators view their RSS feeds when offline or whenever they choose to use it.

What I like: I like that Gruml does allow you to read your Google Reader feeds offline.  Also sometimes, I don’t really like the Google interface and having an alternative that looks native to the Mac is nice.  Being able to click a button to post an interesting feed to Twitter, Facebook, Evernote or other services quickly and easily is something that Google Reader doesn’t really have and you need to have it setup in your browser.  The ability to open a post in a tab inside of of Gruml and it shows the webpage view of the post not just the text is a feature that sets it apart from some other RSS feed readers.

What I don’t like: I am not sure yet, Gruml has been very stable, however, its website claims that you can post to a blog, but I haven’t figured that one out yet, but I am sure that I will.  I guess the one thing I don’t like is the name, Gruml just doesn’t do anything for me and it doesn’t help describe what Gruml does.
What are the other options/programs that do the same function that I have used, how does Gruml compare to those? Apple Mail RSS reader, and some over on the Windows side of things, but I have been so happy with Google Reader that I haven’t really looked around to see what else there is for a couple of years. I like Gruml much better than Apple’s RSS reader and where it syncs directly with Google Reader, which makes it a nice offline complement to something that I use everyday.

The reality is that I do like Google Reader as my RSS Feed Reader and for a while it was available offline using Google Gears and Firefox, but I don’t use Firefox anymore, so for the most part I have had to rely on Internet availability if I want to read my RSS feeds.  Now I don’t have to worry about this and the best thing is that while I am reading my feeds in Gruml they are also being marked as read in gReader. This way I don’t have to worry about my Google Reader having hundreds of unread feeds, when I have already read them

Recommendation: Overall, I have been very impressed with Gruml so far and would recommend it as another tool in the toolbelt, especially if you do not always have access to your Google Reader online.  I found it to be well developed and for a Beta release very stable.  Gruml might even replace Google Reader as your primary RSS Reader, even though it is the same information, just a different way of viewing it.  Try it you might just like it.

Week in Review – January 29, 2011

Whatever has been going around school, caught up with me again this week and I have had 4 days of being miserable, but only missed one day of work.  That is one of the parts of being a teacher that I don’t enjoy, sooner or later when something is going to go around and you will catch it/get it.  Anyway, pretty much back to normal now and it is time to move onward and upward.

Below are my most visited posts for the week:
  1. Evernote Review – January 2011 – Jan 27, 2011
  2. NOOK COLOR – REVIEW JANUARY 2011 – Jan 9, 2011
  3. THE DOG ATE IT – Jan 23, 2011
  4. PAPER AIRPLANE LESSON PLAN 2010 – Sep 4, 2010
  5. I AM IN THE PROCESS OF RE-POSTING OLD POSTS TO BLOGGER – Oct 27, 2010

My review of Evernote shot right to the top in less than 2 days.  An update on Evernote, with everything I am beginning to do with it, I had to go to their Premium plan.  Now to see how their premium features add to the Evernote experience, I plan to do an update post during February vacation to see how the switch to Evernote is going and if I notice any differences besides being able to upload more stuff (information).

The Paper Airplane Lesson Plan 2010, continues to stay in my top 5 and has been there with the exception of a couple weeks since I wrote it.
I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and look around my blog.  I hope everyone has a great week and enjoys the Educon feeds.

Evernote Review

Image representing Evernote as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase
I have been using Evernote on and off since April 24, 2008, with varying degrees of satisfaction. In the past I could never put my finger on why Evernote just didn’t do what I wanted.

While doing the research for this blog post, I learned that back in December Evernote added stacks for their Mac version, it suddenly occurred to me what was missing: the ability have at least one more level of organization in the file folders. I am a bit anal when it comes to organizing things and when I discovered that single change, Evernote suddenly became a much more viable tool for me to use.

Product Name: Evernote

Company Name: Evernote Corporation
Type: Desktop Software & Web Application
Company Product Description:
“Evernote allows users to capture, organize, and find information across multiple platforms. Users can take notes, clip webpages, snap photos using their mobile phones, create to-dos, and record audio. All data is synchronized with the Evernote web service and made available to clients on Windows, Mac, Web, and mobile devices. Additionally, the Evernote web service performs image recognition on all incoming notes, making printed or handwritten text found within images searchable.” — http://www.crunchbase.com/company/evernote
Taken from http:/www.evernote.com/about/learn_more.png
Below is a screen shot of how Evernote’s main screen looks.
Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 1.15.26 PM.png

How much does it cost? Free basic plan with a $5.00 per month or $45.00 annual fee for premium service.

Is this the first time reviewing this product: I have discussed Evernote in previous blog posts, but never reviewed it by itself
Do my students have easy access the product? Yes and No. Students are not allowed to download new software onto their MLTI laptops (even though there are ways around that restriction). Evernote is also a web based program which students can access quickly and easily when they have Internet access. Also I will be able to “share” a folder with them individually (and their parents) that will contain their work, as other teachers in my PLN have done, which is easier than other methods that I have attempted. The Evernote Terms of Service do not as far as I could find place a certain age limitation (if I am wrong please let me know) on who can start using Evernote, so that would allow my students to use this service with parental permission.
Do I currently use Evernote in my classroom? No at this time we are using NoteShare.
Is Evernote intuitive and easy to use or is there a steep learning curve? My experience with the learning curve of Evernote is that it is very intuitive and easy to learn. The biggest thing is that it is a fairly powerful program and learning to use the more advanced features does take a little bit of digging. They are not hard to use, but Evernote is so flexible that you can do a lot with the program and some of the uses do take a little bit more to think about how you want to use them. There have been several tips/tricks published to help and the Evernote website itself is very helpful. However, I found Jerry’s Cybraryman Evernote site a great place to start my research.
How does Evernote apply to Special Education? I foresee Evernote allowing more information/feedback to be passed to students and parents. It could also become a repository for student work and an online Portfolio that would be available no matter what tool the student currently uses, unlike some other notebook software I have used. Also, I can upload PDFs of Maine Special Education Regulations or other similar documents that would make them easily searchable and have available for when I need them.

What I like: When you are creating a new note that you have a nicely laid out toolbar, that you can record voice notes (which for reading out loud by students could be very important as a baseline and how much improvement they have made), that it syncs easily between all of your devices (Mac, iPhone, Window based computer, etc.). Evernote now supports stacks (which was a real sticking point for me in the past) is the game changer that will/has caused me to make Evernote my preferred Notebook software/web app. Actually I like pretty much everything about Evernote, especially now that I have been using other notebook programs which I can compare Evernote to and find that it does more the way that I want than the other programs do.

Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 1.17.40 PM.png

What I don’t like: Now that it supports stacking as an organizational tool to support that one more level of file organization, I can’t think of very much. Oh maybe their T-shirt image of using post-t notes to create an elephant likeness (I just like the green elephant). 🙂

Something as a future idea (and knowing the people at Evernote they are already working on this) the ability to post directly to your blog from Evernote. It already does most everything that a good blog editor does, this would be the final clincher for many out there. I would definitely have rather spent $45.00 towards Evernote than for MarsEdit, it just does more.
What are the other options/programs that do the same function that I have used, how does Evernote compare to those? I have used Microsoft’s OneNote, which I loved except it was tied to the Windows universe, others couldn’t see the work unless they had the software too and didn’t really have a web application. AquaMinds NoteShare is part of the MLTI image and is used extensively in schools in Maine, but to me is not intuitive and while very powerful has a long learning curve. Evernote due to its versatility, usability with any device or operating system, plus the Google Docs like ability to share with anyone who has an email address or with the world with its own URL makes Evernote my choice to use personally.

The reality is since I discovered how to use stacks in Evernote it took on a whole new level of usefulness for me. I can foresee it becoming a tool that I use extensively in my classroom and personally. I am gradually switching over to Moodle for my Learning Management System and wonder if there is a way to integrate Evernote it into our school’s Moodle account – wow that would be really powerful and another reason to go to the pro level. I will look around to see if has been done yet.

I used Evernote to take notes during our Brain Based Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory & Learning all day session on Monday and then when another teacher asked me to share my notes, I emailed and also shared the folder with him. He was much more impressed with the sharing of the folders than the email version. He liked that he could key word search in the document to find what he was looking for. I was very impressed with how easy it was to share the folder with him. Also, I downloaded a PDF book on how to use Moodle yesterday and was able to read it on my Mac and iPhone very easily, just one more thing that I can use Evernote for.
Recommendation: Overall, Evernote is an intuitive program to use, once you have your file tree setup, you can do a lot with it. I notice that I am using it a lot more in the last week than I have any other program, except Google Docs. I have a sneaking suspicion that sometime in the next few months I will “have to” upgrade to the premium version, which will only give me a more powerful tool to use.

THE DOG ATE IT

Yes, we have all heard that excuse, the dog my homework, the dog did this or the dog did that from our students.  Well tonight, I have to admit it the dog alias “Bennie Bean” did eat my power cord to my MacBook Pro.

IMG_0145

I am lucky though, whenever I buy a new laptop I always buy a spare power supply/adapter (one for work & one for home) because I was always leaving my power supply at home or work before I started doing this – it usually ended up wherever I wasn’t.  So while it is an inconvenience tonight, it isn’t really a big deal, but I gotta wonder if Bennie had a little tingling sensation when he was chewing on the plugged in power adapter.

This sweet little dog has caused me to write on my wife’s PC and forced me to use the newest version of Windows Live Writer to create this post.
Vampire bat
image

I have waxed poetic about the wonders of Windows Live Writer as a blog editor and being “forced” to use it tonight only served to remind me of how much superior it is to any other blog editor – IMHO.

Now if Bennie had eaten my MacBook Pro would I be switching back to a PC – naw, but I do miss WLW for blogging.

By the way I did find a place that sells new power adapters for $39.99 and ordered one, to go along with my spare that I leave at work.

Week in Review – January 23, 2011

Like Richard Byrne said in his weekly review post, we too hit the trifecta in my School District last week (early release, 2 hour delay and a school closure on Friday), all of which were appropriate based on the snow we received.   I know that my snow blower has certainly gotten a work-out and yesterday, the garage roof had three feet of snow on it, so it had to be shoveled too, so I got a workout too.

Just a typical Maine winter, but as I get older, I find that I enjoy them less every year.  But I am not going anywhere, so I just have to deal with our winter wonderland.  One good thing was that last night wasn’t as cold as they had predicted, it only got down to 7 degrees instead of below zero.  I know that Bennie and I appreciated that on our morning walk.

  1. NOOK COLOR – REVIEW JANUARY 2011 – Jan 9, 2011
  2. TECHNOLOGY IS PASSING ME BY – Jan 17, 2011
  3. MarsEdit Blog Editor – Review January 2011 – Jan 21, 2011
  4. I AM IN THE PROCESS OF RE-POSTING OLD POSTS TO BLOGGER – Oct 27, 2010
  5. Google Docs – Review January 2011 – Jan 12, 2011

The post on my wife’s Nook Color continues to lead the way, surprisingly my post on re-posting old posts back to Blogger when I was transferring them from WordPress is continuing to be read by many people.

Thank you again, for taking the time to read my blog.

SOFTWARE PURGE MODE = MAINTENANCE

Yesterday was one of those days that I just couldn’t settle in and work. My MacBook Pro was running funky, so I decided to do a little/lot of maintenance.  I did a massive clean-out of all the trial software that I have been putting on that looked interesting or was something I wanted to try AND the software that I will not/have not used lately.

After the purge was completed I had gotten rid of 38 programs that I don’t use or have been replaced by other software.
Applications 1-22-11.png
The one’s with the red boxes around them get or will get almost daily use.  I keep forgetting that I have JingPro which I really like but had disabled it in my start menu for a long time a while back in hopes to speed up my start up.  I have put it back in startup and it is there when I need it to make a screen shot that I can annotate quickly and easily or do a simple sceencast.

Looking through my decktop software, other software that I really don’t use and could get rid of would be:

  • LibreOffice (Open Office) put it on last week, just in case, but I don’t think that I will use it very often.
  • Adobe Reader – don’t use it
  • iChat – never used it,
  • GarageBand – never used,
  • Lesson Planner Advanced 5.5 – just have it because it looked very interesting & might be something to try at the start of next year
  • iWeb – just looked at, but never used – Mobile Me is to pricey for my tastes,
  • Pangea Arcade – I have played a couple of games, but probably will delete in a couple of weeks, because I usually don’t play too many arcade type games
  • MindNode is supposedly going to be part of the next MLTI image instead of Freemind,
  • Second Life – I almost deleted it, but kept it just in case – haven’t been there in almost a year,
  • Skype – I keep it even though I don’t use it very often – just in case someone wants to use it.
  • Stickies – I very seldom use it for anything, some of my students use it, so I have to know how to use it.
  • TextWrangler I downloaded yesterday, but don’t know if I will use very often.

I could get rid of the above software and not really notice that it is missing, but I will keep most of them around for the “just in case” factor.

I started using Evernote again, I really am not all that keen about NoteShare, it is very powerful and I will use it for class, but it just is not intuitive for me or my students.  Evernote works on everything and I can access my data when or where I need to, plus I understand how to use it better after reading a bunch of hints/tips this past week.

I use the other software tools a few times a week, so they are worth keeping.

This is one of those things that we all need to do once in a while, if for no other reason than to clean out the system and make it easier to find the software you use, but is not in your dock.

MarsEdit Blog Editor – Review January 2011

As anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know I have been searching for a blog editor that that meets my needs since I moved to my Mac last year. I have tried Blogo, Ecto, MacaJournal and ScribeFire. Heck I even attempted to use CrossFire to see if it could run a couple of the better Windows based blog editors. None of those met my needs for varying reasons.

I have been playing with or should I say using MarsEdit for the last week or so and finally decided to buy it tonight.

Product Name: MarsEdit
Company Name: Red Sweater
Type: Desktop Software
Company Product Description:
Screen shot 2011-01-21 at 8.49.47 PM.png
This screenshot was taken from Apple’s Mac Store, where I decided to purchase MarsEdit How much does it cost? $39.99
Is this the first time reviewing this product: I have mentioned that I have tried and didn’t like MarsEdit a couple of times before, but this is my first review of the actual product.
Do my students have easy access the product? No. They are not supposed to download software onto their MLTI laptops and the cost $39.99 puts it out of the price range of the majority of my students. This relatively high price was one of the factors that I have to get over before I could bring myself to buy it.
Do I currently use MarEdit in my classroom? Not yet, but I plan to have my different blogging accounts put in here by the end of the weekend so that I can easily post to whichever one I am using. Especially, my Mr. Shaw’s Blog, which I use as my school blog and to archive my weekly plans, communicate with students and starting in a couple of weeks, working on how to post to a blog there, before we move on to a personal blog.Is MarEdit intuitive and easy to use or is there a steep learning curve? MarsEdit is not that hard to use, but to use it to its capabilities, there is a learning curve and a shift in how things are done. In some respects MarsEdit was counter-intuitive until I actually sat down and started using it. Then as I got used to how things are done I could see the logic in setting up MarsEdit like it was.

How does MarsEdit apply to Special Education? It really doesn’t. However, many people involved in Special Education do blog and they also have Macs, so a review of MarsEdit may be interesting to them. What I like: Setup was quick and easy with Blogger, MarsEdit has a history built in and the default setting is the last 30 blog posts. I really liked that I was able to back and edit an old post that none of the other blog editors I have tried over the last couple weeks could fix and I was able to get the line spacing so it looked correct after it was published. I really like the ability to have an almost live preview of how my blog will appear, this will lets me see how my blog post will look and helps me catch errors that I used to catch after posting.
Screen shot 2011-01-21 at 9.46.22 PM.pngWhat I don’t like: The biggest that that I don’t like is the lack of a formatting toolbar/inspector, instead formatting is either accessed by shortcut keys or a drop down menu. It seems as though many of the older Mac programs have this same configuration issue and this was one of the big reasons, why I didn’t want to use it in the past.

Screen shot 2011-01-21 at 9.18.57 PM.png
The other thing that turned me off, was having to have 2-3 different windows open, to create a blog, I prefer to have a single window open and be able to switch between tabs, just seems less “messy” and use less screen space (I can see the benefit of being able to look at the preview while typing in the editor window.), but having separate windows for the blog editor and main window seems unnecessary. I am used to being able to resize images by simply dragging a corner, it is a bit more involved with MarsEdit and photos can become pixelated if you are not careful.
No built in connection to Zemanta, which would be the cherry on top if it did.
Finally, $39.99 is probably a bit steep for the casual blogger, compared to other similar software.
Right now I am still in the learning the more advanced features of MarsEdit, so I am still a newbie, which can be frustrating, as I go along, some of the quirks of the program will not bother me, like they do today. I simply have to use the program more to become familiar with it.
What are the other options/programs that do the same function that I have used, how does MarsEdit compare to those? There are several programs that are blog editors like Ecto, Blogo, Scribefire, MacJournal or the Windows based blog editors. I bought Blogo last year and didn’t like how it did picture management and it seems like not a lot of development is taking place over there right now? Ecto just didn’t work for me.
I tried MacJournal and while I really liked how it managed images, but I didn’t like its tool bar configuration (it was better than MarsEdit’s though) and a couple of other things. The old Firefox original ScribeFire had finally reached a level of maturity that I was comfortable with, but the new versions for Chrome and Safari browsers just wasn’t what I was looking for.
MarsEdit still lags behind Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer as far as what I want from a blog editor. However, for the choices that I have available for my Mac right now, MarsEdit appears to work best for me.
The reality is that MarsEdit was not an instant “I love it” piece of software, that “wowed” me the first time that I used it. I had to come back to it several times over the past year, in order to understand how powerful, yet simple to use MarsEdit actually is.
The more I use the different features and get used to the logic used in its design the more that I am beginning to like how it works. The one thing that I forgot look at before, I purchased it was its ability to add videos, hmmm now that I thought of it, I don’t see where video support is located? Oh well, it isn’t like I use video all that often and there is always the Blogger editor to add something else in, like I will with Zemanta, so it isn’t a big deal, but might have made me stop a little longer before buying it.Recommendation: It is pretty simple – I bought it. From what my research has shown me, it is the best blog editor for the Mac side of the house. As long as you don’t plan to post lots of videos, I believe it will do what you want quickly and easily. The more I use it, the more I like it, I just wish it wasn’t quite as expensive.

Mr. Shaw’s Report Card 1-21-11

grandmother's report card
Image by victoriabernal via Flickr

Today I had my students grade the teacher and below are the results. In Block 1, I had one student influence the results by making lots of negative comments about getting even with the teacher and getting two peers to follow his lead of marking everything as miserable. Even with three of eight students doing that, I think I was still able to get some good data on areas that I need to look at and to improve how I do things.
MR. SHAW REPORT CARD 1-21-11
Rating Scale:
Excellent 5
Very Good 4
Good 3

Fair 2

Miserable 1
2 students in Block 1 marked all answers-excellent
1 student in Block 2 marked all answers-excellent
3 students in Block 1 marked all answers-Miserable
I guess that I have a very polarizing teaching style: either students really like it or hate it.
1. Teacher created an environment that was positive. Block 1: 3.00
Block 2: 4.40
Block 3: 4.38
Overall: 3.86
2. Teacher created an environment safe for risk taking. Block 1: 2.63
Block 2: 3.40
Block 3: 4.00
Overall: 3.33
3. Teacher created an environment that allowed for personal initiative. Block 1: 3.25
Block 2: 4.20
Block 3: 4.00
Overall: 3.76
4. Teacher created an environment that allowed success for all students Block 1: 2.88
Block 2: 4.60
Block 3: 4.38
Overall: 3.86
5. Teacher created an environment that led to meaningful discussion
Block 1: 2.88
Block 2: 3.80
Block 3: 4.25
Overall: 3.62
6. Teacher created an environment for independent student growth Block 1: 3.25
Block 2: 3.80
Block 3: 4.00
Overall: 3.67
7. Teacher created an environment with appropriate structure Block 1: 3.25
Block 2: 4.80
Block 3: 4.25
Overall: 3.67
8. Teacher created an environment that motivated me Block 1: 3.13
Block 2: 4.40
Block 3: 4.13
Overall: 3.81
9. Teacher gave students the attention they needed Block 1: 3.13
Block 2: 4.60
Block 3: 4.25
Overall: 3.90
10. Teacher’s ability to respect individual student needs Block 1: 3.25
Block 2: 4.40
Block 3: 3.38
Overall: 3.57
11. Teacher’s ability to respond to student’s questions Block 1: 3.25
Block 2: 4.80
Block 3: 4.38
Overall: 4.05
12. Teacher’s knowledge of the subject Block 1: 3.25
Block 2: 4.40
Block 3: 4.63
Overall: 4.00
13. Teacher’s enthusiasm Block 1: 2.88
Block 2: 5.00
Block 3: 4.50
Overall: 4.00
14. Teacher’s preparation for class Block 1: 2.88
Block 2: 5.00
Block 3: 4.63
Overall: 4.05
15. Teacher’s relationship with class Block 1: 3.25
Block 2: 5.00
Block 3: 4.63
Overall: 3.76
16. Teacher appeared honestly interested in helping students Block 1: 3.13
Block 2: 5.00
Block 3: 4.75
Overall: 4.19
17. Teacher’s ability to listen Block 1: 3.34
Block 2: 4.60
Block 3: 4.63
Overall: 4.14
18. Teacher’s ability to keep class interesting Block 1: 3.13
Block 2: 4.40
Block 3: 3.75
Overall: 3.67
19 Teacher graded assignments fairly Block 1: 3.25
Block 2: 4.80
Block 3: 4.50
Overall: 4.10
20. Teacher uses technology in the classroom. Block 1: 3.13
Block 2: 5.00
Block 3: 5.00
Overall: 4.29
Final Grade: 3.88 Block 1: 3.11
Block 2: 4.52
Block 3: 4.31

While it looks as though I am doing pretty good with blocks 2 & 3, the results of my first block, do concern me. If I have that many students unhappy with the way I am doing things for that class, I have to look at what I am doing. That will be step 2 a class discussion based on the results of my report card and other questions that I have as a result of this survey.

Unedited Student Comments
  • green, mean, rotten, and nasty
  • always ready to work
  • no one likes mr shaw
  • trys to be funny and hes sarcastic a lot within the comfert of the person
  • always waiting for someone to raise there hand to help
  • he never gave homework
  • no one likes mr shaw
  • i hate readind
  • always has time to listen, never to busy
  • he gave me lunch detention
  • he tryed to make me laugh
  • The heater noise.
  • always has something to do, even work
  • he has been a very good teacher but there is one thing i dont like is his heater.
  • it some what brightens my day because of the positive atmosphere
  • always has a real grade that we know is ours
  • YOU ARE A VERY NICE PERSON EVEN IF YOU ARE HAVING A BAD DAY, AND YOU DON’T TRY TO EMBARESS ANYBODY
  • TMI
  • A lot of technology.
  • tm (technology)
  • to much (technology)
  • all the time, always on laptops
  • I think it was fun when we made our Avatar!!!!!!!
  • i dont like mr shaw
  • he would not let us do any thing diffrent
  • nice hair cut
  • i feel more confident when i come in
  • no one likes mr shaw
  • MR. SHAW IS AWESOME
  • he gave me a A for a grade
  • can you fix your heater and agen nice hair cut and i know i did not spell agen right
  • this is one out of the 3 classes i like
  • 😛

I want to thank @paulbogush for sharing his survey with me last night, when I put out a Twitter call. I went ahead and created a Google Form from it and then had the students answer the questions during class. Having the answers already in a spreadsheet made manipulating the data fairly easy and much easier than having to plug in the data by hand.

It is interesting what you can learn from this kind of exercise and where it is the half-way point of the school year, it was appropriate. Next I have to put together a mid-year reflection and use these results as part of my reflection.

Now to figure out what I can do to make my teaching more effective for my block 1 students.

Do you do anything like this during the year to see how you are doing from your students point of view? The results might be “interesting”.