“I need help! PDFs! Parents are frustrated with how we have kids submit assignments,” says Sammie. She left her PDF lament in a popular Facebook group for Schoology. If there’s a question that reoccurs often in any forum, it’s how do I edit PDFs? How should I be converting PDFs into easy-to-edit documents that students can use? This includes exit tickets, assignments, digital homework, printables, quizzes, and more.
That’s the million-dollar question for educators. They are struggling to convert paper worksheets into digital learning opportunities. In this blog entry, we’ll explore a few ways educators are getting the job done.
Step #1: Digitizing Content with an App
Need to digitize that worksheet? In previous blog entries, we’ve covered some quick tools you can use to digitize content. How do you digitize that paper worksheet in your manila folder? One easy solution is to convert documents to PDF. Use Microsoft’s Office Lens app on iOS and/or Android. You can snap a picture and convert it into a PDF you can put anywhere.
Photo Credit: Windows Community
Need another choice? Give my favorite app, Fast Scanner, a try for free,or get the pro version ($4.99). This app makes saving black and white, color, and greyscale images/PDFs to Google Drive easy.
Now, remember that there are many websites online that share worksheets in PDF. For example, GreatSchools offers worksheets for all ages. Other sources of worksheets include:
- Canva Worksheet Templates
- Education Worksheets for Kids and Free Printables
And let’s not forget Seesaw’s Activity Library. With a free Seesaw account, you’ll be able to take advantage of the Activity Library they offer. What’s more, with a SeeSaw Plus or for Schools account, students can edit and annotate those PDFs and turn them in.
Did You Know?
Get up to speed with all that SeeSaw offers via the TCEA SeeSaw Educator self-paced, online course. Learn more online.
Step #2: Converting PDFs to an Easy-to-Edit Document
Making PDFs into an online form boggles the mind. How do you take images and PDFs and then turn them into something students can type on or draw on? And, is it possible to track assignment completion on a PDF or image? The answer is, “Yes, but it depends on the tools you decide to use.” Each of these tools has its own advantages and disadvantages.
You can use a popular PDF to JPG/PNG website (e.g. PDFCandy, PDF2PNG, ILovePDF, SmallPDF.com). Each of these websites makes conversion a breeze. If you need to install a PDF tool on your Windows computer to split PDFs, get PDFsam Basic. It makes splitting, joining, adding, and deleting pages in a PDF easy.
But what do you do afterwards? It all depends on what you need students to do and where. Let’s explore what’s available.
Step #3: Convert PDF/Image into Learning Activity
Let’s take a quick look at the tools available, from free to more expensive:
- Google Slides (read blogs and view videos)
- Microsoft PowerPoint/OneNote
- Teacher Made
- KAMI (listen to this Ed Tech Club podcast featuring KAMI)
- Wizer.me (watch this video, “Making Worksheets Interactive”)
- Canvas LMS (read related blog entries)
My favorite tool is the one that does the most and costs the least. For web-based users, free Google Slides/Microsoft PowerPoint, or OneNote work great. Need scoring? You will need a tool like TeacherMade.
How To: Google Slides/PowerPoint/OneNote
Import a PDF into Google Slides and/or PowerPoint. Set it as the background, then add text boxes on top. Assign it to students to complete. OneNote users also have it easy.
Other tools, although they offer a trial or lite version, like Wizer.me ($35.99 a year) and KAMI ($99 year), cost money. My least favorite tool is the PDF tool built into Canvas because it is quite limited. Erin Hartman does a great job exploring it in this blog entry, “Edit PDFs in Canvas Assignments.”
Note: Only a portion of the chart is shown.
The above comparison chart may assist you in deciding which is the right tool for you. I’ve made the chart easy to edit if it needs correction or additions. What do you think will be your go-to tools?
New Tool Spotlight: TeacherMade
Since I hadn’t seen Teacher Made before, I thought I’d do a quick walkthrough. I was able to create my free account with my G Suite EDU login credentials. Two seconds later, I was working on creating my single page worksheet. (Of course, TeacherMade supports PDFs up to 12 pages long). Since I didn’t have one handy, I saved one from the Great Schools website mentioned earlier.
For fun, I decided to turn this into a matching activity rather than a circle one. I inserted color blocks to cover the words and turned the line border to transparent. Then I set up matching pairs, drawing boxes and then linking the two matching items. It was easy. Finally, I revised the instructions.
You can see a worksheet preview here:
Once you have customized the worksheet for students, you can assign it to them, as you can see below:
Start your journey of TeacherMade.com discovery with Kimberly Jacquay’s video series:
Lean into TeacherMade with these two follow-up videos:
And don’t forget that TeacherMade is free.
Now You Know
Get started soon transforming paper worksheets into digital learning opportunities. Use tools like PDFCandy to convert anything into a PDF or JPG/PNG. Or, get a PDF worksheet from a free online source. Then, make it interactive and scorable with an available tool.