For most of us expanding our teaching practices into virtual teaching or distance learning is a fairly new thing. We are on a steep learning curve as we work to do what is best for our students. It’s kind of like the first year of teaching . . . again! Today I am excited to share some of the things I have learned on this journey. Here are 5 ways to use PDFs digitally in the virtual classroom.
If you are a veteran teacher then you have probably spent years building up your filing cabinet of teaching resources. Resources that you love to use because you know they help your students learn. Resources that previous students have loved. Chances are most if not all of those resources were originally designed to be printed off and used with paper and pencil. But when it comes to virtual teaching and distance learning that doesn’t work so well.
However, you don’t have to file those resources away never to use them again. Instead, use these amazing tools to use PDFs digitally in the virtual classroom!
Using the PDF As Is . . .
These first three options allow you to use the pdf file without changing its form. However, you will need to use an online app in order to view the pdf online and complete the digital activity.
Kami Google Chrome Extension
Kami is an online app that allows you to turn your printable pdfs into interactive digital activities. With tools that will help you as the teacher and your students, your entire classroom will love using the Kami app.
For the teacher, it’s as easy as uploading the pdf, choosing the pages you want from the pdf, and assigning it to your students. You can assign the pages through Google Classroom right from the Kami app or you can download the pages and assign them to your students using your normal procedures.
Once assigned, your students will open the pdf in the Kami app and complete the assignment. Students will be able to add text boxes to type in answers, using the drawing tool to write or use the highlight tool to mark important information. Once done, students can download their finished assignments and turn them into you.
You can even do some unexpected types of activities, like Color by Code activities using the drawing tool like a crayon.
Here’s a video to show you how you and your students can use Kami.
To use Kami you will need to create a Kami account. They have a free and paid option for teachers. I’ve found that the free option allows me to do everything I need to create and assign a digital assignment. You can access the Kami tools by going to the website or by downloading and install the Kami extension on Google Chrome.
DocHub is an online app similar to Kami that allows you and your students to manipulate a printable pdf and use it in a virtual classroom.
For teachers, you can quickly and easily upload a pdf and pull out the pages you want students to use. You can also use the DocHub integrations to assign an activity using Google Classroom or download the pages to send to your students via email or another online learning system.
Students can then open the pdf in DocHub and complete the assignment using the DocHub tools. Students can type in answers or use the drawing tool to write. There is also a highlight tool that students can use to mark important information in a reading passage or in word problems.
This video will give you an idea of just how easy it is to use DocHub as both a teacher and a student.
TpT Digital Tool
The TpT Digital Tool is another way to use your PDFs digitally in the virtual classroom. Many of the PDFs that you purchase from Teachers Pay Teachers can be used with the TpT Digital Activity Tool.
You can access the TpT Digital Tool right from the resource page. Just look for the box that says Open TpT Digital Activity.
Once inside the TpT Digital Activity Tool, you can add instructions and answer boxes for your students. You can also assign the activity using Google Classroom right from the TpT Digital Tool.
Students will then complete the activity online using the built-in tools like typing, drawing, and highlighting. You can find step by step instructions on how to use the TpT Digital Tool in this blog post.
Modifying the PDF . . .
These next two options will show you how to modify the format of the pdf so that you can use it to create a digital activity.
Choosing Specific Pages of a PDF
One of the downfalls of assigning a pdf to students digitally is that you don’t always want your students to have all the pages of a pdf. In fact, many times you just want a couple of pages from a pdf for an assignment. No worries – it is really easy to do.
If you have a PC you can choose the pages you want and Print to PDF. If you have access to Adobe Acrobat Pro you can use the extract feature to create a new file for the pages you want. Pam also shows you how to take a screenshot of a page in order to save it as an image.
Once you have pulled out the pages you want, you can assign them to your students using Kami or DocHub, attach to an email or share through your online learning management system.
Use Google Apps to Create the Digital Activity
Use the popular Google apps, like Google Slides, to create a digital activity from a PDF resource. First, you need to turn the pages of your PDF into images. You can use the screenshot tool that Pam describes or you can use a website like PDF to PNG. If you have Adobe Acrobat Pro you can also use SAVE AS to save the pages of the pdf to jpeg or png files.
Once you have the pages saved as an image, you are ready to insert them into Google Slides and set up your digital activity.
Here’s the steps you should follow:
- Open a new Google Slides file and name the activity.
- Go to FILE and Page Setup and choose Custom. Then put in the size of your PDF page. Most will be 8.5 x 11 inches.
- On the toolbar click on the BACKGROUND button. You will set the pdf page as your background. Chose the image file for the activity you want and click Done. Once the page image appears you will notice that you are not able to click on it since it is now the background for the slide. This is what you want!
- Add in a text box in the places that you want students to answer. I like to add the words “Type Here” so that students know where to click to add their answer.
- Then share the Google Slides activity with your students using Google Classroom or a Share Link.
More of a visual person? Check out this step by step instructional video and you will be creating your own digital activities in no time!
You’ve Got This!
I hope that you have found one or more digital tools that will work for you and your virtual classroom setting. It takes a little extra time but it is a great way to use resources you already have or those you like that only come in PDF format, in your virtual classroom.
You can find all of the No Prep Skills Review Packs from the examples above in the A Love of Teaching Store. These packs are filled with holiday and seasonal language arts and math activities to engage your students while giving them skills practice in math, reading, grammar, and writing.
Pin for Later!
I don’t know about you, but I always find these great ideas and don’t have time to learn more about them right then. Pinning to your favorite Pinterest board is a great way to save ideas that you want to come back to later!