Shrewsbury EdTech

Tech resources for Shrewsbury Public School educators

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Using iPads in the 1-to-1 Middle or High School Science Classroom

I taught a course this week at the Shrewsbury Summer Institute on how to utilize iPads in our middle and high school science classrooms. This “Tech Tip” is a summary of what was covered over the last few days. Regardless of what subject/age you teach, I’m hopeful you will still find most of this information useful.


General iPad tips/tricks

Schoology Overview

Since Shrewsbury has committed to using Schoology as our Learning Management System (LMS) platform moving forward, Schoology was a big focus for the week. All participants had a sandbox course to explore. They added content, assessments, and spent time exploring the features using a laptop and iPad in both teacher and student views.

If you are unfamiliar with Schoology, visit their Help Guides website. They offer a lot of valuable information for teachers, students, and parents.

Notability, Pages, and Google Docs…the “Big 3”

In a science classroom, much of what we do revolves writing notes, annotating worksheets, and writing labs. While these three apps all have a slightly different focus, they are the apps I use most in my classroom for day-to-day work. We also spent some time creating data tables in these three apps, which is an important element in the science classroom.

1. Notability – I use Notability when I have a PDF worksheet and want students to annotate that worksheet. Data tables cannot be easily made within the app, so the worksheet must already have a table for them to fill in.

5 Notability features you may or may not know about

2. Google Docs – I use Google Docs when I want students to collaborate on research or a lab and I plan to give them frequent feedback (best example is my science fair project). It wasn’t long ago when students couldn’t even view a table within the app. They can now make data tables that are pretty functional. The only missing ingredient is the ability to merge cells. However, a workaround to this is opening the document in Safari in desktop mode. This allows them to merge cells!

3. Pages – I use Pages when I want students to write up their own lab report, complete with data table, photos, and graphs. It has the best formatting options and creates a “prettier” product.

I have found that many times, it does not matter to me what app students use. They all have their own preference. For this reason, I usually share resources as Microsoft Word files. Students are able to “open in” using any of these three apps. Once finished, they can submit their final work back into Schoology.


Creating Tests and Quizzes in Schoology

Participants spent most of the afternoon creating quizzes and tests in Schoology using point scales and rubrics. There are a lot of wonderful grading features in Schoology, and most of the questions can be automatically graded for you!

Creating Graphs on the iPad

I rarely have my students hand-draw graphs on graph paper. If you prefer that option, they can easily take a photo when they finish and insert the photo directly into Notability, Pages, or Google Docs.

Create a Graph (Safari)

Download the graph when you are finished as a .jpg file. On an iPad, the graph image will pop up. Press down with your finger and choose “Save image” to save it to your camera roll.

Pages app (or Numbers)

Creating a graph in both of these apps is very similar. You can create graphs that look more professional compared to the previous option. Graphs cannot be saved to the camera roll. However, you can “copy” the image and paste it later wherever you want to put the graph.

Data Analysis app

TuvaLabs doesn’t actually let you create a graph, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s so cool. They have a huge collection of data sets that you can manipulate and visualize in a variety of ways.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 11.11.28 AM

Using Photos in the Classroom

I think the camera is one of the greatest features on the iPad. Being able to take/share photos and videos allows for a lot of creative ideas that were not previously possible.

A few photo ideas…

Annotating Photos3975108995_a7c5e48ae7_b

When students are able to annotate photos with text and shapes, they are able to demonstrate their understanding. Instead of using that old diagram of a microscope, students could be asked to take a photo of an actual microscope in order to label different parts. It makes learning more authentic.

Here are three apps that my students have used  to annotate and label photos.

  • Skitch
  • Explain Everything (This app costs $2.99 but should be free for all teachers and students at the middle and high school.)
  • Notability (This app costs $3.99 but should be free for all teachers and students at the middle and high school.)

Student and Teacher Created Videos

Like with photos, the ability to create and share videos on an iPad opens up some pretty awesome ideas. As teachers, we can now begin to “flip” parts of our curriculum by creating videos and sharing them with our students. These videos can be lectures, instructions for a lab/project, demonstrations that may not be safe for the classroom, etc. Most students are comfortable using iMovie. That is their app of choice, but there are some other useful apps I recommend as well for different purposes.

Here are a list of apps for you to consider… 

iMovie – the gold standard

Explain Everything – lets you or students make a “screen cast”. You can embed practically anything (images, documents, presentations, other videos…)

“Green Screen” app by DoInk ($2.99) – This apps lets students create engaging “green screen” videos. You will need a solid color backdrop (does NOT need to be green). You can also utilize a green screen within Explain Everything if you do not have an actual screen to use.

Time lapse videos are useful for long exposures. The iPad takes repeated photos at a set interval (every 2 seconds, 20 seconds, 1 minute, etc.) then combines those photos into a video. The camera in newer iPads already have a “time-lapse” function. Otherwise, you can use a specific app such as Lapse It or Hyperlapse.

Stop motion apps allow you to make an animation video using a series of photos. Here is a great stop motion video a teacher created to model chemical reactions. There are many stop motion apps out there, but my students have used the free Stop Motion Studio app.

While time lapse videos produce a video that is sped up, “slow motion” apps can be used to slow videos down. Newer iPhones have a “Slo-Mo” function in the camera roll. For iPads, you can use the SloPro app.



This wasn’t initially going to be part of this course, but Doug Kiang’s morning keynote was all about gaming. I created a badge system this year and hope to include more gaming elements moving forward.

General iPad/iPhone Recommended Apps for Teachers and Students

Here is a list of general apps that I feel everyone should have to stay organized.

  • Some type of task manager or “to do” app (2.Do, Any.Do, Google Keep, or Reminders)
  • Calendar: Google Calendar or Sunrise
  • Password app: 1Password
  • (apps gone free, apps discounted, and new apps)

General apps for Science class:

Science Probeware

The high school teachers practiced syncing their Vernier probes and LabQuest 2 interfaces. Students can connect their iPads to the LabQuest 2 interface over a WiFi connection. The middle school teachers spent time learning how to connect iPads with our Pasco probes using the AirLink 2 bluetooth interface.

Presentation apps

Students are very comfortable using Keynote on their iPads. While this is a great app, there are many other wonderful options for both students and teachers.

Google Slides and Keynotes can be opened in Notability and/or E.E. This allows students to annotate and take notes while you present.

Curating and Sharing Resources

Where will you keep all of your “stuff”? You must consider whether you want it to be private, public, or shared only with your students. Personally, I use Google Drive and Dropbox to save all of my documents, photos, and videos on my computer. I then upload handouts from those folders into Schoology for students to access.

I bookmark all of my online resources using Diigo. It’s fantastic. For you Twitter users out there, you can even have all of your favorite tweets automatically saved to Diigo! I will put some online resources into Schoology for my students, but I’ve found that if there are too many links, it’s easier to provide them with a single link that sends them to my Learnist site. Learnist is like Pinterest, and it’s where I bookmark academic web resources for my students.


Infographics are graphical representations of data. They are especially useful for sharing out a lot of information. and both have plenty of examples you can search through. also lets you customize templates to make your own infographics. STEM Literacty Through Infographics is a great website that includes a lot of published student-created infographics. Compound Interest also has a great collection of chemistry-related infographics.

My favorite tool for creating infographics is Canva. Both the website and iPad app are easy to create visually awesome infographics.

Project-Based Learning (PBL)

One of Shrewsbury’s district initiatives moving forward focuses on project based learning.

Here is the updated Professional Practice Goal:

By the end of the 2016-17 school year, all grade level and department teams will have re-designed and implemented an existing learning experience for students that includes:

  • An open-ended question that requires students to think critically about an engaging topic
  • A special introductory event to the learning experience that generates curiosity and motivates students to learn more about the topic
  • Multiple pathways to demonstrate learning
  • Opportunities for students to share their thinking and collaborate with others
  • Work shared with an audience beyond teacher and classroom
  • Technology integration that enhances learning at the Modification and/or Redefinition level (SAMR Model)
  • The resources for this learning experience will be organized digitally to support team and department collaboration and innovation.

General PBL Resources

Buck Institute Website

Buck Institute – Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements

Buck Institute – Essential Project Design Checklist

Project-based learning ideas

(These are resources that participants in the course found and shared.)

List of physics PBL from

Blocking Sound PBL

Eggstreme Sports

Go, Score, Win with Physics

CASES Online

Free Project Based Learning Resources That Will Place Students At The Center Of Learning

Effective teaching methods —Project-based learning in physics 

IOP Institute of Physics – Problem based learning modules

Chemistry PBL Ideas:

  • Water quality – ions (nitrates, phosphates, chloride), dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, etc of different bodies of water and well water sources
  • Nutritional analysis of various drinks of choice
  • Combustions reactions – production of CO2 with various forms of travel

Biology PBL Ideas:


If you’ve never heard of Kahoot yet, you’re missing out. It’s a very fun (and very competitive) online quiz game that lets students compete against each other. You can create your own quiz games or you can use public quizzes. The quicker you answer a question correctly, the more points you earn! – Use this link to set up an account and run a quiz

Kahoot – Use this link to take a quiz


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What Does Awesome Look Like?

Our friends at EdTechTeacher created a collaborative ebook titled, “What Does Awesome Look Like?”, leveraging the power of the Book Creator iPad app. Teachers around the globe shared creative and innovative ways they are currently using iPads in their classroom. EdTechTeacher curated these ideas and compiled them into a Teacher Activity Book!

Download Volume 1 of this ebook here!

Are you doing anything awesome in your classroom? If you are, EdTechTeacher is currently accepting submissions for Volume 2. This is a great opportunity to share your ideas with the world! You can find more information at the link below. You have until February 23rd.

If you haven’t already heard, Grafton High School is hosting its 2nd annual EdCamp on Saturday, March 21st. If you’ve never attended an EdCamp before, it’s quite the experience.

You can expect a FREE day of PD that usually (but not always) focuses on technology integration in the classroom. There is free breakfast and lunch, a raffle (I won something last year, and you can walk away with 6 PDPs.

Unlike traditional conferences, the sessions are not determined until that morning. Everyone lingers around a big scheduling board, and teachers sign up to lead a session on a topic of their choice. If you’re doing something awesome in your classroom, this would be another great way of sharing! You can even team up with someone else if you’d like. If you’re not quite ready to lead a session but have something in mind that you want to learn more about (like Google Classroom or Schoology), you can throw that on the board as a suggestion. If you’re lucky, someone else will decide to lead a session on that topic.

I attended the event last year with about ten other Shrewsbury educators. It would be great if we could get an even larger showing this year. For their first attempt, I think Grafton pulled off a great day of PD. I have even higher expectations this year. Aside from doing this once already, Grafton’s new Director of Technology (Andy Marcinek) is highly regarded in the world of “ed tech” and has a lot of EdCamp experience.

If you’re interested, check out the links below:

EdCamp Grafton website (use this site to register)

Follow the EdCamp Grafton hashtag on Twitter

Like their Facebook Page

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Five Notability Features You May or May Not Know About

I’ve been using iPads in my classroom for almost two months now. As much as I’m trying try “modify” and “redesign” learning with the iPad, I’ll be honest in saying most of the day-to-day work involves Notability. I wasn’t a huge fan of Notability at first. However, I’m becoming more of a fan as I see just what it’s capable of doing. Sure, students can add typed text and handwritten notes to PDFs, but there’s so much more.

1. Add pictures

This may not sound like a huge deal, but it’s become very handy in my science classroom. Not only can they insert images, but they can crop the photo from within the app itself. We have already had a few science investigations where students must make observations, collect data, and analyze that data. They intuitively take photos to document their observations. They have taken pictures of density columns, white powders (to help identify them at a later date), bowling balls floating in water, etc. The best part, something I’m not accustomed to, is they then refer back to those images as evidence for the lab. We use a “claim, evidence, reasoning” framework for science labs. When referring to data as evidence, students will take a screen shot of their data tables and/or their graphs, crop the photos, then highlight the specific data they want to use. It works very well.

2. Back up to Google Drive

I know many Sherwood teachers already know about this feature, but I just learned it a few weeks ago. One potential drawback to using an app like Notability is that if the iPad gets lost/stolen or destroyed, the data may be lost. There is a way to have all of their notes automatically backed up Google Drive! It’s easy to set up (see link below for instructions), and students can set up a folder to save everything to. They can also decide whether to save everything as a “note” or a PDF file. When I had my students set this up two weeks ago, I noticed about half of them had already done this in 5th or 6th grade. We created a new “8th grade” folder so they were organized. One of the best parts about this is that it automatically creates subfolders based on notebooks in Notability. If they have a different notebook for ELA, Math, Social Studies, and Science, then those four subfolders would automatically be created. Then, just like the good ‘ol Ronco rotisserie, you just set it and forget it!

Read this blog post to learn how to set this up on student iPads.

3. Add or delete pages

This may not be a feature that gets used very often, but it’s very useful when it is needed. I gave my students a lab handout as a PDF last week that was still formatted the same as last year. As a result, there were two pages of “class data tables” where students used to copy data down from other groups in class. Since all class data was shared this year using Google Spreadsheets, those two pages were no longer needed. Students asked if they could delete the pages from the PDF. I said yes, not really believing they could do that. Sure enough, they could. I have also seen a few students add on a page if they need more space to answer a question or add more photos/drawings.

4. Merge PDFs

I just stumbled upon this feature a few days ago. The 8th grade science teachers are having students research a manufactured object. They must research the materials that are used to make that object, focusing on the intensive properties of those materials, to determine why those specific materials are used. Students will communicate their learning by writing a magazine article. As teachers, we hope to combine all of these articles together into a digital magazine of sorts that can then be shared with parents. After looking into many options, the easiest way of doing this (I think) is to have all students share their final PDF with the teacher, who can then use Notability to easily merge them all together.

5. View Google Presentations

I showed a Google Presentation in class not too long ago. I planned on having students download the new Google Slides app so they could read along on their iPads. Before I had the chance to tell them this, a few students had already opened the presentation in Notability. Not only could follow along with the slides, but they could mark up the slides!! Granted most students did not take advantage of this, but I plan on adapting future presentations to make them more interactive for students. I’m not sure if this feature also works for Keynote or PowerPoint presentations, but it’s definitely worth trying!

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iPads in Science – Measurement Revisions

I always begin the year by having students learn how to use science tools (balances, graduated cylinders, meter sticks, etc.). They must make accurate and precise measurements, plus understand how to do simple metric conversions, like how many centimeters are found in one meter. They had a measurement quiz last week where they had demonstrate these skills. As in past years, students received a grade (1-4) for each specific skill. As in past years, students who earned below a “3” on a certain skill as responsible for practicing this skill and showing me they could do it correctly.

What changed this year was HOW students did their measurement revisions. I used to run around the classroom like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to observe and record 20+ students make measurements. This year, I had students record evidence of their measurements using their iPads. The one rule was that for every skill they needed to revisit, students had to measure two different objects, so I was sure they could do it correctly. However, they were allowed to choose any app on their iPad, as long as they were able to add photos and text. Here are a few apps that I recommended:

  • Explain Everything
  • Educreations
  • Keynote
  • Skitch (now has a rating of 17+ so if students don’t already have it, they won’t be able to install it from the App Store.)
  • Pic Collage (similar to Skitch)
  • Notability (though I encouraged them to branch out and try something new)

Length (not pictured)

Students must be able to measure the length of an object using a ruler and record this measurement in three different units : mm, cm, and m. Their revisions had to include a photo of an object with the ruler (or meter stick) positioned on top or on the side so I could clearly measure the length myself.


Students must be able to record the mass of an object using the correct precision of the balance. Their revisions had to include a photo of the same object on three different balances (each with a different precision) and record the mass as seen on each balance.


Regular Volume

Students have to measure volume of small and large objects using the formula: volume = length x width x height. Their revisions had to include a photo of the rectangular prism, and each side had to be labeled with the length in centimeters. They also had to show their calculations for calculating volume and include the correct metric unit.


Irregular Volume

Students have to measure volume of small solids using the water displacement method. Their revisions had to include a photo of the graduated cylinder and solid object. They could either have two photos (one before and one after the object was added), or they could have one photo where they clearly labeled the initial and final volume. They also had to show their “work” for determining the volume of the solid object and include the correct metric unit. (There were specific metal cylinders I had students measure for their revision work. I already had these volumes recorded so I could quickly tell if their measurements were correct.)

photo (4)

The Results?

The end result was much better than years past! I sat at my desk and students lined up to show me evidence of their learning. I was able to check in with a lot more students in a shorter amount of time. Another benefit to this approach is students will be able to use these as artifacts for the student-led conferences in November. Last year, they would not have this evidence to prove they improved their measurement skills, but now they do.

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What’s on your iPad home screen?

While reading through my RSS feeds the other day, I came across an interesting blog post by Justin Reich at EdTechTeacher called All the Good Apps Fit on One Screen. One of his focal points was that teachers have a core set of apps that we use the most. All of these core apps should fit on just your iPad’s home screen.

Justin (@bjfr) took a screen shot of his home screen and shared this image on Twitter. He then encouraged others to do the same, using the hast tag #onescreen. For those of you who know Derek and I, you know that neither of us like Twitter. However, this was the first time I found a reason to actually engage in a Twitter feed. I began by clicking on the hash tag link above and lurked around for a while, looking at all of the images other teachers have shared of their home screens. I then took the plunge and tweeted out a pic of my own home screen and added to the conversation. A short time later, Justin Reich retweeted my comment on his own feed. I gotta say, I’m not quire ready to embrace Twitter just yet, but this did give me a snapshot into how it could be a valuable tool for collaboration.

This experience inspired me to initiate similar collaboration here in Shrewsbury. Since very few of us use Twitter, I created a Google Presentation that is public and can be edited by anyone. I am asking as many teachers as possible to take a screen shot of your iPad home screen, then share that image onto the Google Presentation for others to see. There are directions in the presentation itself, but I would also like for you to add your name, grade, and subject taught. Access the Google presentation here. Please remember that anyone can edit this slideshow so please only edit one slide. Do not edit another slide that was already created. 

Now, this isn’t just for teachers. Even though some apps will vary based on grade and subject, there are many apps that can be useful to everyone. Therefore, I encourage everyone who sees this to participate: teachers, aides, curriculum coordinators, principals, and other administration. Even if you happen to be reading this and are not affiliated with Shrewsbury Public Schools, we would love your participation. If a lot of people get involved, this could be a great starting point to finding out about some new apps.

The images shared can be viewed in the embedded slideshow below. Click on the “full screen” button at the bottom to view the presentation in full screen mode.

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How to transfer photos and videos from your iPad

Despite all of the apps out there, one of the iPad’s greatest features is its camera. Newer models have front and rear-facing cameras that let you take some pretty impressive photos and videos*. All of this media lives in the device’s “camera roll” and can be shared with others through email, text messages, Facebook, and photo stream to name a few. Sometimes though, you may want to share many photos, or you may want to transfer all of the photos and videos on your iPad to your laptop. In order to do this, we need to get a little more creative.

*When I talk about “photos and videos”, I am referring specifically to the pictures and video you take using the iPad’s camera function. The steps below to do not apply to pictures and videos created with an app such as iMovie.

Apple makes it easy for people to sync their photos and videos on the iPad directly to their computer’s photo library using iTunes. Unfortunately, this option will not work for you if you are using a school-issued iPad. Shrewsbury teachers are not allowed to plug their iPad into a computer because it will cause management problems. This is a necessary step to set up the syncing process. We must go to Plan B.

Apple’s iCloud is a neat feature that lets you store your stuff online. It lets you access your music, documents, photos, calendars, contacts, and more from whatever device you are on. Once iCloud is set up, it automatically syncs things between your iPad, iPhone, and computers.

Take a photo with an iPad, and it will show up on your laptop.
Download a new app on an iPhone, and it will immediately download onto your iPad! Watch the video below for a better sense of how it works.

How to set up iCloud on different devices:

iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch:

Mac laptop or desktop:

Windows PC:

Dropbox is a free service that lets you sync files across all of your different devices. It is similar to Google Drive and used by a lot of people. I use it as a way of backing up my files and giving me access to my stuff from anywhere. It’s much better in my opinion than backing things up to the school server because you can access files in Dropbox from any computer. 

Click on the links below to read some previous tech tips that pertain to Dropbox:

Battle of the cloud storage (April 24, 2012)
Dropbox introduced a new feature earlier this year for their iPad/iPhone app that lets users sync all of the photos and videos in the “camera roll” into their Dropbox account. It creates a new subfolder called “Camera Uploads” in your main Dropbox folder. The media gets synced each time you open the Dropbox iPad or iPhone app. 
In order for this to be really effective, you should have Dropbox installed on your iPad and your laptop. Personally, I do not like iPhoto very much and much prefer having my pictures end up in a Dropbox folder on my computer instead. 
I use Dropbox to sync pictures and video on both my iPad and iPhone so I have everything on my school laptop and home PC, Even if you use Dropbox for nothing other than syncing your photos, I think it’s well worth it. The image to the right, for example, is a screen shot I just took of my iPhone. It quickly synced to my laptop, and I was able to post it here within thirty seconds.

Photosync ($1.99) is an app for the iPad/iPhone that lets you easily transfer photos and videos to and from your computer. It also lets you transfer between iOS devices, or you transfer to numerous possible “web services” including Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook, Google Plus, Flickr, Picassa, etc. If you are looking to transfer files to your computer, there is a free utility you should download to make it easier.
Unlike iCloud and Dropbox, the syncing does not happen automatically. You choose whether to sync all files, just new files, or you can choose which photos and videos to sync. 
I have played around with this app to transfer some pictures and videos to Dropbox, Google Drive, and Flickr. Each time, the app was able to sync with my other accounts flawlessly. I had to log in to the other accounts and give this app permission to access my files.

Which option should you use?

There is no clear winner, but I have tried them all and prefer Dropbox. This could be because I was already a Dropbox user and comfortable with it. I like having everything in one spot so having all of my pictures in iCloud is not an appealing option for me. I do like iCloud for other things, just not syncing my photos.
Photosync is a nice “one size fits all” app if you like to transfer photos to numerous destinations. Like I said, I have used them all so if you are interested in trying any of these, let me know and I can help you get started. Also, if you know of any other ways to transfer photos and/or videos from your iPad, please  share them.


Annotating PDF documents on the iPad

One of the biggest benefits to using iPads in the classroom is moving toward a paperless classroom. In order to do this, we must find an alternative to having students write on paper worksheets or other graphic organizers. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have students annotate a PDF (Portable Document Format), then save that revised version on their iPad.

In most classrooms it looks something like this: 

1. Teacher makes a PDF of the worksheet/handout/graphic organizer. This can  be done by scanning the paper copy and saving it as a PDF file. If the handout is made in Microsoft Word, the file can be saved as a PDF file. (All of my class handouts are converted in this way.)

2. The PDF handout is made available to students. This can be done in numerous ways. Read our blog post on iPad workflow for more information on how to do this.

3. The student uses the “Open in…” function on the iPad to open the PDF document in an a particular app that lets them annotate and save the document. The most popular app being used for this purpose is Notability.

However, unlike most people, I am not a huge fan Notability. I gave it a shot earlier in the year and quickly began the search for alternatives. Notability does have more bells and whistles compared to other apps. However, the most important features I need my students to have is the ability annotate text (highlight, underline, cross out, etc.) and add both “hand written” and text notes. I’m not saying Notability can’t do these, it’s just not as easy. So, two possible alternatives to check out are Adobe Reader and PDF Expert.

Alternatives to Notability…

Adobe Reader (Free)

Adobe now offers an Adobe Reader mobile app for Android and iOS devices. It looks and acts much like the desktop version. 
File Management: 
All annotated files are saved in your main “Documents” folder. You can create additional folders (for different subjects) and subfolders (different units?) for your documents. You can also sign up for an account at that lets you sync files between different devices. 

Press down on a word, and you have the option to copy, highlight, strikeout, underline, or define the word. Once you highlight, strikeout, or underline, you can then change the color and opacity of your mark. 
Adding notes: 
Press down on an empty spot, and you have the option to add a note, typed text, freehand, or a signature. The “note” creates a sticky note, but all other types of notes can then be modified. You can delete the note or change the thickness, color, and opacity. Also, when you press on it a second time, a text box is created that can easily be resized or moved anywhere on the page. 

I know this may not sound any easier than Notability, but I have about ten students with iPads this year who also found Notability difficult to use. I had them use the Adobe Reader app, and they like it much more. Again, they aren’t doing anything fancy, just adding text to my science handouts.

PDF Expert ($9.99 but was on sale this week for $4.99)

I sent an email recently about Readdle having a sale for many of their apps. One of their apps, PDF Expert, is my absolute favorite app for editing PDFs. It has a lot of advanced features that justify the price.
File Management: 
Like Adobe Reader, files are saved in your “Documents”, and you can create folders and subfolders. Files can be sorted by name, date, and size. PDF Expert has some pretty cool syncing features as well. ou can add servers that give you access to documents in Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and more. There is also a two-way syncing feature so whatever changes you make in the app can be saved to your cloud storage account.  

Press down on a word, and you have the same options as Adobe Reader, plus the option to leave a sticky note with your highlight. Once you highlight, strikeout, or underline, you can then change the color (lots of options) but not the opacity of your mark. 
Adding notes: 
Press down on an empty spot to have the same features as Adobe Reader. Additional options include a “stamp”, image, or sound note. The stamp is digital stamp feature such as “Approved” or “Completed” which could come in handy for grading. The image note lets you add a picture using the iPad camera or Photo Library. The sound note is my favorite feature. Notability also has an audio feature at the top of the note, but PDF Expert creates an audio file anywhere on the page. How could this be handy? Imagine you have a student who is allowed to take tests orally, but with 30 kids in a class you just don’t have time to sit down with them. You could have them take the test on an iPad and record their answers orally by leaving an audio note for each question. It also includes an impressive suite of drawing tools that includes lines, arrows, and shapes. You can also change the pen color, thickness, and opacity.   

Other features:
Another cool feature in PDF Expert is the ability to have multiple tabs open for different documents. This makes it much easier and quicker to go back and forth between documents.

I know $10 is a lot to shell out for an app, but it really is worth it. Obviously, the district is not going to pay for all students to have this so I envision this being used by teachers while students use Notability or Adobe Reader. If you would like to experiment with it on my iPad, just let me know!


Adobe Reader: Getting Started Guide

PDF Expert Guide