Archives for February 2015

Annotate PDFs on the iPad with Adobe Reader

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 2.08.22 PMStudents in my school district have spent a lot of time with Close Reading, and they have been learning how to annotate passages as they read them to aid in comprehension. Along with this, many teachers are trying to become as paperless (or paperlite) as possible by distributing documents to students via the iPad. Close reading on the iPad has been a challenge thus far, but Adobe Reader can definitely help with that! There are other apps that allow students to annotate documents, but the best part about Adobe Reader is that it’s free!

How Does Adobe Reader Work?

First, students need to get the PDF they want to annotate into Adobe Reader. They can do this by either downloading the PDF, or by choosing the send button, and then “Open In.” The opening page will be a list of the documents that have been opened in Adobe Reader.Adobe_Reader_landingDocuments can be organized by tapping the edit button. You’ll be able to create folders, move documents into folders, re-name documents, and delete documents using the edit button.Adobe_reader_menuSelect a document, and it will open full-screen. Tap in the middle of the screen to bring up the menu in this part of the app. One of the best features in this menu is the search tool. Tap the tool and type in a word to search, and Adobe reader will highlight the word each time it appears. Just tap the arrows down at the bottom of the screen to advance to the next instance of the word.Adobe_reader_menu2Tap the annotation icon, and a menu will appear along the bottom of the page. This menu contains all the possible tools for annotation. When you choose a tool, look to the top of the screen to see what to do with it. Students can add “sticky” notes, highlights, strike-throughs, and typed text. They can also draw on the page and they can even add their signature using this app. To move on after drawing on the page, be sure to choose “Done” in the top right corner.adobe_reader_menu3If a student makes an annotation and wants to remove it, just tap the annotation. A short menu will appear above the annotation– Clear, Color, or When students are finished annotating, they can choose the “Open In” button again, and send it to many other apps they have available to them, including Google Drive.

Common Core Connection

As mentioned above, Adobe Reader allows students to easily annotate PDFs, which means they can use the iPad for Close Reading. This helps students with their understanding of complex text. Using Adobe Reader is also a way to have students read and annotate multiple sources on the same topic. If students don’t have access to Google Drive for collaboration with peers, they could use Adobe Reader instead. In this case, students could take advantage of the Camera to PDF feature on the home screen.

What Do You Think?

Have you used Adobe Reader in your classroom? How are your students using it?

Tell Animated Stories with (Now Free!) Toontastic

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 12.28.13 PMKids love to tell stories. I have found that their stories either go around and around in circles or they end abruptly rather than follow a plot sequence. The app, Toontastic, a storytelling app (that just went completely free!), addresses the “plot problem” in a simple way using cute, animated toys and lots of fun backgrounds as settings for stories.

How does Toontastic Work?

Toontastic is a free storytelling app by LaunchPad Toys, which was just acquired by Google. It has many different settings that students can use to tell their stories, or students can draw their own. There are also many characters, called toys, that students can use. The toys fit with the setting themes.

Toontastic walks the students through a basic plot sequence after they choose Create Cartoon.IMG_1196First, students decide whether they want to edit a story they’ve already started or if they want to create something new.IMG_1198Next, they set up the scenes in the story. Tap a section of the story arc, and the edit paintbrush and the trashcan appear. Notice the use of the red and green icons for editing or deleting– this is great touch for our youngest students.IMG_1197Students can create a scene and then record the animation and voices, or they can put the scenes together and record the animation once all the scenes are created. Each time a student adds a scene, they can choose the same setting as before, or they can choose an entirely new one. As students create scenes and finish recording them, the app returns to the Story Arc.   Characters can start on screen, or they can start off in the “wings,” and enter the scene as the student drags them in. Dragging characters animates them. Students can also resize their characters with their fingers by pinching or zooming on the characters.toontasticOnce a scene has been recorded, students will have the option of including background music. If they don’t want the music, they just tap the flashing arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Dragging the scene up or down increases the intensity level of music; for example, “frustrated” is the first level, but dragging the scene up increases the level to “enraged.”toontastic 2toontastic 4In addition to all of the background settings that already exist within the app, students are also able to use the camera to take photos. This way, they can pre-draw the story’s setting, or they can set their animated story in an actual location.

If you have used Toontastic previously, you’ll know that the only way to share ‘Toons was to upload them to ToonTube. Now, however, students can save their creations to the camera roll! I can’t even tell you how happy this makes me!This means they can app smash Toontastic into other apps. If you have Green Screen by Do Ink, student could also record their animations on a green background and use them in the Green Screen app. IMG_1195Students can save directly to camera roll from the start screen, as well. They just choose the share button underneath the video thumbnail, and as long as a recording has been done, the video will export immediately.

Common Core Connection

Common Core Writing Standard 6 has students using digital tools to produce and publish writing, and Speaking and Listening Standard 5 requires students to make strategic use of digital media in presentations. Using Toontastic helps to address both of these standards. Students are creating cartoon movies in this app, but in order to do so, they first must write the situation. There isn’t a length limit for the stories students create, which means that they could create a Toontastic story as a small part of a larger presentation. The app is simple and intuitive enough for the youngest students, but it can also be used to tell sophisticated stories, which makes it a winner for all of K-12.

What Do You Think?

How have you used Toontastic in your classroom?