Kami: The PDF Tool You Deserve, But Not the One You Have Right Now

I recently became a Kami Hero (basically a bonafide Kami user), and I’m excited to share just a few of the marvelous things it has to offer.  I don’t really even remember when or how I first ran into Kami, but I find myself using or recommending someone else use it at least a few times a week.  Below are just some of my favorite uses of Kami, but I don’t even come close to a full list of Kami’s capabilities.  As with any new program, the best way to learn is to play, experiment, make mistakes, and try again.  Luckily for you, my students have served as guinea pigs, so that your students can augment and modify their learning with Kami.

PDF Editor and Annotator

In its simplest form, Kami allows the user to easily highlight and comment on PDF documents – please pay close attention to that word: easilyThere’s no converting, resaving as a new document, emailing from one account to

another, etc.  It’s easy, plain and simple. This alone was enough to win me over.  I’m not sure if the general public realizes how much annotating goes on in an English classroom, and as much as I love Google Docs, ain’t nobody got time to copy the text of a PDF and paste and reformat and rearrange it in a Google Doc before students can easily annotate or make comments the text.  Copying and pasting from a PDF is one of my least favorite, but sometimes necessary, tasks when it comes to using technology in my classroom.  Kami has all but eliminated that tedious task.

To take highlighting and annotating to the next level, enter Google Classroom.

There are a couple of ways I like to use these tools with my students.  First, by clicking “Make a copy for each student,” students can annotate digitally and then turn those annotations in for the teacher to assess (as shown above).  I also like to use the “Students can edit file” to allow multiple students to annotate on the same document at the same time.  Both of these work pretty similarly to the same functions when using a Google Doc, so nothing really ground-breaking there, albeit Kami does add the convenience of doing these things on a PDF.  In the example here, you can see the annotations of several students and you can see all of the students who were on the document at the bottom.  AND, you can make voice comments and annotations!  Come on – VOICE ANNOTATIONS!  How many students are going to jump all over that business?  Who wants accommodations for special needs students or for ESL students? Everyone, that’s who! Frankly, voice comments are the way things are headed, and I’m happy to jump on that train with Kami.

The Text-box Tool…

is perfect for writing on those PDF-only graphic organizers that seemingly everyone on Teachers Pay Teachers provides.  There is nothing more annoying than finding the perfect graphic organizer for group work or scaffolding or just…organizing than to realize there is no easy way to make it digital.  With Kami, students can use text boxes to complete the assignment collaboratively or individually.

Equations, Shapes, and Drawings

Okay, I’m not a math or science teacher, but these next few tools seem like they would be invaluable for those

classes: equations, drawings, and shapes.  First of all, if you’ve taught longer than five years, you remember a time when finding any sort of equation editor was nearly impossible, and when you did find it, it was the worst thing you’d ever used in your life.  Thankfully, we’ve come a long way in the past few years with Chrome extensions like EquatIO (can I get an AMEN for all of those amazing people over at texthelp.com).  Kami is just another tool that allows teachers and students to integrate equations, shapes, and drawings into PDFs.  Again, not a math or science teacher, but Mr. Pearsall (also known as Mr. Math and Science) feels pretty excited about this aspect of Kami.

Text to Speech

As a Kami Hero, I get access to some extra Kami goodies that only come with paid subscriptions, namely the signature and text to speech!!  You guys, TEXT TO SPEECH (I’ll come back to signature in a minute)!!!  Not only will Kami read the text of a PDF, it will read it in several different voices and…AND…are you ready?  I don’t think you’re ready…AND will translate the text to any language supported by Google Translate!!!  Are you kidding me??  How amazing is that?  Think of all the uses for ESL or World Languages or struggling readers or basically ANYONE!   This is a feature that has been needed for AGES, but no one seemed to want to put in the time or effort to execute it. Kami, for this, educators and parents salute you!



Back to the signature: it is exactly what it sounds like.  You have the option to draw your signature using your mouse, your phone, or you may upload an image.  So, yes, this works well for signing PDF documents, which all legal documents seem to be these days, but I’m thinking like an educator here.  I’m thinking adding my “signature” Bitmoji to everything!  Or creating my own personal “branded” signature to attach after I’ve made my comments on a student’s work.  I don’t know, doing something a little “out of the box” never hurt anyone.  In the meantime, please don’t judge me based on the best signature I could muster using the mouse on my desktop.

Create an Assignment

Kami also integrates seamlessly with Google Classroom, and the teacher license allows teachers to create a Google Classroom assignment right from Kami, which, as I’ve said many times in this post, adds convenience and ease of use.  Teachers know anything that makes life easier is something to treasure!  The “notification” feature fits right in with Kami’s use in Google Classroom, in my opinion.  Users have the option to be notified (either by email or in browser) when someone else edits the PDF.  I love notifications like this because it signals me to go have a look, and, if I choose the email option, that notification stays in my inbox for as long as it takes me to get around to checking the document – very important.  Without notifications to help me focus, I’m just swimming around aimlessly in the digital sea.

Bonus: Rocketbook App-Smash!

Have you guys seen or used Rocketbook? No?!?  Well, you need to get yourself over to getrocketbook.com and check it out RIGHT NOW!  Rocketbook is a super-cool way to take your analog notes, drawings, writing, etc. to the digital realm.  You can use Rocketbook to write or draw, then upload your work as a PDF right to your Google Drive!!  So amazing, right?  Enter Kami.  Now that you’ve got that work up in the digital stratosphere, Kami allows you to comment on, add to, or modify that work!  Kami will even turn your written notes into a typed document!

Kami is one of the best new(ish) tools out there.  Let me know how you use Kami below!

7 MORE ways Nearpod Will Improve Your Teaching: Activity Slides

 In my previous two posts, I raved about Nearpod as a presentation platform.  The awesomeness of Nearpod doesn’t stop with the content slides.  Honestly, I haven’t even gotten to the best part!  Not only does Nearpod engage students through its amazing presentation tools, but it also allows them to interact directly with the teacher and their classmates during the presentation!  The Activity slides are the GAME CHANGING tools that you are going to love!

If you’ve taught longer than five years, you’ve been there – lecturing away with a presentation on the screen behind you as students stare blankly ahead. Then you think, I need to engage these kids – oooh, I’ll ask a question!  I’m even going to use my popsicle sticks to pick a random student!  I’m such a clever educator. Nothing against the popcicle sticks – I love a good random selector, but the moment you call on Johnny, the other students tune you out.  Once they realize they don’t have to be accountable for the answer to your question, so many of them just shut off their brains. Yes, even when you wait until after the question is asked to call on the student. Nearpod takes the tendency toward student complacency out of the equation.

The Activity slides allow all students to respond to questions, comments, or suggestions posed by the presenter.  You read that right – every single student responds. When we use Nearpod in my class, students know that I expect every one of them to actively participate in the lesson – right then and there within the presentation. The presenter can not only see the responses as they are given during the presentation, they can also view the compiled data after the presentation to analyze and use to guide future instruction.

So, without further ado, here are SEVEN MORE ways Nearpod can engage every student, in every lesson.

  1. Open-Ended Questions

    The Open-Ended Question is definitely my go-to for English class.  I use these primarily for anticipation guides and formative assessments.  Anticipation guides are a staple for introducing new concepts in my classroom.  I often ask a series of questions to get a discussion going that is related to our next unit of study.  For example, when introducing Animal Farm by George Orwell, I give a series of statements to which students respond. 

    *Life in the USA would be perfect if everyone were equal.
    *Do you believe that total equality is possible?
    *What freedoms to we take for granted in the USA?
    *What freedoms would you be willing to give up for the sake of the greater good?

    These questions obviously encourage students to begin to consider the issues found in the novella, but the best part is that I get to see the answer of every single student –  
    Not just the outspoken ones or the extroverts or whoever it is that answers first every time a question is asked – everyone!  In the same vein, it is invaluable to my teaching to be able to do quick learning checks to see where every student stands at any point in a lesson.  One of the newer features in Nearpod allows the presenter to insert any slide on the fly, so an impromptu formative assessment that shows the level of understanding for every student is a click away. And don’t forget: you will have the data in the reports that are viewable after the presentation is complete.
  2. Sharing Answers

    One of the cool features of the activity slide is that the teacher can Share the answers given by students to the class (with or without the name attached).  Even the most reluctant students sit up a bit taller when I share their good answers. Sometimes they even announce, “Hey!! That’s mine!”  A boost of confidence for a student is always welcome, and you get to reap the benefits of that boost.  Win-win!
  3. Polls

    The Poll is another activity that works well for anticipation guides.  Students, however, have a kind of love/hate relationship with the poll questions.  They get two options – yes/no, true/false, agree/disagree – and they often agonize about the gray area.  Fortunately, because the Poll is so…polarized, significant discussions about the gray area can emerge when students see the results.
  4. Quizzes

    Quizzes are perfect for exit tickets and formative or summative assessments.  Asking a few pointed multiple-choice questions at the end of a lesson can not only show the teacher the levels of understanding in the class, but it also shows each student where they stand in regards to the objective of the the lesson.  Inserting one of these quick quizzes in the middle of a presentation will also enable the teacher to revisit any concepts that are unclear before continuing with the lesson.  We all know that formative assessment in teaching is key, and this little activity gives teachers the data they need to feed their lesson planning and aids them in adjusting the lesson as needed in the moment.
  5. Draw

    Everyone likes to have a little fun even when faced with the rigorous curriculum of the common core standards.  For Nearpod, there is no activity students find more fun than Draw.  Of course, there are some questions and answers that lend themselves perfectly to this option, but anytime a teacher uses Draw, it’s a good time.  Students love drawing, and they love seeing other students’ drawings.   Draw is especially entertaining when the students use Chromebooks or laptops because drawing with a mouse is much more difficult than drawing on a tablet.  The results are often pretty ridiculous, but they still show the teacher the students’ understanding. Draw is a crowd-pleaser every time – trust me on this one.
  6. Collaborate

    One of the newer activities in Nearpod is Collaborate.  If you’ve used Padlet, Collaborate works much the same way in regards to brainstorming and sharing ideas.  In Collaborate, teachers post a question or comment, and students can post answers much like a post-it note on a wall.  Students can respond with text or pictures, or both.  I really love this option when we need to throw out a bunch of ideas at once – brainstorming, showing previous knowledge before a lesson, or showing what they’ve learned after a lesson.
  7. Fill in the Blank and Memory

    These two activities are perfect for recall questions.  The Fill in the Blank works more like matching, so it works well for a review of vocabulary introduced in the lesson.  I’m sure you know the concept of Memory, and it works in the way you would expect.  I haven’t used this option, but I can imagine how it could be useful in much the same way as Fill in the Blank.

Nearpod is a staple in my classroom.  In my opinion, the student engagement paired with the instant data collection makes for an invaluable teaching tool. Honestly, the possibilities are endless, this will certainly not be my last post on the subject – Nearpod is still growing and improving its platform.  I’m excited to see the next update! 

The Honest Truth

As the stock text of this blog template indicated (before I deleted it): this is my first blog post.  So, hi!  It’s me, Mrs. Pearsall, or maybe Danna if we’re friends.

After a day of amazing Google training and personal branding on Tuesday, something triggered me.  I thought about some of the things I’m doing in my class using technology and just plain old best practices, and I thought maybe someone else out there could find something in what I do that makes sense to them.  Maybe that someone uses one thing from my microcosm of a classroom, and maybe that one thing makes them a better teacher, student, or human.

I’ve always been hesitant to do something like a blog because I think, Who the heck am I to think my ideas could help others, or that those ideas even matter to anyone out there?  If I’m honest with myself, and you, I don’t have good ideas.  Like ever. Like never, ever, ever. There it is, the truth is out.

Let’s go all the way back to when I was in high school (too long ago to admit here), I told everyone that I’m not a writer, I’m an editor.  I can look at someone’s idea, see the flaws or inefficiencies, and spiff it up.  And that’s essentially what I  do in my classroom every day.  I converse with colleagues, I pin on Pinterest, I buy lessons from Teacher’s Pay Teachers.  What I don’t (usually) do is look at a book, a story, a poem, and think, I have the BEST IDEA about what to do tomorrow in class!  Nope, it’s a blank canvas in my brain, and, even though I’ve looked everywhere, I can’t find the paint.

But here’s the thing – if someone paints a river, I can see mountains, and pines, and blue sky, and eagles, and maybe even a log cabin with a little bit of smoke billowing out of the chimney. So what I do is steal find ideas anywhere I can, then I tweak.

Let’s do this discussion on Padlet instead of in a Socratic Circle, so we can reach the shy kids, the absent kids, and maybe even show the, um, “enthusiastic” kid that all of the kids in class have something important to say, too.  Oh, wait, let’s take that up a notch and use FlipGrid to ask students over in Mrs. Farrow’s room questions and they can ask us, too!

But wait, there’s more!  There is always somewhere to go, always something to learn, and always something to improve.

So that’s what I do.  I see something, and then I see all of the somethings that can come from that first something.  Yes, I steal. Yes, I snoop.  Yes, I lurk on blogs and twitter.  Then, somehow, my brain just explodes.

The purpose here, then, is to share all of that explosive brain matter…or whatever.