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!

So Much Awesome: My 6 Favorite Chrome Extensions

Friends, I have a list a mile long of cool stuff I’m dying to show you; the problem is that I don’t know how to choose which comes first!  So, instead of choosing, I’m going to give you a list of my six favorite chrome extensions.  These are extensions I use almost every day, and that make my teaching, grading, and learning life a million times easier and more efficient.

  1. Checkmark

    Image result for checkmarkclassThis little tool from EdTechTeam has saved me countless hours as an English teacher.  Checkmark allows a teacher (or student) to use canned comments when reading and reviewing a Google Document.  Some of the comments that I use most often include: check for fragment, check punctuation, clarify your idea/meaning, detail needed, discussion needed, evidence needed, and check citation.  Before Checkmark, the problem was that highlighting and making the comment took quite a bit of time when multiplied by hundreds (thousands?) of comments over the course of a semester.  The ease and efficiency of a one-click comment makes all the difference.  If I’m scoring written work, Checkmark is a necessity.

  2. Clipular

    Clipular is invaluable when creating “how to” guides, presentations, and blog posts (like this one).  A person can screenshot or take partial screenshots, then edit them by adding effects, stickers, drawing, text, in addition to all of the standard photo edits (brightness, contrast, saturation, and sharpness).

  3. Bitmoji

    I use Bitmoji to give “stickers” to my students.  The simple fact is that kids love getting rewards – digital or physical.  When grading, I keep the Bitmoji extension open, and award stickers just like I would when I used paper in my classroom.  I try to tailor stickers to the student’s personality, and, to be honest, I may spend a little more time than I should choosing just the right one.  My favorite thing is to choose Bitmojis that are nothing like me in real life…or maybe they are…

  4. Whisper

    Have you ever given directions, taken questions, and set a class off on an important assignment only to remember you forgot to mention one very important part of the assignment?  It happens to me all the time. All. The. Time. 

    Like every day.  Image result for whisper class edtechteamLuckily, EdTechTeam came to the rescue once again, and the solution to all my problems is Whisper (well, maybe not all, but this one at least).  When I heard about Whisper, I immediately asked our tech department push it out to all of our teachers and students – that’s how much I love it.  Now, when I inevitably forget that one important part of the directions, I can simply type a quick message in Whisper to discreetly notify all of my students.  Students will receive the message in a pop up on their screen that is a minimal disruption to their work.  I can also redirect students easily by selecting only their name in Whisper, then sending them a one-on-one message.  All messages are saved in Whisper as well, so you have a record of everything you’ve sent!
  5. One-Click Timer

    Image result for one click timerOne-click timer is a tool I’ve been using more and more lately.  I’m finding that this time of year, my students are having a particularly hard time staying focused; therefore, when my students get a little distracted, a “one-minute warning” makes all the difference in getting them back on task.
    On-Click Timer is yet another tool that makes my classroom more productive by keeping my students and myself on track and focused.

  6. Grammarly

    If you aren’t using Grammarly, you may be making grammar mistakes you didn’t even know existed! Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but Grammarly really is an invaluable tool for both student and teacher. 

    Image result for grammarly I was lucky enough to convince my administration to purchase a site license, but even the free version is quite helpful.  I encourage my students to not only use Grammarly to check their essays for superficial mistakes but to also turn on the extension so that it can check their emails and forms.  Grammarly puts a stop to those pesky lower-case “i’s” that kids are so want to use (even my 12th-graders!).