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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Using PDF Expert App to Make Assessing Easier!

Every year I find myself reevaluating how I do my assessments.  I'm fortunate to work in a school district that already has standards based grading and assessments that coordinate, however it feels like every year I'm lugging around more and more paperwork and stuff that I find myself not often using.  Then come the end of the year I have oodles of paperwork that I need to shred, which hurts my heart to see all that paper used and then forgotten about.  So with school quickly approaching one of my tasks this summer was to streamline my beginning of the year assessments.  I want it to be quick, easy, portable, and most of all as paperless as possible!

I wasn't sure if this was entirely possible until I remembered this fantastic app called PDF Expert. According to iTunes  It lets you read and annotate PDF documents, highlight text, make notes, draw with your finger and save these changes being compatible with Preview and Adobe Acrobat.  This app is geared more specifically for business people, but Normoff is always on the lookout to see how we can make our lives in education easier with whatever is out there! I'm not going to give you a complete run through on this app, but rather a quick guide as to how you can use PDF expert to make your own portable assessments with the documents you already have.
Step 2 Choose a Server

Step 1: Create your document and save it as a PDF (or if you are already using a PDF you are ahead of the game!)

Step 2: Save your PDF to one of the many supported servers in PDF Expert. I use Google Drive as that is what I use the most anyway, but you can also use Dropbox which many teachers are familiar with.

Step 3: Open the PDF Expert app and then open the network by pressing the blue network button on the left hand side of the app. Select Add to choose the server and then choose the server you wish to connect to.

Step 4 Download the PDF

Step 4: Follow the prompts on PDF Expert to log into that server. When you are logged in you should then be able to see all the documents, including the one you created. Select the document you want and it will instantly transfer to your screen as a download.

Step 5: Open the download.  You can now write and fill out the form as you want.  There are two main tools I used at the top right-the text box creator and the pen.  The text box creator was nice and makes the paper look more clean and formal, however if you are in a hurry it can get just a little bit tricky getting it to line up exactly where you want it to be.  The pen feature works best with a stylus and is my preferred method of note taking.  Don't worry, there is an eraser and an undo button as well.  I'd recommend playing around with this at home so you can press all the buttons to see what they do like I did! I also really like the ability to stick a note onto it to jot down any tidbits of info.
Step 5 Write using text or pen
Step 5 Add a Note

Step 6: After you have taken all of your notes on your student (thank you movie star Ryan Gosling for volunteering to help us!) Press the square with an arrow icon in the top right corner. This will let you send, print or save a copy of the document. I saved the copy with the students name and then the name of the document. This is terrific because it allows you to always have the original waiting for you for the next student! Now you can see your saved copy on the downloads section as well.
Step 6 Save as a Copy
Step 6 Name your File

Step 7 Find Your Work
Step 7: If you need to go back in and continue to work, just open up the copy from the documents/downloads section or from the recents section. Know that you do NOT need to save as a copy every time, it will automatically save changes you've made without you needing to do anything! Woot Woot!! Isn't that every teacher's dream!

Step 8: If you need to you can easily print to a wireless printer or email it to someone.

So that is how I'm going to start my beginning of the year assessments: paperless, streamlined and efficient! It seems like a lot of info but I promise it is actually super easy to do!

We find that PDF Expert is a great teaching app especially within the Daily 5 format.  If you want to hear more about how we use PDF Expert join us for one of our workshops like iPad Apps for Teachers, Creating Formative Assessments Using iPads or How to Maxmize Learning using iPads with Daily Lesson Plans.  Hope to see you there!

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