“If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
-- Ignacio Estrada

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Adapting worksheets to be used on the iPad

I have had some dialogue, well virtual dialogue anyway, regarding using the iPad to complete worksheets that would usually be completed with paper and pencil. No only is a "green" way of completing worksheets, the added novelty of completing the work on an iPad doesn't hurt either.

With that said, I tried my best to give directions for doing this: turning paper worksheets into pdf files to be used on the iPad. There are a couple of ways I have found you can turn a regular paper worksheet into an activity you can complete on the iPad. I use a printer that will scanner and email document as a pdf file my iPad 1, and an app called pdf notes-free. (Yes, it is a free app download and definitely worth the money. )  I’m sure there are other ways this can be done, probably easier ways. Since this way worked for me, I continued to use it. If you have a different way or an easier way, please share.

  1. Find a worksheet that you would like to use. If you have a paper copy, you can run it through a scanner or printer and save in pdf format. If you find a worksheet online, most are viewed as pdf files already so just click save to save to your computer.

  1. Once the worksheet is a pdf file, email it and open it on the iPad. Once open on iPad, go to the box with the arrow and tap open with pdf notes-free. Once it opens in pdf notes, you will be able to write on it, erase it, email blank copy or email completed paper. (**I think this is an awesome feature for gathering student work samples.**) Some resizing may be needed. Pinch and swipe work well with this app so you can enlarge words or pictures if needed and to navigate from page to page, if you pdf file is more than one page.
Another option is to use Microsoft word or Google Docs (I’m sure other word processing programs do the same, these are what I am familiar with) and create your own worksheet. When creating your own worksheet, consider using symbols or pictures that are familiar to the child. I have used Mayer-Johnson Boardmaker Symbols to create a few. I prefer PPT because you can move the objects (pictures, words) around more easily; however, it will take some creativity to get the page to go vertically since PPT is more of horizontal format.

  1. Use Microsoft word  or Google Docs to create a worksheet working on a target skill. Once the page(s) is complete, go to save as, then to PDF or XPS. This will allow to save the document/worksheet you created as a pdf.
  2. Then follow step 2 from above to email and open document in pdf free notes.
When I used this in my classroom, I printed out a paper copy of my smartboard language lesson and scanned/emailed it to myself. When I opened it on iPad and in pdf notes, the student was able to follow along with the lesson, complete the activities by writing the answers while class completed on smartboard. I also used it for practicing pre-writing skills and for writing name. I created pdf documents for these as well. I see this as being a great tool for students to complete work as well as a “green” way to create adapted work.  For students who are reluctant writers, use of the iPad might just be motivation enough to complete work.

I have included a few websites that offer free worksheets that can be saved as pdf files. 
education.com ~ this site opens in adobe reader so just click on disk icon to save, it asks you to join group, but I was able to click out of that and still access site and worksheets
Super Teacher Worksheets ~ this site opens in adobe reader so just click on disk icon to save
The Teacher's Corner ~ this site opens worksheets in a separate website, might need to print, scan, email to get these
Kaboose ~ this site opens in adobe reader so just click on disk icon to save, this site does make you click through several pages to eventually get to the printable so it may not be the most time effective

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will try an answer it the best I can. Also, if you found this helpful, I would love to hear from you as well. Just wanted to mention again, I consider myself a "techie", but a newbie techie. I am willing to try new things, but am still working out bumps along the way. Please share any tech tips with me as well.



  1. I like this, but here is my question... If a student writes on this, is there a way to save it and email it to me? I haven't played with it that much yet, but didn't find it either.. Thanks for the suggestions..

    1. Yes, with PDF notes, you are able to email the completed (AKA annotated) copy. With that being said, I have not used it recently so I can't speak to any changes that app may have done in any recent updates.