Last week, my students began reading excerpts from The Sixth Extinction to complement our Environmental Unit. I shared the PDF version because our library only had a few copies of the book. When my students asked me how I wanted them to annotate the text, I said they could make annotative notes in digital notebooks since I wasn’t aware of a free tool that would allow them to easily annotate a PDF. Then one of those magical moments happened in class when a student becomes the expert and shares a tool I’ve never heard of.
My student, Derek, said, “Hey, Tucker, have you ever used Kami?” I said that I had not heard of it. I immediately paused the class and Derek shared this awesome Google Chrome Extension! Kami makes annotating PDFs super simple.
Kami allows the user to:
- add text
- add shapes
Even though Kami saves annotations every minute, some students immediately close their Chromebooks when they are finished reading and annotating, so it’s possible they might lose the last couple of notes they made if they don’t click the “save now” button. I’d encourage you to remind your students to do this.
Kami + Google Classroom
The best part of Kami is how seamlessly it works with Google Classroom. A teacher can find a PDF they want students to actively read and share that PDF via Google Classroom. When creating your assignment, select the option to “Make a copy for each student.”
If students have already added Kami as a Chrome Extension, then they will be asked if they want to open the PDF you’ve shared with Kami. As soon as it’s opened using Kami, your students will have access to all of the features listed above and you will be able to see their annotations when you click into their assignments in Google Classroom!
As students annotate the PDF, any collaborator on the document can respond to the questions and comments posted on that PDF creating the opportunity for an ongoing conversation about the text.
It’s so important in this digital age when so many students consume text online that they learn how to transfer their pen and paper annotation strategies to the online space. Kami is another fantastic tool for supporting active reading online.