Case study,  Teacher Tips

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

This blog post was originally posted on Danna Pearsall’s Educational Blog and is used with the author’s permission.

Danna Pearsall has been teaching for 12 years and during this time, has metamorphosed into a tech-savvy, highly-motivated teacher and Kami Hero. Follow her on Twitter @MrsDPearsall

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: easily. There’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  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 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!

Inspired?  Learn more about what Kami has to offer your classroom today!

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