Online Teaching Hacks: How to turn a regular PDF resource into a DIGITAL resource for your students!

Even without the extra added layer of distance teaching due to COVID, using computers/Chromebooks/iPads in the classroom is becomming more and more commonplace. I’ve been fortunate to have Chromebooks in my classroom for the past three years and they have been total gamechangers!

Over the last several years, I’ve learned some do’s and dont’s about how to take a plain old, normal PDF file and turn it into something your students can use digitally in an interactive way. I happen to use Google Classroom, but you can adapt these tricks to whatever platform you have access to. Here are my tips with step by step examples!

What’s in the video?

In this video, I will show you three tips for turning regular PDF files into digital resources your students can use and interact with on Google Classroom along with step-by-step examples. Use these tips to up your teaching game and create a more valuable distance learning experience.

  1. How to select specific pages of a PDF to provide, digitally, to your students. Many times, they don’t need every page and there’s just a specific handful that you want to provide. Here’s how to do that!
  2. How to turn a regular PDF resource into a digital resource that students can show their work on and you can, in turn, provide feedback on.
  3. How to create digital exit tickets for your students. They can show their work and express their thinking, and you can review their work, electronically, and provide feedback electronically, as well.

Here are some of my best quick tips!

  • Familiarie yourself with Print to PDF. This will allow you to select only the pages you want for your students.
  • If you want to post a reference/reading/note material for your students that you do NOT want them to edit/change, use the print to pdf otpion to select your specific pages, if necessecary, and post it as a material to Google Classroom.
  • If you DO want your students to edit/change/interact with the resource you are posting to Google Classroom, make sure to post it as an assignment, and don’t forget to change the setting to “make a copy for each student.”
  • If you want to make an interactive/editable resource, use to convert the PDF page(s) into image files. Use this option if you’re taking full pages at a time. If you plan on using partial pages at a time (like half-sheets, for example), use the built-in screen shot feature in your computer. I use the snipping tool that is built into my Windows HP computer! Either way, make sure you set these images as the background of the Google Slide. Do not simply insert them as an image. Your students can delete them by accident.

I hope you have been able to learn some easy to implement tips and tricks to take your regular old PDF’s into interactive digital assignments for your students!

Algebra 1 – Unit 1 Interactive Notebook Pages | The Foundations of Algebra

Starting the year off right is SO important for any class, but especially in Algebra in particular, since everything that is done in the first unit is used throughout the entire year. Students NEED to have a strong foundation, or else they’ll be fighting an uphill battle all year, which is no good. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what topics are most important for students to know (from vocabulary to skills), so that each following unit has a strong foundation.

Here are all of the notes I used with my students during the 1st unit of Algebra 1.

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Fun and Rigorous Activities You Need to Try on Pi Day

I’ve never been shy about saying I think there are some Pi Day activities out there that are a total waste of your time. Heck, I’ve probably said that Pi Day, itself, is a total waste of time. If you’re honest with yourself about why you’re doing them, then you do you (no shame at all), but I knew that there had to be a better way to help students develop their love for math than just making paper chains.

It might go without saying at this point, but Celebrating Pi Day in my classroom hasn’t always been at the top of my list, and at times, I’ve not even been a fan of it at all (please don’t revoke my math teacher card!). Most of the time it just seems like a party day that, ultimately, ends up being a waste of time that I could’ve really used as an extra instructional day. Here’s what I did to make Pi Day a totally fun, but also a super rich and rigorous educational experience for my students.

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Mystery Sum Activities – The Perfect Practice Structure + FREE DOWNLOAD

This winter, I’ve been working with my first ever student teacher. One of the first things that we did was make a list of different practice structures and the benefits of each one. He had definitely heard of some of them from his MAT program, but several of them were brand new. One of the newbies, was a “Mystery Sum” activity, which happens to be one of my all-time favorites. I got to talking with the other math teachers in my department, and none of them had heard of it either!

Since Mystery Sum Group Challenge Activities are one of my favorite practice structures, I figured I’d share all of the details with you! Be forewarned, I will say it’s the most time-consuming of the practice structures if you’re making it from scratch.

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The DIY Christmas Tree – Surprisingly Mathematical

Oh, the sweet irony of living in a town that ships Christmas trees all over the nation (seriously, they helicopter them out by the bunch), yet I don’t have room for one in my house.

A few years ago, after seeing a few ideas of DIY space-saving Christmas trees on Pinterest, I was inspired to make my own (or should I say I was inspired to enlist my dad to carry out my vision?).

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How to Make the Most out of the Last Day Before a Big Holiday Break + GIVEAWAY!

Keeping engagement high the last day before a big break from school (like Thanksgiving or Winter break) can be difficult. Students can barely contain their excitement, teachers are beyond exhausted, and you’ll still find yourself surprised after all these years about exactly how many families decide to begin their breaks a day early.

Here’s what I do…

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Number Challenges – A Team-Building Perseverance Challenge

If you’re looking for a great way to get your students working together, talking about math (particularly the order of operations), and working on perseverance, then search no further! This set of Number Challenges is perfect for any secondary math class.


Originally, taken from Math Equals Love, I wanted to reformat her activity because I didn’t have as much wall-space as she did, and I also wanted to add an extra element of reflection to turn the lesson’s focus more to perseverance, than order of operations (the math is definitely a welcome addition, though!).

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The Maze – A Teambuilding Challenge for Middle & High Schoolers

Teambuilders are not normally “my thing.” Maybe I just don’t have the personality to sell them correctly, but I’ve found they normally are a bit of a letdown, especially with older high schoolers.

On top of that, many of them are designed for the most extroverted of students, which doesn’t sit well with me. Again, that could just be due to my naturally introverted nature.

With all of the above in mind, let me tell you, The Maze went off beautifully! From freshmen to senior, shy to outgoing, everyone loved it!

Here’s how it works:

Create a 4×4 grid. You can use painters/masking tape, chalk (if you’d like to go outside), softball/baseball bases, you name it!

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