Easy! Turn a PDF into a Google worksheet (No add-on)

By far, the top question I’ve been asked this week is how to turn a PDF worksheet into an interactive assignment that can be posted to Google Classroom. I use Adobe InDesign to create most of my PDF handouts and, unfortunately, there’s no converting an Adobe file into a fully editable Google file. Apparently, those software companies don’t want to play nicely.

There are several workarounds, but most are cumbersome or require third-party apps that some school districts block. I’ve always suggested that folks turn the PDF into an JPG image, drop it onto a Google Slides page, and then draw text boxes on top of the image that kids could fill in on the screen.

Amy Almada, problem-solver and teacher tech goddess, just took this process next level by modeling the simple path and teaching us her special “background” trick.

Give her 10 minutes. She’ll change your life:

Good stuff, right?

Remember, you can share copyrighted material with your direct students only within a secure password-protected portal, like Google Classroom. It’s not cool or legal to post these materials in open access/unsecured Google Drives.

Teach on, everyone!

Special thanks to my teaching buddy Brian Larissa Thames Haynes who alerted me to Almada’s awesomeness this afternoon via Facebook. Appreciate it!

40 thoughts on “Easy! Turn a PDF into a Google worksheet (No add-on)

  1. Cheryl Germann says:

    THANK YOU!!! I have been retyping, reformatting, and frustrating the heck out of myself! This will make the remote teaching life SO much easier!

  2. Amen to that, Cheryl! Happy to share Amy’s wisdom. Let your colleagues know, too. I want her to have a million hits by tomorrow night! 😀

  3. Lynnly Sainsbury says:

    Great strategy… however, KAMI has a free extension now that does virtually the same thing… AND students can turn the assignment in— with one click on the tool bar—- to Google Classroom!

    Super easy!

    Select EDIT when in the pdf. Then Take Snapshot… Paste the snapshot in a Google Doc…

    Students will then open KAMI… use the folder icon —upper right toolbar—to find the Google Doc in their drive … it loads into KAMI..

    You must have the KAMI Extension.. and student must add this extension as well.

    You can record, students can record … lots of very helpful tools in this extension. Tons of YouTube videos on how to use!

    Good luck and stay well♥️

  4. Thanks for this, Lynnly! I’ll check out Kami, too. Now more than ever, I wish the schools here were 1:1. Maybe an upside of the pandemic is that voters here will finally be motivated to approve some school bonds, eh? Appreciate this. Off to YouTube! 🙂

  5. Angela Wolfe says:

    Thank you so much!!!

    Really needed this one, you rock!

    Take care,

    Angela Wolfe

    Burntwood School


  6. THANK YOU! This is a total game changer!! I don’t have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to express how excited I am over this, nor can I adequately express my thanks for your taking the time to make such an easy-to-follow tutorial.

    You are a rockstar!

  7. Happy to share Amy’s awesomeness with the world, Angela! Hang in there. We’ll get this e-learning thing figured out soon. 🙂

  8. So glad this is useful, Mary. Amy’s the real rockstar – I’m just the promoter. 😀

  9. You’re amazing. Thanks so much!

  10. Tanya Sanchez says:

    So great! Thank you both for sharing and making it relevant and timely! This is really easy!

  11. Happy to help spread the word, Tanya! TGIF, right? 🙂

  12. Miranda Cheney Gonzales says:

    Help! I am following your steps but on a MAC. I have the screen shot and it looks perfect on my desktop but when I add it to the background it is so fuzzy it can not be read? Any ideas?

  13. Hmm…Miranda, not sure. My screenshots are showing up pretty clear. I’m wondering if you open the PDF with your reader software and then “export” it or do a “save as” into a JPG or PNG format if that might have a cleaner look. Give it go! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. 🙂

  14. Barbara Stansbury says:

    Thank you Laura for bringing me to this video and THANK YOU Laura!!!

    Game changer!!!

  15. I can not thank you enough!!!! I’ve been losing my mind trying to grade photos the kids have been taking of their work. You are saving my eyesight, my sanity, and so much time. This is awesome!!!!! Thank you!

  16. Thank you so much. This is so helpful especially to a neophyte; however, there was one thing I did not understand. What did she mean when she said to make a copy for each student? I thought that once it was on Google Classroom as an assignment, each student would be able to access it as an individual copy already. What am I missing?

  17. I’m so glad to hear this, bloggingaboutstem. Welcome! 🙂

  18. This was so helpful!!!!!!! Thank you

  19. P. SHOBHA MENON says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. I have been doing all sorts of stuff and I have been frustrated as too were my students. I can’t thank you enough.

  20. So glad this tech tip is useful, P. Shobha! There’s definitely a huge learning curve for everyone right now, but we’ll find our way through. Hang in there. 🙂

  21. Unbelievably easy! I wish I had stumbled upon this before the school year ended. Can’t wait to apply to next year, whatever that looks like. Thanks for sharing this, Laura. YOU ROCK!!!

  22. Thanks, Ann, but Amy deserves all the credit. I’m just the conduit. 🙂 She’s also added several more tutorial videos to her channel if you’re digging deeper into Google Drive. Definitely worth a look.

  23. Eudolia Marie Arabie says:

    Thank you.

  24. My pleasure, Eudolia! Hope this saves you some time. 🙂 Laura

  25. great cuts and tips

  26. so thankful for the resources that are available

  27. This was a very helpful video!

  28. I’m so glad that I could bring this to you, Lacey! Thanks for watching. 🙂

  29. Laura, thanks for adding this. I am back to teaching remotely. Again. Covid. Ugggg. This is life-changing. Thanks again. I’m one of your biggest fans!

  30. I’m so happy this tip can make this time a bit less…well…miserable. Hang in there, friend!

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