Category: Webtools

How To Boost Student Engagement: Modern Tools for Math Teachers

Wondering how to get your students upbeat about learning math? Read how math teachers use modern tools, technologies, and techniques to teach the subject, from one of our Ask a Tech Teacher contributors:

How To Boost Student Engagement: Modern Tools for Math Teachers

Prospective teachers researching online teaching certification and hoping to learn all they can about being a math teacher will do well to include tech tools in their quest for knowledge. Modern educational tools make it possible to add a practical edge to math lessons, as students can observe math structures at play in the real world and see how people apply these formulas to solve common challenges.


Top PDF Editors Among Educators

PDF editors are valuable tools in schools that allow students with different platforms–Google Apps, MS Office, and others–to make annotations, add comments, edit content (with some restrictions), and collaborate. Students can submit assignments digitally despite differences between their home platform and school (say, they use MS Office at home and Google Apps at school). Lesson plans and materials can be shared as PDFs with reasonable assurance they will be able to access and read it. PDF files are (much) smaller than others making them easier to transfer via email and save in folders.

No surprise that as useful as PDFs are, there are many options. An Ask a Tech Teacher contributor reviews five options for you to consider:

    1. Format PDF
    2. Adobe
    3. PDF Element
    4. Nitro Pro
    5. Foxit Phantom PDF

Top PDF Editors Among Teachers and Educators

In the digital age, the ability to effectively work with PDF documents has become essential for professionals in various fields, including education. As educators, you encounter a wide range of PDF files, from worksheets and lesson plans to research papers and administrative documents. To efficiently manage and modify these files, having a reliable PDF editor at your disposal is paramount.

In this article, we present a comprehensive guide to the top PDF editors that have gained popularity among teachers and educators. Whether you need to annotate textbooks, create interactive lesson materials, merge multiple documents, or securely sign important forms, our list of recommended PDF editors will help you streamline your workflow and enhance your productivity.

So, without further ado, let’s delve into the world of top PDF editors and discover the tools that will revolutionize your PDF management experience!

1 offers a user-friendly interface that allows teachers and educators to easily upload, edit, and save PDF files. The platform provides essential editing tools such as text and image editing, page manipulation, and the ability to merge or split PDF documents. It also enables users to add annotations, comments, and highlights, making it convenient for collaborative work and providing feedback on student assignments. You can check it out here.


  • Accessibility: Being an online PDF editor, allows users to access their documents from any device with an internet connection, eliminating the need for software installations.
  • Ease of Use: The intuitive interface and straightforward navigation make a user-friendly option, even for those with limited technical expertise.
  • Cost-effective: offers a range of pricing plans, including free options with limited features and affordable premium plans, making it accessible to educators with varying budgets.


  • Internet Dependency: As an online tool, requires a stable internet connection to access and edit PDF files. This may limit usability in situations where a reliable internet connection is not available.
  • Limited Offline Access: Unlike downloadable software, does not offer offline access to documents, which can be a drawback for educators who prefer to work without an internet connection.

2 Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC offers a plethora of features designed to enhance document management and collaboration for educators. With this software, users can easily create, edit, and convert PDF files while maintaining the original formatting and integrity. The intuitive interface allows for efficient navigation and seamless integration with other Adobe products, making it a versatile tool for educators.


  • Advanced Editing Capabilities: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC offers an extensive range of editing tools, including text and image manipulation, page organization, and advanced formatting options. This allows educators to create professional-grade documents tailored to their specific teaching requirements.
  • Collaboration and Reviewing: The software facilitates seamless collaboration through its review and commenting features, enabling educators to share PDF files with colleagues, students, or administrators for feedback and revision.
  • Integration with Adobe Ecosystem: As part of the Adobe suite, the software seamlessly integrates with other Adobe products such as Photoshop and Illustrator, offering enhanced creative possibilities for educators.


  • Cost: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is a premium software that requires a subscription or a one-time purchase, which may be a deterrent for educators on a limited budget.
  • Learning Curve: Due to its comprehensive feature set, mastering all aspects of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC may require some time and effort. However, Adobe provides extensive tutorials and support resources to assist users in becoming proficient with the software.

Overall, Adobe Acrobat Pro DC stands out as a powerful PDF editing software, empowering teachers and educators with its wide range of features, collaboration capabilities, and advanced editing options. While the cost and learning curve may be considerations, the comprehensive functionality and seamless integration with other Adobe products make it a compelling choice for educators seeking a professional-grade PDF editor.

3 PDF Element

PDF element offers form creation and filling capabilities, empowering teachers to design interactive worksheets, assessment forms, and surveys. The software’s OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology enables the extraction of text from scanned documents, facilitating the digitization of physical resources for easy integration into digital teaching materials.


  • User-Friendly Interface: PDFelement boasts an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it accessible to educators with varying levels of technical expertise. The software’s layout and navigation ensure a seamless experience while working with PDF documents.
  • Customization and Annotation: Educators can easily customize their PDF documents by adding annotations, comments, highlights, and stamps, allowing for comprehensive feedback and engagement with students.
  • Cost-Effective: PDFelement offers flexible licensing options, including one-time purchases and affordable subscription plans, making it accessible to educators with different budget considerations.


  • Few Advanced Features: While PDFelement provides a comprehensive set of tools for most educators’ needs, it may not offer the same level of advanced features found in more specialized or high-end PDF editing software.
  • Limited Integration: Unlike software that is part of a larger ecosystem, PDFelement does not have extensive integration capabilities with other software applications commonly used in education. However, it supports essential file formats and allows for seamless import and export of documents.

4 Nitro Pro

Nitro Pro offers a wide range of features that aim to boost productivity and simplify PDF editing tasks for educators. With this software, users can easily create, edit, convert, and merge PDF files. Educators have the flexibility to modify text and images, rearrange pages, and incorporate headers, footers, and watermarks, enabling them to personalize their documents to align with their teaching needs.


  • Advanced Editing Capabilities: Nitro Pro provides extensive editing tools, including precise text and image manipulation, page organization, and comprehensive formatting options, empowering educators to create polished and professional-grade documents.
  • Collaboration and Review: The software offers robust collaboration features, allowing teachers to share PDF files with colleagues and students for seamless reviewing, commenting, and revising of educational materials.
  • Document Security: Nitro Pro provides encryption and password protection features, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive educational documents.


  • Affordability: Nitro Pro is a high-end software that offers multiple pricing options, which may present a challenge for educators on a tighter budget. However, the software’s extensive range of features and advanced capabilities make it a worthwhile investment for those seeking comprehensive functionality.
  • Ease of Use: Due to its rich feature set, Nitro Pro may require some dedicated time and exploration to fully grasp its complete range of functionalities. Nevertheless, Nitro Pro understands the importance of supporting educators and provides comprehensive tutorials and robust support resources to help them maximize their utilization of the software.

5 Foxit Phantom PDF

One notable feature of Foxit PhantomPDF is its collaboration capabilities. Educators can share PDF files, track changes, and add comments and annotations, facilitating seamless collaboration and feedback exchange with students and colleagues. The software also offers document security features, including password protection and redaction, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive educational materials

  • Lightweight and Fast: Foxit PhantomPDF is known for its fast performance and low system resource requirements. It allows educators to work seamlessly without experiencing significant delays or slowdowns.
  • Customizable Ribbon Interface: The software offers a flexible and customizable ribbon interface, allowing educators to personalize their workspace and access frequently used features with ease.
  • PDF Portfolio Creation: Foxit PhantomPDF enables educators to create PDF portfolios, which can combine multiple files into a single, organized document. This feature is particularly useful for compiling and sharing comprehensive teaching resources.


  • Limited Advanced Markup Tools: While Foxit PhantomPDF provides essential annotation and commenting tools, it may lack some of the more advanced markup options available in other PDF editors. Educators who require highly specialized markup features may find this limitation restrictive.
  • Limited Integration with Cloud Storage: While Foxit PhantomPDF allows integration with cloud storage services, the options may be more limited compared to other PDF editors. This may pose a challenge for educators who heavily rely on cloud-based workflows and file storage.

In conclusion, the world of PDF editing offers a multitude of options for teachers and educators seeking efficient and versatile tools to manage their documents. In this article, we explored a selection of top PDF editors specifically tailored to meet the needs of educators.

While online editors offer accessibility and convenience, downloadable software options provide offline access, advanced editing capabilities, and increased control over document management. Educators can choose the software that best aligns with their preferences, budget considerations, and workflow requirements. Happy PDFing!

Copyright ©2023 – All rights reserved.

Here’s the sign-up link if the image above doesn’t work:

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

June is Internet Safety Month

June is National Internet Safety Month, thanks to a resolution passed in 2005 by the U.S. Senate. The goal is to raise awareness about online safety for all, with a special focus on kids ranging from tots to teens. Children are just as connected to the Internet as adults. This is a great list of internet cautions I got from an online efriend a few years ago. I reprint it every year because it covers all the basics, avoids boring details, and gives kids (and adults) rules to live by:

Not everything you read online is true

It used to be anything we read in print was true. We could trust newspapers, magazines and books as reliable sources of information. It’s not the same with the web. Since anyone can become published, some of the stuff you’re reading online isn’t true. Even worse, some people are just rewriting stuff they read from other people online, so you might be reading the same false information over and over again. Even Wikipedia isn’t necessarily a reliable source. If you’re researching something online, consider the source. Some poorly written, random web page, isn’t necessarily a good source. However, if you find a .gov or .org site, the information has a better chance of being true. Always look at who owns the website and whether or not they have an agenda before considering whether or not certain information is true.


7–no 10–OK, 13 Skills I Teach With Blogging

Blogging has become de rigeur in the Grade 3-8 classroom. It is flexible, scalable, and encourages diversity in both learning and teaching. Handled right, blogs can be used for pretty much any need that arises in the classroom. It has the added benefit of being an activity that students want to do. They like that it’s online, with lots of multimedia options, and a focus not on writing but communication.

I decided to track the skills I teach through blogging. When I started, I had seven, but as I continued, it exploded to this long list that I’m adding to even as I write this post. Read through these, tell me other ways you use it in your class:


Students collaborate on blogs when they comment on the ideas of others. They can also take it a step further by collaborating on the blog itself. Be co-owners of the blog, themed to a particular topic, and work together to fulfill goals.

Developing a profile

Blog profiles must be pithy, concise, and clear. What a great way for students to think through what makes them who they are and share it in as few words as possible. I am constantly reworking my own as I figure out a better way to communicate the gist of who I am.



4 Approaches to Detect AI Writing

AI-generated writing, currently centered around ChatGPT, already is a disruptive force in education. Check out these articles:

ChatGPT has this to say about itself being a threat to student writing skills:

Detecting AI writing can be a difficult task, as modern AI systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their ability to produce human-like text. However, there are a few indicators that can help you identify whether a piece of writing has been generated by an AI system.

    1. Consistency: One of the most noticeable features of AI writing is its consistency. Unlike human writers, AI systems tend to produce text that is consistent in tone, style, and grammar throughout the entire piece.
    2. Repetition: AI systems often rely on pre-programmed templates and patterns to generate text, which can result in repetitive phrasing and wording.
    3. Unusual errors: While AI systems are generally quite accurate in their use of grammar and spelling, they can sometimes make unusual errors or produce awkward phrasing that is not typical of human writing.
    4. Lack of context: AI systems can struggle to understand the broader context of a piece of writing, which can lead to text that is disconnected or irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Pretty good? Or not? The problem is, because it’s not obviously incoherent, how do you tell it was written by an AI? Here’s what Jodi Williams, one of Ask a Tech Teacher’s tech experts suggests to help you decide:

4 Approaches to Detect AI Writing

Sometimes the use of technology can play a bad joke on us, especially when we turn to various AI-based tools that help to write things instead of ourselves. The practice shows that the AI Writing phenomenon contributes a lot to the cases of plagiarism and poses a severe problem for educators as they have to check assignments manually and spend more time evaluating the content. Still, it’s possible to detect the issue even when students use solutions like ChatGPT. The trick is to use analytical tools and evaluate the readability factor! 


Is ChatGPT Writing Your Students’ Homework? New Tech Will Detect It

The hottest disruptive technology to come to education since iPads is ChatGPT. It sounds too simple when I read the dozens of articles that fill the internet so I asked the AI to tell me what it was:

“ChatGPT is a computer program that generates text based on what you type to it. It uses advanced language processing to understand your prompt and respond with relevant, coherent text. You can talk to ChatGPT like you would with a person, and it will generate text that sounds similar to human writing. ChatGPT can be used for a variety of text-based tasks such as having a conversation, answering questions, writing content, and more.”

That is so human-like, it’s scary. So as a teacher, how will you know if an AI is doing student homework? Check out what Ask a Tech Teacher contributor and technology expert, Jodi Williams, has to say about ChatGPT:

Is ChatGPT Writing Your Students’ Homework? A New Technology Will Be Able to Detect It

It has been unthinkable for decades to suspect that artificial intelligence could write your students’ homework, yet it appears to be true with the famous ChatGPT bot. Since it’s relatively easy for a college professor to detect cases of plagiarism manually, it’s much safer when you can represent some proof that a student has used AI-generated writing for an assignment. The good news is that we have a technology that is able to detect it. Currently, Turnitin is able to implement a specific technology that will analyze what has been written and checked in terms of originality and machine learning algorithms. Although artificial technology is always getting better and more cryptic, the tools that are used by Turnitin are also evolving, thus allowing college professors to do the checking and save valuable time. 

TurnItIn Has The Grip On ChatGPT Artificial Writing Tool 

The Battle of Robots. 

The use of TurnItIn provides educators with a great opportunity to get things checked. While it is a commercial tool, it does not reveal the specifics of how things work, yet it uses AI-based technology against machine learning algorithms used by the ChatGPT tool. Now, if you are feeling stuck and need help with writing, it’s much safer to use a plagiarism free essay writing service and discuss your concerns with the trained experts who can assist you in completing your work in a legit way. Sometimes you need just a bit of human assistance to understand the objectives and overcome writer’s block, among other things. Most importantly, it’s a legit way to avoid plagiarism and learn how to analyze and process information. 

Highlighted Parts. 

If locating the parts in question sounds problematic, TurnItIn will also highlight the odd sections with different colors and offer an intelligent search through the Internet to see whether some parts have been copied. The combination of both will help to be sure that there are no false alerts. Some students will also use tools like Google Translate, yet it’s a different matter and not a case of plagiarism. If you know a foreign exchange student, suggest dealing with TheWordPoint service instead to approach things correctly when some grammar and structure correction must be done. It will help to avoid trouble and the possible false alerts that AI-based tools may detect. 

Analytical Reports

The best part about detecting ChatGPT with TurnItIn is the presence of built-in analytical tools that will help you to check the report and confront the student if there is a clear denial stage. If a student claims that no ChatGPT has been used, ask for a revision and see if it maintains the same style. Of course, if you see drastic changes, one can assume that other AI tools might have been used, yet it is not always the fact! Use analytical reports and try to do your best to maintain contact with a student!

The Dangers of ChatGPT in Practice 

While there are evident dangers like plagiarism and academic misconduct, it also brings modern students into an abyss of chaos as artificial intelligence technology is not able to understand the text that is being generated. Since most learners do not proofread or edit what’s being generated, it becomes easy for educators to see that an assignment does not make sense. Ultimately, it’s not only the time wasted but an academic future that becomes even vaguer. Therefore, using tools like ChatGPT is dangerous as it doesn’t teach you anything and cannot even be considered a form of cheating per se because it’s way worse than that! 


Jodi Williams is a technology expert passionate about learning and innovative teaching methods. She loves to share bright ideas and her discoveries in writing. Follow Jodi to learn new things and find inspiration. 

–image credit Deposit Photos

Copyright ©2023 – All rights reserved. 


#chatgpt #aieducation

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

5 Easy Photo Skills For Your Class

Some students just don’t like writing. A page filled with black-and-white words intimidates–or bores!–them making it almost impossible to explain their ideas for an assignment. That is one reason graphic novels are becoming so popular–telling a story or thoughts with a blend of images and words The drawback is finding a photograph that fits the assignment requirements in a legal, copyright-appropriate manner. There’s one solution that’s easy and available to everyone: Create the image yourself.

One of our Ask a Tech Teacher contributors has ideas on photo effects that students will be able to quickly master and enjoy using:

5 Fun Photo Effects and Edits to Try Out With Your Class

As a teacher, you might have noticed that your students love taking photos and posting them on popular social media platforms. Others might even be dreaming of becoming influencers with their creative work. However, it is important to understand how competitive the influencer world is. In addition, there are billions of social media users, meaning that many posts seek the attention of followers. This makes it a challenge to ensure that your photos stand out.

That notwithstanding, there are a couple of photo effects and edits you can try with your class to make your photos stand out. You do not even need to be a graphic designer for you to use these effects and edits. 

Here they are;

The Matte Edit

Matte can be defined as a flat and dull color, paint, or surface that does not have a lot of light. It can also be seen as the opposite of reflective or shiny photos. This is one of the photo edits that have become quite popular in the last couple of months.

To successfully get this photo edit style, your class needs to settle on one of the best photo editing tools we have today. However, even though the matte photo edit style stands out, do not be surprised if some of your classmates are not sold out.

This is because the style washes the colors of your photos a little before achieving the matte look. It is a filter for your photos and gives you a dramatic gray and black look. You can use it with street, portrait, and landscape photography.

Creating a Pop Art Piece from a Class Photo

Pop art is one of the oldest photo effects still in use today. It was originally used to portray pop culture imagery as simple and attractive pieces of art. So what do you do when you want to create a pop art piece from a class photo?

Unlike a few years ago when people had to rely on artists if they wanted pop art pieces, you can use an online photo editor for this. These photo editors come with color blocks and halftone effects that you can use as you please to get the art piece that you want.

In addition, you get different pop art filters at your disposal. You can try a couple of them before settling on one that meets your requirements. This might sound like a lot of work, but it will take you just a couple of seconds. Compare that to manually creating the same piece! 

The Vintage Effect

Do you have a class photo that you would like to change with a cool but dramatic effect? Well, the vintage effect is the perfect effect for you. Even though the vintage effect has existed for some time, it is still growing in popularity.

You will find this effect in fashion, products, weddings, school, and portrait photography. When applying this effect, you need to pay attention to yellow, red, green, and blue colors. This is because these are the vintage colors you need for your photo.

The vintage effect has some similarities with the matte edit discussed above. This means that when applying this effect, you should make sure that your photo colors look as if they have been washed out. This would be the best effect if you took this wonderful southeast Asia trip as a class.

High Contrast Photo Edits

Contrast in photography can be defined as the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of your photos. Increasing the contrast of your photos gives them a cool dynamic range. Decreasing the contrast, on the other hand, makes the difference between the whites and blacks thin.

If you have a class photo that you would like to make more impactful, you should increase its contrast. You will also be making its vibrancy better. The shadows on the photos will become more visible and natural.

This is one of the best photo editing styles for those who want to increase the depth of their images. Apart from making your photos edgy, they will also look dramatic. You can use the high-contrast photo editing style with black and white as well as colored images.

Reflections and Light Flares

Reflections and light flares are among the trending photo editing styles on social media platforms such as Instagram. If you visit Instagram today, you will see this style on different feeds, especially those belonging to brands, influencers, and Gen Z.

Looking at a photo with this editing style, you might think that you need fancy photo studios and lighting to apply the same to your photos. Fortunately, you do not. This can all be achieved through a photo editing tool.

However, ensure that you choose a tool that not only comes with reflections and light flames features but also shadows, light, and prism features. Such a tool will help you achieve everything you need with this photo editing style.

But which tool can you use to apply these effects and edits to your photos? Thanks to advancements in technology, many tools can do this effectively. A tool such as BeFunky is one of the best, with many features to edit photos, create graphic designs, and make photo collages. Others include Adobe Photoshop Express, LunaPic, and Prisma Photo Editor.

No matter the course you are taking, you can apply photo effects and edit your photos like a pro. You do not need to be a graphic designer for you to use any of the effects discussed above. All you need is a cool photo editing tool, most of which are available as web, computer, or mobile applications.

Copyright ©2023 AskaTechTeachercom – All rights reserved.

Here’s the sign-up link if the image above doesn’t work:

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

What are VPNs and How Do They Work?

If you’re like me, VPNs are confusing. They protect me by hiding my IP address from prying eyes, but also change the way I browse and not always in a good way. I tried one which made it impossible to send Outlook emails. I had to turn it off every time I wanted to send.

But, everyone needs one these days. Some are built into browsers. Others, you buy as downloadable software. For those who received a year subscription to a VPN for a holiday gift, this article from the Ask a Tech Teacher crew will give you a quick understanding of what’s in your future:

What are VPNs and How Do They Work?

If you’ve heard the term VPN, wondered what it meant, or noticed that people were using it to stay secure online, you’re in the right place. This blog post will explain exactly what a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is, how it works, and why some people prefer using it for their digital security needs. By the end of this article, you’ll have a working knowledge of VPNs.


ChatGPT–Homework Helper or Cheating Aid?

Wall Street Journal sent a young-looking journalist back to high school to test out the effectiveness of the web’s newest homework helper, ChatGPT. It will write entire essays for students, take notes on literature, and compare-contrast chosen pieces in seconds. If you aren’t aware of this hot new (questionable) tool, check out WSJ’s video here:

What are your thoughts on this–education assistant or cheating tool?

Here’s the sign-up link if the image above doesn’t work:

Copyright ©2023 – All rights reserved.

–image credit: Deposit Photos

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.