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Going From Printable to Digital for Distance Learning

Have you ever wished that you could change a PDF from printable to digital? Now you can with Teachers Pay Teachers digital overlay tool.

TpT has responded for the immediate increased need for digital resources and developed a new digital overlay tool. This new tool allows both the buyer and the seller to add a digital option to printable pdfs. The feature allows you to add text boxes and answer boxes right over the PDF, along with highlight and pen features.

How to Go from Printable to Digital

Any product on TpT that can be used with the new tool will have a red box underneath the price box in your storefront that says “Create Digital Activity.” This applies to your purchased items as well as any new items.

Both buyers and Teacher-authors have the option of adding digital overlay features to their eligible products. Many sellers are providing the overlay as another feature to their products. That leaves nothing for the buyer to do except to assign the resource!

Here is what Teacher-Authors see when creating a digital pdf:

Any of your eligible materials will be found under My TpT Listings. Choose a product to work with and click “Create Activity.”

I chose to work on my free Mitosis/Meiosis Comparison worksheet. I already know that there are pages in this resource that teachers wouldn’t want students to see. In fact, in this product there is only one student page.

Click Edit Pages in the top left corner. On the next screen you’ll select the pages you want and then click Save Changes in the top right.

The next screen is where you can actually start the editing process. The tools are at the top left.

  • Text boxes – add instructions or any other information for the students.
  • Answer boxes – placed anywhere the students are to input an answer.
  • Pen and Highlighter – the pen can have 3 different thicknesses and several different colors. Useful for drawing circles or other shapes. The highlighter is only in yellow at this time, but more colors are coming.
  • Select and Delete

Overlay Your Digital Pieces

You can see on this example how I’ve added answer boxes to the sheet. I like that they are a pale blue so that the students can easily see them.

Now is when you also will add any additional instructions or notes that students would need.

When you’ve finished, click on the Preview tab to see what it looks like from the student’s point of view. Go back and make any necessary edits.

Once you have it the way you want it, click the Publish tab. That makes it available to buyers. Your buyers can also edit it after they access it. They also still have the option of downloading the regular PDF from their My Purchases screen.

Buyers can assign the resource through Google Classroom. As of this writing Google is the only LMS this works with, but TpT is working on adding others.

Students turn in their work directly from Google. Teachers can then go in and view the work, provide feedback, and return to the student. This all takes place on the TpT platform, not Google Classroom.

So here are the highlights of the new tool:

  • You can easily remove any pages that you don’t want students to see.
  • Add additional instructions for students with text boxes.
  • Answer boxes are highlighted with a pale blue background to make them easy for students to see.
  • See what the activity will look like from the students’ perspectives by using the Preview tab.
  • At this time the tool only works with Google Classroom. TpT is working to add other Learning Management Systems as well.
  • Student work is only available on TpT, not in Google Classroom.
  • Teachers can correct students’ work using the same overlay tools that the students used. Add comments via text boxes, highlight, and use the pen tool. Return the work to students via the “Return” button when you’re finished marking.

Teachers Pay Teachers has created an excellent Google Slides presentation for both buyers and sellers. It takes you from start to finish in using the digital overlay tool. You can see it here.

There’s also a very handy video produced by TpT that creates a digital activity from scratch. It’s easy to follow along with as you create your own activity.

This new printable to digital overlay tool opens up a whole new avenue of resources to use with distance learning. Have you tried it yet? Let us know how it went in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

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