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6 Annotation Apps for iPad Students

July 18, 2016

Annotation tools can help students during a close reading or research activity. It can support their work as students explain their thinking about a topic. The annotation apps on this list are perfect for a range of students. They can also be used across the content areas – it all depends on the activity you’ve designed for students. I love how annotation apps can be used to capture student thinking and help kids review their work.

Annotation apps for students

  • Seesaw: Seesaw is a simple way for students as young as 5 to independently document what they are learning at school.  It empowers students to take more ownership of their learning and gives them space to annotate their work as they record their voice.
  • Easy Annotate: Easy Annotate is a fantastic iPad app that gives teachers and students a simple and dynamic way to interact with documents.  Users can upload PDF documents to Easy Annotate for side-by-side editing.  This app lets students highlight, write, and take notes all over documents.
  • Explain Everything: This powerful app lets students annotate a picture or screenshot with illustration tools and voice recordings. Students can explain their thinking as they annotate.
  • iAnnotate: Perfect for students working with PDF files, iAnnotate lets users open up files and write on the page. Students can highlight, add text or write on the virtual page.
  • Geoboard: Geoboard is just one app from the Math Learning Center that lets kids write on their screen. This is a terrific option for students showing their work in the math classroom.
  • ShowMe: Students can snap a picture of a piece of text and talk about what they’ve read while recording a video on this app.

Using Chromebooks with your students? Seesaw and Explain Everything are also Chromebook-friendly. Here’s another bonus tool:

View, Annotate and Collaborate on Documents with Kami Kami is a terrific online tool that lets teachers and students collaborate on documents on a web browser. Perfect for Chromebook or BYOD (bring-your-own-device) classrooms. Students can use Kami to open up documents on a web browser with a simple drag and drop.


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Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

4 Responses to “6 Annotation Apps for iPad Students”

  1. Marko Markolovic

    I would add GoodNotes to the list. I use with my 12.9″ iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. It’s simple to use and you markup individual files or use it as a notebook to import images and draw or write next to the image. I have tried all of the annotation tools on the iPad, this one wins based on simplicity and ease of use. I love Explain Everything but that to me is fantastic to make explainer videos or get the students to reflect on learning. As far as getting close to the analog, the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil and the GoodNotes app are perfect. This is what Apple should have packaged in the first place.

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