Monday, April 1, 2013

Paperless Mission #6: Setting Up GoodReader (iPad)

This is the sixth post in my Go Paperless! Challenge Series. If you haven't completed the previous missions, be sure to complete those first.
Also be sure to link up at the Go Paperless! Linky

Mission #6: Setting Up GoodReader (iPad)

As I've mentioned before, I work off a lot of devices. I'm in a 1:1 iPad classroom, but even before my students had access, I had an iPad of my own that I used constantly. I liked having it handy for anything that I was working on, and once I learned about GoodReader, my love for the iPad grew tremendously. I've shared some love for GoodReader before, but GoodReader is the ultimate document reader for the iPad. It allows you to read any type of document and annotate over .pdf files. It also syncs with a variety of other apps, allowing you to pull and read all of your important documents into one place.

Once you have your important documents organized on Dropbox, open up the GoodReader app on your iPad. Here, you'll be able to connect GoodReader to your Dropbox account. To do this,

My documents list already has some items and folders listed, but yours will likely be empty. The left column shows all of the folders and documents you have saved in GoodReader (and could therefore access without an internet connection). The right column has all of the utilities for GoodReader. Today, we're going to focus on the one towards the bottom -- "Connect to Servers." 

When you click on the "Add" button, you'll be able to see the many, many connections GoodReader can make. Here are a few highlights:
  • Popular Mail Servers (GMail, Hotmail, etc.) - this connection doesn't grab all of your emails, but it will allow you to see any messages that have an attachment. This is great for when you're at a meeting and somebody sends out some documents you need.
  • Dropbox - you can read all of the files that you've saved there.
  • Google Drive - view any type of Google Drive file that you have -- from spreadsheets to presentations to documents.
The connection set-ups are fairly intuitive. You will need to name each set up (On some screens that shows up as "Readable Title;" I named mine based on what I was connecting to), but then you simply enter your username. You can also enter your password, in which case it will be saved to the device and you won't have to enter it again, or you can log-in each time you want to access a document.

As you can see from my left column, there are a few folders that I've downloaded straight to GoodReader so they'll always be available to me. These are folders that I'm constantly using and want easy access to. I also have it set up so that they'll automatically download updates to those folders whenever I add more documents to my Dropbox account. 

Once the folders are set up in GoodReader, you can read the documents, but you can also annotate over .pdf files. I use that feature a lot on my curriculum documents, and I've also started doing all of my running records and reading assessments on my iPad. Here's an example that shows you the annotation tools in the document viewing pane:

I keep my annotating toolbar pinned on the right side, and there you can see a variety of annotation options that are available -- typewriting text, creating "sticky notes," highlighting, underlining, drawing boxes, arrows, etc., and the last option is the freehand tool. I use this for running records with a stylus.

One of the best things about GoodReader is that it works well with other apps. Once I finish annotating a document, I can send it to other apps such as Evernote or Dropbox  from the original "My Documents" screen.

How I Use It

This is one of my must-have apps because of the broad range of ways it can be used:

  • Turn your iPad into a second computer monitor -- When I'm using lots of curriculum documents to write unit plans, I can leave it open in GoodReader with all of my notes and highlights while I work on my laptop or computer. No more switching between screens on my computer. (Am I the only one who finds that annoying sometimes???)
  • Highlight standards that you're focusing on each term without having to print out (or lose) new documents all the time.
  • Annotate rubrics, running records, and other types of student work
  • Use with students to create paperless assignments

I'll be posting more in-depth tutorials about how to do all of these in future installations of this series, but for now, your challenge is to begin exploring GoodReader. Then, in the comment section, share a bit about how you think this app could be useful.

Spring break starts next week for me, and I can't wait! I will try to get another installment posted this week, but I make no promises. It's the end of the term, and that's always a super-busy time with report cards and grading. I must say, however, that I'm more organized than ever going into this given how much less paper I'm using!

Have a great week!


  1. Your paperless series is incredible! I've never heard of GoodReader - and I will be downloading it tonight when I get home! I can already think of applications for home use... I can't wait to have an iPad in the classroom and try some of your strategies. So cool! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments. GoodReader may be one of my all-time favorite apps. I'd love to hear more about how you end up using it as I'm constantly learning new innovations from other teachers. Yesterday, for example, I was talking to one of my friends who teaches special ed, and she was using it to mark up changes she wanted to make to an IEP. Then she'll have it to look at when she types up the new version.

      I love that it allows me to carry all sorts of documents around with me so that I can be more productive without actually having to haul around piles of paper.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. I just found your blog! It is wonderful! I work with K-5 teachers implementing 1:1 iPads in the classroom. I have heard of GoodReader many times and kept meaning to download it and try it out! I have really wanted to work on using our iPads for assessment and portfolios but just hadn't gotten to that yet! You have inspired me so I have decided to follow you for more inspiration! Keep up the great work!

    Jennifer Kimbrell