Guest post by Professor Karen Cukrowski

I want to share with all of you a MAJOR time saver I learned here at the Adams Center when Cynthia Powell was teaching us how she uses Notability in her classroom.

I’m going to show you Notability ($1.99). However, iAnnotate ($9.99) or Evernote (free) work almost the same way.  I use this app for assignments that are pretty short and for which the students could benefit from quick feedback from me.  I’ve now graded about 300 such papers, and since the process works like a charm, I expect I’ll grade many hundreds more before the semester is over using this method. Special thanks to student Billy Haten, who allowed me to demo one of his drafts of a research question.

The following tutorial will show you how to use Notability for grading.  You can also check the video tutorial:

Open the file:  I have my students turn in their homework to the class files.  However, you can open a pdf or Word Doc from an email,your Google Drive, or Dropbox. I just don’t want to deal with that much email!   Regardless, you need to retrieve the student’s document/homework from wherever it is.   When you have a document open, just tap anywhere and “Open in ‘Notability’ “ pops up.   Select that.  You have to click a couple of more things, but don’t be discouraged.  These clicks become quite automatic once you’ve done it a couple of times.  Select “Create new note” when the dialogue box comes up for you to make such a selection.  (Notice you can add a rubric or something if you want by clicking “Add to other note.”)  Hit OK.  And voila! You have the student’s paper ready for you to mark.

Grade the paper:  You can mark the paper any way you see fit, by handwriting with a stylus (my preferred method), typing, or even by speaking your notes into the little microphone icon.  I almost always use the pencil tool in a thick blue line, and that setting is then saved for me the next time. Very handy.When grading it, notice that there is magnifying glass at the bottom. If you click it, you can drag the little box around to see everything up closer and write more precisely.   If you make stray marks, no problem—you can either erase them with the eraser or by clicking the left-facing back arrow to undo it.    Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to help you with the wretched step of grading itself!

Return the paper:  After grading, it is time to send the paper back to the student by email. To return the paper to a student, use the “send” arrow that’s up there at the top. Select Email. Then hit Email Notes. When the email dialogue box launches, type in the student’s address, which is conveniently in the subject line automatically.  Note: you do have to add to send the email.   And guess what? You only have to type the whole address ONCE—our email program remembers that student for subsequent assignments, making the whole process even more streamlined.   Once finished with the email address, hit Send, and the student will soon receive the attached file.

Record the grade:  Don’t forget to record your student’s grade in your gradebook!

I have saved SO much time by sending back papers this way and NOT having to distribute them in class. Also, notice that no trees died today due to this assignment—and yet the students will receive fast feedback on an important step in their research projects.

I hope this tutorial helps you.  Using this method is far less complicated than all these pictures make it look. I’d be happy to help you, if you’d rather just have a demo. Karen Cukrowski,, or text me on my cell phone at 325-829-8249, and we can set up an appointment. (Berlin Fang in the Adams Center also knows how to use this program, if you want to see him.)