App Smackdown: Apps for filling worksheets (when writing isn’t easy)

I failed handwriting in the 4th grade.  The fact that my writing was sloppy and disorganized was seen as my fault. Cursive was a nightmare.  I would skip letters, mix cursive and print, and write too large to fit my thoughts in the given space. Handwriting for extended periods literally hurt my hand.

Students for whom writing is truly difficult may be diagnosed with dysgraphia. This is a learning disability that impacts written expression.  Some signs include illegibility, disorganization of the words on the page, inconsistent spacing between letters & words, and difficulty organizing thoughts on paper.  Needless to say, those with dysgraphia are not going to produce their best work in handwritten form. My son hated to write, but not because he lacked for ideas. The act of of writing was hard for him as well.  

Today, we have easy access to technology and can introduce keyboarding at an early age.  We offer kids iPads or Chromebooks as assistive technology tools.

And then we send those kids to classes where teachers continue to hand out daily worksheets…

If the demonstration of knowledge requires paper and pencil,  how can we support students who have great ideas, but for whom writing is difficult? Fortunately, there are ways to make those worksheets accessible to those who find handwriting difficult.  There are a number of apps for both iOS and Android devices that allow you to take a photo of the worksheet and then fill it in.

Here are some apps that might help:

Image of Adobe Fill and Sign app icon

  • Adobe Fill & Sign           
    • FILL. Scan paper forms with your camera or open a file from email. Tap to enter text or checkmarks in form fields.
    • SIGN. Easily create your signature with your finger or a stylus, then apply your signature or initials to the form.
    • SEND. Save forms and send to others immediately via email.

Image of iAnnotate app icon

  • iAnnotate
    • iAnnotate allows you to read, annotate, and share PDFs, Microsoft Office files, images and web pages! Over 1 million people turn to iAnnotate to take notes, sign agreements, highlight documents, insert stamps and more.
    • ANNOTATE: Choose from the pen, highlighter, typewriter, stamp, straight-line, note, underline, strikeout, photo, voice recording, arrow, rectangle, circle, and date stamp tools.

Image of Good Reader app icon

  • Good Reader
    • read, edit, and sign PDF documents
    • PDF annotations simply done – highlight & markup text text boxes, callout comments (“sticky notes”), freehand drawings, lines, arrows, rectangles, ovals, etc.
    • view MS Office, TXT, HTML

Image of Snap Type app icon

  • SnapType Pro
    • With SnapType, students can take a picture of their worksheets, or import worksheets from anywhere on their device. They can then use their iOS device keyboard to add text to these documents and print, email, or share their creations.
    • “It is wonderful and something so simple yet so so so important for little guys like mine who cannot write BUT is learning to type and has so much to say and SHOW.”


Get past the handwriting to reach the great ideas within your students.  To try these apps, borrow an iPad from PIAT’s AT Lending Library. Let us know what you think!


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