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Listen to my interview with Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis, authors of The HyperDoc Handbook (transcript):


 

In many classrooms, a learning cycle looks something like this: First, we write plans for a series of lessons and a final assessment. We gather materials—handouts, websites, rubrics, video clips. Then we teach the lessons one at a time, to the whole class, at the same pace, distributing materials as needed. Finally, we end with a project, test, or other assessment.

It’s a very teacher-directed model, which can limit learning in a number of ways:

ENTER THE HYPERDOC

A HyperDoc is a digital document—such as a Google Doc—where all components of a learning cycle have been pulled together into one central hub. Within a single document, students are provided with hyperlinks to all of the resources they need to complete that learning cycle. Here’s an example.

This is page 1 of a 3-page HyperDoc. Click here to view the whole thing.

 

In the above HyperDoc, all of the bolded words are linked to outside resources. The right-hand column is set aside for students to take notes and do other kinds of thinking and planning as they work through the lesson.

One of the earliest iterations of the this type of “hub” was the WebQuest, which guided students through a lesson using all online resources. Now that Google tools like Docs and Slides have become so prevalent, teachers are using these tools to create similar lessons, choosing and mixing resources that go well beyond simple web pages. Last year, we looked at something called a playlist, which teacher Tracy Enos used to organize her language arts lessons and differentiate instruction for her students.

 


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Meanwhile, teachers Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis were doing similar work in their own classrooms. They coined the term “HyperDoc” to describe their version of this, and in 2016, they published The HyperDoc Handbook to teach others their method for creating these lessons.

 

Kelly Hilton, Lisa Highfill, Sarah Landis

 

The book explains how HyperDocs work, why they have such an impact on instruction, and their model for how teachers can design HyperDocs for high-quality instruction. In the podcast episode above, I interviewed all three about their work. Here I will blend their expertise with some of my own thoughts about this exciting format.

 

BENEFITS OF HYPERDOCS

MODELS FOR BUILDING HYPERDOCS

Because HyperDocs are such adaptable tools, teachers structure them in many different ways, and you should experiment until you find a structure that works for you. Here are some options to consider:

Playlist: This model, explained in this article, follows a step-by-step sequence of activities that consist of learning activities as well as check-ins with the teacher and housekeeping tasks like setting up accounts on websites.

Self-Paced Learning: Explored in this post by math teacher Natalie McCutchen, this system lays out a path of lessons for a whole unit, along with links to review materials, pre-tests, and practice questions. Students decide how much practice they need and determine when to take the assessment for each learning goal. If they grasp the material quickly, they can test and move on.

5E Model: This first stage of this model is to Engage student interest. Next, students Explore the topic, Explain what they have learned, and Extend their learning by applying it in new situations. The last stage Evaluates student learning.

HyperDoc Model: The HyperDoc Handbook authors have developed a model that has some components of the 5Es above, but with some additions and adjustments. This template explains all 7 stages. One important component of this model is the first step, Explore. Highfill explains the value of this stage: “Kids are exploring and coming up with ideas and answers about a concept on their own, and it’s engaging them from the beginning, instead of passively listening to a teacher explain something.” During this time, while students explore, the teacher is actively gathering information: “I listen to my students,” Highfill says, “I’m studying them and hearing to what level are they understanding a concept. I have the ability to pull a small group. I can work with my language learners during that time. The whole time I’m doing formative assessment in the classroom, which will then really be my basis for the next part of the lesson.”

Agenda: This model, borrowed from the kind of planning done at a typical Montessori school, provides each student with a planner listing out their assignments for the week. Students decide how they want to use their class time each day, but are expected to complete all goals by the end of the week. Although these are traditionally done on paper, they could easily be converted to a HyperDoc format.

OTHER USES FOR HYPERDOCS

Building an extended lesson or unit is one of the most instructionally robust ways to use HyperDocs, but they can also be used for:

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

Start with a template.
Rather than build your first HyperDoc from scratch, you might find more success by starting with a pre-made template, like the ones available for free on HyperDocs.co. You could also start with a completely finished HyperDoc that someone else created for their own classroom and modify it for your own use.

A few samples of the templates teachers can copy for their own use on HyperDocs.co

 

Build in participation, collaboration, and multimedia.
One risk inherent in HyperDocs is that they could simply become online worksheets, replicating the kind of work students could just as easily do on paper. Take advantage of this medium by including ways for students to participate actively, collaborate with others, and learn from a variety of media: video, interactive posters like ThingLinks, podcasts, online flashcards, and so on.

Offer choice…
HyperDocs are designed to allow students to work at different speeds and navigate learning in a way that works best for them. So when you can, offer choices: Give students options for the kind and quantity of materials they need to learn the material, how they will practice and apply it, and how they will demonstrate their learning.

…but don’t “kitchen sink” it.
If you stuff your HyperDoc with every possible resource on a topic (“everything but the kitchen sink”), you’ll overwhelm students. Choose resources thoughtfully.

Give students HyperDocs training.
Even if your students have used HyperDocs in other classes, your design probably has its own unique qualities, so take the time to demonstrate how it should be used. And within the HyperDoc itself, provide clear directions for its use.

Collaborate with other teachers.
You do not need to do this alone! Thousands of teachers are sharing and collaborating on the HyperDocs.co site and using the #hyperdocs hashtag on Twitter. And be sure to give credit to the person who created the original: “So if you create a HyperDoc,” says Hilton, “in the header or footer, say Created by, and maybe link to your Twitter handle or your email, for yourself, and then if you make a copy of someone’s, we encourage you to give that person credit by saying Inspired by or Remixed HyperDoc originally created by, just because we want an inclusive, appreciative sharing community.”

Don’t feel like you have to create a HyperDoc for every lesson.
“That’s not something that any teacher should feel pressured to do,” says Landis, “and it’s not really realistic. We don’t want teachers doing any one thing all the time, because then it becomes redundant for our kids.”

HyperDocs Resources: How to Learn More

Book: The HyperDocs Handbook

Website: HyperDocs.co: The online hub for Landis, Hilton, and Highfill’s work on HyperDocs. It contains helpful blog posts and the Teachers Give Teachers system where participants share their own HyperDocs with one another. To browse and borrow other teachers’ HyperDocs, all you need to do is register.

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26 Comments

  1. Jeff Dowd says:

    Love this post (love your posts, period) and plan to play with this approach over the summer. Thanks also for the book reference.
    However, you do realize that this article has a HUGE Google bias. Not once is there a MS Office reference. Since the entire education world is not Google Docs (yet), it would help me (and other MS Office 365 proponents) if you presented a more balanced tech view rather than leaving us to “translate” this all on our own. Even an acknowledgement that Office 365, OneNote Classnote, OneDrive and other Microsoft products exists would be nice. Needless to say, just about anything you can do in one you can do in the other.
    But remember, I still love your posts. You always inspire me to be a better teacher.
    –jeff

    • Jeff, thank you for sandwiching all of that between two lovely compliments! I’m afraid I do have a Google bias, despite the fact that I am still a regular user of Word and PowerPoint. I would love to learn more about what Microsoft offers that is comparable to Google Apps. While I can certainly imagine how to create a HyperDoc using Word or PowerPoint, I have trouble imagining how I could share multiple copies with a group of students, have them collaborate on the same doc, or take advantage of all the sharing features Google offers.

      When I start working on the 2018 update of my Tech Guide, I will spend some time getting to know what cloud services Microsoft offers that are comparable. In the meantime, would you mind giving me a head start? How would you create, then share, a HyperDoc using Microsoft products? (Emphasis on the sharing.) Thanks!

    • Jeremy Greene says:

      Jeff, I am thinking the same thing – still listening.
      Seems pretty easy to do in OneNote.
      I have a template I use with my classes that has the agenda –
      Things we are doing, objectives, homework, etc. and this seems like it could be easily turned into a hyperdoc template with new spacing.
      Here is a page of Hyperdoc templates: http://hyperdocs.co/templates
      All seem easily transferable to OneNote.

  2. Svetlana Nuss says:

    Jennifer,

    How user-friendly is this technology? I am not very tech-savvy. Excited by the idea, but weary not being able to do it…

    • Hi Svetlana,
      If you are new to HyperDocs, you might want to try teaching one first. You can “borrow” someone else’s by making a copy of it first. Just visit teachersgiveteachers.net and once you find one that suits the needs of your class, you can FILE>MAKE A COPY and you’ll have your own version to teach with. Then, there are tons of templates and examples to work with on our website. Have fun, and reach out any time for support!

  3. Sarah Cooper says:

    Jennifer, thank you for putting this idea out there. I love your focus on the collaborative and interactive aspects of hyperdocs, allowing the assignments to go beyond a worksheet or webquest, as you say. I’m now planning to read the book!

    • Hi Sarah(!)
      Yes, we so love the interactive possibilities inherent in a well-crafted HyperDoc. And so many great ways to embed collaboration for our students! : )

      -Sarah

  4. Judy says:

    Hi… I really like this idea and how it is put together. I’m not sure what standards are included in this hyperdoc. What standards does this address? Thank you!

    • Hi Judy,
      The standards are always integrated in ways that the teacher-creator chooses! I am a literacy coach, and love teaching standards through HyperDocs. For example, students can “integrate knowledge and ideas” by sharing their thinking after exploring a multimedia text set. Students can engage in collaborative conversations, work with diverse partnerships, and practice other speaking and listening skills. Mathematical practices are built into math HyperDocs. Oh, the possibilities are endless!

      Here is a sample story elements HyperDoc: https://goo.gl/oTtUJ4

      Happy HyperDoc’ing,
      Sarah

  5. Redwrex says:

    Jennifer, Jeff is right. Some of us in our Schools are bound to Microsoft. I feel that many of the things you suggest could be incorporated into OneNote (as a starting place for you).
    Thanks for all the wonderful resources you highlight.

  6. How are “hyperdocs” different from webquests or lessons created in an LMS?

    • Hi Ryan,
      Love the thinking you are doing to understand the distinction between these educational concepts. HyperDocs are digital lesson plans that you give to your students, created using Google Apps. A webquest is typically an internet search (consumption) and the product is typically a recall of information. With HyperDocs we try and design a lesson flow that will invite students to collaborate, connect, and create! You may be creating lessons on a different LMS, if so, that’s great! Developing HyperDocs has been a way for us to better utilize the multitude of devices available, go deeper with GAFE, and still hold on to good teaching. : )

  7. Colby W says:

    The Hyperdoc sounds very exciting. Not only does it streamline the lesson and give more time for one-on-one help, but it also gives the students a bit of agency. My only concern is though students in rural areas may not have the most reliable internet set up. It seems the Hyperdoc is very dependent on cloud services which require a constant connection, I know first hand how frustrating it can be when you’re working with online content for homework at home, and your internet speed has been choked because you hit your data cap for your satellite internet. Unfortunately until the technology catches up, I’m afraid many teachers wouldn’t be able to rely on the Hyperdoc.

    • Hi Colby,
      I appreciate your comment regarding wifi access at home. We have worked with some incredibly rural school districts who are incredibly innovative and have really worked hard to provide stable wifi in their communities. I’m sure that there are areas this is not the case. And ironically, we are not far from
      Silicon Valley and still have wifi issues at times, both in our schools and at home. Such is the life of technology use! We encourage educators to consider lesson design AND delivery when building HyperDocs – and often see that students don’t need to access a lesson from homework as the work may be done solely in class. We strive for equity, and hope children across the country (and world!) will gain access to digital learning!

  8. Audra says:

    Is it possible to download this podcast?

  9. Gwen says:

    I really appreciate your post. This is the best version I’ve looked at so far. I did try to access the HyperDocs.co website, but I keep getting an error message. I don’t think it is your link as I did a Google search for it and got the same error message. Do you know if there is another place to access some of those templates you talked about?

    • Debbie Sachs says:

      Hey, Gwen! I’m one of the Customer Experience Managers. I’m not quite sure what the error is, as the same thing just happened to me. Perhaps the site is just down for a bit and will be back up in awhile. In the meantime, check out these Hyperdoc Templates.

  10. Rachel Martin says:

    I’m so excited to use Hyperdocs this school year! Thank you so much for the tips. I’ve looked into the bank of reusable Hyperdocs which has given me a lot of ideas. You mentioned that it is a good idea to give students “Hyperdocs training,” which is an awesome tip. I’m wondering if you have an resources for this? Like a tutorial to show students or student work samples? Thank you!

    • So glad you reached out Rachel for tips on how to teach your students to use HyperDocs. We definitely include modeling in all of our lessons, carefully cutting ourselves off when we find ourselves over-teaching a concept or a tool that the students need to be figuring out for themselves. We use certain HyperDocs offline as well, asking students to stop, work on paper or in their notebooks. These instructions are all posted for students to learn to access and follow.

      Nicole Beardsley has created a wonderful lesson that she gives to her students to help them learn how to use HyperDocs. https://goo.gl/mUjcG8 This is not meant to be presented by the teacher, but explored by students on their own. Nicole has provided extra tips for using the resource.

      Our last tip is to spend time reflecting after using a HyperDoc. Asking kids how they felt as a writer, or as a mathematician, or as a learner helps to adjust issues they may be experiencing as they go through a HyperDoc. Often students don’t know how to deeply explore a link- they skim attempting to complete a task quickly…we teach that skill often in class.

  11. Amy Shipley says:

    My question relates to how you are using the grid for students to fill in their answers. My assumption is that students also File + Make a Copy of this Document, is that correct? How do you get to see their answers? Must they share it with you? I ask because I do not have a Google Classroom and I’ll be using this with my Moodle LMS. I also teach ESL students, so I need functionality to be EASY. Do you know of any good Google ad on to make the Doc a Form?

    • Lisa Highfill says:

      Great questions Amy, I don’t use Google Classroom either so some of workflow solutions may help you. I do have students make a copy of a HyperDoc that I want them to fill out alone. I create a lesson and set the share settings to ‘View Only’. When they make a copy and share back, I ask them not to send email notification or else I end up with many unneeded emails. I just search ‘Shared with Me’ in Drive then move all work to a file.

      Many times I want students to work together on a HyperDoc, even my whole class at once. I will then set the share settings to ‘Anyone with a link can edit’ and leave it like that for the time period that I want before closing the share settings so they don’t erase each others work. This takes practice since the kids tend to ‘accidentally delete’ pieces…I see it as a part of learning to collaborate digitally.

      Most often I create a HyperDoc, leave it ‘View Only’ and then link off of it to get their responses on in a different location such as Padlet, Answer Garden, or even another Google Doc set up just for replies. Here is an example of a HyperDoc lesson that uses all three of those options- https://docs.google.com/document/d/1l0W6oxTWeC5zfAf9HKOJ4j4_dexpf0PASGJv8JUgG_g/edit

  12. I love everything about you this blog. The style and simplicity and the great writing. Thank you for your point of view and offering such AMAZING content.

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