November 4, 2019
In classrooms across the country, there are teachers creating beautiful presentations full of thoughtfully selected materials such as videos, songs, articles, websites, and rubrics with which they will use during whole group instruction. I am not saying these meticulously planned presentations are detrimental to students because I've used them in my own classroom, but one issue with them is that all of those wonderful materials are "owned" by the teacher, housed on their device with no one else having access. I believe there is a different way to include all of the great resources in one simple place that gives students more ownership of the materials and control over the pace of their learning.
Enter the hyperdoc! The term hyperdoc was coined by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis aka The Hyperdoc Girls. These ladies wrote the book on hyperdocs...literally...it's called The Hyperdoc Handbook, it explains what hyperdocs are, details their impact on instruction in the classroom, and guides teachers in creating hyperdocs for themselves. When I first heard of a hyperdoc, I thought it was just a Google document with links which it technically is but...it is so much more than that! The majority of mine used a basic hyperdoc format which contained engaging (hooking) students with the topic, exploring the topic, explaining what they have learned about the topic, applying what they have learned in a new task, sharing their learning with others, and then lastly reflecting on their learning. This is not the only format that can be used with hyperdocs. This was just the format that worked best for my classroom because I was taking my students through these steps anyways during whole group instruction before I ever used hyperdocs.
You might be thinking that has too many steps and too much going on, and I thought that at first too, so I started out by creating simple three-step hyperdocs. This is when I noticed that the time and energy I was using to create these hyperdocs was the same as when I was planning all lessons, gathering all materials, and creating all assessments.
So how did I deliver these to my students since I only had 8 Chromebooks in my classroom? I used hyperdocs during my blended learning station rotation set up. I shared a Google drawing or Google doc that contained all the links and materials that my students would need. Included in these links were other hyperdocs, so my students could get more in-depth instructions on their tasks.
So here is how my weeks were typically structured - Monday: whole group, Tuesday - Thursday: station rotation, and Friday: reflection/accountability. On Monday I would start with a short whole group lesson that focused on a specific concept but also gave me a chance to review past concepts taught at the same time. Yes, I still used whole group instruction because it gave me a chance to build relationships, reteach confused concepts, check-in with my students at the beginning of the week, and so much more! Then I would share the choice board with students Monday afternoon so that they had an opportunity to start working through or at least see the materials provided. Then Tuesday - Thursday my students were working at their own pace through their choice boards. I will note that my school had an advisory period where students were able to go to teachers to get tutorials or help on assignments, it was at this time that my students who did not necessarily have constant access to technology at home would visit me and use technology to get more work done. Then on Friday, I had all students reflect on their learning, turn in specific assignments, and complete any unfinished or make up any work due to an absence.
When I started using hyperdocs with my students in stations, they were actually using the materials (videos, podcasts, or articles) regularly throughout the year! Since I did not "own" the material in my teacher presentation and students had access to it at any time that they wanted, they actually used the materials like I wanted them to! This meant that I was also exposing my students to different types of digital content with a purpose.
I could go on and on about how hyperdocs improved my classroom and gave my students more ownership and control of their learning, but that would be a really looooong post so I won't. I will leave you with this thought though; I believe that there is a way to mesh "old school" tried and true practices with "new school" technology...and I think that hyperdocs is just one way that I have found that does that.
Ryan McLaughlin is an Instructional Technology Specialist in CFISD.