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Use HyperDocs To Increase Student Engagement

It is our job as educators to prepare our students for their future. When students are provided choice over space, pace, process and product they begin to engage more with the content being taught. HyperDocs are an excellent way to differentiate classroom lessons to help your students learn the content in a format geared towards the 21st century learner from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.


Tracy Enos is an 8th Grade teacher from Rhode Island, United States. I met Tracy in the #2ndaryELA Facebook Group where she is an active contributor and freely shares her ideas and passion for teaching. One of the topics she has frequently mentioned is HyperDocs. Today’s post is written by Tracy to share her knowledge and excitement for bringing this technology to your classroom.

The Classroom Environment
It is our job, as educators, to prepare our students for their future.  According to the US Department of Labor, 65 percent of today’s schoolchildren will eventually be employed in jobs that have yet to be created.” The world is changing at lightning speed. Is our teaching evolving as fast?
When I plan my lessons, I think further than just content.  As an 8th grade English teacher, I am tasked with teaching The Diary of Anne Frank, Self-Selected Reading, Short Stories, Various Modes of Writing, Dystopian Literature, Grammar, Mechanics, and whatever else goes with those huge topics. But I don’t stop there. I constantly have other skills in mind as I shape my classroom community.  
What are the skills that will help my students succeed in their futures?  For me, it boils down to the C’s… creating, collaborating, communicating, and thinking critically. By honing these skills, offering authentic learning experiences, and putting students in the driver’s seat of their education. We not only prepare our kids for the future, but we prepare them to start that future today.
Today’s Students
The kids in front of us have the world at their fingertips. They are a YouTube generation.  A generation that asks, “Why not?”  A generation that not only thinks outside of the box but wants to take the box apart just to see how it works. If they don’t know how to get to the next level in a game, they watch other videos about it.  They study it.  They beat it.  If they have a question about something, they explore the topic until they find the answer. If they see something beautiful, they snap a picture and share it. They find what they need.  Share what they like. Create.  Ask questions. Engage. They take each other along, everywhere they go. How can we capture that energy?  It’s not about competing with the world out there, but springboarding off of it.


The lessons we bring to our students must be designed with these kids in mind. We’re not talking about end-of-chapter questions or one-size-fits-all assignments. We’re talking about providing engaging experiences, breaking down the walls of our classrooms, seamless individualization, and authentic learning.


The district that I teach in has been one-to-one with Chromebooks for the past 3 years. I started to think past whole-class lessons, where every student worked on the same task together, to more of a student-centered experience. With these technology tools, it was almost like having 7 Miss Enos’s in the room to help out multiple groups/students at the same time.   


I learned about blended instruction, the combination of technology, face-to-face, and collaborative learning. What struck me was the power of having students control:

  • space (where the learning takes place)

  • pace (how fast the learning moves)

  • process (what the learning experience looks like)

  • product (how students can show what they learn)

In its simplest form, a HyperDoc is a Google Doc that is used to present a well-designed lesson plan to a student all in one place. Links and resources are housed in one document (or even Google Slides, or a Google Drawing, etc.) for easy reference and modification. The format is extremely flexible, but the point is to create an engaging learning experience.

My first attempt at creating a HyperDoc was creating a “Playlist” for students to work through. These were basically a list of activities on a Google Doc for my students to complete. Since I pushed them out through Google Classroom, they could be individualized any way we needed. Using a variety of formative assessments and collaborative tools, I could accompany each student as they progressed on the journey. You can take a look at an example here for teaching Argument Writing.

The HyperDoc Movement
The important names in the Hyperdoc Movement are Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis.  On their website, there are many templates to remix and use as inspiration.  The templates make visible the intricacies of great lesson plan design, almost like a skeletal system, that hits on all the important goals of strong pedagogy. These templates can be altered and reconfigured to meet the needs of you and your students.
Another wonderful aspect of HyperDocs is the power of authentic learning.  The choice is built in as much as possible, real audiences, application, and reflection.  Giving each of these steps time, consciously, by design, ensures that students can focus on what matters to them instead of rushing through to just finish a task.
Teacher Resources
  • Beyond just offering templates, their website offers a place where teachers donate HyperDocs that they’ve created to anyone looking for inspiration.
  • I would also suggest picking up the Hyperdoc Handbook to learn much more than this simple definition and really dive in.
  • For more examples, here is a padlet to many fantastic HyperDocs that teachers have shared.
  • Here are some of my recent creations: Introduction to Fairy Tales (for a Genre Elective Class), short stories “Zero Hour” and “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury.
  • I’ve also created a padlet for English/ ELA teachers specifically to curate and share HyperDocs.
  • A quick HyperDoc checklist from Alice Keeler’s blog
  • Read more about HyperDocs Classroom Management in this follow-up blog post.

I think it’s safe to say that we all want to create engaging learning experiences that our students will remember and that will prepare them for the world they live in. I would never suggest only teaching with HyperDocs. HyperDocs are just another piece you add to your teaching repertoire. As teachers, we want to continue to ask “What would be best for my students at this time?”. It is easy to get overwhelmed by technology and buzzwords. Only when we have a strong foundation, can we then be a springboard for our students to leap into their future.

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