Tracy Enos is an 8th Grade teacher from Rhode Island, United States. I met Tracy in the #2ndaryELA Facebook Group I co-moderate 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
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 put 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.
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 they want 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 assessment 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. 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 in on what matters to them instead of rushing through to just finish a task.
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.