Friday, July 8, 2016

The #HyperDoc Effect: 7 ways using HyperDocs has changed my classroom

Last summer, I was searching high and low for possible ways to use the new Chromebooks my students would be coming to school with for the very first time. I knew that I didn’t want to use the technology for the sake of using it. I didn’t want just some program or website that students would be required to work though uninspired. I wanted the technology in my classroom to be meaningful and benefit the students’ learning.
This quote was part of my HyperDoc "Aha" moment.
I discovered HyperDocs during the first night of the #DitchBook twitter chat book study. Just the name at first intrigued me enough to seek out more information after the chat was over. So after a quick Google search it lead me to discover Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis’ Edu on Air: Extreme pedagogy makeover using Multimedia Text Sets & HyperDocs.


After watching this presentation on what HyperDocs are, I quickly realized I found a game changer when it comes to teaching with technology. I saw that creating and teaching with HyperDocs all students can become creative, collaborative, critical thinkers, and communicators in their learning. I didn’t need anything special, just the things that I already new I had: Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks the student will be bringing to school, and the internet.
After exploring what few HyperDocs I was able to find, I had a plan of how I wanted to use them transform my teaching for the upcoming school year. By using HyperDocs I wanted to:

  • Deliver digital content
  • Promote independent and collaborative learning
  • Provide choices for students to demonstrate their learning
  • Get more time for individual or small group interaction with the teacher
So now that the wild ride of my first year teaching 1:1 with Chromebooks and using HyperDocs is over. (Here is my shared folder of the HyperDocs I created.) I’m reflecting back and believe I have successfully accomplished those four goals of mine. However, I am now realizing The HyperDoc Effect: 7 ways using HyperDocs has changed my classroom.

So if you are at all interested in HyperDocs or looking for other instructional practices, I encourage you to continue reading and take notice of the possible effects you may encounter.


  1. A way to INCORPORATE TECHNOLOGY into my lessons
It doesn't matter what grade level you teach, what subject you teach, or what students you have in the classroom, creating & teaching with HyperDocs is by far one of the most effective ways to incorporate technology.

First off HyperDocs themselves are built and delivered using technology. Leave it at that and you’ve accomplished that all important question that many teachers are asking when it comes to using technology, “What am I supposed to do with this?” But again, I didn’t want to use technology just to use it; and with HyperDocs, I feel  you really can’t do that.


Each HyperDoc I created served a purpose in the classroom, to help inspire curiosity and advance my students learning. The reason why HyperDocs can do this is because they can be whatever you NEED them to be. Each one is created specifically for the students and what their needs are. And to me THAT is the purpose of incorporating technology into your lessons.


  1. DELIVER DIGITAL CONTENT to students.
One of the things I knew that I was going to have to do is help guide my students to appropriate digital content. As an elementary teacher, you just cannot say “Go!” and expect students to be able to navigate through all that is the internet and find websites & resources that are helpful to them. So why not make it easier for them and put it into a HyperDoc? This is the beauty of HyperDocs. They are a package. A way to curate instructional content (digital and even non digital) and learning experiences in a way that engages learners.

There are an endless number of resources and web tools out there that can help students make connections and become successful learners. Once I have found the resources I want to use, with just a few clicks or keyboard shortcuts, I can place the link to a useful video, website, image, or online activity in a HyperDoc and push it out for students to access. It is a simple and effective way to help guide students great material online.


  1. Keep students ENGAGED in their learning.
Sometimes the use technology is enough to keep students engaged. I remember how attentive and eager my students were during the lessons after a new SmartBoard was installed in the room. But let’s be honest, we know that doing the same thing over and over will eventually lose the “wow factor”. So yes at first just having the Chromebooks open and working on a HyperDoc kept students engaged because the lesson at that time wasn’t out of a boring textbook or the traditional lecture and worksheet method of delivering instruction.

However, HyperDocs go beyond just the technology it uses. HyperDocs are all about lesson design and using the technology to teach. A HyperDoc is a lesson that gives students opportunities to Engage, Explore, Explain, Apply, Share, Reflect, and Extend their learning on the topic of study. Just check out the HyperDoc templates here. They have specific sections to help you build these different ways of learning into your HyperDoc.

Students are naturally curious, so by providing them with a thoughtful question or maybe a video hook at the beginning, it was much easier to get all students engaged in the lesson. Then throughout the HyperDoc having links to the incredible resources I found or made to package in the HyperDoc helped students to explore the materials and explain the concepts they needed to learn. Add in an option for them to work collaboratively, apply what they learned in a creative way and to share what they learned, there was always something that kept students engaged, ready, and wanting more. HyperDocs offer a true blended approach to learning that appeals and engages all learners.

In addition to lesson design, HyperDocs allow teachers to be creative in the actually design of the lesson itself. When you create a HyperDoc you get to choose the page color, layout, font styles and size, and images you want to include into the lesson. As for me, I am always thinking of what I can include in the lesson design that will make the lesson more visual appealing and engaging for my students.


  1. Fostered COLLABORATION among students.
One thing I stressed in my classroom even before knowing about and using HyperDocs was student to student collaboration. At the beginning of the year, I do some small team building activities to help my students understand that we are ALL (yes myself included) learners in the classroom and can help each other learn.

Before HyperDocs I had the typical collaboration setup. I made sure desks were in groups so student could turn and talk. I would let students partner up (both self and teacher selected) during most assignments. I would have my “go to” students that were capable of helping other students if needed. And so on and so forth.

However after I began using HyperDocs, a whole other level of collaboration began happening. After assigning a HyperDoc, students would divide up sections to read aloud for their group. They would share the workload by assigning each other the different links within a section of the HyperDoc to explore and then share what they learned with each other. (I did reinforce though that everyone double check each other too.) Students were teaching other students how to use the technology. Sometimes the HyperDoc itself or an outside linked web tool. Add in a shared Google Doc or Slides, Padlet, or Pear Deck and even more great collaboration happens.

Heather Marshall (@MsMarshallCMS) shared how even one of her students that was sick and at home, signed into the HyperDoc assignment to collaborate and help the group with the work by making comments on a shared Google Doc. How amazing is that?


  1. I became a classroom FACILITATOR.
One thing I understood quickly with the introduction of technology in my classroom, I no longer had to be the gatekeeper of knowledge. Myself and each student had a device that was connected to endless information and I could use it to my advantage.

I will be honest, it felt kind of odd for a while whenever I first began assigning HyperDocs. I use Google classroom to “pass out” the HyperDoc and typically give my students some sort of verbal or written directions before they begin. After that most of the instructions for the HyperDoc lesson was built within the HyperDoc as text, video screencasts or GIFs so once students started, I felt like I was doing something wrong. I wasn’t standing in the front of the room with students watching and listening to me deliver the lesson. I really didn’t know what to do with myself.

Students were engaged in the HyperDoc lesson. Small pockets of students were gathered on the floor in a circle, at a clump of grouped desks, at the back table, so I began to drift from group to group. At first it was to observe students getting started, clarifying directions and making sure everything was loading correctly on the HyperDoc.

But then as the students got more comfortable with HyperDocs as the year went on and the HyperDocs I was creating were improving, I became more comfortable in my new role as a facilitator. I was having meaningful conversations with students that were deepening their understanding. I was helping students make connections and share what they were learning in new creative ways. There was actually a couple of blissful moments that I felt l wasn’t even needed in the room!


  1. DIFFERENTIATION was made easier.
It is no doubt that any effective teacher should be constantly thinking about differentiation. As educators, no matter what grade levels or content areas we teach, we have to meet students at their level and HyperDocs helped me do this in a better and easier way.


HyperDocs allow students to work at their own pace and provide choices. Some may go slower and need more guidance and since you are now a facilitator of the classroom you have more 1-on-1 face time to support individual or small groups of students that need it. For the students that fly through your lessons and are constantly saying “Now what?”, include built in extra extension activities to help guide students to deeper understanding of the topic.


As mentioned in #1, HyperDocs can be whatever you need them to be. So when creating them Teachers can naturally build in those differentiation pieces for their students. Possible things to included are:
  • Different leveled reading passages
  • Links to explainer videos
  • Tutorials or GIFs
  • Google Form formative assessments


With distributing your HyperDocs through Google Classroom, you have access to the students work to help provide real time feedback & to notice where students are struggling. (I discuss this in my HyperDoc Hangout on Air. Watch it Here.) Add in some additional tools like Read & Write for Google, Readablility, Google Translate that students can have access to, and you’ll understand why HyperDocs should be used to help differentiate instruction.


  1. Encourages students to become CREATORS.
I sometimes just sit in awe of watching my own two children play, create, and LEARN. There is no doubt about it, when creating something, you also learn. You learn what works, what doesn’t, new or better ways of accomplishing a task, and on and on. You’ve heard of the famous quote by Thomas Edison, “I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways NOT to make a light bulb.”
HyperDocs are not just about packaging and assigning content for students to consume, HyperDocs help to transform students from consumers to creators. This is one of my favorite things about HyperDocs. I always try to include a section into my HyperDocs a place for students to take their new found knowledge and apply it in a new way by creating something. When students create, they are demonstrating true understanding of the content.
There really isn’t any excuse for not having students to be creators with the plethora of free creation tools out there. Even if you just utilize GAFE, there are plenty of ways to get students to become creators.

If you see the importance of getting students to become creators then it’s a no brainer that utilizing HyperDocs is a great way to include more creating into your lessons. Just check out this Google Drive folder of some student creations that came from HyperDocs.

So there you have it. The seven ways HyperDocs has helped transform the learning and teaching in my classroom. I am actually anxious and eager to get the new school year started and apply what I now know.
If you are interested in knowing more about HyperDocs I urge you to checkout the new website hyperdocs.co and go buy the new book, The HyperDoc Handbook, which can be found on Amazon. For more resources, check out the Google Slide embedded below. It has tons of links for you to explore.

If you have any questions about HyperDocs please comment below or feel free to reach out and connect with me on twitter @SEANJFAHEY.