I wanted to feature a guest blog post written by my colleague Marcie Demers. Marcie has taken such a thoughtful, reflective approach to tech integration in her classroom. I wanted to share some of her end-of-year musings here.
by Marcie Demers
Last year, in my continuing quest to enhance learning and engagement in my Middle School English classroom, I discovered HyperDocs — and I am obsessed! Experimenting with this tool, I have begun to transform my units of study into more dynamic and student-centered experiences.
What exactly is a HyperDoc?
A “HyperDoc”, a term coined by Kelly Hilton, Lisa Highfill, and Sarah Landis, is essentially a digital document that is hyperlinked with resources and tools that support a unit or topic. However, it is not simply a doc with hyperlinks. It is created in such a way that students must interact with the content, apply critical thinking skills, and show their learning. HyperDocs support:
- self-paced work
- tech integration
- multimodal learning
- formative assessment
- authentic learning
- interdisciplinary connections
So how did I create one?
I didn’t start from scratch. I discovered hyperdocs.co (created by Hilton, Highfill, and Landis) where teachers can access templates and search for digital lessons that relate to their subject or topic. At this time, the 6th grade was immersed in our “Weight of Water” PBL unit, and I was looking for ways to support our inquiry about the local and global water crisis. On this site, I found several HyperDocs that connected to our PBL-related novel, A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. I combined tech tools and resources from these examples and added my own customization to further align it with our PBL essential questions:
- How does water affect our lives here and in this world?
- What is our role in the water story?
Finally, I inserted game pieces to help students track their progress, an idea I also acquired from my research on hyperdocs.co.
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You can explore it here: The Weight of Water PBL Gameboard
How did it go?
When I introduced this HyperDoc to my 6th-graders, they were immediately drawn to its visual appeal, clear organization, and game-like structure. They appreciated the idea of taking ownership of their learning and having access to such a variety of multimedia components about our topic.
This HyperDoc served a variety of purposes. Some days, I used it as an anticipatory set in which we would watch the video together and process the content through discussion. Students would then show their learning by responding to the prompt via padlet.com or our class blog. On other days, it was a go-to for students who wondered, “What do I do next?” as well as a motivator for those who needed that extra incentive to learn.
Did it support student learning?
Absolutely. I was able to assess student understanding along the way – reviewing their responses on Padlet or the class blog as well as working with individuals and small groups while they engaged with the HyperDoc and each other. This learning experience culminated with a video response on Flipgrid in which students synthesized what they learned from the novel and the resources on the HyperDoc. In their Flipgrid, they reflected on the following questions:
- Why do you believe Linda Sue Park’s story of Nya and Salva is important to tell?
- How has the book changed your understanding of a world problem?
- What actions will you take now or in the future to help?
Their responses revealed deeper learning and authentic connections to our PBL topic and class novel. Here is a student sample response: https://flipgrid.com/s/b8e9cfaeb0ea
Will I continue to use HyperDocs?
I haven’t stopped experimenting with HyperDocs! Since then, I have used them to support students in meeting a variety of instructional goals, such as:
- Writing quality comments on student blog and discussion posts
- Examining PSAs and determining common elements
- Planning, researching, and producing PSAs
- Gaining background knowledge before reading
Do you want to know more?
- The HyperDocs Girls explain HyperDocs here.
- Read Jennifer Gonzalez’s blog post or listen to her podcast “How HyperDocs can Transform Your Teaching” on The Cult of Pedagogy website.
- Try one out for yourself! Explore this “Hyperdoc” Hyperdoc, created by @sarahlandis.