If you’ve been in education long enough, you have seen the comings and goings of many different initiatives, programs and instructional models. One of the newest, and in my opinion, most exciting instructional tools available now are HyperDocs. Today I’d like to take you on a brief journey backwards in time: your elementary, middle and high school experience. Then, I’d like to show you those experiences on HyperDocs.
Using HyperDocs in Elementary School
Picture it: fifth grade. You might have braces. You might have a bad haircut. You might just be realizing what school is all about. Maybe you’re even already over being a student. In your short 5 years of school, you’ve either been shown how to be a passionate learner and taught how to continue learning about things you enjoy, or you’ve read pages in a textbook, answered a few multiple choice questions on a test, and been passed off onto the next teacher who may or may not do the same.
I hope your experience was the former, but let’s face it-up until fairly recently, education has looked very industrialized and has been a “one size fits all” structure. Now, enough of the negative. We are on our way to revolutionizing how students learn and how teachers facilitate that learning. For me, the shift has come in the form of HyperDocs.
Skill Building: Independence & Time Management
In an elementary classroom, where students are being taught how to be independent beings, but also how to collaborate effectively, HyperDocs provide that much needed structure and scaffold to ensure students develop productive work habits. They also provide a way for the teacher to creatively embed the appropriate tools and resources for the many different groups of learners one might have in class.
Here is an example of an elementary science HyperDoc on the Solar System. The teacher who created this, Sean Fahey (@seanjfahey), has designed a lesson where he is able to do a some direct teaching through the use of carefully designed learning activities, but also allowing students to work independently and reflect on their learning. This is a great example of how you might “kick off” a unit on the Solar System. One of the biggest perks: the teacher is not a talking head. He can facilitate discussion after students have had a chance to explore and allow them to process what they are learning. He could also use this time to pull small groups and work with students who may need some guidance. Additionally, because of the ease of working with Google Docs, he may change the resources to meet the needs of his struggling students as well as push his advanced learners.
HyperDocs in Middle School
Let’s fast forward a few years. If you were anything like me in the middle grades, school became a place to socialize. I wasn’t as interested in being overt about loving learning, so I often shut down, because, you know-middle school. Understanding the nature of middle school students, and knowing that they are social creatures, we must consider how we plan learning. Middle school students might sit quietly (or not) while you attempt a really exciting lecture on the fall of Rome, but I can assure you, the majority of them are thinking about lunch. Engagement becomes a huge goal in middle school. For some it may seem unattainable and for others it’s a breeze. It’s not an easy task for most.
Added Engagement & Motivation
In walks HyperDocs. Is it a magic bullet? Not necessarily. However, a well designed HyperDoc can help. Here is a beautifully created example of how a middle school teacher might use a HyperDoc to teach some components of WW1. It’s colorful, pleasing to the eye, and it gives students an opportunity to talk with one another. There is a great deal of choice embedded in this HyperDoc, giving some “power” back to the students.
Using HyperDocs in High School
At this point in my schooling, I was still very much a social being, but what I began to realize in high school was that sitting and getting was the name of the game. I took copious amounts of notes, only to have to read and re-read them before the test. I struggled. I worried I wouldn’t get into college. However, I loved science. Reason: I got to work in social groups during labs. I learned so much from my peers when we were able to talk and put our hands on things. I think if I had been given more opportunities to work in groups at the high school level, like I did in elementary and middle school, I might have been more successful. High school students are fairly independent. After all, they are young adults.
Skill Building: Flexibility & Collaboration
HyperDocs are a great way to teach students how to pace themselves–a skill they will need to have mastered by the time they are in college or on the job. By organizing a HyperDoc that is a bit more “long term”, students can learn to set those benchmarks for completion, with the help of a teacher. In this first example, you can see that the teacher is introducing a skill that traditionally might lend itself to a lot of note taking, in a way that is much more engaging. There are plenty of opportunities to collaborate, either virtually or face to face, as well as chances to make choices about how they show what they know.
In this second example, the design seems to be structured to allow students some time to think critically about several theories in science. This allows students to use resources provided by the teacher and form some conjectures based on those findings. This structure has breathed some life into a topic that can become dry, thus disengaging students.
HyperDocs: Making the Most of Individual Learning Styles
As you can see, the purpose of the HyperDoc doesn’t really change across the grade levels. What changes in how the engagement happens. Considering your students’ learning styles, their abilities to make choices and the scaffolds that might be needed to foster the creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking should be at the forefront of your HyperDoc design and structure. I encourage you to check out a few HyperDocs from HyperDocs.co to help you get started.
You can always reach out to me on Twitter @summerpettigrew for more information!
Summer Pettigrew is a 5th grade math and science teacher at Haut Gap Middle School on Johns Island, SC. With over 5 years of experience in a 1:1 classroom, Summer supports teachers using her expertise with the pedagogy surrounding teaching with technology. Read more posts by Summer Pettigrew–>