Guest post by Megan Venezia
I first started learning about Hyperdocs a few years ago after reading the book, The Hyperdoc Handbook, by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. This book opened my eyes to a whole new way of teaching and creating curriculum using Google Docs and Google Slides. The idea of having content and resources in one document was very appealing. I began experimenting with creating Hyperdocs for my math instruction. With one-to-one devices in my classroom, it made sense to design learning opportunities for students that utilized technology. My goal was to help students become independent learners. With Hyperdocs, students were able to explore the content and apply their knowledge in various ways.
One of the basic Hyperdoc templates outlined in the book followed the lesson plan format of Engage, Explore, Explain, Apply, Share, and Reflect. I used this format to design my lessons. It pushed me to think about how I was presenting information and material to students. I found that this format allowed students to deepen their understanding of a concept. I added links to websites, videos, and virtual tools that allowed students to take charge of their learning. I found that students’ engagement increased, and they were excited to explore new material and content. Hyperdocs also allowed the lessons to be more student-centered and self-paced. Students who needed more time to explore a concept had access to various online resources and could watch a lesson demonstration more than once. Students who quickly understood the concept could apply their knowledge and extend their learning by engaging in more challenging tasks.
Hyperdocs also promoted differentiation. I began thinking of new ways that students could demonstrate their understanding and apply their knowledge. I created learning tasks that were open-ended and utilized various digital apps. Students were able to choose how they wanted to demonstrate their learning and understanding of the content. More students became empowered to create videos, slides, models, or representations that highlighted their learning process. I started creating more Hyperdocs and began branching out into different content areas. I found that utilizing Hyperdocs in other subject areas produced similar results−differentiation, choice, and empowerment.
A few months ago, teachers from around the world had to rethink how they were going to educate students. It was clear that we were all facing many of the same challenges and fears about educating students during a global pandemic. How were we going to teach students? What types of learning opportunities could we design, knowing that there was a physical barrier? With distance learning, came many uncertainties. Although distance learning proved challenging in many ways, I found that one thing remained constant−my drive to create meaningful learning opportunities that empowered students. I knew that engaging students from home would be challenging. I started thinking about how to design a curriculum that students could access from home. I knew it would be necessary for students to have some choice in what they did and how they were going to demonstrate their learning. I wanted my students to have access to resources and tools that would help them during distance learning. So, I started creating digital choice boards. These were Hyperdocs that were organized in a way for students to have some choice in the content they were learning. I kept the tasks they would do open-ended because I knew to ask them to do the same thing, in the same way, was not realistic.
The more choice boards I created, the more I saw the value in sharing them with students. I began making extracurricular choice boards as well, ones for art, social-emotional learning, the engineering and design process, and virtual field trips. The possibilities were endless. Learning during this time became even more self-paced. With the help of Hyperdocs and digital choice boards, students became less dependent on me and more empowered to take charge of their learning. When I think about our job as educators, I feel now more than ever we need to reimagine how we are going to educate and empower our students. The beauty of Hyperdocs and digital choice boards is that teachers are still the ones designing learning experiences for students, but students get to have some choice in how they explore and engage with that information.