Teaching with HyperDocs

Guest Blog by Lisa Guardino

Disclaimer: Eight months ago, I had not even heard the term Hyperdoc. I had taken baby steps by providing links to resources to my English students. However, in July, my educational life shifted as it has only a few times in the twenty-three years I have taught. I attended a workshop with Lisa Highfill at a Google Summit and was introduced to the world of Hyperdocs. Since that weekend, I have become a faithful follower of the Hyperdoc movement. I appreciate that initial work of Lisa Highfill @lhighfill, Sarah Landis @SARAHLANDIS, and Kelly Hilton @kellyihilton. They now have so many that have produced and shared hyperdocs in a virtual PLN. What I am even more impressed with is the community they have encouraged. They are developing a culture of collaboration, collegiality, and sharing that focuses on student and teacher success. As this year has evolved, so has my understanding and thinking - I appreciate their encouragement and guidance. Teaching today is much different than it was twenty years ago. The resources and tools at our disposal are mind-blowing. With these tools, comes the responsibility to teach students how to use them - respectfully and how to employ the tools effectively. While these tools have changed how I teach, the core has not changed. I still need to be a master lesson planner. I need to consider the goal of the lesson, then carefully piece together the components to ensure that my students will get there. There are several hallmarks of a well-crafted 21st Century Lesson:

  • Technology Integration
  • Critical Thinking
  • Soft Skills
  • Authenticity

Hyperdocs provide an avenue to weave all these pieces into one digital lesson or unit. Hyperdocs are a strong, transformative lesson design. Think of it as a package… a way to curate instructional content and learning experiences in a way that engages learners. These are so much more than just a few links on a Google Doc. Packaged well, these learning experiences are multi-layered, immersive, flexible, and robust. They encourage students to become accountable for their own learning. I have found that hyperdocs encourage autonomy and responsibility… students will actually grapple with content when they have a sense of freedom and power. Well-crafted hyperdoc tasks, lessons, and units build knowledge and understanding while decreasing dependency on the teacher. The technology we can intentionally integrate into a hyperdoc can actually build community in a classroom. We can foster relationships in our classrooms by providing opportunities and forums for unparalleled interaction - we can hear everyone, everyday. Instead of just focusing on content, we nurture problem-solving, teach informational literacy, and technological literacy. Incredibly, we can build scaffolding in so that the lesson is reaches all learners. Intentionally, we can gradually release responsibility. I have learned that when authentically given true responsibility, students often rise to the occasion. It does not even require that we start from scratch. We can take an ordinary lesson or unit - maybe one we kind of dread and FLIP IT! Utilize existing materials and package it in a way that it is student-centered and conducive to attention and concentration and interest. These experiences provide opportunities to layer resources and academic tasks while opening up new avenues to captivate students. With Hyperdocs, students are given the opportunity to:

  • Engage with materials
  • Collaborate with peers
  • Critically think about material
  • Inspire creativity
  • Build communication skills

The stage changes in classroom, and while there still can - and should - be a balance of instructional lesson practices, students will begin to do the heavy cognitive lifting. Hyperdocs is the difference between students simply consuming content from textbooks and presentations, to creating and curating content. If done to fullest potential, a Hyperdoc will be constructed with SAMR in mind. SAMR gives teachers a path of growth for our lesson design and a framework for how technology can be integrated to empower, rather than just a replacement. Check out THIS VIDEO on the SAMR model. And to help us be even more intentional with our purpose, tools and activities, check out THE PADAGOGY WHEEL by Allan Carrington. Would you like to see actual examples of the SAMR model put into action? The Hyperdoc Ladies (Lisa, Kelly, and Sarah) have put together an essential list for anyone trying to improve their make their lesson design more powerful through technology integration. Check out this MENTOR LIST and be amazed!


The Nuts & Bolts - How To Create a Hyperdoc

A Hyperdoc is typically created from a Google Doc or Google Slide Deck. This can easily take the place of a worksheet or workbook - adding innovative instructional design

  • Select a Layout

    • GOOGLE DOCS @cogswell_ben (a bit harder to format, use a table for easy workflow)
    • GOOGLE SLIDES @cogswell_ben (much more flexible formatting, can insert videos to SHOW Ss instead of lecture about content)
    • Hyper Maps (Google Maps shared) Create maps to take Ss to the place you are talking about
    • A great suggestion is create a consistent format that you plug in content (this will save you time) THIS EXAMPLE by @KarlyMoura is a template that has been more than successfully replicated over and over - you may want to give this one a try for a start!
    • Consider Packaging
      • Visual Appeal
      • Organization
      • Collaborative Opportunities
      • Inquiry Learning
    • Add instructions - Teachers will not need to repeat themselves & places accountability on Students
    • Balance instructional practices - Use as whole class instruction, collaboration (small group and/or partners, and individual work)
    • Check out @TsGiveTs for amazing, FREE Hyperdocs. Take One & Give One because Sharing is caring… and with so many out there to just try or maybe revise to suit your needs there is no reason to not give it a shot
    • Follow these Master Sharers & Innovators - they will blow your socks off!
      • @slogue89 (Rocky Logue)
      • @mrmacsclasses (Matt MacFarlane)
      • @MsMarshallCMS (Heather Marshall)
      • @SEANJFAHEY (Sean Fahey)
    • Hyperdoc Hack: On a SlideDeck, add a slide w/ a Post-It that says ‘DONE!’ at the bottom. When a Ss finishes, have them move to the top and submit to Google Classroom. This is a clear visual when students are complete with work


  • The potential of a student or a teacher being able to bring webpages and audio recordings alongside conventional text
  • Consider the impact of students being able to insert extra pages between notes of a math problem and finding a video tutorial of how to solve that problem and adding the link
  • Or even better… if a student recorded their own thoughts of how they successfully solved a problem
  • Recognize the payoff when our students are explicitly taught soft-skills and autonomy is the norm in classroom design
  • Recognize the power when students learn to collaborate and share and the work is no longer just for the teacher’s eyes, but all students can benefit from the work
  • Acknowledge the capacity for growth when we begin teaching process, not skill. The purpose morphs from knowing to understanding
  • Students build tenacity, grit, and perseverance. The dig deep into a topic and learn problem-solving skill
  • The academic achievement that will happen when students are truly engaged - all minds are on!
  • The payoff when more emphasis has been placed on self-reliance
  • The students thriving on immediacy... Of feedback, of connection, of access
  • Digital Citizenship is modeled, expected, and enforced everyday. In every lesson, in every classroom. It becomes a collective responsibility of all teachers. Every time a digital lesson is delivered, teachers will review, teach, address, remind, advise, and emphasize the importance of Digital Citizenship and a student’s Digital Footprint. Students will not only learn to live and thrive in their neighborhood communities, but also in their virtual communities

The bottom line: task predicts performance. We need to start critically looking at the tasks and lessons that we are putting before students, the ability of students’ to what is being asked of them while we are with them, at what level of fidelity and rigor, and does their work eventually translate into positive outcomes on future measurements? Hyperdocs naturally transform into these types of tasks that actually will predict and enhance future performances. It is time: give Hyperdocs a shot!