By Martina Fasano

In part 1 of my series Using HyperDocs to Teach History, I introduced the concept of HyperDocs and what they are, and possibilities as to how to go about using them. In Part 2, I’m going to give you some practical tools to use for each of the headings in many of the HyperDoc templates you’ll find online. I personally use the ones found on the website for the seminal book on HyperDocs, The HyperDoc Handbook, by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis, the people I refer to as the gurus of HyperDocs.

In many HyperDocs you will find that dividing up the specific goals/objectives you have for your lesson is made a lot easier using the headings Engage, Explore, Explain, Apply, Share, Reflect, and Extend. That’s all well and good, but how do you go about providing the right kind of content and activities so that your learning objectives/expectations are met and prevent your HyperDoc from becoming a glorified worksheet? The great news is that in today’s digital world, there are many tools you can use for each section of your HyperDoc, and I will go through several of my favourites so you can see how easy it is to get started.


How do you get students excited about learning? Whatever your answer is, there is a tool to help you. I often start my HyperDocs using a YouTube, Vimeo, or other video embedded on a specific website. This way, students have a way to get hooked on a topic with a relatively short video that will lead into your curated content and inquiry-based activities. Another alternative is to use a photo or even an audio clip to serve the same purpose. You’re just getting them to want to learn more. No need for 1-hour documentaries at this stage.


Once you have everyone hooked, you want them to get immersed in the topic. You can curate all kinds of information for the chosen topic/lesson using YouTube playlists, ThingLink, and various websites, texts, images, quotes, and infographics. At this point, the important part is to get students viewing, reading, listening, and enjoying all things about the topic the curriculum mandates they learn about.


Stop standing in front of the whiteboard pointing at slide presentations! There are countless tools that can help you explain content to students, without you physically having to explain content to students. You have them all excited, now it’s time to guide their learning! This is going to sound blasphemous to some, but think of it this way: “What knowledge exists out there today that a student can’t find information about by doing a quick Google search?” If that allows you to understand that teachers are no longer in the business of simply delivering content, then you’ll be able to free yourself of the only solution you were most likely offered as a student: to sit there and listen to the only adult in the room talk at you. The types of tools you use to “Explain” are very important because they focus on the actual delivery of the content in a teaching-type way. TED talks and Khan Academy videos allow you to use pre-made video content, but you can also make your own. By using Google Docs, Google Slides, or even an application like EdPuzzle (which allows you to annotate videos and ask students questions at specific parts of the video) you can explain whatever it is you want your students without losing your voice.


Once your students have learned what you want them to, you want them to apply their learning. This is a key component of the inquiry-based learning model. Using Google Story Builder, PowToon, Storybird, Padlet, or even Google Slides will allow your students to demonstrate what they’ve learned about the topic.


Collaboration and sharing are an essential part of learning. There are plenty of studies to show that sharing what you’ve learned boosts your own understanding of the material as well. Whether it’s a student film festival showcasing the videos the students are going to make, using Google Forms to share with one another, using collected responses to make a Wordle, or creating a digital portfolio, sharing is going to be something your students will love to do once they get their hands on creative ways to do so.


Reflecting on the learning you’ve done is a sure way to solidify learning. There are literally dozens of apps and methods to help learners reflect. My current favourite is FlipGrid, which is basically a sort of Snapchat type website that allows students to record 90 second videos on their smartphones or tablets to answer a reflection-type question. With the paid version, students can also respond to one another’s short videos. Padlet is also another favourite tool that allows me to see (all in one place) the responses that students have submitted at the end of their HyperDoc journey.


We all have students that either rush through things and don’t really focus on all the tasks, just as we all have students that are the first to finish and are super keen to learn more. This is the section of the HyperDoc where you include the tools that allow students to take their learning to the next level. Have them create a blog entry, Google Site, Google Slides presentation with embedded videos, or even create a poster using something like Google Draw. It also gives you a chance to hook the students who may have been going through the motions of the HyperDoc for whatever reason.

I find my biggest challenge in using HyperDocs is getting into a rut where you use the tools you like best over and over again. Sometimes having the HyperDoc laid out a different way, or perhaps using a Google Slides presentation to house the HyperDoc instead of a Google Doc can be a way to keep things from getting stale.

In my next installment, I’ll discuss the various ways to share HyperDocs with your students, and how to connect with other HyperDoc users and creators.

Contributing Writer

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