Lessons Learned About HyperDocs

The Truth I’ve Learned About HyperDocs

Over the last two weeks I have been raving and routing for the use of HyperDocs in the first grade classroom. I still am! However, there are some things that I have learned from them that I thought you may find useful.

*Find the HyperDocs I used at the bottom of this post!

1. HyperDocs are good in small doses.  

My students really do enjoy HyperDocs. I have heard them comment their excitement for them in the classroom. Also, I have seen them go back and watch the videos again, when they have free choice time. I have also been able to use them to help students who were absent or who are clearly lost to catch up or review.

However, I think (as with all things when dealing with humans) there needs to be balance. HyperDocs create independence, a trail (if you will) of where you have been, and a staircase that gradually builds on prior knowledge to help students continue to grow in their understanding of a concept.

One day last week, I was so excited, because I had created a HyperDoc for reading, writing, and math for that day. Sure it was all going to be exciting and the kids were going to love it and I was going to meet with every student and it was going to be wonderful and rainbows were going to shoot out of their ipads and...

the kids actually groaned when I tried to get them started on the second one of the day during our reading block. "Do we have to???" One student asked. Well, you might as well have punched me in the face with brass knuckles. "OF COURSE YOU DO!"

However, I get it. They wanted to work with me. They wanted balance and I wasn't offering that. Duly noted.

2. HyperDocs help build understanding. They don't teach new concepts well for most firsties.

When I started using them for writing a couple of weeks ago, I was sure I would never have to teach writing, whole group,  again!!! Hahahahahaha!!! What. An. Idiot.

We had started writing persuasive pieces and I found the most amazing videos on YouTube by a channel called Teaching Without Frills. She is seriously gifted in the skill of Powtooning and I would recommend her videos for helping to teach many standards and skills! I thought they would do the job of teaching FOR me!

When I thought things were going well, they actually were not. My top writers were doing fine, however, my mid-low writers began writing non-fiction pieces and I had to go back and correct their misunderstandings during our small group meeting later in the week.

I think that the HyperDoc in this case would have been fine for me to send my top writers off to do, however my mid-low writers should have stayed with me for a whole group lesson where there was more structure and modeling done by me.

3. Make them show their understanding in real-time. This is the only way to see if they are deepening their understanding of a concept.

Wow. Nothing like being observed as you are trying something new with a collaborating Google Doc. Insert eye roll... and a deep breath. It really went fine, but I was trying out a way for the kids to show me whether they got the concept of "hooking" their reader by changing their topic sentence to a question. After they changed it in their writing, they were to type their question into a table in a live Google Doc where all other students were doing it too.  Not a total fail, but hopefully will get better with time. I could tell by their 'questions,' that were mostly not questions, and by one student who chose to write their entire persuasive piece, that I was not clear about what I wanted from them.

I did this, because I have learned over the last couple of weeks that just assuming that they got it was dangerous and I couldn't jump in to help them if they were practicing wrong. The live Doc was really helpful!

4. Don't try to pack too much in there. More is not better in this case.

K.I.S.S. applied here is totally appropriate. Don't ask them to do 3 different things in one Doc. Trust me... I did this once and I won't do it again. Keep It Simple Stupid. This isn't rocket science, but certain teachers (like me) could easily make it seem so by getting carried away and sucking the fun out of them by packing them full of content and work that could easily be three lessons.

5. The HyperDoc is a useful tool, a powerful collaboration force, and worth the time.

I will not give up on my kids. I know that teaching students to use the different Google tools that they have at their disposal not only encourages technology integration, but also collaboration and real problem solving skills by a team of kids. They are not allowed to ask me for help if something isn't "working" and, therefore, must rely on each other. Students are helping others to troubleshoot and solve problems. This is the kind of independence that they need in order to grow up and become independent!

In conclusion, I have a lot to learn. There is room for the HyperDoc in my first grade room and not just to be fancy. They are good in small doses when you want students to reflect or build on prior knowledge, and offer the ability to give immediate feedback once they have finished the Doc and have posted what they did somewhere for you to see.

I hope you found this helpful! Enjoy and just jump in!

Burn on!

Amber HarperComment