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All the Hype About Hyperdocs

If you haven't heard of Hyperdocs, they're an AMAZING tool for instruction, especially in the 1:1 classroom. A reimagined perspective on the old 'webquest', a Hyperdoc concentrates learning in a one-stop-shopping style format and allows educators to integrate digital learning into their instruction in an attractive format WITHOUT providing students a list of links.  Each student has their OWN version of the document that they utilize to drive their own instruction.  With the advent of classroom management systems (such as Google Classroom) facilitating the dispersal of a Hyperdocs document to each student is easier than ever!!

The Hyperdoc Girls are truly the brainchild behind the Hyperdoc revolution, and should be given credit where credit is due! Their timely idea, tips and resources for use, bring this terrific instructional tool with a digital twist into ANY classroom.  Their website is a MUST SEE with dozens of FREE templates!  Their book provides amazing tips for those wishing to venture into this instructional avenue.

My foray into Hyperdocs began in Social Studies class.  I had seen the concept and wanted to integrate it in an inquiry based lesson, so the concept of ADRIFT came about.  In this Hyperdoc, students are presented with a situation; they are on a boat that is ADRIFT on the Nile River.
Rosetta Stone Lesson Plan

In order to 'save' themselves, they have a mystery to solve and a series of locations, items and information they must collect in order to survive.  As they investigate each question, they are using embedded tools such as the explore feature in Google Documents, Google Maps, and Google Image Search.

Rosetta Stone Lesson Plan

By framing their experience in a problem/solution way, students were extremely engaged in the learning.  My objectives were to have students learn about the Rosetta Stone, how it was found, by whom, where it was found as well as why it is important.  In the process, we secured their knowledge of the geography of Ancient Egypt as well.  This experience was MUCH MORE interactive and robust than simply providing them with questions, a textbook or a worksheet.  

As a Science teacher this year, my goal was to find more way to integrate Hyperdocs to assist with instruction of the Next Generation Science Standards for Middle School AND expand my use of Hyperdocs to include MORE digital options for students to demonstrate learning/understanding.  These goals came about by providing students with this Hyperdoc featuring Electromagnetic Waves aligned to the MS-PS4-2 Next Generation Science Standard.   

What I LOVE about this that students first activate their background knowledge on the topic by adding slides to this virtual bulletin board.  

Students then learn about each feature of Electromagnetic Waves by watching videos that are directly embedded within the Hyperdoc.  The videos are programmed to show ONLY the content that I want students to see.  Students watch the video clips that isolate the instructional concept and then demonstrate their understanding right on the Hyperdoc in the "DO" column.

This Hyperdoc also combines two of my favorite digital strategies for showing student understanding of concepts,  the Class Tools SMS Text Generator AND the Fodey Faux Newspaper Generator.

Here is a video tutorial showing how the texting chat feature works! 

Hyperdocs are transformative, customizable, interactive, engaging, relevant, promote digital skills & creativity, and best of all, they demonstrate that you are:

From Robots to Rigor: Ordeal by Cheque

In 1932, (yes 1932!) a most fascinating series of checks (cheques) appeared in Vanity Fair magazine. The checks were published by Wuther Crue and they appeared to tell a mysterious story of Lawrence Exeter and some assorted business ventures with nefarious people leading to questionable ends.  These checks, checks with no apparent solution, lent themselves to variety of interpretations and musings.  As the checks were published in Vanity Fair with no solution, people were tasked with coming up with their own versions of the story.  Educators delighted in the opportunity to share these checks with students to elicit inferring skills.

Grab the 1932 version here!!

When I first had an opportunity to work with adults on the task of interpreting these checks I WAS ENTHRALLED.  The mere process of trying to decipher a solution and the fact that there were more unanswered questions than solutions had me hooked.  The embedded skills of inferring, analysis, sequencing and even the fact that the process was perfect for inductive learning helped me realize that this was something I needed to try with my sixth graders.

The checks, however, were a BIT too mature for my sixth graders.  It wasn't just the cursive handwriting (yep, that's right, they cannot read cursive) it was also the 'nefarious dealings' that I alluded to earlier that made it too mature for my taste.  So, of course, I came up with my own version!!

A More Modern Version

My ordeal leads with Mrs. Lana Hanniday getting her family a Disney Cruise vacation for Christmas.  THAT doesn't really sound like an ordeal!!!
Ordeal by Check
From there, Lana, her husband, children and a companion known as Miss Kretz, certainly have an ordeal in Jamaica, but that's for YOU to figure out!  Want to know more?  

Get the checks here!

Teaching Inferring
Teaching students the elements of a check and HOW to infer events from a check lead to a few surprises.  My students were shocked to learn that there needs to money in a bank account in order to be able to write a cashable check.  We learned about the features of a check through a neat overlay that I created in CoSpaces for the Merge Cube:

After learning the features, we evaluated how SEVERAL checks can allow us to infer an event:

I then partnered students together to sort the 21 checks into some semblance of a story.  

The task took about 2 class periods (1+ hours) and students were "head to head, elbows deep" engaged with the process.

This is a GREAT end of the year activity and really has students..

Cardboard Common Core Robots

I'm thrilled to share a recent STEAM project that my students completed in ELA class....that's right, ELA class!!  We built cardboard robots using Hummingbird Circuits and then we used Scratch coding to program the movements of the robots.  WOW!

It all started with a Graphic Novel:

I had ALWAYS wanted to use a Graphic Novel for instruction, and upon perusing this engaging, high interest story, I knew it was the perfect springboard for our project.  Like every good novel study, we  want to explore the features of the novel in advance of reading.  Being a fan of technology, I thought Merge Cube would be a great way to introduce the elements embedded within a Graphic Novel such as:  gutter, panel, inferring, speech/thought bubbles, etc.  So I decided that Merge Cube would be a GREAT way to do that.

Merge Cube Overlay

Using the Merge Cube on page 21 of the book, students view an augmented reality overlay to learn the features of a graphic novel.

Here's the link to this interactive augmented reality overlay:


Our next focus was to evaluate the term "anthropomorphism".  My goal was for students to understand this term.  We spent time studying the term and brainstormed HOW we could demonstrate this in our robots.

The Hummingbird

The Hummingbird (by Birdbrain Technologies) is an Arduino driven circuitboard designed to work with LED lights, servos, motors and other sensors.  It's super user friendly and easy to set up.  Student's insert the wires into the circuit board and hot glue the servos, sensors or motors onto their cardboard creations.  It was so easy that my kids were up and running AND independent within a 1-40 minute session!!

Our Robots
We had an amazing explosion in creativity with this project. We worked for two weeks cutting, painting, assembling, coding and testing our creations. Students created anthropomorphic robots and articulated HOW the robots demonstrated anthropomorphism!  They coded their robot's movements in Scratch, added lights, uploaded and recorded sounds and took pride in their creations. Student's then presented their creations and stated claims about the anthropomorphic characteristics and then used evidence from their creations to support their claims.

Undoubtedly, student's enjoyed the project and we will do it again, but the important thing is they LEARNED!   We integrated STEAM into our ELA class and used our argumentative writing skills to support our claims regarding our anthropomorphic creations...creations that students took pride in making and sharing!