As librarians many of us maintain websites, course management sites, or libguides so that the library resources are accessible to our school population within the systems they currently use, but I am always wondering how frequently they are used outside our presence. So every time I receive a request for collaboration with a teacher I always want to learn the media, apps, and programs they are using so that I can adopt the protocols the students are immersed in to make the experience is as seamless as possible. Recently, a 5th grade science teacher remarked about how her students struggle when they do internet searches for topics in her science program. So we talked about ways to help this age group be more independent when searching online. We knew we wanted to provide students with a plan and approach that they can revisited and reuse. I had mentioned to her that I had developed a checklist and document to help older student navigating the infobesity of the internet, but that I wanted to scaffold a similar guide for younger students for the continuity of the research program. Through this process I learned from her that she uses HyperDocs with students continuously as they work through the concepts in her course. She shared a example one with me. So I could develop research and information literacy concept in the medium most useful to the processes of the daily classroom.
So what is a HyperDoc?
Selene Willis, the teacher I was collaborating with, described that it is a guided practice in digital form. She operates her class in an inquiry process so the HyperDocs she designs become the living, breathing “textbook” of the course. She shares which document they need to work on that day. It contains directions, links, and response tasks. The students go to multiple sources online to learn the science concepts they need, but in a scaffolded way. I want to be clear that it is not an old worksheet dressed up and on display on a shiny screen; it is actually adaptive to the pace and focus of class. With mindful design they steer students in higher level thinking processes. Incorporating HyperDocs works wells for our middle school because we are a Google app school with a one-to-one iPad program at that level. She designs them in Google Docs, but the students import them through their Notability app so they can draw, doodle, as well as type answers. I loved witnessing this parallel process with the research process I share with students. In fact, the concept should be familiar to librarians because for years we have been masters of sharing links. Even before learning this terminology, I reflected that I had been doing an iteration of this with the Google Docs I share with students anyway. Which lead me to ask?
So what makes HyperDocs different from our Libguides and shared Google Docs?
One major difference I observed from Selene’s example is the design layout. Great attention is made to the readability and graphical interface of the document. I also noticed that Willis choreographs the engagement into the HyperDocs; directions, clarifications at the onset, individual inquiry into the links and reading material, and then a whole class return to sharing understandings. So I was excited to adapt some of my own approaches to this medium and process.
Crafting a Library HyperDoc
In tailoring my online research checklist to a 5th grade audience I wanted to use graphics that 5th graders relate to in their daily lives. I notice that the game four square is still alive and well in middle school as it was for me. This lead me to a new phrasing I use with middle schoolers to help them with search terms and the early parts of research. I used the image of a four square court as the area for them to generate the search terms before ever going to a website or database link. And I tell them to four-square their search terms.
The students fill the boxes with search terms and check off the list. My next checkboxes make them think about where they go online prior to them going there. This is one of the best features of a HyperDoc because you can build in habits of mind or nudge them into behaviors of good research strategy. Another reason to adopt similar formats of teachers is that now students have this process in with their daily work and links back to the school library page .
Since I had been working with fact-checking in the upper school I wanted to parse it down and start introducing it to younger students. So I put a fact-checking machine in the HyperDoc at a level that I thought would make sense for 5th grade students. I also was able to give them specific fact-checking sites for science.
Finally, the rest of my session with the students was having them use the library page with databases for their age group and add information to their HyperDoc. Ms. Willis was excited to know about some of the resources that would work for her students. I was happy share the digital resources the library has that pair nicely with their HyperDocs. I think the students were more receptive to my tips because it was in a procedure and format they recognize. While it is faster to share a regular Google Doc for library lessons I found that thinking through the imagery for the HyperDoc heightened my awareness of how students approach research.
Resources on HyperDocs
Librarians using HyperDocs– In researching for this article I stumbled on these librarians that have written about HyperDocs in a library setting.