The HyperDocs Toolbox: 14 engaging example activities

HyperDocs provides an engaging, student-centered framework for classroom lessons. Looking for ideas to fill those HyperDocs up? Check out these example activities.

Creating student-centered activities — where we put learning in the hands of students — can be a powerful learning experience.

When it’s student-paced, no one gets left in the dust and no one gets bored waiting for the class to move on.

If you haven’t tried HyperDocs yet, they’re a fantastic blend of both.

HyperDocs are purposefully designed digital lessons and can transform your class. They truly are so much more than a doc with links.

The creators of HyperDocs — Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis — describe them as a transformative, interactive Google Doc replacing the worksheet method of delivering instruction, the ultimate change agent in the blended learning classroom. hyperdocs.co/about_hyperdocs

Two things to know about HyperDocs:

  • The beauty of HyperDocs lies in the creation of the doc itself. The creator considers the needs of the students, how they will engage in the content, what ways they can reflect on their own learning, and how they can show what they know.
  • It is also ALL about packaging. HyperDocs LOOK engaging because they are. Kids enjoy completing them and while they are learning, collaborating, creating, and reflecting in their doc the teacher is given the gift of time to connect with students and engage in quality conversations with them about their learning.

Creating HyperDocs can be daunting, especially if you’re new to them.

It’s easy to look at a blank screen — or template — and think, “OK, what do I add now?”

In this post, you’ll see more than a dozen examples of effective activities pulled from popular HyperDocs. In these examples, you’ll see:

  • The idea behind the effective activity
  • An example HyperDoc where you can see it in action and a description of it
  • A key tool the HyperDoc depends on
  • Why the activity is effective

Idea: The collaborative map

Example HyperDoc: My Happy Place by Lisa Highfill

Description: In this Hyperdoc, students learn about what a happy place is and, in turn, are led to think about where their happy places are. After identifying and writing about them, they drop a pin on a Google MyMaps map on the location of their happy place. After students have started dropping pins on the map, classmates are able to see and read about other people’s happy places.

Key tool: Google MyMaps (google.com/mymaps)

Why it works: The culminating activity of this Hyperdoc is a collaborative space. Students do the work of writing about something personal. It’s only logical to want to share that — and to see where other people’s places are. This is a simple spot where all of that can be created and viewed very visually.


Idea: A webpage that teaches others

Example HyperDoc: Good Ideas Project  by Lisa Highfill

Description: In this HyperDoc students will research a topic they are curious about after exploring a Good Ideas playlist. After researching their topic students will create an Adobe Spark page to inform others about a good idea.

Key tool: Adobe Spark Page

Why it works: Adobe Spark Page allows students to easily create beautifully designed web pages using the templates and tools provided within the app itself. This allows students to focus on sharing the content they have learned and less on the tool itself while still creating an aesthetically pleasing web page.


Idea: A poignant word/image mix to tell a story

Example HyperDoc: Six Word Memoir by Sarah Landis and Lisa Highfill

Description: A story can captivate our hearts. As Tom Stoppard once said, “Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” This HyperDoc encourages students to tell their stories in six words.

Key tool: Canva

Why it works: This is an extension activity at the end of a lesson. It encourages students to apply this powerful storytelling medium to other areas of their lives — beyond the curriculum to what’s important to them. Students blend images and text with Canva, a free graphic design tool, creating moving visuals they’ll want to share with others.


Idea: A creative video to inspire and engage

Example HyperDoc: PSA HyperDoc by Sarah Landis

Description: After exploring mentor videos students create their own public service announcement video about a topic they are passionate about.

Key tool: Adobe Spark Video

Why it works: Just like with Pages, Adobe Spark Video allows students to create professional looking videos in a very short period of time. Because the tool is so easy to use the students are able to focus on the topic they are presenting. You can learn more about using Adobe Spark Video in this post.


Idea: Student-created practice questions

Example HyperDoc: Adding Fractions (4th/5th grades)

Description: Fractions are a tricky concept. It’s easy to get stuck in drill-and-kill mode when trying to understand them. This HyperDoc puts fractions in context, then provides plenty of practice in different ways to keep things interesting.

Key tool: Google Forms

Why it works: Students create practice questions to share with others. In this activity, students are creating — rather than just solving — problems. Plus, they have to justify the answers to their questions, which helps move them up the Webb’s Depth of Knowledge critical thinking scale.


Idea: Custom images to show understanding

Example HyperDoc: One Word by Sean Fahey

Description: Students choose “one word” to define their hopes and dreams for the upcoming calendar year (this can also be used to begin the school year). Students create a graphic using Google Drawings to share their one word.

Key tool: Google Drawings inserted in Google Docs

Why it works: Students never need to leave the document they are working on because they can insert a Google Drawing into their one word HyperDoc. Students of all ages can create a graphic around their one word and share with classmates. Want to get kids up and moving while sharing their “one word” with classmates? Try the Digital Gallery Walk!


Idea: A “which one are you” quiz

Example HyperDoc: National Parks HyperDoc by Kelly Martin

Description: In this HyperDoc, students learn about national parks and their important role in them — conserving and preserving them so others can enjoy them in the future. Using a variety of mentor texts and infographics, students gather the information they need to decide how they can be part of the solution.

Key tool: A personality quiz

Why it works: Many HyperDocs will engage students at the beginning with a short video. Videos are powerful and communicate ideas in a vivid way. But there are other ways! In this HyperDoc, students are matched up with a “national parks personality quiz.” Which national park suits you best? It’s a very personal choice, and students will likely want to share their results! Used correctly, a personality quiz — either one found online or making your own on Google Forms — can spark student interest.


Idea: Drag and drop to show understanding

Example HyperDoc: My 5 senses HyperDoc by Jennifer Kubar

Description: In this kindergarten level HyperDoc students will watch a few videos about the 5 senses and then drag and drop a picture of each of the 5 senses into boxes within the slide.

Key tool: Google Slides

Why it works: This type of activity can be used with any grade level as a quick “show what you know activity” within a HyperDoc or at the end.


Idea: A clickable custom photo with supporting details

Example HyperDoc: #BookBento HyperDoc by Lisa Highfill and Rachel Kloos

Description: Bento boxes are a way of packaging food so everything is compartmentalized — often in a visually appealing fashion. A #BookBento packages a book — and several objects that support details in it — in a creative photo. Students can tag the photo with clickable hotspots to go into further detail.

Key tool: Thinglink

Why it works: Students create these images with the book cover and several objects that support details in the book. This helps them personalize the content and demonstrate key points with real objects. Then, by adding clickable hotspots with Thinglink, they can provide more detail and justify their choices for the photo. It’s a powerful blend of purposeful creativity, recall, critical thinking and description.


Idea: Highlight key information in the text

Example HyperDoc: Hopes and Dreams HyperDoc by Karly Moura and Rachel Marker

Description: In the explore portion of this HyperDoc students simply use the highlighting tool in Google Docs to pull out important information in a piece of text.

Key tool: Google Docs

Why it works: Highlighting key information in text and using that information to summarize your thoughts about the text is an important skill. It is a simple way to engage students in the text you are asking them to focus on. The fact that students get to highlight in different colors gets kids excited about the tool. Looking for a way to use this same idea in a different way to get kids creating? Try having students create blackout poetry with the same text to share their understanding.


Idea: Comparing similar yet different resources

Example HyperDoc: What Happened to the USS Maine? by Scott Padway

Description: This HyperDoc introduces students to yellow journalism and how sources can cover the same news very differently.

Key tool: Two historical newspaper articles (possible source: Google Newspaper Archive)

Why it works: Finding good examples of contrast can demonstrate differences very clearly. When they’re visual — as the examples in the Google Newspaper Archive are — it adds new context to what students can learn. In this HyperDoc, Scott found articles by two competing newspapers and copy/pasted them to Google Docs to save them. He selected two very different texts to make those reporters’ writing choices very clear.


Idea: Spoken student reflections

Example HyperDoc: Underground Railroad HyperDoc by Nadine Gilkison

Description: Students reflect on what they have learned throughout the unit by recording a video in Flipgrid.

Key tool: Flipgrid

Why it works: Students of all ages can record and share their thoughts about their learning through video. Teachers can choose to keep videos moderated and only view for their own assessment of understanding or they can choose to make the videos active and allow the class to view on another’s videos and even record responses and provide feedback.


Idea: A gameboard-style choice board

Example HyperDoc: HyperDoc Samples Gameboard

Description: This gameboard displays lots of advanced high school-level HyperDocs samples. However, the design of it can be used in your own HyperDocs.

Key tool: A Google Docs table

Why it works: Providing lots of options gives students choices in what they learn and how they demonstrate understanding and apply. Creating a table divides out all of those options in a clear, visual way. Create a table by going to Insert – Table. From there, you can modify the parts of the table, like the size of the cells and the appearance of the dividing lines.


Idea: Webcam photos of student work

Example HyperDoc: Simple Machines by Karly Moura

Description: In this simple machines HyperDoc unit students learn about the 6 simple machines and build 3 of them using everyday materials. Using the camera on their iPad, computer, or Chromebook students will take a picture of their machine and add it to their HyperDoc.

Key tool: Camera

Why it works: Hands-on activities provide students with a level of engagement and creativity that may not be possible digitally. Using the camera feature already on the device students can upload pictures of offline work. A HyperDoc doesn’t mean that everything must be done on the computer.


These are just a few of the tools you can use to create your own HyperDoc. If you still need a bit more guidance before you jump right into creating you may want to try using a template to get started. This adaptation of the Explore, Explain, Apply template has links to more tools and resources for you to refer to when creating.

Ready to dive deeper into HyperDocs? Lisa, Sarah, and Kelly have written The HyperDoc Handbook which will take you through the basic HyperDoc template and introduce you to even more example HyperDocs and tools that you can use to design your digital lessons.

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Matt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

  Date Event / Event Details City / More Info
+ 02/23/2020—02/26/2020
Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo & Conference Pittsburgh, PA
+ 03/04/2020—03/05/2020
North Carolina Technology in Education Society Raleigh, NC
+ 03/10/2020
Utah Coalition for Educational Technology Conference Provo, UT
+ 03/15/2020
Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies Conference Madison, WI
+ 03/19/2020—03/20/2020
CUE Conference Palm Springs, CA
+ 04/28/2020
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit Norristown, PA
+ 06/09/2020
North Alabama Technology Conference Huntsville, AL
+ 06/10/2020
Blended Learning Conference Sevierville, TN
+ 06/11/2020
Summer Digital Learn Conference North Wilkesboro, NC
+ 06/12/2020—06/14/2020
DBC Pirate Con San Diego, CA
+ 06/28/2020—07/01/2020
ISTE Anaheim, CA
+ 12/03/2020
Tennessee Educational Technology Association Conference Murfreesboro, TN