Setting the stage
As Gru from Despicable Me exclaims… “Light Bulb!”
This is exactly how I felt when I saw the transformative learning in my classroom this past week. I have been using HyperDocs for two years now, first learning of HyperDocs while attending the Google Summit in Denver 2016. My DTL picked up the book “The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps” by Kelly Hilton, Lisa Highfill, and Sarah Landis. Let’s go back to 2016...I POURED over this book.
I sat in the HyperDoc session (and honestly the others I attended) going through my current lesson plans in Google Drive, trying to figure out which ‘activities and lessons’ I can turn into a HyperDoc… I mean, it's just a glorified webquest right? Throw in my digital link for my note catcher, attach the same news article for kids to read.. And boom ‘HyperDoc!’... Right? I was so wrong.
The past year or so I have been reinventing my so called ‘HyperDocs’. I have been very pleased with my latest HyperDoc - The Bill of Rights Restaurant, A Learning Menu.
I teach 8th grade US History at Summit Ridge Middle School. Knowing that freshman year the students will have an entire semester of government, I wanted to make sure that the students understood how citizen can participate in government. Moving forward into freshman year, they then can fully understand the role of a citizen in a society and how citizens can affect change.
As we know, menus are all about choices. And with a variety of choices comes a variety of prices. The ‘price list’ on my learning menu indicates the level of activity students can expect if they choose the menu item. $ = not there yet, $$ = ready and waiting, $$$ = yes and I’m off! Presenting level indicators allows students to self-reflect on their own current ability, yet provide opportunity for students to challenge themselves with the next activity or text set.
As with most HyperDocs, having students engage and explain are pretty common. These menu options include a Smart Songs Rap, Mr. Betts Video, History.com article, and Scholastic books I have in the classroom as resources. Just because the HyperDoc is digital, does NOT mean EVERYTHING on the HyperDoc must be too. Many of my students picked the Scholastic books over the internet articles. But the important part was the choice. This differentiation of resources allows ownership on the students part to decide how they will acquire the information. If the resource is not a good fit, then they have other options handy, as happened several times over the course of the week. This self-awareness of student learning is incredibly powerful when in action.
Next on the menu, drinks. Here I provided three different articles with three different content topics related to individual rights. My students love to read about real world examples. They also love to see what their peers think about these real world examples. After reading the articles, student used Padlet to answer a form of an analysis question. Students can also read/comment on each other's posts, creating a dialogue that goes beyond the classroom walls. A student from my period 1 class can read the same article as a student from period 5 and they are dialoguing about how our rights as citizens are protected or bent in order to provide security in America. That is powerful.
Dinner is the next thing on the menu, where the application occurs. Here students were able to pick from 3 application activities. A Summit Ridge Bill of Rights, Analyzing the Bill of Rights to real world situations, or Petitioning their local, state, or federal representatives about a topic of their choice. Again, the $ indicators reveal the level of each of the activities. I hyperlinked each of the activities directions and expectations via Google Docs. Additionally, I allowed for students to partner up for this part of the learning menu, further expanding the dialogue and learning beyond the computer. The product topics range from changing school cell phone policy to a federal ban on certain assault style weapons. Students are transforming their learning and applying real world issues in the classroom. Many are researching who their local representative is in order to petition for change. Why did they drain the Blue Heron Lake?
Finally, as with most Americans who dine at a new restaurant, we want to leave that Yelp! review to praise or warn others. I am extremely excited about this part of the menu, as this is the sharing and self-reflection and evaluation of the dinner option. Flipgrid allows students to posts videos, much like a digital bulletin board (padlet). Students were given three prompts to answer, one required and two choices, but must do in video form. For many students, recording themselves is a risk, so I am allowing them to use their dinner product at the visual for the video. To calm their nerves, I posted several video explanations on how to use flipgrid (and ridiculous stickers on my face). Check out my student A.K. and his self-reflection. He wants to run for Congress! After recording and posting, students can, once again, view and comment on eachothers product and self-reflection. The opportunity for self-reflection provides students ownership of the learning and deeper processing of the information. They were able to identify their own gaps in learning, if any, and where to focus their attention moving forward. Check out my Bill of Rights Flipgrid HERE
If you are like me, I am constantly trying to reinvent my teaching. I do not think the old saying ‘why reinvent the wheel?’ applies in education…..we’re not even using wheels anymore. We are provided with an almost infinite amount of resources for our students to transform their learning into something deeper and long sustaining. When we teach students to use the technology as a tool, not a toy, they tap into their creativity and ingenuity.
The possibilities become unlimited.
Define the Problem:
Last year, I found myself in a bind when creating my schedule. Thomson was moving to a 90 minute weekly PLC for all grade levels, and I was tasked with covering students for half of that time. I stared at the daunting content colors in front of me, realizing I had much more scheduled time with students on a weekly basis than I had in the past. At first, I tried to fill the time with a variety of tasks, but they didn’t seem to engage the students. These tasks involved all students working on the same thing, at the same time, with the same technology.
Passion Projects seemed to be the answer, so I decided to try this type of learning out with my 4th-6th graders. As I started to put all the pieces into place, I began to think I was crazy. How was I going to be able to manage a whole grade level that was working on different topics, at different stages in their project, with different technology tools? There was only one way to find out, so I took a risk and went for it.
As with anything new there come successes and challenges. I would have to say that my biggest success was the student engagement. At first, when I told them what we were going to do I didn’t get quite the response I wanted. They were moaning and groaning about having to do another research project. As the year went on I saw a huge change in my students. I rarely had to redirect students because they got to choose what tool to use and the topic they were most passionate about. I also found it to be a great way for students to collaborate with each other. I allowed students to use the following tools to show their learning, but didn’t limit them to these:
My biggest challenge was supporting and giving feedback on all the different projects. When I implement passion projects again this year, I will be very intentional about when and how I give feedback. Check out these resources on giving feedback while facilitating Passion Projects or Genius Hour in the classroom:
One thing I would advise is to have a way to track where students are in their projects because once you get this started they work at different speeds and it is hard to keep up with all of them. Some ideas and tools for how to manage many different projects at once include:
My biggest takeaway from this whole process was that our students needed to be risk takers. So many students were afraid to push the button and try something new because they were afraid they were going to break something. It took many conversations with them about being risk takers for them to finally see that they could do it. As a result of this learning, instead of library orientation this year, I tasked the students with creating a book (Book Creator) or a short video (PowToons) that explains different technology and library expectations. Doing this task pushed them to be risk takers from the moment they walked into the library this year. I know that there will be some growing pains when we begin our passion projects again this year, but that is the BEAUTY of education; you never know if you can do it unless you try!!!
Want More Passion Project Info?
Would you like more resources on starting Passion Projects in the classroom? Check out these articles and books!
John Hattie and Robert Marzano together are like peanut butter and jelly! Like oreos and milk! Like bees and honey! John Hattie released his research on educational strategies and their effect sizes in 2009. Since then he has updated and reworked his research to keep up with changing times. Robert Marzano has been writing books on education for about 25 years related to best-practices and research-based strategies. But where do these 2 giants in the education world agree? And how does technology support all of this?
In an article published by Shaun Killian, the author lists 8 strategies that both Hattie and Marzano agree on. So it would seem that this list should be paid extra attention. This list includes things like “clear focus for the lesson”, “give feedback” and “get students working together”. It would also seem that in 2018, we should elevate how technology can support these 8 powerful strategies.
In the table below you can see the 8 strategies, a brief description of that strategy and some ideas on how technology can support those strategies. Technology can be a powerful tool when combined with research-based teaching! What other tech ideas do you have to support these 8 strategies?