HyperDocs Handbook: a review that turned out to be a detailed outline of core pedagogical principles which cause Hyperdocs to be invaluable to all educators..

Originally this post was supposed to be another book review. A book review on the Hyperdocs Handbook by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis which offers in-depth knowledge of the what, why and how to use Hyperdocs to flip your classroom. Yet, as I was progressing through the book, I understood that I was lacking some fundamental knowledge on a few terms that were used extensively. Therefore this post as it turned out is more of a memorandum of research and analysis of terms found in the book and less of an overall review of the book which I will rewrite as a separate post eventually!
In general, Hyperdocs relies on the philosophy of the Flipped learning model. I believe in the fundamentals of the flipped learning model but have been inert to fully implement this method as the main pedagogy in my classroom (yet!). Mostly due to not having a fully comprehensive conception of all the principles relating to the use of flexible learning spaces to implement this concept. Flipped learning is a pedagogy that takes out the instruction stage from the classroom along with the ‘sage on the stage’ bit of the that too, and leaves time to challenge students through flexible learning spaces for real collaborative and flexible learning to happen in class changing the teacher role into a ‘guide on the side’. This all sounds astounding and having used many times in my classes; it does have excellent results in the way students get empowered to look at their learning, but there is a lot of fundamentals involved in respect to knowing about these flexible learning spaces and switching to this type of teaching in your classroom. Fundamentals which need to be looked at in-depth and understood to be able to design and implement lesson plans that are based on solid foundations. Fundamentals, which I have found deciphered in this book and found to be both analytical and clear.
Firstly, the book runs through some basic definitions and clarifies to its readers how Hyperdocs can help implement some of these distinct pedagogical strategies. Hyperdocs promote the use of a variety of strategies to deliver instruction in a classroom setting. One of these strategies is personalized learning which is possible through Hyperdocs as you can use Hyperdocs to design self-paced differentiated instruction that “promotes high expectations, use flexible methods and materials, and accurately assess student progress” and this is (stated to be) achieved through the use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) model. UDL? This influenced me to investigate the UDL framework. This eventually directed my search to cast.org which in short is an educational research organization around since 1984 investigating the use of UDL in education. UDL is an instructional framework which guides you to design your curriculum based on differentiation because it believes that each student is “Universal”. That is, students with different strengths, needs and interests and this needs to be manifested in your curriculum providing authentic learning opportunities for all students. UDL also maintains that learning is based on three main brain networks playing different roles.

The Recognition network is how we identify and categorise what we see, hear and read or simply the “what” of learning. The Skill and Strategies network which is how we organise and express our ideas, the “how” of learning. And finally, the Caring and Prioritising or Affective networks which are how students are engaged and motivated to learn or the “why” of learning. It’s this kind of flexible paths that should be designed in your flexible curriculum targeting all students and this is where the UDL framework helps out. The 3 core principles of UDL which need to be taken into consideration when designing the curriculum are:

Source: https://www.ahead.ie/udl-framework

So as you can understand… UDL is not something you can throw around and not know much about!

Hyperdocs also incorporates other learning strategies when used in the classroom. A few that were stated and adhered to me are Flexible grouping which can be used by the use of Hyperdocs. Grouping like:

  • Whole class on one doc – “All students one doc”
  • Partnerships – “Brainstorm with your partner on this…”
  • Small groups – “With your team create…”
  • Individual – “On your own, show..”
  • Global partnership – “Connect with student A via a digital tool”\

This alone provokes collaboration through out all instruction.

Hyperdocs also supports delivering instruction for Project-based learning. Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects (source: https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl). Hyperdocs allows for building background knowledge to become a task and not a lecture, improving both collaboration and expectation setting.

Another pedagogical strategy Hyperdocs provides the basis to deliver instruction for is the Inquiry-based Method. This method is strictly student-centred probing the teacher to be the guide on the side empowering students to ask questions and find the answers themselves relying on each other and their research. More information here: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-heck-inquiry-based-learning-heather-wolpert-gawron

Other pedagogical strategies mentioned for supporting the use of Hyperdocs are blended learning and distance learning which are supported by the use of Hyperdocs by providing a home base where students come and get their tailor-made guidance at their own time. 

In this part of the book, Innovative learning spaces were also mentioned as being the design of space as a more student-centred classroom in which traditional instruction has no place and the use of Hyperdocs bridge the gap between the space people use to learn and the instructional methods by which they learn.

In short (too late for that!), Hyperdocs are based on core pedagogical principles which cause them to be invaluable to all educators. Next step now is to reflect on how they are designed and implemented in (my) classrooms!

Back to the classics…Motivational strategies in the language classroom.

Lately, in my school I have been noticing that some students are motivated more than others, some classes are higly motivated to learn but choose not to be part of our school culture and others don’t get on well with each other. This was concerning me and I wanted to understand the why and the how this can change. As a scholar, an experienced language teacher and a long time school owner, I knew the one place where I could turn to find answers other than my PLN… was a good book. Um…2020 guys! Not really, I just asked Mr Google and he pointed me towards a few good instructional videos and some articles where eventually I stumbled accross a good book! Motivational strategies in the language classroom by Zoltan Dornyei.

So when my book arrived, I did what every passinate and busy proffessional would do. Put it on my book shelf for six months! Really. But eventually I felt the need to sit back down and read and this is where my adventure begins.

Basically, it’s a book about motivational strategies and how it is explained by scholars of the field. I find it quite practical also because it higlights and explains why students act the way they act in class. It does touch on frameworks and research which gets a bit heavy at times with a lot of psychologists names being thrown here and there, but overall it is practical.

A few keypoints I have read about so far.

  1. Enthusiasm works! “students might make fun of this dedication but deep inside, argues Csikszentmihayli, they admire that passion. Such commitment towards the subject matter then becomes ‘infectuous’, instilly in students a similar willingness to pursue knowledge.”

However, Dornyei stresses the fact that enthusiasm is not putting on an engaging song and dance performance worthy of a Broadway award, it’s showing authentic reasons of why a topic is of interest to you using “low-key, sincere statements”.

2. Believe in all your students! Another point that caught my interest is something I believed in by experience and by having gut-feeling inside that I am right. Dornyei states by research, scientists have found if you believe in your student’s ability to reach achievement, in the long run there is a good chance that they will too and even impress you by their abilities to reach their learning goals. Also, something else that I found interesting is the why I have insisted in having mixed level ability classes together and not seperate classes by levels of achievement. If you have weak students in a class together, it’s the teacher that will be influenced by this knowledge which unconsciously might send the students on a “downward spiral of low achievement and low expectations”. Putting weak with the strong makes the strong, stronger, especially if they are given secondary roles in prepping and explaining material to the weaker ones. I believe by now, every good teacher has heard of this quote:

3.Practical ideas, most of which we do know and use in our classes. See pic below:

4. Found his explainations on the ideal class climate and creating a cohesive learner group to be most informative. He states in his book, something that I believe to be true myself, “It’s easy to tell when there is the ‘pleasant-and-supportive-classroom-atmosphere’ – you can sense it after only a few minutes of being in the classroom. So true, but what happens when this doesn’t happen and when not to often a time students are mean to each other which can make a huge difference to student’s attitudes towards learning? He goes on to state that this cohesiveness is not a matter of luck and that he suggests ten (10) important factors of how to get this feeling happening in all your classes. A quick summary of factors that help in building cohesiveness in a group are:

  1. Time will help.
  2. Use activities that will allow students learn about each other. e.x ice-breaking activities at the start of a course.
  3. Proximity, contact and interaction is a super important factor (says me too!) To prevent the emergence of rigid seating patterns move your students around from time to time, use pairwork, small group work, role play and project work allowing people to come into contact with each other. Overall, teachers should watch out for rigid seating arrangements among students because this could trigger negative effects on learning. getting the stronger students in the front all the time and having the weaker students at the back all the time could hinder their learning and motivation to participate in a ‘protected’ learning enviroment in which mistakes are the norm to learning.
  4. Cooperation between members for common goals something of which would create a single ‘group product’.
  5. Emphasize the rewarding nature of the group experience often.
  6. Celebrate the succesful completion of a whole-group task!
  7. Use Intragroup competition to promote intermember relationships.
  8. Take advantage of the ‘common threat’. The fact that they’re all in the same boat or suffering a joint hardship of taking an exam should be used to strengthen bonds.
  9. Build group legends, by emphasizing how their group will leave their mark in history as being special and Dornyei takes it to another level by even suggesting making the group come up with a group name, rituals, group objects and to event invent characteristics for these.
  10. Investing in the group as a teacher

Not bad a reflection considering I am only a third of the way through the book. Obvioulsy, this is a very interesting topic for me and will be reflecting on it again soon… *I hope