Friday, April 3, 2020

Supporting Student Executive Functioning with HyperDocs

Since transitioning to remote learning, parents, teachers, administrators, and all educational personnel have been required to collaborate on creating virtual classrooms and environments for students to learn from home. For students who need support in executive functioning skills, there are a few things that we can do to help make the transition to a virtual classroom less daunting and more empowering. 

What is executive functioning? Why does it matter? 

“The phrase “executive function” refers to a set of skills. These skills underlie the capacity to plan ahead and meet goals, display self-control, follow multiple-step directions even when interrupted, and stay focused despite distractions, among others.” (from the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University) This has nothing to do with intelligence - problems with these skills are closely tied to ADHD; but kids with ADHD are not the only ones who struggle with these skills. For example, students with dyslexia struggle with working memory. 

Executive functioning skills allow students to demonstrate the ability to apply specific behaviors and social-emotional capacities that include:
  • fully accessing content
  • participating in the social construct of learning experiences
  • engaging in the act of learning
  • following the steps to apply a deeper understanding
This requires that we embrace the universal design for learning community philosophy, “What is good for some is best for all!” HyperDocs, if intentionally designed, and when instruction is delivered from the HyperDoc, support the development of executive functioning skills which serve as effective practices for all students.

Consider the Student-Facing View

What does the remote learning space look like from a student’s view? Let’s take a look at the virtual classrooms that students are juggling and navigating. It is likely that students are receiving digital communication from teachers through email, Google Classroom, Seesaw and/or district adopted learning management systems. Does this communication look like a long grocery list of separate tasks to complete or a balanced meal carefully prepared to serve?

Now more than ever, organizing and packaging lessons will help students make meaning of content and keep all their digital topics and resources organized. This simple slide includes clear instructions and combines multiple lessons on the same topic. This kind of planning and organization can help declutter a student’s inbox or assignment stream.

Here is how one might remix this #HyperDoc for remote teaching in a middle school history class. Just a reminder: Middle and high school students are juggling 6 to 8 virtual classrooms! Keep it simple. Choose the depth of lessons over a breadth of content coverage. This single slide can be the lesson plan for an entire week. Here is how. Take this slide and email it to students, post on a website, or share it in a classroom management system.


Build curiosity about the topic. Students engage in a visual literacy activity by completing the form independently.


Teacher workday to check in on students who are not participating. The teacher checks the form to see who has not completed it yet. Reach out to individual students or parents who have not submitted the form and invite participation. Build a bridge and solicit support early on. Problem-solve with families who need extra support. Be sure to present as neutral and supportive as opposed to bias or judgemental. There are many sensitive family dynamics developing during this time.

Wednesday: EXPLAIN

Teach the lesson. Record a screencast to link to the slides or plan a 20-30 minute synchronous class meeting to teach the lesson. (Google Meet or Zoom) In the lesson, include direct and explicit instruction. If students are not attending synchronous meetings, then record a video of the lesson and link it to the slides. 
  1. Review the slide deck that gives the actual responses to what was going on in the photos.  
  2. Discuss student responses on the Google form by sharing the spreadsheet link back with students. Invite students to comment on classmates’ responses. Teach from the student responses. Students need prompting for self-monitoring and task completion. If students are asked to complete a task, then providing immediate feedback or showing that there is a purpose for completing that task will help to improve and sustain their motivation to engage in the learning. 
  3. Read aloud or give students a little time to read the article. Open the link on the document to “anyone with the link can edit.” Students share their responses to the prompt at the bottom of the document.  
  4. When a student sees responses from classmates, this provides mentor text for students who are struggling to find their own response.
  5. Introduce the “extend activity.”  


Teacher workday to check in with students who did not attend the Wednesday session of who needs some progress monitoring. Do you have students who need help organizing their week and balancing all classes? Consider building a weekly agenda and setting goals with individual students who need the structure using a Google Doc or Slide Presentation Template.  

Friday: APPLY

Before Friday, students are asked to explore the multimedia packaged on the Thinglink. Set a purpose for the exploration. How will students share their learning after they explore? Might they share a few fun facts on a Flipgrid? Maybe you might invite them to design a slide on a blank Google Slide presentation. Consider how to bring closure to the learning from the week and how to build a foundation for remote learning in the next week.

How does this support developing student executive functioning skills?

One slide includes clear expectations for one week of remote learning. Each activity builds on the next. Students can easily follow along with the steps to learning and have one place to get clear directions.

Students can see where they have been and where they are going with learning objectives. This supports weekly planning and prioritizing. Each expectation is clearly shared and goals for the week are visible to all. If additional support is needed, the teacher schedules Tuesday and Thursday to individualize instruction as needed. Potentially implement the use of a weekly agenda template to support students with higher needs in executive functioning skills. Consider options for intrinsic rewards for participation. Involve parents or case managers if appropriate.

 Content is accessible to students through written text, visually, audio, and video. By providing multiple means of representation, students can watch and review materials as often as needed in order to make meaning of the learning objectives. Within Thinglink, the immersive reader add-on is available to students for specific reading interventions and accessibility. 

Involve students in the process of participating and seeing the progress of adapting new learning skills. Teach from the #HyperDoc. Teachers are encouraged to ask reflective questions to help students recognize their own growth. To support students with executive functioning skills, reflection questions should focus on the learning behaviors that contributed to successes or challenges. Executive functioning development will improve when students are asked to pause and reflect before they respond. 
In addition to teaching the content, teach the behaviors needed to access the content and interact in a remote learning environment. Your students and their families will appreciate you for helping them to develop the skills necessary to interact, create, collaborate, and communicate, and learn in a digital world!

Additional Resources

To learn more about executive functioning, check out this eBook on Executive Functioning 101.
6 Ways to Help a Child with Executive Functioning Skills:

Catch Up on this week’s episodes of “Building Confidence to Teach Remotely!”

Find more #HyperDocs here!

 PDBAMZbW_400x400.png    This image rendered as PNG in          This image rendered as PNG in     File:Pinterest Shiny Icon.svg

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Critical Engagement with Material When Designing a HyperDoc

There is more to lesson planning than learning objectives and assessment. There is more to HyperDoc digital lesson design than choosing the right tools, colors, images, and packaging. A designer carefully crafts a lesson for the students in their class, but specific design decisions can have an impact on whether or not the lesson delivery addresses bias.

During the delivery of a lesson, students have conversations. But what do they say? During the delivery of a lesson, students communicate their ideas. But how are they heard? During the delivery of a lesson, students share reflections on the impact of the content. But how do they reflect? So much of the delivery of a lesson depends on the interactions that happen in the classroom when engaging with the materials. When I am designing a HyperDoc or planning instruction, I try to apply the pedagogy of the Teaching Tolerance framework which includes Critical Practices for Anti-Bias Education. These practices help me to refine my instructional design and to create opportunities for critical engagement with the material.

This framework is a call to action for educators to consider the impact of their influence in these five categories: instruction, classroom culture, family and community, and teacher leadership. The first instructional practice is to invite students to critically engage with the material.

Applying the practices of the framework requires the lesson designer to carefully consider the material that students are asked to engage with. Linking specific content on the HyperDoc has the potential to function as a mirror or a window giving students the opportunity to see them self in the material or to see into the window of another perspective through the study of the material. Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Ph.D. was published in 1990 and explains the concept of mirrors and windows. Watch her explain the topic HERE. In 1990, this concept was applied to literature at a time when literature was the main medium for access to information. In 2019, we can apply the mirror, windows, and sliding glass doors concept to the multimedia content that students have access to when learning. HyperDoc designers have an opportunity to embed links to resources that show mirrors and windows to the students that they are designed for.

Teaching Tolerance critical practices recommend two instructional strategies that give students the opportunity to share what they know and encourage discussion that challenges opinions. These instructional strategies can be applied when designing collaboration or communication opportunities for students on a HyperDoc. These practices elevate the critical thinking required to interact with the material and enhance a community of healthy discourse.

Here are two recommended instructional strategies:

  1. Open-Ended - Higher-Order Thinking Questions
  2. Text to Text, Text to Self, or Text to the World Connections

Watch THIS VIDEO for an overview

Open-Ended - Higher-Order Thinking Questions

Open-ended - higher-order thinking questions shape an authentic learning experience because there is no one right answer. When asked open-ended questions, students practice articulating their ideas and questioning other ideas shared. Facilitating discussion and communication by respecting diverse perspectives is key to fostering a classroom culture that respects diversity. Build into the HyperDoc opportunities for students to respond to the text by using specific verbs to define high order thinking questions such as evaluate, analyze, examine, explore, understand, consider, trace, identify. As students engage with the material, carefully monitor the discussion listening for bias as students make meaning of complex texts and social realities. Address bias immediately by using the Speak Up at Schools protocol: 1) Interrupt 2) Question 3) Educate 4) Echo

Text to Text, Text to Self, or Text to the World Connections

Invite students to capture or reflect on connections that they have to text that is linked to the HyperDoc. Connections can be categorized as text to text, text to self, or text to the world.

When students are asked to make connections between the text and self, they have an opportunity to share about their own identity. Sharing identity through stories and perspective in a classroom builds connections between students and cultivates a culture that values diversity. Text to text connections invites students to share about other text that they have engaged with on the topic. This suggests to students the importance of reading and reviewing multiple sources to critically analyze different perspectives on the topic. And finally, give students a global perspective and world view by inviting them to connect the text to events happening in the world or that have happened throughout history. With each discussion and share, this practice prioritizes social awareness and brings cultural relevance to the content shared in the text. By providing this space for reflection, students will learn more about each other, the text, and the world. Check out this sample lesson from Facing History and Ourselves. 

Find more instructional resources at
Windows and Mirrors Collection of Elementary School Read Aloud HyperDocs
Find more #HyperDocs at

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A Few of My Favorite Things and The First days of School

Book Creator....
Summer creativity time...
The excitement of a new school year....

These are a few of my favorite things! Look inside this eBook and you will see all of them together in one place!

eBook Created in Book Creator

The first days of school are an exciting and busy time for teachers and students. Students are excited about a new school year and teachers are busy organizing classrooms. After a summer of sun and relaxation, I always need to create a checklist of things to do during the first weeks of school to set up a new classroom. I designed this book to support the new teachers that I coach with some ideas and for K-12 teachers to use as a guide for setting up a new school year. Ideas and resources in this book are organized as strategies to introduce each application in Google Drive to students. Introducing the applications and giving students time to play with the tools will prepare students for using the tools throughout the school year, build confidence with the tools for when they are later expected to use the tools to demonstrate understanding and will build community in your classroom. The idea to make this book was inspired by Harry & Rosemary Wong's book, The First Days of School. Their book provided me with so many ideas and resources over the years! I hope this mini-book helps other teachers in the same way that their book helped me during the first days of school! Creating this ebook also gave me an opportunity to play with a cool new tool, Book Creator. After using it to create this book, I highly recommend Book Creator for all classrooms. It is super fun and easy to create in and students of all ages will love creating books to publish! If you have any suggestions or ideas that you want to contribute, please email me at I would be happy to add pages to this book with your ideas! And of course, in the true spirit of Teachers Give Teachers, I would put your name and contact information on the page as a contributor. Thank you for exploring my very first Book Creator! The first days of school are such an exciting time for students and teachers and I wish you all the best school year ever!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Art of Teaching with HyperDocs: Student Centered Lessons that Inspire Curiosity and Creativity

You’re a teacher. Your main goal every day is to engage kids and teach them how to think and how to learn. Over the years, you’ve delivered instruction in a variety of ways. You’ve fine-tuned your best lessons. You’ve abandoned the ones that failed. You spend time thinking about your students and talking to colleagues in an effort to support every individual learner in your classroom. Beyond district benchmarks, national standards, and purchased curriculum, you ignite learning and make the magic happen in your classroom every day. But how do you do that? What is it that fuels a passion for creativity in instructional practices in the teacher and creativity in the students?

Sir Ken Robinson, British author, speaker and international advisor on education in the arts to government describes teaching as an art form, “It’s not a delivery system...Teaching is an art practice. It’s about connoisseurship and judgment and intuition.” Do you think of yourself as an artist? You are. And so are your students. Each day you design and deliver instruction, you are creating an experience in your classroom. Designing HyperDocs captures your lesson plans and instructional delivery strategies which sets a stage for artful teaching that has the potential to reach all students. 

The art of teaching with HyperDocs begins with the creator. When it’s time to design, use everything you know about your students to create an engaging lesson, empower experts, embrace curiosity with an exploration of content, embed collaboration, and give students the opportunity to creatively show what they know. The combination of intentional lesson design and your personal style of delivering instruction from a HyperDoc will awaken your inner artful teacher and elevate the learning experience for all students. 

Understanding the Context of your Students:  HyperDoc creators ask themselves, who are my students? What is their background knowledge? What do they already know and what do I want them to know? What is my educational setting? By personalizing the HyperDoc for the individual learners in your classroom, all students have universal access to the learning. Those who need help with the organization have all the teaching and learning in one place. Students who might need to review resources, teaching points, or guidelines more than once, can access all of the teaching and learning at any time from any device. Students who need extension activities can be inspired to try new things with extended learning opportunities. Intentional HyperDoc design personalizes the lessons for the students in your classroom.

Content that Inspires Curiosity: 
In the information age, students have unlimited access to content. A HyperDoc creator carefully selects content for students to consume that maximizes their learning experience by inspiring curiosity. When students explore content, they can access it in a variety of ways. The teacher studies the students and collects evidence about what they already know and what they need to know. This process allows the teaching to shift from limited resources to multiple resources and pathways to understanding the content. Students and teachers become experts in knowledge and the learning process becomes a parallel cycle of teaching and learning. Instead of daily lectures or showing isolated video lessons on the topic, link all the digital resources to the HyperDoc and set the stage for exploration of the topic. Invite students to become experts on the topic, allow them to be curious consumers, and observe the exponential effects of teaching when all students are experts. You might be surprised when some students may know about or share their own resources on the topic too! Exploring content through multimedia before teaching or explaining through direct instruction, creates a classroom community of experts on the topic and the technology lowers the barriers to understanding the content by providing multiple pathways to learning without lowering the bar for variable learners.

Creativity to Show What You Know:  Designing the HyperDoc requires that the teacher intentionally build the lesson to include one or more of the 4 C’s of education (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity), and has the potential to meet the three principles described in Universal Design for Learning (UDL). When students are asked to apply their learning and show what they have learned, the HyperDoc can serve as a guideline for what they need to do and how to accomplish that task. Once the apply task is outlined on the HyperDoc, students are offered choice and variety in ways to show their learning and teachers can offer feedback throughout the process. These are other principles embedded in UDL characterized as offering multiple pathways to demonstrate learning and consistent feedback. Depending on the strengths of the student, with choice, they can show their learning using the creation tools that best fit their learning style. The teacher can help guide students towards the tools that might best meet their learning needs and assists the student in demonstrating an understanding of the content in a meaningful way. 

For teachers, designing HyperDocs is a creative process to implement a blend of on tech and off tech engaging lessons. For students, learning from a HyperDoc is an opportunity to show an understanding of content in a variety of creative ways using technology tools that inspire creativity and empower student agency. Regularly applying creative practices for teachers and students embraces the goals of modern classrooms. How has the art of teaching with HyperDoc digital lesson design made an impact on your students and their learning?

For more information about HyperDocs, please check out

If you would like to see a classroom teaching with a HyperDoc, check out this video:

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Play Well..Build On: Building a Lego team.

It's almost time to go back to school and educators are starting to think about how to bring people together to connect. Last year, I was inspired by the work of a teacher that I coached. He introduced me to the 16 Personalities Quiz. His goal was to use the results of the quiz to help students to better understand cognitive diversity. Cognitive diversity refers to the many different ways that we think, respond, create, learn, and interact with each other and in the world. The idea is used in the workplace to build strong teams. It is said that embracing cognitive diversity in a team can build innovation and is a powerful tool.

Regina Dugan, head of Facebook’s secretive Building 8, describes the importance of diversity to the creative process HERE. She says, “The ultimate goal is cognitive diversity, and cognitive diversity is correlated with identity diversity...You have to get to the place where you aren’t made comfortable by the fact that everyone is the same, but rather feel inspired by how different we are. We get better problem-solving that way.” 

As educators, we know that the foundation of an effective learning environment is trust and community. However, one of the most common challenges I have observed at school sites is creative differences within a staff. This got me thinking about how to use the 16 Personality Quiz as a tool for building inclusion and creating a foundation for teamwork at a school site. According to Mark Miller, VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International, "The power of having cognitive diversity in the workplace is the same power that companies try to attain through strong leadership and great communication. It's a more inclusive, collaborative, and open space where people feel empowered to create and implement ideas." Excited about the potential of creating a school culture that embraces cognitive diversity, this led me to design a HyperDoc for leaders to use with a staff in an effort to build inclusion within teams and embrace the culture of the people within the school.

The HyperDoc is called, Play Well...Build On. Inspired by the LEGO company slogan and culture, I designed a professional development training for educators that can be used as an all-day training or it can be broken up over time. All the work shared on the HyperDoc is intended for adults to experience learning, but can easily be modified to be used in a classroom setting with students as well. Follow along with the HyperDoc linked above and let me describe the pedagogy behind the lesson: 

ENGAGE: Begin by watching the LEGO career recruitment video. Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, the LEGO Brand Group’s Chairman, describes the LEGO Group Culture and how they embrace diversity in the workplace to play, create, and build together. As the group watches the video, participants jot down their thinking on a shared Google document to capture all the thinking around the video during and after showing the video. (There is a lot of rich content packed into the 3-minute video. If needed, consider your time and watch twice. Watching video can be led like a close reading instructional strategy. There is new learning gained each time it is watched.) 
LEARN: During this section, teachers take the 16 Personalities Quiz. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to respond and gather results. 

EMPOWER: Everyone will have a chance to reflect on the quiz outcomes when they respond to the questions on the Google form. This form will only be viewed by the facilitator. This design is intentional. The leader will now know a little more about the people in the group and will be able to use that information to guide situations throughout the school year. 

GIVE: Guide and grow as a team when groups work together to design a Marshmallow Tower. The facilitator uses the personality quiz results to create homogenous groups for this activity. After the 18 minute challenge, discuss the process as a whole group. How did the group do with the challenge? How did it work with homogenous groups? 

OPEN: Be optimistic and open to new possibilities when the whole group solves a Breakout EDU challenge. During this challenge, the group will embrace the cognitive diversity of the team and work together to solve the challenge. Be sure to reflect on the process once the 45-minute timer is up.

CREATE and SHARE: Using the LEGO acronym, educators have had an opportunity to reflect on who they are and how they interact with the group. Invite individuals to highlight their superpowers when they create an Adobe Spark post that illustrates the talents and skills that they bring to the group. Share the posts on a Padlet for all to see and to learn about each other. Revisit this Padlet throughout the school year as challenges arise and embracing cognitive diversity is needed. 

BUILD ON: After a day of learning and creating together, choose one or all three of the videos on the last slide to share. Work together to build an amazing school year! 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How to Give Students a Platform to Practice and Exercise Their Digital Voice

Students have so much to teach us and to share! We just have to be listening. The Internet provides a space for anyone to have a digital voice by interacting with social media, designing websites, recording videos or vlogs, writing blogs, and sharing their message. But how do we teach kids how to navigate this wide open creative space of the Internet? Google recently launched a website called Interland. This website teaches students how to "Be Internet Awesome." They created a game for kids to learn how to interact safely on the internet and it also includes free downloadable curriculum for teachers to use in their classroom. This game and resources teach students "HOW" to practice using their digital voice. 

Now let's talk about the "WHY." Interacting digitally is not something that is a trend and it's not going away. If we don't teach them how, then who will? If we don't show them the strategies for having a positive online footprint, then we might miss their stories. Not only is it important to teach kids how to interact on the Internet, but also when they do, then we can capture the essence of their young selves. When I was a kid I was always making videos with my dad's VHS video camera or recording myself singing on a cassette tape. I loved being on stage. Watching those videos or listening to those tapes is like being in a timewarp. It's amazing to see and listen to my young self. For kids these days, they have a broader audience and they can showcase their ideas, stories, and talents in so many different ways. 

Here is an example. When I ask my student's what they want to be when they grow up, many will say that they want to be a YouTuber. They will work for subscribers and likes. Anyone who checks out YouTube can find hours of videos of kids being awesome! Check out this video in which a kid shows how he remixed a popular fidget spinner into an eraser fidget spinner. There are hundreds of versions of this online. While you watch, notice a couple of things: The YouTube Channel is a nickname, the profile picture is a scooter, the comments are disabled, and embedding the video onto other sites is disabled. (In order to watch the video, you have to watch it on YouTube.) These are four great strategies for having a safe and age-appropriate online presence. Rather than not allow access, show them how. Did you also notice that this video is a remix of the old "How to" speech standard? I wonder if this kid knew when he recorded this video that he was completing a speech requirement? I'm pretty sure that he made the video because he is hoping for those good old thumbs up "likes." Go ahead and give him one if you can. You'll make his day!

If you are looking for more resources on teaching kids how to practice and exercise their digital voice, then check out the Digital Voice HyperDoc. Here is an outline of the digital lesson design built into this HyperDoc: 
EXPLORE: The lesson begins with giving students time to explore examples of kids who have a strong digital voice. By exploring their stories and resources, students can study their digital footprints as a mentor text and think about the kind of footprint they want to create. 
EXPLAIN: Next students are taught what makes a good blog. They read blogs by other kids and the teacher can teach elements of strong writing. 
APPLY:  Finally, students are encouraged to launch their own personal blog.  This can take journal writing to a whole new level! On their blogs, they can practice writing skills, and they can practice speaking and listening skills when they record videos. The blog can serve as a digital portfolio for all that they create. It is a place to capture their stories, their learning, and their process. (Some people prefer to have students create websites instead of blogs. That works too! I prefer the blog because it can serve two purposes. It can be a place to update when inspired and it can have pages built into it like a website.)
SHARE: Unless the blog is shared, then it is the same as a Google Doc living in a Google Drive. Help students share their blogs with each other and beyond the classroom. Students can have pen pals in another school or within the same school. Blogs also can be shared with parents and families or on social media. One way to easily collect the links to all your student blogs is to create a Google form and have students share their blog links with you. Once shared, students will need to learn how to comment and give feedback on blogs. Don't forget to build in a lesson on digital feedback and comments. The resources are linked onto the HyperDoc. 

Blogs are just the beginning! They can be a place for kids to capture all of their stories, writing, and digital voice. If you have an example of students practicing their digital voice, please share in the comments. If you have a HyperDoc that teaches digital voice, please share at 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Discussion Strategies: Teaching and Tech

This HyperDoc provides resources for teachers to integrate various 
instructional strategies 

to engage students in discussion face to face and/or using technology. 
View resources at HERE
A teacher recently asked me, “How do I create a more active learning environment and provide more opportunities for my students to discuss ideas?” I offered suggestions based on the strategies that came to mind, but I wanted to go deeper with more specific ideas for the teacher. This led me to searching  for specific strategies to share. I came across this blog post called The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies by Jennifer Gonzalez. Her website, Cult of Pedagogy, is a wonderful resource for teachers to find practical tips and guides to teaching. When I created this slide deck, I included some of the resources she highlights in her blog. Each slide of this presentation has two columns. On the left, view the teaching strategy, the pedagogy or a video description. Thank You Jennifer Gonzalez for the teaching ideas!
On the right column of the slides entitled, TECH, I included ideas for how to take the good teaching practices and implement them using a web tool. This list is curated based on my knowledge of blended learning. If you have a new suggestion or idea to add to this slide deck, please let me know! I’d love to add to these resources. Additionally, if you try one of these strategies in your classroom, I’d love to hear about it. Please send me an email or a tweet to share your success or question to problem solve!