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


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