Hacking My Own #HyperDoc Template: Part 1 (Unit Workflow)

All, Guides

For the last few years I have been obsessed with HyperDocs and love using them in my classes (online and hybrid). Typically I create a master HyperDoc to guide students through a unit and additional HyperDocs to support activities within the unit (argument pitches and reading like a writer for example). These HyperDocs are based on one of two learning cycle templates (one simple and one more complex) that aligned best with my pedagogy and plans. However, as these HyperDocs were created over time they are a hodge-podge reflecting my mood and experience as well as the time available to me at that moment (I am sure there is some teacher metaphor there but who has the time to think about that?). And so, as I began to contemplate moving from hybrid to HyFlex for this fall’s version of pandemic teaching I decided that I was long overdue for hacking the templates I have been working with into my own based on my preferred structure. This is a move I feel comfortable take now that I have been using and teaching HyperDocs for some time. I hope creating my own template and then using that for all my units and activities will better support my students through another semester of pandemic teaching and learning. Also, working through this process will help me streamline and inventory each of my previous plans to address mission creep. This is the process I used to develop my own HyperDoc template and I hope it can help you hack your own HyperDoc template.

Step One: Determining Our Focus

I have written before that knowing your endgame is essential. This fall will be the third time I’ve used the National Writing Project’s Writing Our Future: American Creed to guide our work in Writing I. I want to make the focus of this theme clear so the three questions we will use to guide our work will be listed at the top of every HyperDoc. Our three guiding questions as we conduct our study of American Literacy will be:

  1. What is the United States of America?
  2. Why is the United States of America?
  3. How can the United States of America be better?

Making these guiding questions explicit will help me stay on track and sharing them in this format will hopefully help my student writers do so as well. FYI, determining your learning objectives are also a key part of HyperDoc creation and one of the things I love about using HyperDocs.

Step Two: Mapping Our Journey

Also key to guiding both my work and that of my student writers, is providing a clear roadmap for our work over the course of the semester. I have written a lot about my Four-Square Writing Plan and its component pieces in the past and I continue to believe that working through a narrative argument, a rhetorical analysis, a formal argument, and a culminating project allows me to cover the most essential rhetorical lessons or at least provide a solid rhetorical foundation for a lifetime of transliteracy. This means that in addition to our focus questions each HyperDoc will include a description of the four units and how each unit will interact with the questions. Again, this will (hopefully) guide each of our activities and thinking so everyone can make the best choices and work smarter not harder. I think streamlining our teaching/learning experience will be crucial to surviving (can I dream of succeeding?) this semester of pandemic teaching/learning.

Step Three: Direct Our Workflow

While the first two steps are an important part of HyperDoc preparation, it is this third step where I really branch out from simply modifying existing templates. Previously I had simply modified a template based on a particular learning cycle that someone else had created, but my HyperDoc template is built to guide my students through my process. Each unit guides students through a five-step learning cycle which has been modified slightly from the model I described last year.

  1. Each unit will begin by opening our minds through a choice of engaging and inspiring activities designed to help students access their existing knowledge and understanding then begin building onto those. This process will involve a number of low-stakes writing opportunities with community engagement which will be reflected upon as part of the students’ weekly work. Note: This process can be gradually condensed as we progress through successive units thanks to the magic of working with a theme.
  2. We will then move into shaping our ideas by exploring the possibilities offered by this unit then brainstorming and pitching ideas for the unit deliverable and finally developing a plan to meet the goal of the unit. This process will begin with low-stakes collaborative brainstorming followed by a reflective and collaborative pitch process which will be reflected upon as part of the students’ weekly work. Note: This process can be gradually condensed as we progress through successive units thanks to the magic of working with a theme.
  3. Working on the unit deliverable will be the core of each unit’s workflow. This process will include studying models and mentor texts to create a set of guidelines, rules, and moves that can then be used to draft and craft the deliverable which will be reflected upon as part of the students’ weekly work.
  4. As the unit deliverable begins to take shape we will focus on airing the work-in-progress by providing feedback on first the writer’s claim and introduction and later a more complete draft. This process will offer writers feedback loops as they draft and revise and will be reflected upon as part of the students’ weekly work.
  5. The unit will conclude with reflecting about the journey and the completed deliverable. This process will include a private conversation with the student about their work, their process, and their deliverable to determine their grade for the unit using a final reflection they have composed (building on the four previous reflections) as a guide.

Each step of the process will offer students options to support their process and unique learning context and will make it possible for students to make up work if life or pandemic sideline their education for a time. I also hope the framework provided by my HyperDoc template will make the process transparent for students so they can make the best choices for their learning and life. Ideally, I will create another template (or set of templates) to guide either our weekly work or the steps in our weekly workflow, but that will require some more thought. I’m leaning more toward the weekly workflow as I suspect that will better support the HyFlex model. That is how I am currently thinking about my fall semester. What are your thoughts about the fall semester of pandemic teaching?


  • Dr. Mascle,
    I love the 3 questions for American Literacy! I have Composition 101, Early American Lit, and College Research this semester as I begin my college teaching career. I’m excited but nervous, and I plan on using the hyperdocs you taught me to enrich my lessons.

    Any hybrid-teaching ideas are certainly appreciated!

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