Laura Dennis on episode 317 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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Hyperdocs literacy task boards and Flipgrid are two favorite tools of Laura Dennis, third grade teacher. Learn more about how Laura’s classroom has become more modern and simplified with these valuable tools.
Laura Dennis: Hyperdocs Literacy Task Boards
Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e317
Date: May 22, 2018
Vicki: Today we’re talking with Laura Dennis, a third-grade teacher from Ontario, Canada about hyperdocs literacy task boards.
Now, Laura, let’s break it down so some of our listeners will know what hyperdocs are. We’ve had a show on it before, but simply explain hyperdocs for us.
Laura: Hyperdocs are basically links that we provide for children to access different websites and articles that we want them to read.
Vicki: So it’s a Google Doc, and they can make a copy of the doc, review it read only, right?
Laura: Yes. Correct.
Vicki: Okay, do your students typically make copies of these hyperdocs, or do they just view it as Read-Only and follow the links?
Laura: I usually create it and then make a copy for the students. Then I actually have Google Classroom, which is where I put it so it’s a little bit easier for them to access.
Vicki: Excellent. Okay, so how do literacy task boards work in hyperdocs?
How do literacy task boards work in hyperdocs?
Laura: So I used to do literacy task boards on paper, which is basically — while I meet quickly a group for guided reading, this is what the rest of the students are doing — so there a lot of different choices on the choice board.
Recently, I discovered hyperdocs and just love it so I transitioned to that. So while I’m working with a guided reading group, the rest of the students in my class will log on to their accounts, open up their hyperdocs task board, and choose an activity to do independently.
Vicki: So when they do these activities, are they turning them back in, in Google Classroom? Are you discussing them later? How does that work?
Laura: Yeah, they basically try to do at least one little section each day. I’ve kind of modeled off of Stephanie Harvey’s Strategies That Work, so there are different sections. For instance, making connections, questioning, visualizing, inferring… so they’ll choose to work on one of those during the period. Once they finish it, there’s another Google Doc that they’ll go to, to type their responses. It’s a great thing for differentiation because some of the kids will only finish one task per day, which is fantastic, and as soon as they’ve finished it, they can go on, which is great for kids who quickly and efficiently. They can complete up to two to three tasks per day.
It’s a great thing for differentiation
Vicki: How does this compare to when you did task boards on paper?
Laura: Wow, I feel very modern now doing this.
Laura: It’s great. The kids have always loved the task board because not everyone wants to read at the same time. Not everyone wants to write in their journal at the same time on a Tuesday. Task boards have always allowed for kids to have choice and to be doing different things when they feel like it.
Task boards have always allowed for kids to have choice
But going for this digital task board or the hyperdoc task board has just created a lot of excitement in the class. They love that it’s just connected to an article right away, so they don’t have to type out and do a Google search for an article, so it’s very hands-on and easy to use for the students.
Vicki: That’s the thing about hyperdocs, it’s just so fast. It’s like finally — you feel like paperless is finally here, like it really works and it’s not just a pain, you know, because if it’s not simpler, why have it?
Now, you’re also using Flipgrid with this? How?
Laura: I am. I love Flipgrid.
How are you using Flipgrid with this?
As an example, I’m doing early settlers this week as one of our units for social studies. I had the students read an article having to do with early settlers, and take a few jot notes about the article, and when they’re ready, just click on the link to Flipgrid, which is basically a video opportunity for kids to record themselves making a video, thirty seconds to ninety seconds.
Reading group using flipgrid to record video responses in our Literature Circle group today. pic.twitter.com/C4O5NJIPaV
— laura dennis (@laura_dennis_) April 9, 2018
Once they’ve gathered their thoughts and taken their jot notes, they click on the flip grid link for our class code and then recorded their connection the article. Then the other kids can just go on watch and listen. It’s been a fantastic tool to use in the classroom.
Vicki: As I’m looking at it, you’ve got flipgrid, you’ve got it easy to have conversations using digital tools. You’ve also got the task boards. What I think is cool is that your kids are actually taking a copy of the task board for themselves, they’re coloring in each box as they do something, right?
Laura: Yes, and it’s been great for tracking. When they complete a task, they color it in so they can kind of keep track. They also make a plan for the next day of what they need to do. It’s all about the students and the choice is with them. It’s been tremendous. It’s really allowed me to feel good that they’re doing rich activities in the classroom while I’m working with another group doing guided reading. It’s a win-win for the students and myself, really.
It’s been great for tracking
Vicki: We can talk about the obvious. So many times, some students can keep up with their task board if they have a copy, and others can’t, so now it’s always there, isn’t it?
Vicki: They don’t lose it! (laughs)
Laura: That’s right. (laughs)
It’s really wonderful. Really, it’s been great. I’ve been sharing the task board with other teachers, and other teachers have been hopping on board sharing what they’ve done, so it’s definitely kind of catching fire in our school, I see them kind of using it on Twitter and other different places, so it’s very exciting.
Vicki: So you’re in third grade. Did you ever imagine that third grade would have as simple-to-use tools as you have now?
Laura: Not at all. Honestly, I look around my class when I look up from my guided reading table and I see kids using Flipgrid, kids making Venn diagrams using the drawing tool in Google Docs, kids making a word cloud using ABC Jot. You know, there are so many different things on the computer and iPads. It’s fantastic! It’s really quite inspiring.
Vicki: Well, we know that they’re more literate now in the technology. Do you feel like they’re more literate in their reading and in the things you’re trying to teach them to do in class?
Laura: I do for sure. I mean, I think that we as teachers are teaching a lot more intentionally as we did before when I first started teaching, definitely. And I think, also, it really captures their interest. If they can read an article online or watch a video about something and then take notes from that, then I think that that’s really broadened the scope of enthusiasm in the class.
It’s really broadened the scope of enthusiasm in the class
Vicki: So, Laura, as you’re giving advice to teachers, are there any mistakes you’ve made using hyperdocs?
Laura: The technical things were difficult, just kind of linking things and figuring out how they would respond to the task.
So I guess my best advice would be just to start simple. Create a template that just works for you and then just try that template week by week and just kind of make small adjustments.
Start simple. Create a template that just works for you.
A lot of teachers, I think, have the students respond in different ways. I just create one doc that has different subheadings for all of the things — representing visualizing, questioning — that then the students find that space to record their answer in.
Vicki: And, of course, they can follow on the show notes and look at your templates and make a copy if they want to, can’t they?
Laura: That’s very true. Hopefully they will. (laughs)
Vicki: Well, hat’s the beautiful thing about hyperdocs, it’s kind of like we just give them out to each other. I mean, I have digital citizenship hyperdocs, and people just snag them and make a copy and tweak it and make it their own. It’s just incredible.
Laura: It’s a fantastic way to share. We’re just getting different ideas from different teachers and being able to share back with teachers who are interested in tech ideas.
Vicki: So, Laura, what have you done right with this method? You’re like, “Okay, this really works.”
Laura: I love the idea of trying to infuse a new tech idea each week in my class. So that’s been very well. I try not to overwhelm myself, but just try to find new thing that I can use in my program.
I also like that the kids track it by coloring in the blocks — that’s an easy thing for them to track themselves and to plan ahead for the week.
I guess just inspiring the enthusiasm in the students. They’re really excited about coming back in the next day and getting on the computer and continuing on with their tasks.
Vicki: I love your method of innovation. I have the same method where I may not try to do one a week, but I like innovate like a turtle..
Vicki: …which means I’m always adding adding, taking one tiny step forward slowly, whether it’s every few days, or every two weeks, or something. But try something new, experiment with something, and then eventually back “Wow! Look how far I’ve come!”
I just think that makes so much more progress than somebody who goes to conference once a year, and then innovates a lot, but then doesn’t do anything the rest of the year. Would you agree with that?
Laura: Absolutely. I think baby steps are the best way. I don’t want to jump into something and have it backfire so badly. Just doing these small things each week have really helped me hone my skills a bit and just be open to trying new things, and it’s been great.
Vicki: So no matter what you teach. Check out hyperdocs, take a look at those, we’ll also link in the show notes someone who has talked about hyperdocs as well as Flipgrid. These are two fantastic tools that teachers are just raving about everywhere.
- Hyperdocs How to Tips and Tricks for Teachers
- Flipgrid: 6 Fun Ideas to Engage Learners in Conversation
I’m not a big fan of the trendy, I’m a big fan of stuff that just works and is simple. I know when I started using hyperdocs, I was like “Yes! This is so easy!” So do try it out, and thank you, Laura, for all your fantastic ideas for what you’re doing with your third graders.
Laura: Thank you so much! I’m so excited to be on your show!
Contact us about the show: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford firstname.lastname@example.org
Bio as submitted
Laura Dennis has been a teacher, mentor, and Literacy Consultant with the Toronto District School Board for over 20 years. She is a Reading AQ instructor and curriculum developer for The University of Toronto (OISE). She is enthusiastic about infusing technology into her Grade 3 program.
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