Science Inquiry Notebook - Student Use of Google HyperDocs

By: Francisco Alderete

Science Inquiry NotebookThe term HyperDoc was coined by three brilliant women working in collaboration as their way of describing the digital lessons they prepare as part of instructing their students - lessons that don’t focus on technology but rather use tech as a means to get students to understand concepts. Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis share their work on HyperDocs online at - a wonderful place for teachers to understand the use of HyperDocs for delivering engaging instruction while focusing on content and the essential understanding students should gain and not the technology delivering the instruction.

On their website, the authors define HyperDocs as follows:

“HyperDocs, a transformative, interactive Google Doc replacing the worksheet method of delivering instruction, is the ultimate change agent in the blended learning classroom. With strong educational philosophies built into each one, HyperDocs have the potential to shift the way you instruct with technology. They are created by teachers and given to students to engage, educate, and inspire learning. It’s not about teaching technology, it’s about using the technology to TEACH.”

The Science Inquiry Notebook is a HyperDoc template. This Google Doc file is an empty shell much like the composition notebook which students use to craft their paper-pencil Science Inquiry notebooks. The unique difference is that the HyperDoc template includes a framework based on the NISD elementary science curriculum timeline - specifically, the units and concepts covered throughout the academic year. The expectation is that students would “fill out” the template with hyperlinks to notes, files, and resources like video, articles, and graphics.

A few 5th Grade teachers who have decided to use - the Science Inquiry Notebook - as part of their science instruction contacted their Tech Coach to model the use the HyperDoc with their students. The initial appointment introduce students the use of the HyperDoc, provided students time to organize their Google Drive in anticipation of the linked files to come, and called for students to complete and link a separate file. The model lessons were successful and students gained a basic understanding of how to use the HyperDoc.

In practice, the Science Inquiry Notebook is meant to be used so that science concepts and student understanding are the focus. As with all effective technology integration, the focus should never be on the technology itself. HyperDocs are not meant to be a silver bullet, a cure-all promising effective science instruction. Rather, the HyperDoc is a means to engaging students, to facilitating an organizational system to assist student understanding, and to enhancing and extending a paper-pencil activity in ways only technology can.

So consider using a HyperDoc now and reach out to a Tech Coach!

A special thanks to Rebecca Regnier, Amanda Rolfe, and David Romero - 5th Grade teachers pioneering the use of the HyperDoc - Science Inquiry Journal - with their students.

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