Expect Unexpected Engagement When you try Hexagonal Thinking in ELA


Trailer: The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast
  • 00:00

055: Hyperdocs, Authentic Audience, and Screencastify with Kristy Louden

pin it
Today on the podcast I’m interviewing Kristy, of Louden Clear in Education, about three of her favorite creative teaching strategies. 
Together we’re diving into hyperdocs, a public speaking project (that you can try out at your school this year, and I hope you do!) involving the perfect authentic audience, and ways for using Screencastify to save you time and make your hard work more effective. I think you’re going to love what Kristy has to share. 

You can listen below, or on iTunesBlubrry, or Stitcher. Or read on for the written highlights.

Using Hyperdocs as a Tool to Teach Writing
Students are in such different places, and need such different tools to improve their writing. A hyperdoc, sometimes called a playlist, is a guiding web document full of links that students can use to do an activity, access a variety of resources, and collaborate with others. 
Imagine a Google Doc with five steps to using a Hyperdoc. In the first step, you are linked first to a Youtube video that carefully demonstrates what a hyperdoc is and how to set it up. Then you click a link to prepare and submit an outline of the hyperdoc you’d like to make. There are several more links you can explore if you are still confused about what a hyperdoc is.  In the second step you are explore a website full of other hyperdocs for models, then note five things you like about the other hyperdocs. In the third step you create the first draft of your hyperdoc, then link it into a Google Slide presentation with one slide for every student in the class.  For the fourth step, you find someone else who has already put their rough draft into slides and the two of you exchange feedback. Finally, in the fifth step, you conference with your teacher about your Hyperdoc and complete your final draft. 
You get the idea. Everyone can work through the hyperdoc at their own pace, diving deeply into the steps that work best for them to help them produce their best work. 
Kristy first implemented hyperdocs with her students when she was about to jump into a paper on The Great Gatsby with her students. 
“What I love about hyperdocs… is they really let me do a workshop model. Basically, a hyperdoc has EVERY step of the writing process on it,” said Kristy. 
Every single step from idea generation onwards was part of her hyperdoc. Each day in class Kristy and her students could look at it together and see about where the kids should be, then she would give them time to work through whatever step they were on. With hyperdocs, students who move quickly are not held back, students who need more time on a certain step can take that time. 
Kristy would sit at her whiteboard table as her students worked, and as students had questions they could swing by and grab a number from her.  (Like at the DMV!) This system helped keep students working instead of wasting time waiting in line to talk things over. Kristy could just call numbers in order and meet with the students to help them work through their problems. 
Each student shared the link to their own hyperdoc with Kristy, so she could always see where everyone was when she wanted to check on things. 
Kristy’s suggested steps to success:
1. Set up your hyperdoc as a Google Doc if your students have access to Google Drive. 
2. Write out each step in your assignment, whatever it is, carefully and in detail. Include links to a variety of tools that will help struggling and proficient students (this is a great opportunity to differentiate) and mini-assignments to guide the process. 
3. Consider using a table, with each individual guided step along the side, then directions for what to do during that step, then resources to help get the job done. 
4. Optional but so great: Put the different steps up in boxes on the whiteboard. Then have students write their names on sticky notes and. move them along in the boxes as they complete each step. You will be able to see where everyone is in the process with a quick glance at the whiteboard. 
Authentic Audience: Student Pitch Solutions to School Problems to the Administration using Design Thinking
In Kristy’s public speaking course, her number one goal was for the class to feel relevant. She wanted to use design thinking to help her students delve into what was going on in their school and what they could do about it. 
Design thinking is a problem-solving strategy used in many businesses, and is very much about creative brainstorming and using empathy to think carefully about solving other people’s problems. 
Kristy’s basic prompt was simple: We need better school culture. How might we achieve this?
To help students take it seriously, she set up the assignment so that students would present their solutions to their school administration. This was a MAJOR focus throughout the unit. 
Once students had brainstormed on the prompt for a while, they used the critical friends protocol to push their idea generation further. Each student presented their idea to the class and the class picked the ideas apart, asking questions and discussing options. 
Then students went back to the drawing board to clean up their ideas and build them up, creating surveys and possibly conducting interviews to help them come up with the best solutions they could to school issues. 
At this point, students are working on a lot of real-world skills. They have a chance to try new things like emailing adults within the school in a professional capacity. 
Eventually the students create handouts and presentations for the administration. They dress up, get nervous, and generally have a very powerful experience presenting to the administration. It’s powerful for the administration too, who are getting useful feedback from kids who have been in the school for years and know a lot of about what it needs. 
Some of the presentations have actually caused the administration to change elements of the school, which really shows the students the power of their own voices. 
Using Screencastify to Save Time and Increase Effectiveness
Screencastify just might be Kristy’s favorite tool. Screencastify is a Chrome extension that allows you to quickly make a video showing what is on your screen while recording your voiceover. I bet you’re already imagining the possibilities! 
Here are Kristy’s favorite ways to use it:
#1 Making Videos for Students
You can quickly make a video to show students just about anything, and you will be able to refer them to this resource over and over. You might make a quick video for how to write a thesis, how to use a hyperdoc, etc. 
#2 Making Videos for other Teachers
Maybe a colleague is wondering how you use hyperdocs, and the easiest way to answer is to create a five minute video tour of your hyperdoc and some student examples. Bonus, that video can now answer this question for any interested teachers on your faculty, over and over! 
#3 Making Videos for Students when you’ll be Absent
When you have a planned absence, you can easily record a five minute walk-through of the activities and assignment for the day. Then your sub can just play your video to get the students going. No student will be able to say the sub didn’t explain things well! 
#4 Parent Communication
Positive parent communication is such a helpful way to get families on the same team with you. Kristy uses Screencastify videos to complement communication emails. She can send parents little short intros or tutorials on big projects so they understand what’s going on in the classroom and what the expectations are for their kids. This can be especially helpful for showing parents whatever your system is for posting assignments so if students say they don’t know what they have to do, parents can help.
#5 Essay Feedback
To cut your grading time and give students far more feedback, just pull up an essay on your screen, read it quickly, then turn on Screencastify to record yourself talking through different improvements that might be made to the paper as well as strengths. Students can listen to the feedback and replay it as they work on their drafts. 
Screencastify is really easy. Please don’t be intimidated by the tech! 
You can say so much more in a couple minutes of talking than you can in written comments, plus you can pull assignments and resources back up to show your student as you are talking through the essay. For example, if the assignment sheet shows students need to provide three quotations but the paper only has one, you can quickly pull up that assignment sheet and highlight the section asking for three quotations. Or if the student has struggled with the thesis, you can remind them as you give feedback of the video you created about theses and show where they can find it. 
Extra helpful tip from Kristy: Have students listen to the comments you’ve recorded and have them write some responses and questions and guess their grades based on the rubric BEFORE you give them their grades. This ensures all your work recording feedback doesn’t go to waste. 

I know you’re going to want to
Connect with Kristy from Louden Clear in Education


“Hi! I’m Kristy. I teach English 11 and Public Speaking and serve as a high school instructional coach. I’ve been teaching for twelve years, most of which were spent in Hoover, Alabama. I am passionate about writing, educational technology, innovation, and building relationships. I love to connect with fellow educators around the country to collaborate and share ideas. I’m a bit obsessed with PD books and blogs, so you’ll be hearing a lot about those! When I’m not teaching (or reading about teaching), I’m probably with our husband and our three dogs, reading a book, or riding my horse.” -Kristy Louden

Check out Kristy’s Website
Enjoy her Instagram

Did you know you can learn about all your wish list ELA strategies on your daily commute or walk with The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast? Explore one-pagers, escape rooms, sketchnotes, creative annotation options, research projects, poetry workshops, and much more through over a hundred quick episodes waiting for you on your favorite podcast player!


hey there!

I'm Betsy

I’ll help you find the creative ELA strategies that will light up your classroom. Get ready for joyful teaching!







Need something great for tomorrow? Head on over to the free resources section.


  • I took the HyperDoc Bootcamp Online Course this past summer with the HyperDoc girls, and I loved it!! I've been obsessed with HyperDocs ever since! I learned so much, and I would highly recommend it to all educators, regardless of grade level or content. This was an AWESOME topic! Thank you so much! 🙂

    • Hi Tara,
      That is so great to hear! Sounds like a fabulous course. Thank you for sharing your experience with everyone! Happy New Year.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ethical AI PBL Unit

3 Weeks of Attendance Questions

Better Discussion Toolkit


Almost there!

Just enter your email address below to register for Camp Creative: Ignite your Choice Reading Program and updates from Spark Creativity.
Don’t worry, spam’s not my thing.
Privacy Policy.