Hyperdoc Pathway to Mastery

Giving students ownership of the pace and of standards they need to master implies giving them access to a self-paced way to access content
291 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

In a Mastery-Based Progression, students should reach a point of awareness of specific competencies they have already mastered and that they have yet to master. For the latter, since every student in the room might have a different set of competencies to focus on, it is best practice to create a space and time during which students can work at their own pace on specific competencies or standards.

This self-paced work can take multiple forms: Small group or 1:1 work with the teacher on a specific competency is one powerful example but while a small group work with a teacher, the rest of the group should have access to quality, organized learning resources allowing them to grow in the competency of their choice with a combination of online and face to face activities.

This strategy will help you discover Hyperdoc Pathways to Mastery or Hyperdoc Playlists and how to build them to leverage existing resources, and hold students accountable to their goals.

Implementation Steps

90 minutes
  1. Before considering building a Standard/Competency-Based Hyperdoc Pathway, you should have given your students access to the following:
    • A way to know which competencies they need to focus on. It can be done in the form of a pre-assessment, a self-assessment at the beginning of a unit of study or it can come after a formative or summative assessment.
    • A way to record somewhere their competencies of strength as well as the ones they need to focus on. A public visual (See "Mastery Map" Strategy in the BetterLesson Lab) and an individual tracker (See "Progress and Mastery Tracker" Strategy in the BetterLesson Lab) can be both helpful!
    • A pacing calendar that can give them an idea of a suggested pace for the upcoming week and a contract allowing them to commit to working on specific competencies during the self-paced work time (See "Pacing Calendar" Strategy in the BetterLesson Lab)
  2. Choose a competency/standard and create a Google Doc focused on helping students to reach mastery in this competency. This four column structure (examples of which can be found in the resources below) can help:

    • 1st column for the title of an activity

    • 2nd column for the description of an activity

    • 3rd column for notes or questions

    • 4th column for date completed and possibly score or link to a product created

  3. To compose a pathway, think first about the two following criteria:
    • A variety of approaches to understand the same concept: video, interactive online activities, manipulative, partner games, etc
    • Resources already available in your school
  4. Note that a first pathway may look like a list of activities to do in order, which at first may just give students control of the pace within a hyperdoc pathway. But it is already a start!
  5. Block time to collect pathways, digitally or on paper copies so that you can hold students accountable to what they say they have done. Utilize a strategy like Whole Group Data Dive located in the BetterLesson Lab to give your students a report on what you saw in their work so that they understand that their work on pathways won't go unnoticed.
  6. After this first iteration, consider the following improvements for more personalization:
    • giving students choice within a section of the pathway of the way they want to demonstrate mastery of a skill (see example in resource section below).
    • giving students choice within pathway of a level of rigor of the work they want to engage in. For example, by using a mild-medium-spicy structure for your pathway (See example in resource section below).
    • giving students a way to test out of a competency at the end of a pathway. It can look like a pathway exit ticket/short assessment and it will help you and them verify that the work in the pathway has indeed led to mastery. Use the strategies "Battling the Boss" and "I'm Ready to Prove I'm a Master at This" in the BetterLesson Lab to see how this can be done fairly easily.
    • giving students a way to personalize their pathways for their specific need. This can simply happen by living blank spaces for personalization to your general template, and adding individual options based on your data or letting students add themselves things they would like to do to work on their growth areas based on what they know of themselves.

Hyperdoc Pathway to Mastery For Distance Learning

Juan Matos
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Hyperdocs can be a powerful tool for Distance Learning, giving students ownership of their work and different approaches to gain mastery of standards.

Implementation steps:

  1. Before using Hyperdocs, it is important for students to have a few things ahead of time. Be sure to review the following things with students during a synchronous distance learning session or by making a video for students to watch that outlines the following items:

    • An clear understanding of the standard/competency they will be focusing on.

    • A way to record their progress. Consider developing a shared googledoc with links for each student to record their progress.

    • A timeline to help them pace their work. You could develop a timeline for the whole class (complete certain assignments by a certain date) or meet individually with students during a synchronous 1:1 session to determine completion dates.

  2. Develop a hyperdoc for each student. Make sure the standard/competency is the focus of the Hyperdoc in order to help students reach mastery. Consider formating the Hyperdoc into five columns:

      • 1st column for the title of an activity

      • 2nd column for the description of an activity

      • 3rd column for notes or questions that the students might have about the activity, which the teacher can respond to

      • 4th column for date completed

      • 5th column for a link to the finished product 

  3. When envisioning a pathway during distance learning, keep these these points in mind:

    • Consider multiple ways for students to show understanding and mastery of the concept. Some of these routes can include video, collaborative assignments, and multimedia options. 

  4. Block time to check in with students about their progress. Focus on the mastery they are gaining and identify areas of growth for them. Use this time for empathy, accountability and to grow a connection with students. Thii check in can be done synchronously via Zoom/phone/text or asynchronously via message and/or Google Doc comment.

  5. As students get more comfortable with the format, consider adding layers to the Hyperdoc:

    • Students can have choices within the sections of the Hyperdoc. This can include giving students choice in how they’d like to demonstrate their mastery, as well as choice in what type of assignment they complete within a section.

  6. For students with limited access to technology or in asynchronous settings, you can modify this strategy by giving students added time and more options on how to follow the pathway. If at all possible, consider a paper copy of a pathway with tech-free options so that students can practice the skills at home using other resources.

    • Using email to gauge students' progress, or if it’s possible, scheduling virtual check-ins can keep students connected and grounded to the class and to this approach as well.

Special Education Modification

Nedra MassenburgDEMO
Special Education Specialist

Using a Hyperdoc Pathway to Mastery can help support students with disabilities keep track of their own mastery and help them build self-advocacy skills.

Successful use of a Hyperdoc Pathway requires teachers planning for the variety of skills required of students: emotional regulation,  significant executive functioning skills (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.), written expression skills, reading skills and verbal expression skills.  In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty in these areas consider the following modifications:


  1. Traditional paper-based, written methods of assessment may limit the ability of students with disabilities to demonstrate their learning. In conjunction with traditional assessments, consider giving these students the opportunity to demonstrate their learning through: conferences, take-home reflections, oral presentations or re-tellings, learning logs, graphic organizers, cloze exercises, visual/image representation, etc. See the "Differentiation Techniques" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  2. Use visual aids, timers, and verbal reminders to help students with task initiation and task completion while they are working using their Hyperdoc.  Depending upon the number of students with disabilities present in a classroom, teachers should consider increasing the amount of time they spend on explicitly teaching norms of using Hyperdoc Pathways.

  3. Students with disabilities could be provided with more scaffolded supports (extra time, reference sheets, graphic organizers, etc) during their independent work time. Students could also be given leveled work based on their accommodations as options on their HyperDoc. Teachers should think carefully about the approach of quality over quantity when helping students with disabilities track their mastery using HyperDoc.  Special emphasis for these students could be put on mastery of the highest leverage skills in a unit. 

  4. If multiple teachers are present in a setting, consider having one teacher work in a small group of students with more intensive disabilities to help provide more targeted guidance on using Hyperdoc Pathways.


EL Modification

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

Using this strategy, English learners benefit from ample opportunities to engage with content and academic language in a variety of ways on the pathway to mastery. Learners are guided through self-pacing and self-assessment. 

English learners may need to use all four domains of language, reading, writing, speaking and listening, while performing the activities prescribed in hyperdoc pathways. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:


  1. Ensure English learners understand all directions for individual activities before beginning to work e.g., ask for learners to restate directions. If the activities are new to learners, consider previewing or partnering with learners’ language specialist to preview for learners at lower levels of proficiency. See the "Teacher Tool: Leveled Question Stems" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  2. Perform 1:1 check-ins with English learners. Use independent work time to give English learners an opportunity to use their academic language, and teachers a chance to formatively assess content language use and to guide self-pacing. Consider embedding into hyperdocs additional teacher check-in points for English learners

  3. Provide English learners with familiar reference sheets such as graphic organizers, word banks, sentence stems, formula sheets, etc., to use as needed during activities. 
  4. Provide comprehensible content in activities that require learners to read-to-learn. Consider providing home language content as available during independent or technology-based activities. When available, home language content can be a powerful tool in developing and progressing skills. See the "Research and Bilingual Content Sources for English Learners" resource in the resource section below for more information.

Coach Tips

Romain Bertrand
BetterLesson Instructional Coach
  1. The idea of creating multiple pathways for different standards/competencies can feel overwhelming at first. My advice is to start by creating just one, and without elements of choice or differentiation yet. This will help you build a skeleton to iterate from for all your upcoming pathways. It will also help you stay on top of that first one and give students feedback, which is essential. There is always time later on to create more and to give more choices and control gradually!

  2. When you give more traditional assessments, take a moment to compare mastery data from these assessments with mastery data from the work of students in their pathway. Look for alignment and discrepancies. Confer with students to make them aware of the differences. Consider building multi-standard pathways geared toward helping students make decisions when facing a more complex problem.

Tech Tools


  1. A HyperDoc can be used to provide structure and detail for a self-paced activity where students are assessing at different times. A HyperDoc can be designed from templates or created from scratch using a word processing program. Students can type directly into these documents or use them as a guide for learning a concept or skill

  2. What makes the hyperdoc a great tool for pathways is its interactivity. Students can then use their hyperdoc pathway both as a way to access content, but also to create content, ideas and reflections and share them. It is a two way street!