Home » Blogging »Featured Carousel »Writing » Currently Reading:

Hyperlinked Writing in the Classroom- From Theory to Practice

April 3, 2012 Blogging, Featured Carousel, Writing 6 Comments

This is the follow up post to the theoretical Wondering About Hyperlinked Writing. The post ended with

Now…on from the wondering, theory and resources…to the practice in the classroom.

I am ready to bring hyperlinked writing (and reading) as an important genre into the classroom!

Can one just start “throwing” hyperlinked writing” at our students (or teaches for that matter) at any time, at any age? Is hyperlinked writing part of a process? A process that starts with reading digitally, reading quality and poor samples of digital writing? Students then progress to writing comments, learning how to comment on the writing of others to learning how to write for an audience on their own blog posts. Hyperlinked writing is that next step up in writing for a an audience.

Hyperlinked writing is more than citing your sources, it is a direct manifestation of writing for an audience.

A quick check-in with my Common Core Guru, Mike Fisher, author of “Cure for the Common Core“, told me that I was on the right track.  He said:

You are actually addressing several capacities in what you’re describing:
  •  Capacity 3: Students respond to varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline.
  • Capacity 5: They value evidence. (Citations are in this realm, along with curation, and it is highly connected to number 6…)
  • Capacity 6: They use technology and digital media strategically and capably.

It shows the intent to guide the reader to:

  • where the author has been
  • his/her train of thought
  • providing a framework and context of the content background.
  • choices where to learn more

There are other reasons why we link digital content

  • Linking is a form of Content Curation
    We are placing specific resources and citations in the form of a
  • Filtering and refining relevant content for our readers (3C’s of Information Commerce by Brian Solis)
  • “The purpose of linking is to demonstrate to your audience that you are telling the truth.
    By means of the link, you provide your reader with the means to check up on you, to verify your claims, to follow up on the sources you say buttress your case, to find out if they really do reinforce what you are saying.” (Bloodhound Blog)

In the Quality Blogging Rubric, I developed for the use during our Quad-Blogging Action Research, links are addressed under the category “Community”. Under the “Expert”column it states that the blogger

  • has several links that add to the readers understanding
  • has  links that are relevant and “flow” within the content.

In retrospect, this description only seems to touch briefly on the importance and quality use of hyperlinks in digital writing.  (Note to self: Need to upgrade the rubric)

I started out with composing a paragraph together with the 4th graders on…. yes… a piece of paper. I wanted them to see the limitations of the traditional canvas of writing. Traditional meaning that the majority of current writing in schools end up on paper (handwritten or typed and then printed out).

  • Why do people  link in their online writing?
  • How do 9 and 10 year olds understand the use of links when they read online?
  • How can we translate this to their digital writing?
  • Understanding of linear and non-linear reading and writing

We Surf The Globe

On our blogs, we embedded a Clustr Map. A Clustr Map is a world map on your blog, that show you the location of the visitors of our blog. The map helps us visualize there our readers are from. We have been surfing the virtual globe  to countries all around the world, such as Thailand, Switzerland, and Czech Republic, because we know that they have read our posts.

I asked the students to copy the text we had written on the paper to their blog and to now add related links to the text. We discussed how the links should “flow” within the sentence and not just be “stuck” at the end, like “Click here to go to the ClustrMap”. (Note: Next time type the text quickly and post on my blog, to a shared Google doc or email them to each student. So much time was lost in typing the few sentences, which could have been spent on linking instead!)

I am departing from the assumption that at this point, students knew HOW to create a link on their blogging platform. This usually involves typing text, selecting and highlighting that text, clicking on a visual button (usually indicated with a chain linked together) and then entering the desired URL (Web Address) to underline and make the chosen text clickable once the post is published. Alternatively students might know or learn how to handcode a link in HTML

We watched the following video clip “Ethics of Linking” from Jay Rosen from the New York University. He says very simply:

The link, which is the idea, that you are interested in this, but did you know about THAT? Or HERE is what I’m saying, you should see what THEY are saying. You are here, but there is also this over THERE.

Take a look at Jamie B’s and Yoni H’s blog post and how they accomplished the task. By looking at all of the other student entries, I realized, that hyperlinking is not a one-lesson task, but a skill that students have to continue to practice and develop.

  • Some students did not add additional links beyond the one we included on the “practice paper post”.
  • Students did not go beyond adding links to other (which was the fault of not having a “better” practice paragraph) Note to self- need to develop a paragraph that includes the possibility to link to a variety of sources for hyperlinks

I did notice though, that these 4th graders were exhibiting a nice range of fluency in the logistical skills of creating links. I define this fluency as the ability to easily use the following skills and be able to adapt and change the order as and if needed.

Logistical Skills
that support fluency in hyperlinked reading & writing

  • pre-viewing the URL link BEFORE clicking
  • selecting a link in a browser
  • copying a link in a browser
  • creating a link on your digital page (either with HTML code or WYSIWYG editor)
  • pasting the URL into the link code
  • opening up a new tab in your browser to switch easily back and forth between digital writing page and pages to be linked.

Here are further thoughts and some activities for the classroom teacher to continue supporting and guiding his/her students in hyperlinked writing.

Yarn Blogging

Another brilliant idea from Bud Hunt has been Yarn Blogging. I recently used this technique with a group of teachers in a blogging workshop in New Zealand. The first step was for teachers to write a “blog post” on large stickie notes, then read these posts and “comment” on them by writing on small colorful stickies. The third step was for teachers to take yarn pieces and connect posts with other posts, posts with comments, comments with comments, etc.

Doing this activity with students might give them a tangible way of grasping  related content and how to connect them via a (yarn) link, not only making a connection between a name or word with a person’s website or a word’s definition.

Visual Mind Mapping

Using a mind mapping tool, such as Inspiration (software), Idea Sketch (iPad app) or Popplet (iPad app) to have students create a visual of linkable words in their text. Those could be organized by connection types. Allow students to see how  a visual mind map could translate into a hyperlinked text.

Non -Linear Writing

Are you familiar with “Choose Your Own Adventure Books“? How great would it be to allow students to map out such a story and link the choices on a mind map showing the links, flow and connections between choices. What if they were to choose to write their own”choice story” with different plots and outcomes according to the links embedded in the text? Students could use mind mapping apps again to design a flowchart of their story.

What to link to?

  • name –> online hub (website, blog, Twitter, Facebook profile, etc.)
  • brand name –> company’s website
  • word –> definition
  • quote–> original source
  • phrase –> content context/background
  • phrase–> someone else’s perspective
  • conversation –> Twitter Hashtag
  • example –>example in action/ demonstration of examples
  • theory –> practice
  • theme/topic/concept–> previous writing
  • collaborative writing pieces –> pieces of another contributor to the topic


Choosing Link Text

Use text for your link:

  • one-word keywords as links
    allow readers to skim over your writing to make a decision if they will read further
  • text is as descriptive as possible
    Just as the image above says, “Hyperlinked text MUST telegraph the destination”. Let readers know what content to expect when they click on the link
  • keep the amount of underlined words to a minimum.
    Don’t create links with link text as long as a sentence or an entire paragraph
  • embed the links within the flow of writing avoid adding a “click here”

Please share your ideas of teaching hyperlinked writing in the classroom. How have you approached the genre with your age group of students? What have you learned? What are some of your trial and errors?



Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Hi Silvia – a really informative and thoughtful post about a subject that is perhaps undervalued in relation to its significance in terms of digital text production, distribution and consumption. Linking is a skill indeed and one of the trickiest aspects of writing blog posts. I love some of the classroom ideas you are brining in here. Links can take many forms and perform a multitude of functions. I found a great book recently that has a very useful chapter on linking which is:

    The Discourse of Blogs and Wikis by Greg Myers (2010)

    Look it up if you haven’t already.

    Best wishes

  2. Greg Swann says:

    Thanks for the link!

    That post, on linking-as-transparency, is one of my all-time favorites — except that everyone ignores it. I love the idea of learning to link as a matter of academic rigor. My hat is off to you!

  3. Cindy says:

    @ Greg: I also love the idea of learning to link as a matter of academic rigor. Thought provoking post!

  4. Debi says:

    Thought provoking indeed – really takes hyperlinking to the next level. Debi

  5. virginia Yonkers says:

    While you touch on it, in my experience, the most difficult and freeing part of teaching linking skills is the development of non-linear thinking. Traditionally, most good writers in English are linear thinkers (my English and History education majors had the most trouble with linking because it was non-linear). I really like the sections you have on teaching how to think/write non-linear. It is the equivalent of the traditional outline which is a helpful tool for non-linear writers (in the past identified as disorganized, poor writers).

  6. Kellen Bramlett says:

    My name is Kellen Bramlett and I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I feel that hyperlinks are very important. I like the fact that I can basically tag the information with a hyperlink and the viewer can click on that link rather than having to write out the whole article or work. I also like the exercise of using the sticky notes and yarn to show the connection between them all. Very neat post.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Langwitches via Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Choose a Category

In Need of Professional Development?

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano for customized workshops, coaching and presentations.
Video Conference sessions available.

For a list of sample sessions visit Globally Connected Learning .

Want to Learn More About iPads in the Classroom?

Professional Learning Board just released a Self-study iPads in the Classroom course I wrote. It is a self-directed course to take in your own time and at your own speed.


Upcoming Books

Like Langwitches on Facebook

Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators

Guest Posts

Augmented Reality that’s “Real” and Focused on Learning


cross posted with permission from Dr. Silvana Meneghini,’s On The Edge Blog. Silvana, the High School Technology Coordinator at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, shared a How-To post to connect augmented reality to student reflection by adding a layer of learning (not technology for technology sake). I highly …


Upgrading Our Recipes for Learning: Digital Learning Strategies


In an attempt to bring  new additions to your Blog reader, I am starting to feature  guest posts on Langwitches. Be assured that these guest posts are from educational bloggers, I highly value and their voices contribute significantly to my own learning. Today I am sharing a blog post and …

(No Comments)

Is Technology shoving Pedagogy to the center stage? TPACK Reviewed


Guest post by Silvana Meneghini, Academic Technology Coordinator, Graded- American School of São Paulo. Originally posted on her blog On the Edge. Pedagogical ideas like student centered learning, collaboration, and critical thinking have been around for a long time and are slowly making the way into the classroom. When technology …


Professional Development

How to Create a Backchannel Exit Ticket for Class, Presentation or Workshop?


This screencast below will show you how to use Google Docs as a backchannel or exit ticket during a presentation, lesson or workshop. Creating a BackChannel or Exit Ticket on Google Docs from langwitches on Vimeo.

(1 Comment)

Redefining My Learning


Silvana Meneghini and I  work as Academic Technology Coordinators at Graded, the American School of São Paulo. ” A flashlight in the fog of technology integration“, initially the title of a conference workshop proposal, quickly developed into the desire of creating a framework to guide and coach teachers based on …

(1 Comment)

SAMR Exercise Google Hangout: Mark Your Calendars


Silvana Meneghini and I  have created a template for technology, learning and literacy coaches. In an effort to create a depository of examples and scenarios for lessons and activities and how an upgrade movement through the stages of the SAMR model actually looks like in the classroom, we are shared …



21st Century Learning

Visible Thinking in Math- Part 1


The conversation about visible thinking in Math started with one of our teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, Adam Hancock, wanting to know how he could incorporate having students’ use their blogfolios in Math class. It seemed natural to have students write for Humanities (Language Arts and …


Redefining My Learning


Silvana Meneghini and I  work as Academic Technology Coordinators at Graded, the American School of São Paulo. ” A flashlight in the fog of technology integration“, initially the title of a conference workshop proposal, quickly developed into the desire of creating a framework to guide and coach teachers based on …

(1 Comment)

Reflection in the Learning Process, Not As An Add On


Is it personality? Are some people born with it? Can it be learned? I am talking about REFLECTION. At the beginning of the week, I had the opportunity to be part of a workshop during our pre-service ( we just returned from our summer break here in the Southern Hemisphere) …


The Digital Learning Farm in Action

Student Tutorials- MineCraft, How to Ride a Horse, iMovie and more


It is no secret, that I am a big fan of Alan November‘s Digital Learning Farm concept. I especially believe in Teaching is the Highest Form of Understanding and the power of motivation and demonstration of evidence of student learning via the Tutorial Designer role. See a myriad of blog …


3 Need-Scenarios to Engage Students with Authentic Tasks


Alan November’s concept of the Digital Learning Farm, asks schools and teachers to empower students by giving them relevant responsibilities that allow them to contribute in  meaningful ways to their learning community (class/school/etc.). How can we give students the opportunity to CONTRIBUTE versus completing projects that end up in the …


Blogging as the Official Scribe of the Classroom


Alan November elevated the “Official Scribe” as one of the roles that empower student learners. I see the role of the scribe as follows: The official scribe plays an important role in the classroom community. Their work is essential for students who were absent from class or need a review …


Global Education

NASA’s Global Selfie Crowdsourced on Earth Day


Today, April 22, 2014, NASA is crowdsourcing Global Selfies. NASA astronauts brought home the first ever images of the whole planet from space. Now NASA satellites capture new images of Earth every second. For Earth Day we are trying to create an image of Earth from the ground up while …

(No Comments)

Selfies Around the World


  On the heels of The Cultural Phenomena of Selfies and  iPhoneography: Photo Challenges, Ideas & Literacy, students from the American School of São Paulo, Brazil want to know more about Selfies around the world. If you and your students would like to CONTRIBUTE with actual images for an in- school and online exhibition …


Julie Lindsay: Designing Engaging Curriculum for Global Collaboration in the Classroom

Following the post:  Note- Taking Learnflow of a Conference Workshop, here is the second story of my curated tweets from a session with Julie Lindsay. My favorite take away from her well run workshop was her quote “Flat learning is a pedagogy”. Amplifying our classroom, allowing students to reach out …

(No Comments)

Blogging With your Classroom

There is More to Blogging with Your Students


There is more to blogging with your students than simply creating a blog and starting to copy and paste work, that traditionally was done on a paper journal or worksheet in the classroom, into that digital space. Blogging is about quality and authentic writing in digital spaces with a global …

(No Comments)

You Have 1 Second to Hook a Potential Reader


If you are blogging with your students, you have been exposed to them. You have been exposed to hundreds of unimaginative, cloned, generic and uninspiring BLOG TITLES. When opening your RSS reader that contains the latest blog posts of your students,  you are confronted with a list, similar to the …

(1 Comment)

Student Led Conferences: Sick and Tired of Blogs & Reflection?


Our students just finished a second round of Student Led Conferences (SLC) this school year (one in Semester 1 and another in Semester 2). SLCs are a formal opportunity for students to present to their parents about the state of their learning. The students’ advisor (a teacher responsible for a …

(1 Comment)


Evaluating iPad Apps


I wanted to take a closer look at the iPad Evaluation I previously blogged about in Evaluating Apps with Transformative Use in Mind. The section of Content and Components deserved a closer look and explanation. You can  download the PDF file of the iPad App Evaluation for the Classroom with …

(No Comments)

Visible Thinking in Math- Part 1


The conversation about visible thinking in Math started with one of our teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, Adam Hancock, wanting to know how he could incorporate having students’ use their blogfolios in Math class. It seemed natural to have students write for Humanities (Language Arts and …


Self- Directed Course: iPads in the Classroom


Professional Learning Board just released a Self-study  iPads in the Classroom course I wrote. It is a  self-directed course to take in your own time and at your own speed. “You have an iPad in your classroom, now what?” The iPad helps us prepare today’s student for today’s world in …


Digital Storytelling

Poetry on Record


Inspired by Poetry, Performance & Taylor Mali and Beyond…, 8th grade Humanities teacher Shannon Hancock coached her students to create their own original “Mali Poem”and record a visual and vocal performance. I joined the class to give a brief overview of presentation design. I used selected slides from my slidedeck below to …

(No Comments)

Workflow & Learnflow of an Animation Story


After teaching a 1:1 Toolkit class for incoming Middle Schoolers tothe 1:1 laptop environment this past quarter, I am currently teaching a Media Basics course for sixth graders. I am using a school blog to document the class (among others), showcase student work, share resources and give written step-by-step directions …

(No Comments)

My StoryTelling App Folder(s)


Matt Gomez shared a post today with a screenshot of his storytelling iPad app folder. I wanted to reciprocate and share mine. Storytelling I Folder StoryBuddy StoryBuilder StoryPagesHD Toontastic Tappy Memories StoryBoards Premium StoryMaker HD StoryPatch In a World … Drama Build a Story PhotoPuppets HD Epic Citadel Sock Puppets …


%d bloggers like this: