Professional Development Opinion

Hacking Instructional Design, a Must Read for Any Instructional Leader

By Starr Sackstein — April 23, 2019 2 min read
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As instructional leaders, it is our duty to be in the know of how best to direct our learners. Often we get mired in content-related challenges when ultimately, the tweaks need to be instructional.

Whether you are an instructional coach, a teacher, or a leader, Hacking Instructional Design: 33 Extraordinary Ways to Create a Contemporary Curriculum is a great book to keep on your desk at the ready when it comes time to provide feedback or take a risk with a new strategy.

This easy-to-read book takes a little different spin on a familiar structure to maximize its usefulness. You don’t need to read this book in order for it to make sense, but it doesn’t hurt if you do.

The book is organized by “hacktions” or “a range of Hacks that seek to uncomplicate a previously complicated thing or act” (Fisher and Fisher 21).

The Foundational hacktions focus on curriculum foundations like understanding standards and aligning instruction and assessment with the appropriate standards to develop excellent learning goals and targets even before the students arrive.

The Instructional hacktions are those that happen with lesson design like prior knowledge, multiple modalities, inquiry design, assessments, and lesson experiences.

The Engagement hacktions focus on motivation, wonder, and creativity to ensure the deepest level of learning for all students.

The Contemporary hacktions focus on what the modern student cares about and gives teachers the opportunity to discover new things.

The Blueprint hacktions work on laying out plans and developing new “cultures around curriculum and assessment.”

The book covers 33 separate hacks to improve student learning. Each hack addresses a specific problem that teachers may have and provides an easy solution to making learning more robust in each teacher’s space. The different strategies and solutions are research-based, bringing in many of the well-known leaders in their fields: Bloom, Jacobs, Marzano, etc. (There’s a great reference list in the back for future reading if you want to dig deeper.)

Additionally, the Fishers offer bonus materials chock-full of reprintable templates for teachers and students, as well as a study guide to help read the book with a small group. Some of my favorite organizers and templates are for breaking apart standards and for goal setting. Depending on your particular needs, the book is sure to have something different jump out for each reader.

As an instructional coach and leader, it is always awesome to have a resource that can sit on your desk and answer so many questions, just from a scan. The chapters are short and readable for even the busiest educator.

Instructional design doesn’t have to be complicated; sometimes it is deceptively simple. Do what is needed and don’t overcomplicate it.

So if you’re looking for an easy-to-read, desk-reference must-have, grab a copy of this valuable book.

What areas do you need a fresh perspective with when it comes to instructional design? please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.