Instructional design includes:
  1. Involving students as active learners,
  2. Altering instruction in response to classroom diversity,
  3. Modifying curriculum to respond to the life issues that students confront, and
  4. Engaging students in prevention oriented discussion of the real life issues.
1. Active learning is critical if students are to be engaged in the learning process. There are many ways to do this. Some examples include:
  • Having students participate in school improvement projects,
  • Engaging in service learning opportunities
  • Debating and discussing selected real life issues, and
  • Role playing possible was to cope with life issues.
2. Sound instructional design also includes examining students' diversity characteristics and altering instruction accordingly. Teachers need to look at various aspects of the instructional situation such as:
  • Learning materials,
  • Instructional formats,
  • Tasks and assignments,
  • Learning activities,
  • Methods of communication, and
  • Disciplinary procedures.

Administrators might need to change the manner in which student discipline is handled in light of their students' culture, age and economic status. Teachers may need to simplify directions and reading materials for students whose first language is not English or for students with reading deficits. Learning materials might need to be changed to reflect diversity in terms of race and ethnicity.

3. Sound instructional design also includes examining the real life issues students confront at a particular school and using this information to alter teaching. For instance, in mathematics, students learn to interpret and compute in response to word problems. With the real life issues approach, accurate data on the selected real life issue can form the content of the word problems. Using bullying as an example, the word problems could include state and national data on:

  • The number of students who have reported being bullied,
  • The proportion of male to female victims,
  • The proportion of bullies or victims by age or sexual orientation, or
  • The number of students who reported witnessing acts of bullying without intervening.
4. Engaging students in discussions about the real life issue is also critical to effective instruction. Questions that specifically address a real life issue should be added at the beginning, middle or end of a lesson to help students make the connection between what is being taught and how it relates to their own lives. Take the previous mathematics example. The teacher could ask the following types of questions:
  • Do you think the number of students who report being bullied at our school would be greater, equal to or less than the number reported nationally?
  • Why do you think this is so?
  • What is your idea of a bully?
  • Why do you think bullies attack others?
  • What could bystanders do when they witness someone being bullied?
  • What would encourage bystanders to intervene?
In addition, teachers will want to stay one step ahead of their students. For example, let's suppose a teacher overhears students joking about an upcoming party in which binge drinking might take place. The teacher would use this information to refine upcoming lesson plans. Students might be asked to research topics such as the following:
  • The effect of alcohol on one's body,
  • The effect of alcohol on one's athletic ability,
  • The likelihood of being a perpetrator or victim of date rape when alcohol is used,
  • The relationship between alcohol use and the three leading causes of teen death, automobile crashes, homicides and suicides.
In this way, students inform themselves on the personal risks of drinking rather than the teacher "preaching" about its negative effects. The Real Life Issues approach strengthens instructional design by making teachers more responsive to students and the issues they confront. It also promotes active versus passive learning methodologies.

©2007 Network for the Dissemination of Curriculum Infusion, All rights reserved.