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Learning at its Best

What Would You Hack?

I ask my students this question the last three years. Each year it makes me frustrated, humbled (recognizing my own areas where I should improve) and hopeful.

I used this as a visual writing prompt. You can check out more of these prompts on the Visual Writing Prompts blog. Luke Neff and I have been working on that site. I would love suggestions for more visual writing prompts. If you have a visual, a question, etc. please let me know at @johntspencer on Twitter or at

About John Spencer

I teach. I write. I live. I want to do all three authentically.


7 thoughts on “What Would You Hack?

  1. I would hack standardized time periods. No more stopping and starting at the whim of the clock, we could spend as much or as little time as we needed.

    Posted by William Chamberlain (@wmchamberlain) | April 28, 2012, 9:04 pm
  2. I don’t know what principal/dean/division-head’s offices are like at most schools. In my limited experience, they’re often adult spaces that kids usually only go to when they’re in big trouble. Something that I like about my school is that administrator’s offices–especially our Head of Middle School’s–are places where kids can often be found hanging out during lunch, between periods, and at other times. Through games of Text Twist and joking around, adults and kids bond. While it can be frustrating on occasion when it’s hard to get some adult facetime with an administrator, I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

    That’s what came to mind when thinking about hacking a part of school. Thanks for the prompt, John!

    Posted by Justin Lanier | April 28, 2012, 9:31 pm
  3. I would hack subject and grade divisions. Are the things children really have most in common their “date of manufacture?” What creates more of an impact on learning– subject material or connections between subject material?

    Posted by brazenteacher | April 29, 2012, 12:21 pm
  4. I am tempted to suggest hacking the political connection to education – taking all control of federal, state, and local (including elected school boards), removing any control of local schools in favor of a local group of interested, engaged, and motivated citizens. Proposals for resources would be determined by a collective group of representatives from these local groups. But that would never fly.

    So I’ll suggest hacking the system of assessment / grades in favor of competency demonstrations – with the caveat that competency be required for K-12 as well as post-secondary education consistent with AACU’s definition of a Liberal Education (which is NOT a liberal arts education but indeed applies to ALL concentrations / majors).

    Posted by John Bennett | April 29, 2012, 8:38 pm
  5. I love to engage adults in re-imaginging school – here’s a video capture of a Hack Jam from Philly. Mozilla and Hackasuarus, the MacArthur Foundation, the National Writing Project, and the Science Leadership Academy all deserve thanks for inspiring and/or hosting. I hope folks steal the idea and use the process elsewhere. Mozilla does more work with kids – I like this interview with Jess and Atul here which explains more.


    Posted by Chad Sansing | May 1, 2012, 8:58 am
    • I really enjoyed the Hackjam at ISTE last year. It was a metaphor I’d used with students and I really had no idea that there were so many folks who had been using that same metaphor for quite some time. I didn’t feel as alone.

      Posted by John T. Spencer | May 1, 2012, 9:09 am

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