Leveraging Curriculum Storyboards to be an Equitable and Inclusive Experience of Belonging

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How do the core components of curriculum storyboards connect with UDL principles? How do those connections influence our designs? This is the second post of a 3-part series exploring the relationship between Curriculum Storyboards and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

In the first blog post of the series, we clarified how the development of a curriculum storyboard is explicitly written for students and their families to promote engagement.

Once the curriculum storyboard is designed, it can now be a powerful message to intentionally show students that although we, as teachers, have defined the focus of the story and learning targets of our units, we are now inviting them to partner with us to consider a variety of ways they may take action to learn and show us how they are giving meaning to the work.

Katie Novack also asserts that when implementing curricular goals, learning should be a joint partnership with students.

Being responsive to the needs of our students is critical to serving them in ways that are inclusive and equitable, but it is not the sole responsibility of the teacher to personalize learning for students. In our classrooms and learning environments, we have to proactively design our instruction, so all learners have options and choices to self differentiate their learning and access instruction with their peers. (UDL Now! CAST, 2022)

In this way, we are inviting them to help co-create at the design table. You might use the storyboard to engage them in a discussion considering options for how they will learn and demonstrate what they have learned — this represents the UDL principle of action and expression.

As Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Allison Zmuda were in the early drafting stages of Streamlining Curriculum (ASCD, 2023) they advocated for curriculum storyboards as an interactive, sense making tool for the learners. They initially imagined that each student would have a personal curriculum storyboard with a blank row for “my connections.”

Novack emphasizes that students “will pick up on the fact that you are including them in the learning process, and this tells students more than your curriculum ever will” (CAST, 2022).

Whether you are using a curriculum storyboard or reexamining how to better engage students in existing course content, try inviting students to the design table by asking such questions as:

  • What are some possible ways you might show what you are learning?
  • What are some questions you have when you read the story?
  • What do you see in this story that reminds you of something you already know?
  • What might be some ways we could share our work with the community?

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