When Students Become the Heroes of the Curriculum Story

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

The first blog post clarified the rich connections of curriculum storyboards and UDL principle of engagement. The second post clarified how to begin to use the curriculum storyboards with students so that they own their learning experience.

Our hope is that engagement with the curriculum is an opportunity for learners to discover more about who they are as learners, what talents and strengths are being developed, and what they continue to wonder about. In Streamlining Curriculum: Using Storyboard Approach to Frame Compelling Journeys (ASCD, 2023), Heidi Hayes Jacobs and Allison Zmuda promoted how to invite students to make the learning their own.

Creating reflection opportunities to think about what they’re learning is affecting how they see themselves in the world and in the world of your classroom. The goal is to provide clear prompts that help students make their thinking visible, motivate their sense making, and stimulate conversation and analysis. It’s important to avoid overly detailed and cumbersome directions or make classroom activities feel like “yet another thing” for everyone to do.

The following is a curriculum storyboard with students prompts for learners to reflect and share their thinking as they are ending their unit of study and getting ready for the next part of the curriculum story. They can capture their thinking in a variety of ways using ideas that are personally meaningful to them.

To demonstrate their learning, students had choices by either creating using mind mapping, photo album, illustrations, storymaker or responding using a chart, infographic, mural, or image and communicating how it personally impacted them. As students are making meaning of the learning content, they also continue to discover themselves as learners. In UDL Now! (CAST, 2022), Katie Novak suggests:
If we want our students to be motivated, self-directed learners, we have to support their journey so they become autonomous and can personalize their learning. To do this, we have to focus on engagement and help build students, self-awareness, and self direction.

Here are some prompts that might help learners personalize and discover themselves as learners, inspired by curriculum storyboards and UDL:

Becoming more self-aware (metacognition):
  • What are a few words to describe how you are feeling about what we are studying?
  • What questions do you have about what you are reading in the focus of the story?
  • What is your best way of learning something new?
Becoming more collaborative :
  • In what ways might you interact with another person about the ideas the story sparked for you?
  • What new ideas did you learn by listening to someone else’s way of thinking?
  • In what ways did working with others help you to become more creative or innovative?
As a class, you might:
  • Celebrate the amazing work you are sharing.
  • Take time to imagine and wonder about where the story is going.
  • Identify some places the story could take you.

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