Operationalizing the ASH Mission & Vision through Curriculum Storyboarding


Each of us plays a part in bringing our school’s mission and vision to life. In my position as the director of curriculum, I used curriculum storyboarding as an approach to improve the documentation of our school’s curriculum and help put the learner into a more active role in their learning journey.

Too often, school is “done” to students, with key decisions about learning being made by the teacher, yet in my school’s vision statement, we are determined to create a different kind of school: A school where everyone is confident and able to take control of their own learning.

But what was I doing to help put the learner in control of their learning? Or, in the words of our school’s strategic ambitions: what was I doing to bring more learner autonomy, to bring more learning that matters, more joyful learning, and to do it in a sustainable way? And, could I also solve an organizational need related to curriculum documentation?

Curriculum Storyboarding: An approach to frame compelling learning journeys around the familiar concept of a storyline.

While I was grappling with a question about integrating professional development with a new learning management system together with an alternative way of documenting our curriculum that would be based on positive examples of collaboration and documentation, the February 2023 edition of Educational Leadership included an article on Storyboarding your Curriculum (Jacobs and Zmuda, p. 22) which I read with growing excitement as each section unfolded more possibilities in my mind.

The article seemed to provide a solution to my problem so I dove into an unknown-to-me world of curriculum storyboarders in the United States: I joined webinars, watched videos available on YouTube, and read the authors’ book, Streamlining the Curriculum (2023).

This was my learning and research phase, which quickly evolved into a good-enough-to-start-something phase as there was an upcoming opportunity to work with a group of teachers who would soon be planning several new high school math classes.

As I set forth on this path, I created a template based on the ones I had seen in the storyboarding world, I created the necessary infrastructure to house the documentation, and how-to guides to explain how to get started. I tested the ideas, technology and guides and then planned the session to introduce storyboarding with the high school math learning leader. Over two afternoons of curriculum planning sessions, the new math course storyboards were drafted. Initial success!

From the high school math department experience, I reflected on their questions, overall process and initial storyboards. I spent time smoothing the rough spots, revising the guides, and adding timelines with support mechanisms for continued use throughout the school. I shared this information with faculty via email with links. The approach and supporting information was well received.

American School of The Hague 9th Grade Math
Click to view the full storyboard

In MS and HS, nearly all the Arts / Design / Tech teachers created storyboards for their courses – independently, using the guides I had created. A handful of other adventurous teachers also drafted their course storyboards, so that now there is a growing set of examples within our school context to contribute to the documentation of our curriculum and help provide momentum for this approach.

So, what’s next?

The initial phase with teachers has been important to refine the process and infrastructure, socialize the ideas, and catch a few quick-wins. Next up, my attention will be to deepen our collective understanding for how powerful “curriculum as narrative” can be for students and to share our storyboards with students.

I will pose questions for my learning community to consider how storyboarding opens up opportunities for students to curate artifacts of their own learning and to design their own learning experience as the course storyline is laid out before them. The more we see autonomy of one’s own learning as the key driver for learning, the better chance we have at building a better world as we become better human beings.

For more information, visit American School of The Hague at ash.nl.

About Kili Lay

Kili Lay is passionate about school improvement as a learning ecosystem where she is currently committed to empowering learners in her role as director of curriculum and staff development. She is actively involved in school accreditation to validate a school’s commitment to its mission, vision, and school standards.

A former high school science teacher, Kili has taught middle and high school math as well as middle school science in schools located in the U.S. (Connecticut), Spain, and the Netherlands. Kili holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Lehigh University and a bachelor’s degree in science from Bucknell University.

Kili Lay

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