Differentiated Instruction with Storyboard That

By Kristy Littlehale

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Teachers today have to take into account so many different factors that go into preparing a lesson, because our student population is rapidly changing. Kids are no longer “tracked” in the traditional sense; instead, most of our classes have students with all kinds of learning abilities, including those who may need a little extra help accessing the curriculum.

Differentiated instruction has become a way for us to deliver the key concepts to all students, but scaffold our lessons so that students of all abilities can demonstrate their understanding in the ways that best suit them. For my classes, I know that Storyboard That has given me a useful tool for delivering the same material to my students, and an easy way to assess different learning styles and abilities.

My classroom is divided into groups all year long; each group rotates every term, so all students have had an opportunity to work with all of the other students in the room by the end of the year. This set-up becomes a great way for kids to help each other learn, rather than me standing up at the front of the room all day, or micro-managing their learning and group activities.

For instance, if I want to assess students’ understanding of the six elements of Dystopian fiction, but I have students in the room with reading comprehension difficulty, processing speed obstacles, social-emotional issues, and other common difficulties our students endure nowadays, I can split it up for the group. I can assign different tasks for the storyboard: one student in the group needs to find examples from the reading of the first three elements; another student can find the last three. Both students need to find good quotes that highlight these elements. Another student can begin depicting the element in a storyboard. A fourth student can be the proofreader and final-checker. In this way, students naturally divvy up tasks that suit their abilities, and if I am especially concerned, I can assign the tasks that I know each student in the group can do. By the end, they have an awesome storyboard presentation that they can get up and share with the class.

Dystopian Elements in Harrison Bergeron
Create your own at Storyboard That PEOPLE RESTRICTED FROM INDEPENDENT THOUGHT / ACTION GOVERNMENT IS OPPRESSIVE SETTING IS FUTURISTIC, OR IN A FICTIONAL UNIVERSE ELEMENTS OF CONFORMITY, OR EXTREME EQUALITY GOVERNMENT PORTRAYS SOCIETY AS A UTOPIA PROTAGONIST WISHES TO RESTORE PEOPLE TO A CONVENTIONAL LIFE “He tried to think a little about the ballerinas… George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. But he didn’t get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.” “It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and Empress were dead before they hit the floor. Diana Moon Glampers loaded the gun again. She aimed it at the musicians and told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on.” “The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal.” “They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else.” “‘ If I tried to get away with it,’ said George, ‘then other people’d get away with it - and pretty soon we’d be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn’t like that, would you?’” While Harrison is not the protagonist, he does attempt to buck the system by breaking out of prison, declaring himself better than others by making himself an “Emperor”, forcing the musicians to play improved music, and showing the viewers how to dance unencumbered by governmental handicaps. “Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well.”


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Another way to differentiate instruction and assessment is to decide what your students specifically MUST be able to demonstrate. For instance, if I need my students to display their knowledge of a plot diagram, those six cells might be a little too overwhelming and time consuming for my students who struggle with processing or have attention issues. A solution to this is to have them do a shortened version of a plot diagram in a storyboard that at least shows me they understand the exposition, the climax, and the resolution. I can make a simpler template available to them.

Simplified Plot Diagram- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CLIMAX RESOLUTION Mr. Utterson is concerned by a man named Mr. Hyde, because he believes he is taking advantage of his friend Dr. Jekyll. Jekyll sent a letter to Dr. Lanyon, begging him to get something for him. Hyde comes to pick it up, mixes it, and drinks it. He transforms into Henry Jekyll in front of Dr. Lanyon’s eyes, revealing his secret experiments. After Mr. Hyde murders a man, Dr. Jekyll disappears. In a letter from Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Utterson learns that Dr. Jekyll has been transforming into Mr. Hyde for many years, and that it became uncontrollable. Jekyll kills himself to kill Hyde.