Diagram a Process

By Anna Warfield

Find this and other great teacher resources in our Education Blog!

Also see How To Boards, Sequencing article, and our Sequencing Activities blog post.

We give and get instructions all of the time. Whether it is a tutorial on a website, a recipe for dinner, or directions to the post office, instructions are all around us. We go through various processes too, as do many natural phenomena. Life cycles, routines, photosynthesis, digestion - processes are everywhere! Instructions and processes are so much more easily understood when accompanied by visuals. When we storyboard a process or create a sequential diagram, we can focus on discrete steps, cause and effect, and sequence.

Storyboarding makes us internalize meaning, focus on the essence of what we need to say, and display it visually. It also provides common visuals for a group of people. People can have different impressions or personal biases that affect thought patterns (see our article on the Ladder of Inference), so presenting information visually and verbally communicates ideas in a better way.

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By breaking down a process, we can focus on three important things: What is the end goal or purpose? What are the individual steps? What are potential setbacks that can be easily avoided? There are many processes that can be storyboarded. Here are a few ideas for various subjects and grade levels. Storyboards can be created by teachers for students, or they can be created by students to showcase learning.

  • How to address multi-step word problems
  • Krebs cycle
  • Water cycle
  • Procedures
  • How to simplify polynomial expressions
  • How to submit online homework
  • How to separate trash and recyclables
  • How mail is delivered
  • Steps involved with a science experiment or other hands-on activity
  • Life cycle of ______
  • Sequence of events (story, schedule, etc.)
  • User experience in an app or computer program (UX Design)
How to Use a Protractor
Create your own at Storyboard That Make sure the protractor is not backwards! It makes life so much easier if you can read the numbers. Before we measure, tell me if this is an acute, right, or obtuse angle. It IS acute, so that means it measures less than 90 degrees. We already know the answer is between 0 and 90 degrees! There are two parts of the protractor to help you get the angle in the right place: 1) an upside-down T at the bottom middle 2) the base line (0 degrees or 180 degrees) We want to place the protractor on top of the angle so the middle of the T is at the vertex. Rotate the protractor so the vertex of the angle is still at the T, but one leg of the angle is lined up with the 0 degree line. That's OK. Don't you remember that definition about angles? Two RAYS with the same endpoint? Rays go on forever, so we can just extend the legs of the angle. The legs of the angle are extended, so we just need to read the numbers. Our options are 140 degrees or 40 degrees. Which is it? Mmmm. My work is done. Maybe I can help. GAH! Math is so stupid! It doesn't make any sense! This protractor thing is impossible! I will show you how to use it. Well, step 1... Acute? The angle doesn't reach the numbers! Acute angle! 40 degrees! Take that MATH!