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

Creating a Sequence Diagram for Education

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. 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 and it puts everyone on the same page.

Make a Process Diagram

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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)

Benefits for Teachers to Show Processes to Students

Processes can be very clearly explained or demonstrated and all students SEE the process in the same way. In addition, storyboards can be referred to at a later time for reinforcement, reteaching, or review. Having a visual record is really useful! Print out comic strips, create a shared folder on the school network, or otherwise make the process available. For example, put a long division comic in a math notebook or folder that students can reference when doing independent work.

Sequence diagrams are also extremely helpful for use in special education, and the ability to customize the visuals for the student ensure that students are able to connect with the content. For more information on using these in special education, see our articles on How To Boards and Sequencing.

Benefits for Students to Create Processes

Students can also create sequence diagrams as part of their coursework, and the benefits of doing this can often be far greater depending on course goals and desired outcomes. Creating visual processes helps:

  • Improve critical thinking
  • Improve sequencing skills and understanding of cause and effect
  • Solidify understanding and retention
  • Force students to organize their thoughts
  • Improve social learning through presentation and sharing

Sequence Diagram Examples

Check out all these different examples of processes! Notice the different layouts and approaches. Variations on the traditional layout make for a more engaging experience and make it easy to tailor the visual to students. Do they need something that looks more like a timeline with each step descending? Or will a narrative storyboard work best? Depending on the purpose of the sequence diagram, have a character say what to do with speech bubbles, or narrate with titles, descriptions, or both! You can either show a realistic situation or create an explanation or metaphor for more abstract ideas. The following examples are also customizable, so you can copy any of them into your account to get a head start on creating diagrams.

Customize Worksheets!

If you're looking for another step or an alternative to visual process diagrams, you can create graphic organizer worksheets to use in your class! These worksheets can be customized and printed out for students to fill out with a pencil, or they can be completed in the Storyboard Creator like a digital worksheet. You can even create multiple versions for those students who might need a little extra help, and keep them on hand for future use! Find plenty of templates to work from or just start with a blank canvas. Customizing worksheets is a perfect way to give students guidance while they're taking notes and learning about processes, and can serve as references later on in the year.

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