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Graphic Organizers and Digital Storytelling

Why Differentiate Learning?

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 not only 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.

Examples of Differentiated 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.

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.

Likewise, if I have a student who really struggles with writing, but understands and comprehends the material otherwise, I will let them create a storyboard with minimal writing – quotes and dialogue only. It takes the pressure off of them to think about writing, and still allows me to assess that they understand what I am asking them to demonstrate, and that they can still think critically about literary elements, plot diagrams, and character development.

Have students who are stuck on tracking themes and motifs? Storyboard That is a great way to engage those students at all levels. Students can be in charge of tracking one theme throughout the novel or play, and depict scenes for that particular theme. Or, students could keep track of all of the themes as they go along! This is also a way to split up the work a little more in group work: if you have four members in a group, and four themes, each member of the group can be in charge of finding examples for one theme. When all groups/students are done, they can present their storyboards to the class so that everyone is on the same page.

Bonus: Students love seeing what other students can do with their storyboards, so they are engaged in the presentations, and invested in the creation of their own storyboards!

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