One-Pagers as a Response to Literature

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One-pagers are a great way to get students thinking back over what they have read. Whether you use them as a bridge between your unit and a major paper, or as an assessment all their own, they can provide great value in getting students to think both critically and creatively.

So what is a one-pager? Well, it's pretty simple, really. Students design a single page of paper featuring key elements of whatever they have just read. Using quotations, their own words, drawings, symbols, and colors, they highlight important themes, symbols, moments and characters on the page.

But it's not always easy for students to dive in and start a project like this. I have found that providing a class with a clear template and specific instructions helps eliminate the overwhelm some students feel when faced with such an open-ended project. Especially those students who usually balk at the words "art supplies." 

one-pagers templates

You can download four free templates with specific instructions to use with any novel right here

Or you can make your own templates. I like to use the shapes tool in Powerpoint to lay out the page, then put in the directives for each section on another page to photocopy onto the back. 

For example, the template directions might include:

  • In the upper lefthand corner, draw a key symbol from the reading and choose a related quotation to write down. Then write a sentence in your own words explaining the importance of the symbol.
  • In the upper righthand corner, show one character's development throughout the novel using some sketches, quotations, and words of your own. 
  • Create a border around your paper using three important quotations that show themes from the reading. 
  • Include five words or pictures across the middle of the paper that express the author's style. 
  • In the lower lefthand corner, consider connections between what you have read and the modern world. Express them in words and/or pictures. Feel free to include quotations.
  • Somewhere on your paper, write a one-sentence review. What did or didn't you like about this book?

If you want to get specific, you can create one-pager assignments that focus carefully on a topic you are going to use later for a paper or essay prompt. 

If you are about to have students write a paper on themes in The Outsiders, for example, having them create a theme-based one-pager makes for a great pre-writing assignment. As they sketchnote the important themes across their papers, searching for related quotations and relevant character development and symbolism, they will be gathering everything they need to write a great paper without even knowing it.  

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One of the best ways to understand what a one-pager can do for you, and how your students can use it, is to see a gallery of examples. Check out this great roundup over on my blog to see this creative strategy in action. 

About the Author: Betsy Potash from Spark Creativity

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Betsy loves to travel the world (she'll be back, Morocco!), play playdoh with her little ones, and cook a range of desserts that would make the Hogwarts house elves proud. If you're interested in creative teaching strategies, check out her podcast "The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast" on iTunes and hop into her Facebook group "Creative High School English." Prefer Pinterest? Instagram? She'd love to meet up with you there too! 

Featured Resources

If you find yourself falling in love with one-pagers, check out the complete one-pager line from Spark Creativity. You'll find "About Me" One-Pagers for getting to know your students, plus One-Pagers for Podcasts, Films, and Vocabulary

one-pagers template line
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