California Educator

August/September 2019

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ose comments struck a chord. For years I had dealt with comments from some of my own students about their distaste for artistic mate- rials when I would introduce creative projects. No matter how much I explained that it was the intention behind their choices that mattered, I always got pushback. Was there a way to tweak the one-pager assignment so every student would feel confident in their success? Another problem was one of overall design: ough they knew they needed to hit all the requirements their teachers listed, students still seemed to be overwhelmed by that huge blank page. What should go where? Did colored pencils really have to be involved? Solution: templates I wondered if students would feel less overwhelmed if they knew what needed to go where. I played around in PowerPoint, shaping my requirements and correlating each element with a space on the paper. e border could be the key quotations. e center would feature an important symbol. e themes could go in circles around the center. I developed different templates for varied ways to respond to novels. en I tried podcasts. Films. Poetry. As I shared these templates with other teachers, I kept getting the same feedback: "It's working!" at little bit of creative constraint actually frees students to use their imagination to represent what they have learned on the page without fear. ey know what they need to put down, and where, but they are also free to expand and add to the template — to choose their own colors, to bring out what is most important to them through their cre- ativity and artistry. And those super artistic students can just flip the template over and use the blank page on the back. Beyond novels While one-pagers lend themselves beautifully to final assessments after reading independent novels, literature circle selections, or whole class novels, that's really just the beginning. You can use them to get to know students better, with "about me" one-pagers at the beginning of the year. One school used templates to have every student create a one-pager about their own life, posting them in hallway displays as part of a project they called "Tell Your Story." You can also use them to help students focus in on the most import- ant information in nonfiction articles and books. One EFL teacher used the templates to have students share key takeaways from articles they read about social media. Students had to analyze the texts deeply to figure out what was most important. Another great use for one-pagers is to keep students focused while absorbing media. When students are watching a film, listening to a podcast, or attending an assembly with a speaker, they can be creating one-pagers as they listen. Steps for one-pager success When considering options for assess- ment, throw one-pagers into the mix: 1. Choose elements you want your students to put onto their one-pagers. For example, quotations, key themes, literary elements, discussion of style, important characters or dates, connec- tions to other disciplines, connections to their lives, and to modern culture. 2. Create a layout using the shapes tool in PowerPoint, or grab a free set of templates at my site 3. Connect your instructions to your layout. Make it clear which elements should go where. 4. Create a simple rubric with the key categories you want your students to succeed with. With literary one-pagers, I use "Textual Analysis," "Required Ele- ments," and "Thoroughness." 5. Show students examples of one- pagers to give them a sense for how they might proceed. 6. Let students work on one- pagers in class so they can ask you questions. Provide artistic materials, or invite stu- dents to bring them in. You can always let them complete the work at home. 7. Do a gallery walk of the one-pagers before you collect them, or have stu- dents present to each other in small groups. Students will learn a lot from seeing each other's representations. 8. Create a display after you grade the one-pagers with your rubric. Former high school teacher Betsy Potash creates educational content (curricu- lum, podcasts, etc.) and community at This article originally appeared in Cult of Pedagogy. 55 A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 019

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