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#5: The Problem with One-Pagers

April 16, 2019 3 min read

#5: The Problem with One-Pagers

April 16, 2019 3 min read

Today we’re going to discuss one of the MAJOR problems with one-pagers. But more importantly, we’ll also be talking about how to ensure we don’t make this big mistake again!

So, as you might all be well aware, the one pager assignment has been around the teacher blogosphere for quite a while now.

But, just in case you aren’t familiar with it, basically a one pager is a project that allows students to critically analyze a text in a more creative way than let’s say an essay or a formal assessment. Students essentially create one page of content that incorporates symbols, short answers, illustrations, borders depicting a central theme, things like that.

It seems like everyone uses one-pagers all the time! And don’t get me wrong, they really are a fantastic assessment tool, if used correctly.

When I assigned it to my students at the end of our unit on The Outsiders, the final products my students submitted turned out okay – they were visually pleasing and the kids really enjoyed them.

But … there was one big *problem* I ran into with the one pagers and my middle school students …

After grading the finished products, I was kind of underwhelmed by the level of analysis, by their actual CONTENT. They sure looked pretty, but their responses were short and pretty much only covered a basic summary of the text. The one pagers didn’t really show that level of analysis I know my kids are capable of.

And it’s very possible you’ve experienced the same exact thing – beautiful projects, lackluster content. So what do we do?

Well, I sat down and went over where I had gone wrong, and maybe this is where you ran into some issues too.

I came up with four things that needed to change, and I bet it’s very likely these are four things you might want to change as well.

  • I needed to have clearer expectations on the required elements for the one pager.
  • I needed to provide my students with more analytical and in-depth choices to include on their one pager.
  • I needed to provide some of my students with just a bit more structure.
  • I needed an easy method for grading their final projects.

So that’s the problem we’re facing, right? Well, what’s the solution we can take away and start using instead?

Well, I sat down and created a much more improved one-pager assignment, and you can do the same exact thing.

First I changed the format of my one-pager. I made it a choice board where students can pick and choose what activities they want to include on their one pager. Anything with students choice is always a plus!

Two, I now include a student cheat sheet that really goes into much greater detail about the expectations for each activity. The cheat sheet has explicit instructions for students, so they know exactly what they need to include. And I honestly think this has had the biggest impact on their improved one pagers.

And then finally, and this is super simple, I created a really basic template for my students who might need a little bit more structure since a blank page can be super daunting for students sometimes!

I’ve already used this new structure with my students twice, and I have to tell you, their one-pager projects are just at another level now. Their analysis is deep, and I can truly see their critical thinking. No more lackluster projects over here!

So if you’ve used a one-pager in the past and have been disappointed, why not take some of these same tactics and use them on your next assignment? I bet you’ll see some pretty awesome results!

If you’d like to just use the same one I created, I included the link to grab it below!

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Caitlin

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