Expect Unexpected Engagement When you try Hexagonal Thinking in ELA


288: A Lesser-Known Amanda Gorman Gem
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30: One Pagers: The Simplest Way to Success

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One-pagers are becoming increasingly popular as a way to help students process what they have read in one powerful activity. Like sketchnotes, they combine visuals with text to make ideas come alive in students’ minds and memories.

But it’s easy for students to struggle with one-pagers if they are not naturally inclined toward art and have not previously been encouraged to represent their ideas this way. They may feel they are being graded unfairly on their artistic abilities.

Some students will hear directions to create a graphic representation of a reading and dive right in. Others will moan and mutter things about “ridiculous art projects.” But the popularity of one pagers with teachers lately is undeniable. If students can get over their hang-ups, they really learn a lot from processing what they’ve read in visual form with a one-pager.

So how to help the art-haters thrive alongside the artists? How to show everyone that their one-pagers are about critical thinking and interpretation, not just flair pens (though flair pens are a pretty fabulous addition)?

This episode is all about how to make this powerful activity successful, whether or not the majority of your students love art. You can listen below, or on iTunesBlubrry, or Stitcher.

Introducing One-Pagers with Clear Instructions

When you provide students with a clear and straightforward template with instructions for what to put inside each section, you give them some creative constraint that can actually help inspire them to do their best.


For example, you can divide up the paper and provide instructions to include aspects like these:

  • A border which somehow represents the key themes from what you have read
  • An image in the upper left hand corner with a quotation woven into or around it. This image should somehow represent what you consider to be the most important symbol in the text so far.
  • Images and/or doodled words in the upper right hand corner that represent the key characters from the text and perhaps how they are changing
  • Images and quotations in the lower left hand corner that show the author’s style of writing, and the power of the language that is used
  • Images and/or words in the bottom right hand corner that show connections between the themes and ideas in the writing and what is going on in the world today.
  • Three important quotations from the text
  • Words and/or images that show the significance of the setting in some way
This way, students have a clear to-do list, and avoid the writer’s/artist’s block that can get in the way. With a roadmap to work from, everyone has a path to success. As kids become more adept and want to use their own creativity, you can let them move toward a blank page and/or more general requirements, while keeping templates available for anyone who finds them helpful.

Different Types of One-Pager Templates

You can also experiment with varied templates, giving kids the choice of which visual feels most appealing to them. You might give the same instructions, then provide a few different styles of template to work with.

By the way, if you’d like to experiment with more types of one-pagers, check out this post with EIGHT different ways to use them in class! The sky’s really the limit with this project.

Try One-Pagers Now with these Free Templates

Want to get started right away? I’ve designed a free packet of four templates with four different sets of requirements. You can see them in the photos above, or check them out in the quick video below.
You’re going to love watching your students create these beautiful literary visuals! I can’t wait to send it to you. Just sign up below. You’ll also receive occasional e-mails from me chock full of creative teaching strategies and inspiration.

four one-pagers on a teal background

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I'm Betsy

I’ll help you find the creative ELA strategies that will light up your classroom. Get ready for joyful teaching!







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