#lowtech #notech One-Pagers Make Fun Assessments

There is nothing I enjoy more than learning from other teachers. Teachers by nature are most giving of all people, and love to pass along their best tried and true lessons to others.

While in search of new, creative ways to engage students of all ages in Language Arts, I stumbled upon a wonderful Facebook Group called “2ndaryELA”. The group is made up of Middle School and High School English Language Arts teachers who generously share their experiences (positive and negative)  and lessons with others.  This is where I first learned about an activity called a “One Pager”.  The appeal to me is it gives those students who are visual and creative a way to show what they know. Being a visual person myself, I jumped all over this activity.  I also love that it is low-tech/no-tech!  Sometimes our best ideas don’t require technology, but paper and colored pencils.

An advantage to this activity is it can be applicable across just about any discipline.  Math or science concepts, periods of history, drama, music - no matter what you want to assess, you can use this to do it.

The idea is to use one sheet of paper (we used 8.5x11) to relay a concept (or two or three) using illustrations, color, artistic fonts, or other media.  The first time I introduced it was in a fifth grade classroom where they’ve  just completed the novel “Rules” by Cynthia Lord.  I visit the class twice a week on rotation to introduce writing workshop and literacy instruction.

My rubric for this assignment was simple: the One-Pager must include 2 questions and answers, at least one full-sentence theme statement, one song title related to the theme of the story and an explanation of why it was chosen, 2 important quotes from the book explained,  at least one relevant illustration, and the title and author of the book. I also added that the whole paper should be utilized. The student either met, or didn’t meet each requirement. 

The steps I took:

I did a quick slide presentation to review the idea of themes and quotes, then talked a little bit  about what “relevant illustrations” meant.

Then, a few quick brainstorming ideas were recorded on the board to get them thinking about how they might present their work.

My sample "Rules" One-Pager

I also did my own One-Pager to show them what I was looking for. I showed them how each element was represented in the rubric. I told them again how each will look different because we all connect differently to the book. I reminded them that we don’t have to be artists to create One-Pagers.

Then, we were off and running.

The results were incredible. The teachers loved the idea as well, and went on to incorporate them in other subject areas. I’m adding some of our creations below, but just google “One Pagers”, and check out Pinterest for other applications for them. Here are some "Rules" and "Frindle" One-Pagers:



I recently presented the idea of "One-Pagers" at an Edcamp which was geared toward incorporating technology and tech-based assessments into the classroom. I strongly believe that #notech/#lowtech teaching can be just as effective and engaging as tech-based teaching, and this activity is a perfect example. Sometimes a piece of paper, some colored pencils or markers and a student's imagination is all you need to show that learning happens.  Besides, you can't hang a computer in the school's hallways. 🙂


Motivation Cards

Whenever I come across a new way to motivate students, I hold onto it like a lost treasure. I haven't yet found the silver bullet of motivation that works for all students, but I've found something discreet that works for me across multiple age groups.

One day, I wrote a note on a 7th grade student's paper commending him for being such an active participant in a previous day's discussion. The note was so well-received by this student ("I'm going to put this on the refrigerator tonight so my Dad will see it!") that it got me thinking about I should really be giving more positive reinforcement to students for all those wonderful things they do throughout the day, and make sure that the message gets home to parents as well.  Having lived through the teenage years of dinner-time-talking (grunts, groans, eye-rolling and a lot of "I don't know"s), I wanted to come up with a way for information to flow home once in a while. Parents love hearing those message from teachers, but middle school students aren't very good at delivering them.

I decided to get business cards made up with a simple message that I could attach to a paper, or toss on a student's desk during the course of the class without much fuss.  While there are many places to have business cards made, I found great deals through an online company called Vistaprint.  I had 500 cards made for under $10. Here is what they looked like:

The 7th and 8th graders enjoyed getting them tossed onto their desk during our class discussions. It made me want to expand my idea to other areas. I began commending them for taking out a book and reading, for keeping their journals up to date, and even for kind acts that I caught them doing.  When I took on a new role that brought me into classrooms of younger students as well for writing lessons, I tried them out. They were a hit there, too.


Now I have all types of cards that I carry with me, to use no matter what the occasion.  When I walk into a second grade classroom, I'll see the kids taking their pleasure reading books out in hopes I'll give them a card for being caught reading.  They seem to collect them now, and I'm fine with that. I'll continue to get different cards made up, and I'll continue to hand them out for as long as they work....

Let me know if you have a great motivational tip. I'd love to hear about it!