Literary Response One-Pager Activity

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I was going to save this post until August when I had been properly AVID-trained, but I get so many questions about these One-Pagers on Instagram! They turned out so beautifully, and it’s such an easy strategy that I think we can all implement it with or without the full training.

A Literary Response One-Pager is an AVID summarizing strategy in which students use evidence from the text as well as graphics to convey the overall idea or theme of a story. It’s a very versatile strategy, and I’ve seen teachers use it in history and science classes as well. My co-worker had her class do this assignment for The Diary of Anne Frank and I loved how hers turned out, so I used the same strategy. I came up with my own instructions and posted them on Google Classroom for my students to refer to.

Literary Response One Pager

(I use LucidPress to create most of my digital flyers instructions, and the flat lay graphic is from Laine Sutherland Designs on TeachersPayTeachers).

The examples here are from my 8th grade English class, using the Anne Frank play from the HMH Collections Curriculum. We had engaged in so many discussions while reading the play, and my students had written so many shorter, focused writing pieces, that I didn’t want to assign another long essay at the end of this text. But because Anne Frank’s story is so powerful and so profound, especially to readers who are her same age, I knew we needed a reflection piece.

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Before we started working on these One-Pagers we talked about tone. Color choices would reflect students’ understanding of the tone of the story, and would allow them to express their interpretations of the story. I love using Flocabulary’s video and resources on Tone & Mood to introduce this topic.

Similarly, the excerpts that students chose to use from the story also demonstrated both their understanding of the main ideas and theme, and allowed them to choose the sections that they connected with the most. I love when an assignment offers choices to students, but also keeps them focused on a specific task.

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Clearly, the graphics on these projects are stunning! We have an amazing art program at our school, and I also just happened to have a class full of some of the most artistically talented students I’ve ever met. I also love that calligraphy/hand-lettering is kind of a thing again, and these students like to make all of their hand-written assignments look extra amazing. It isn’t necessary that all of your students have professional drawing skills in order to do One-Pagers, but it is nice if they put a little bit of effort into the details of their graphics. These girls (yes, they were all girls), looked up what the actual cover of Anne’s diary looked like, and they studied pictures of her to make sure that their drawings were accurate. I gave them two days of class time to complete this assignment, but the students who did these examples took them home to complete and spent extra time and effort.

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The “Personal Response” section is always my favorite to read. Ideally the response will be connected to the quotes that the students chose to emphasize from the story. They can comment upon these quotes, make connections between them or to a larger topic, or provide their interpretation of the text. This is great with a long text like the Anne Frank play, but it also helps students to think more deeply about short stories. I haven’t used this strategy with poetry yet, but I have a feeling it would lead to some outstanding projects, and I’m definitely going to try it next year.

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One requirement that instantly improves the quality of everyone’s project is banning white space. (“Fine, except for clouds and eyeballs,” I always end up saying). It forces students to think about the background of their scene, or fill in blank areas with items or symbols from the story. I tell them to add a border if they don’t know where else to start. This also helps to emphasize mood and tone since students have to make decisions about color choices and cannot just leave blank space. We are not Taylor Swift here.

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My students know that I am not a fan of pencils (I always use pens!), and in my class, pencils are for practice. A project in pencil is not complete, it’s just a rough draft. For One-Pagers, students need to go over pencil in pen or marker or crayon or whatever other tool they’d like to use. When students show me their work and it’s just a few things written or drawn in pencil I say, “Oh that’s a good rough draft, I can’t wait to see how it turns out when you finish it!” I spend a lot of my own money and time acquiring plenty of art supplies for students to use because I really value good tools to help students produce work that looks high-quality and that they can be proud of.

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I was so impressed with the effort and thoughtfulness my students put into this assignment, and I’m so glad that they have inspired so many teachers to use this strategy as well. I’m looking forward to participating in the full AVID training in August, and I’ll be sure to update you on other effective strategies that I incorporate into my class. Be sure to tag me on Instagram if your students create their own One-Pagers. I’d love to see them!

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