One-Pagers: Teaching ELs to Review Content

What is a one-pager? It is an activity for students to demonstrate the highlights of what they have learned from listening to a podcast, viewing a film, reading a novel or a poem, or completing a unit of study in any content area. To complete a one-pager, English learners (ELs) draw and write the highlights of what they have learned on a single piece of paper.

Here are some samples of one-pagers that teachers have shared. As you can see, students can include the following in their one-pagers:

  • drawings or other images
  • key ideas or theme
  • character development
  • quotes
  • the basic facts or plot line
  • major events and dates

You can use one-pagers as a final project or as the introduction of a major paper. It is important that ELs receive clear directions to complete their one-pagers. Suggestions for template directions can be found here. Following are some tips for making the most of one-pagers with your ELs.

Benefits for ELs When Creating a One-Pager

When ELs (or any other student) mix visuals and writing on a one-pager, the information that they put on the page becomes more memorable. They are involved in creating content rather than memorizing facts. They are making connections to their own lives and learning to synthesize what they have read, viewed, or heard. According to the Dual Coding Theory,

Human cognition is unique in that it has become specialized for dealing simultaneously with language and with nonverbal objects and events. Moreover, the language system is peculiar in that it deals directly with linguistic input and output (in the form of speech or writing) while at the same time serving a symbolic function with respect to nonverbal objects, events, and behaviors. (Paivio, 1986, as cited in Culatta, 2021)

A One-Pager Stumbling Block

One of the stumbling blocks for ELs when creating one-pagers is that students who are not good artists feel that they can’t compete with those who are artistic. Let students know that they don’t have to be great artists to provide a visual representations or their content. Emphasize to students that their work won’t be judged on the quality of their artwork but on the content, originality, and organization of the page. To address this problem, a former English teacher, Betsy Potash, has created templates that include very specific instructions to help students complete their one-pagers. If you go to the website you’ll see her offer to provide you with some free samples. She also has a podcast that features one-pagers.

Give ELs an Audience for Their Work

After the assignment is completed, find a way that your students can share their final product with an audience. Many ELs will not be comfortable sharing their work in front of the whole class, so you can have them share in small groups. I was in a third grade classroom where each student invited a family member to come into the class so that they could share their work.

If you have experiences with teaching ELs to create one-pagers, please share them in the comment box, below.


Culatta, R. (2021). Dual coding theory (Allan Paivio).

About Judie Haynes

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes taught elementary ESL for 28 years and is the author and coauthor of eight books for teachers of ELs , the most recent being “Teaching to Strengths: Supporting Students Living with Trauma, Violence and Chronic Stress“ with Debbie Zacarian and Lourdes Alvarez-Ortiz. She was a columnist for the TESOL publication "Essential Teacher" and is also cofounder and comoderator of the Twitter Chat for teachers of English learners #ELLCHAT.
This entry was posted in TESOL Blog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to
One-Pagers: Teaching ELs to Review Content

  1. These are great ideas – I prefer the listening activities because my students can read anything pretty well but can’t understand when they hear information…

  2. Barbara Gottschalk says:

    Great idea! If you think about it, visuals provide great scaffolding for writing. I just finished writing a short family history for my nephew. I could’ve put it entirely in text, but the photos gave me more to write ABOUT. Not a one-pager, but same principle.

    • Judie Haynes says:

      This is a great idea. I think ESL teachers use many variations on one-pagers without even knowing what they are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.