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One Minute Sentence

This strategy encourages students to form a concise summary of what they just learned. Students are able to demonstrate their understanding of an idea or concept by writing only one sentence to capture the most important elements. This strategy allows students to practice their writing skills and gives teachers a way to check students’ understanding.

How to use

1. List

During a lesson, have students list of the most important ideas of the lesson.

2. Compose

Students review the important ideas they’ve recorded so far, then use what they’ve reviewed to compose one sentence to summarize the entire lesson.

3. Time

Set a timer for one minute and ask students to compose their sentence. At the end of one minute, students share their sentences with a partner and/or turn them in.

When to use

Use One Minute Sentence at any point in the lesson to check for understanding.

  • As a warm-up activity to discuss previous lesson or homework assignment
  • During class discussions as a way for students to summarize ideas
  • During Guided Practice to get a quick formative assessment
  • As a closing activity so that students can review what was learned in the lesson
  • As a practice for the Main Idea and/or Summary standard
  • To build conciseness and correct word choice in explanations


Instead of writing one sentence to summarize the big idea of a lesson, students can also write one sentence to summarize an event, an article, a theme/moral lesson or a problem.

One Minute Sentence Mash-Up

When students share their sentences with a partner, have partners write a new sentence using the best parts of their respective sentences.

One Minute Sentence Competition

Partners decide which of their sentences is the best summary and submit that sentence to the teacher. Then, the teacher places two sets of partners together into a group of four. Teacher gives each group two sentences to judge. Groups of four talk about the merits of each sentence and give the best summary to the teacher. Finally, the teacher reads or shows these final sentences to the class, and the class votes on the best summary.

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