Learning more about students with four corners

Sometimes I want students to share more of themselves with the class, but I also acknowledge that doing this may be difficult if we focus on individual call-and-response. This activity gives you the opportunity and flexibility to get to know your students in a way that will help them feel seen yet still part of the group.

I use this activity in two ways, as four-corners or as a line. The four-corners version of the activity provides more options to work with, while the line version of this activity often allows students to choose sides. These activities can be used in multiple settings and do not have to be a “get to know you” activity only. I’ve often used these activities to illustrate concepts in readings, have students reflect on ideas and topics, or provide space for students to explore different opinions and personalities. The Line exercise is included in a separate post.

Four Corners

PURPOSE: provide multiple avenues for students to express opinions and reflect on the lesson’s objectives.

PREPARE: This activity is simple to get ready for: prepare questions. As you write the questions for this activity, remember that each question needs four potential answers. There are different ways this activity can play out:

  • Introductions/Get-to-Know You: write questions that help students share information about themselves.
  • Content Responses: when using this to reflect and respond to course materials, prepare questions that provide students the chance to think about several interpretations.
  • Quiz-like: the questions you write could reflect quiz or test questions, which can serve as a unique way to help students prepare for assessments.

To help make this the most fluid activity possible, I prepared a slideshow that helps illustrate in the room what answers are represented by each corner. I’ll explain this further next. You can download the template below.

ENGAGE: On the day of the activity, explain to students that they will be moving around to respond to your questions. Share that each question has four possible answers, each answer is represented by a corner in the room, and that the answer the student agrees with most is the corner he/she/they should move toward to share their response.

Once all students migrate to specific corners, you can do one or a few things. First, you can use this as a chance for students to discuss why they chose that answer in that small group. Second, you can ask students to partner with students who chose different solutions to discuss their responses. Or, you can make up another quick discussion activity or move on to another question.

I like to pose several questions, but I also like to use this as an active listening exercise. Encourage students to pay attention to how their classmates answer questions because it would later be used to make groups or future activities.

REFLECT: It is vital to have students reflect on the learned experience in this activity. If you are using this activity to get to know students, then talk about differences and how we build a culture of respect, knowing we approach questions differently. If you are using this to respond to content, talk about how students worked to choose answers and how seeing what other classmates decided impacted their confidence or the answer they ultimately selected.

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