Four corners strategies: Using the room and movement to your advantage

When you first enter your classroom, what do you notice? Is it the location of all the exits, the types of seating, or the technology opportunities? Is it something else? Have you thought about the walls?

This strategy helps us to use the corners in the room to help students to work through questions and problems. It can be used to formatively assess student learning or to get students up and moving to get to know one another better. It is called a “four corners activity.”

How do I set this up?

Guess what? This is easy, you just use the corners. There is no additional setup beyond, if you’d like, labeling the corners so students with a letter or number can help correlate questions to answers.

What do I need to prepare?

Preparation is also simple.

Identify the questions you want to ask and possible answers. If you are doing this as a formative exercise, you would write these questions and answers like a quiz.

The answers are possibilities if you are doing this for more social-emotional learning. For example, I may ask students what part of the world they would like to visit (South America, Europe, Africa, or Australia/Oceania) or their favorite vacation spot (beach, forest, desert, city).

You can prepare this as a series of questions like a Likert scale. For example, you can have corners with varying degrees of agreement. If you choose this route, you would prepare a statement, issue, or question to which students would be asked to respond.

You could also prepare questions that encourage students to problem solve where each corner contains ideas, tasks, or tools that students can use to address the prompt. This takes more thinking and time but can lead to fascinating results.

What does this look like?

Another simple answer!

Post the question on the screen or board for this activity and have students move to the corner for their answer. Only give them 10 seconds because the decision should be as knee-jerk of a reaction as possible.

If you choose the problem-solving option, you may have to divide students into sub-groups if there are too many in one place.

I like to have students discuss why they chose the answer in the small group in the corner and then report back a synthesized response. It helps with accountability, but it also encourages students’ camaraderie.

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