Primary: Writing Processes & Strategies, Text Structures & Genres
1. Make copies of the Prove It! and Four Square worksheets for each student
2. Reproduce a blank Four Square chart on chart paper
3. Gather pencils and coloring supplies for each student
1. Share a funny anecdote that illustrates that opinions can be unreliable, for example:
a. Teacher: I just ate some amazing food last night. It was scrumptious, yummy, and
amazing! Do you think you would like to try some?
b. Students: Yeah!
c. Teacher: Great! I didnt know you liked cows brains!
2. Use the anecdote as a discussion starter to explore why using opinions does not work well when you are trying to prove a point
a. Help students identify that everyone has different perceptions and opinions
3. Introduce facts as an alternative to opinions, pointing out that they are verifiable and/or quantifiable
4. Help students distinguish between fact and opinion using the Prove It worksheet
a. Allow students to complete it independently or complete it as a group, and then explain
the possible correct answers
1. Review the difference between facts and opinions
2. Show the class the Four Square method on chart paper, explaining that it helps you to prove your points using facts
3. Explain that in the center square #1, you write a topic sentence (the statement you are trying to prove)
a. For example, School is a great place
4. Explain that in boxes #2-4, you write 3 facts that support your statement
a. Have the class come up with facts they can agree upon
5. Explain that in box #5, you put a feeling sentence that expresses how you want the reader to feel about the topic
a. Write a sample feeling sentence
6. Write down the sentences in paragraph form and read the paragraph aloud
7. Hand out the Four Square worksheets and support students as they complete them
8. Bring the class together to share their worksheets
English Language Learners/ESL:
- Pair ELL and non-ELL students when working on Four Square sheets - Illustrate or have students act out the facts they provide
LD/Reading & Writing Difficulties:
- Continuously review the difference between fact and opinion - When students are completing Four Square sheets, write down a selection of supporting facts for students to choose from - Allow students to work at a slower pace or to complete less supporting facts
Cultural Appropriateness & Diversity:
- Encourage the use of diverse central topics that express students' interests
- Encourage more advanced students to write their sentences in paragraph form
Source: Gould, J., & Gould, E. (1999). Four square writing method for grades 1-3: A unique approach to teaching basic writing skills. Carthridge IL: Teaching and Learning Company.
Lee, C. C., & Tan, S. C., (2010). Scaffolding writing using feedback in students' graphic organizers: Novice writers' relevance of ideas and cognitive loads. Educational Media International, 47, 135-152.
The goal of Four Square Writing Method: A Graphic Organizer to Support Paragraph Writing is to help students develop skills for beginning paragraph writing by providing a graphic organizer that encourages them to use facts to support their main point.
What You Need
20-30 minutes - Make copies of the Prove It worksheet and Four Square sheets - Recreate Four Square graphic organizer on chart paper - Gather pencils and coloring supplies
2, 40-minute sessions - Class explores the value of using facts instead of opinions to prove a point - Students distinguish between fact and opinion - Teacher demonstrates Four Square method with student assistance - Students fill out their own Four Square sheets and share them with the class
Teacher: - Chart paper - Markers
Students: - Copy of Prove It! worksheet - Copy of Four Square worksheet - Pencils and coloring supplies
What You Do
Facilitator: - during class discussion about fact versus opinion - when helping students fill out Four Square chart as a class
Direct instruction: - when explaining Four Square method
Consultant: - when students are completing individualFour Square sheets
Whole class: - while students explore the use of facts to support a point and teacher demonstrates Four Square method
Individual, in pairs, or in small groups: - during completion of Four Square exercise
- While students are completing their worksheets, make anecdotal observations about their ability to distinguish between facts and opinions
- Have students write and revise paragraphs based on their Four Square organizer
- Students can create Four Square "mini books" and bind them with front and back covers
- Using the Four Square graphic organizer, students can organize facts from other subject areas including science, physical education, and art
- The Four Square worksheets provided contain both sample topics and blanks for you to choose from.
- This is a good activity to start to introduce a structure for persuasive writing or for expository writing.
- Have a signal for fact and opinion to help students differentiate the two (for example, opinion is touching your head, fact is holding hands out palms up to signify that you need to be able to see the evidence)
- Allow students to choose what point they would like to prove or write their own