Four Corners is a quick strategy that can be used effectively in the formative assessment process for gauging student understanding. It can engage students in conversations about controversial topics or answer multiple choice questions.
The four corners of the classroom can be labelled as Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree.
Another way to use Four Corners is associated with multiple choice quizzes. Label the corners of the classroom as A, B, C and D. Students respond to a teacher-created question by choosing the answer they feel is correct. They must be able to give a reason for their answer.
Present students with a statement, like “All students should wear uniforms to school,” and have them move to the corner that expresses their opinion. Students could then discuss why they feel the way they do. The teacher can listen to student discussions and determine who has information to support their opinion and who does not.
Topic: Multiple choice exam revision
Task: this is a revision lesson. The four corners of the room are labelled A, B, C, and D respectively.
The teacher shows sample multiple choice exam questions on the board.
Students move to the corner of what they believe to be the correct answer.
In order to ensure that this strategy provides valid information for student understanding, it is important to have students record their answers on a sticky note or note card before moving to corners. As the questions are read, students move to the corner that matches the answer on their sticky note. Once in the corner, all students there check each others papers to make sure they are in the corner that they have marked as the answer. This prevents students from just going to whichever corner has the most students in it. After students check each others papers, they focus back up on the front of the room so I can go over the question and give them the correct answer.
How to Use
Generate a controversial statement or a question related to your topic of study. Create four different opinions (often teachers use “Strongly Agree,” “Agree,” “Disagree,” and “Strongly Disagree”) related to the statement or four possible answer choices to the question. Post these on chart paper in four different areas of your classroom. The opinions/answers can also be shown on the overhead in multiple choice format, while each corner of the room is labeled as A, B, C, or D.
Read the statement or problem to the class, without giving them choices. Allow time for students to independently think about an answer to the statement/question. You can ask them to write down their answer and reason for their choice. Then, provide the answer choices. Ask students to choose the option that comes closest to their original answer.
- Commit to a Corner
Ask students to gather in the corner of the room that corresponds to their choice. In each corner, students form groups of two or three to discuss the reasons for selecting a particular choice.
Allow two or three minutes of discussion. Call on students to present a group summary of their opinions. This can be done through an oral presentation or as a written statement.
When to Use
Use Four Corners at any point in the lesson to structure meaningful conversation:
Before introducing new material to tap into prior knowledge
After watching a debatable film clip to gauge a reaction
After reading a short text to begin a discussion
In the middle of direct teach to help students process information
When students are in need of movement
As a test review after a unit of study
For a test review, place A, B, C, or D in each corner. Ask a multiple-choice question, and have students move to the answer they would choose. Upon arrival at their corner, pairs or trios discuss why they have chosen their answer. Groups share out their reasoning, and then students are allowed to change their corner after hearing the reasoning of each corner.