Encouraging students to work collaboratively to form and synthesize their ideas.

by Cathlyn Dossetti

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12

In this series of videos, I describe Four Square. This is a strategy that teaches students how to read with purpose, close read, annotate and cite evidence, and take information from multiple sources to produce a single answer.

Part One: Introduction

In part one of the workshop, I introduce Four Square. This strategy is designed to enable students to work together to develop collaborative answers to complex questions that are embedded in a text. Participants begin with the outer square and write down the answer to the central question – what is the role of the individual in society? – in their own words.

Part Two: Citing Evidence

In part two of the workshop, I give each group an excerpt from Emerson’s Self Reliance and ask them to answer the essential question – what is the role of the individual in society? – based on what the author believes, and to notate how that is evidenced in the text. This is documented in the next layer of the square.

Part Three: Synthesis

In part three of the workshop, I introduce a new text. After participants read it they identify how the new author would answer the essential question. The final step is synthesis. Participants, now working with their groups as a unit, produce a consensus answer that reflect the individual answers, Emerson’s answer, and the answers from the second text.