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Squaring Off and Four Corners

ybrSquaring Off and Four Corners are two instructional strategies that have been utilized and modified for years by good teachers.  These strategies coupled with opportunities for collaboration, high-level questioning, writing, and reflection can serve as powerful ways to engage your class in a new topic, an ambiguous concept, or a controversial subject.  These strategies can also be used as a means of formative assessment to gauge student understanding or as a pre-assessment to determine what students know versus what they think they know.

Squaring Off

Place a card in each corner of the room with the following phrases: Dirt Road, Paved Road, Highway, and Yellow Brick Road. Brainstorm with students the characteristics of each type of road and how each road represents a level of understanding. The dirt road would symbolize the lowest level of understanding where the yellow brick road would indicate an ability to teach others about the topic. Instruct students to go to the corner of the room that matches where they are in the new unit of study. You can use this activity to create cooperative learning groups, assess knowledge, and meet students where they are.

Four Corners

Like Squaring Off, this kinesthetic method of formative assessment allows students to move to a corner of the room labeled as “A, B, C, D,” “Yes/No,” “True/False,” “Agree, Disagree, Neutral,” etc. Students move to the corner that represents their response to a prompt. Teachers use this real-time information to make adjustments to instruction.


About Heather Mullins

Dr. Heather Mullins is the Chief Academic Officer in Newton-Conover City Schools. She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow who spent 12 years as a high school English Teacher. She received her B.S.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Western Carolina University. Heather completed her National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adult English Language Arts in 2002. She holds an M.Ed. in Academically and Intellectually Gifted from UNC-Charlotte. She completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership through Western Carolina University. Her dissertation focused on improving principal practice through strategic professional development. Heather has served as a Curriculum Specialist in Hickory City Schools, an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, and a Professional Development Consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Heather is one of the co-founders of #NCed Chat, North Carolina’s first Twitter chat for teachers. She is passionate about innovative practices, instructional technology, student ownership of learning, and supporting teachers. Heather serves on the advisory board for the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina School for the Deaf and Catawba Science Center. She is a recipient of the 2015 NCMLE Central Office Administrator to Watch Award. She also received the 2016 Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership. Heather is the proud mother of one son, Jackson.

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