I have attended a workshop titled ‘Four-square technique’ with some of my colleagues.The workshop was organized by two teachers. The first thing I noticed was the unexpected big number of the attendants, especially in a saturday morning. Fortunately, I managed to have a front seat so that I can follow well. I also decided that the uncomfortable chair would not weaken my will to get the best of the workshop.
At first, when the speaker started to talk about what the workshop was going to be about, I felt a little frustrated; the idea of organizing and planning a piece of writing around a graphic organizer was not new to me. As we delved more into details, my attitude started to change. The session became more interesting as its focus shifted to practical activities rather than theoretical literature. The idea of the workshop revolved around using a piece of paper, fold it into four parts and have the students use the squares to organize ideas around the topic they are to write about. The speaker insisted that the succees of the technique depends so much on modelling, drilling and building-stamina writing topics. Hopefully learners will use this technique routinely whenever they are asked to write something. Examples of motivating topics would be “Why we love Jungle Zone”, or “Last week you went on a trip, what did you do?, what did you say?”. Indeed, when we started to experience the technique ourselves, I discovered that folding the paper, drawing the squares, numbering them and using them as a container to jot down ideas and organize them responds to the needs of a wide range of students with different learning styles. It is one of the rare activities, I think, that would get the interest of students notwithstanding their differences. After the workshop, and on the way home, I was figuring out ways to get the best of it, and put these ideas into practice.
In fact, I started immediately. Since we were in the middle of the persuasive cluster this term, it was the most suitable and appropriate opportunity to use the four-square technique to organize a persuasive piece of writing. You can never imagine how positive the reaction of my students was. When I gave my students blank A4 papers and asked them to start folding them, I could see some astonished faces. That feeling of surprise quickly vanished and instead, there was a positive atmosphere that reigned in three grade 12 classes. I even did not expect one of these classes, which was a class with a majority of low achievers, to do well and come out with nicely-done and well organized worksheets.
As a variation, I asked all my students to use the four-square technique to organize their spaking-test presentations and include them in the PowerPoint presentations. Personally, I think that the results were very satisfactory, because most of the students were able to speak to the class (for the first time) following a well-organized structure and with a relatively remarkable confidence.
The PowerPoint presentation: