Monday, November 8, 2010

Lesson: The Four Corners

The Four Corners is a fun way to get kids ready to read and think about a text. You know those tests you take that ask if you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree? That's called a Likert Scale. Like my students, you're probably asking where the "unsure" category is. I don't give them one, otherwise the bulk of the students would end up there on some statements. Also, there are not five corners in my room, there are four. So they get four options. It's also a little fun to watch my students think their way through agreeing or disagreeing with different statements.

To set up this lesson, you can use a PowerPoint slideshow or an overhead sheet with a series of eight to ten statements. You'll also need to post signs in the four corners of your room with each of the agreement level options. Have students number a scrap piece of paper and then answer how they feel about each statement.

Once they have filled out their paper, they get to stand up. Some astute students will have already noticed the signs and realize what is going to happen. Others will just be delighted to finally get to stand up! Say each statement aloud and have students move to the sign that best describes them. Do not let them stand in the middle of two signs. They have to commit! The next part you probably won't even have to initiate, but have students discuss their positions. There will be at least one student who asks someone else why they're standing over there at strongly agree.

I really like to use this type of lesson leading into Romeo & Juliet. A lot of students think of the play as a great love story and completely forget that Juliet is meant to be younger than them. It's fun to hear students discuss statements such as "I believe in love at first sight" and "I believe I'm ready to get married right now". Some of the students get very passionate when defending their position.

This lesson also does something very valuable for the students. Shakespeare was around in the sixteenth century. He is, frankly, a bit far removed from my students. However, they are familiar with the notion of young love and jumping headfirst into a relationship. Now when they read Romeo & Juliet, they will make a connection between the text and their own life. They will question the decisions of the titular characters. They will care about the play.

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