Sunday, March 30, 2014

Four Square, the Right Way!

This takes another look at a good (and often misunderstood) writing technique developed by Gould and Burke.  This is a great way to get early writers writing independently.
Many years ago, we visited friends with a newborn.  We had been warned the baby was fussy and the parents were tired.  When we got there, we were delighted to meet this precious baby girl.  She was clearly a victim of bad press.

That’s what I think about Four Square writing.  I think the technique is a victim of “bad press.”  The technique was developed by Judith Gould and Mary Burke and I think it is misunderstood.   The Four Square is a plan of what a student wants to write.  We introduce Four Square as plan for a story, but it isn’t the story.  I especially like using Four Square with my struggling writers because it allows for early success.

IT’S AS EASY AS 1-2-3-4!

This takes another look at a good (and often misunderstood) writing technique developed by Gould and Burke.  This is a great way to get early writers writing independently.

Step 1

At the beginning of the year, I introduce a pre-made four square to my kindergartners as we write our first sentences.  This is a whole group interactive writing lesson.  This process takes all week.

Monday – The students are introduced to the four square and the middle box is called the "topic box" from the beginning.  Write the title (or topic) and plan the word wall word sentence.  Practice the sentences ORALLY.

Tuesday – Orally review the title and direct their attention to the top left box in the Four Square.  Say the sentence in its entirety, while counting the words on our fingers.  Write the first word…pick up the spacer…read what we wrote…put the spacer down at the end of the word…count the sentence again...”fold and whisper” (fold your fingers down and whisper the word you wrote…and write the next word.  Complete the sentence using the exact method for each word.

Count…fold and whisper…write…read with spacer…put spacer down…and repeat until the entire sentence.

Wednesday – Read what you wrote Monday and Tuesday, direct their attention to the top right box on the Four Square.  Repeat the pattern from Tuesday.   Say the sentence in its entirety, while counting the words on our fingers.  Write the first word…pick up the spacer…read what we wrote…put the spacer down at the end of the word…count the sentence again...”fold and whisper” (fold your fingers down and whisper the word you wrote…and write the next word.  Complete the sentence using the exact method for each word.

Thursday - Read what you wrote Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Direct their attention to the bottom left box on the Four Square.  Repeat the pattern from the previous days.   Say the sentence in its entirety, while counting the words on our fingers.  Write the first word…pick up the spacer…read what we wrote…put the spacer down at the end of the word…count the sentence again...”fold and whisper” (fold your fingers down and whisper the word you wrote)…and write the next word.  Complete the sentence using the exact method for each word.

Friday - Read what you wrote Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Direct their attention to the bottom right box on the Four Square.  Repeat the pattern from the previous days.   Say the sentence in its entirety, while counting the words on our fingers.  Write the first word…pick up the spacer…read what we wrote…put the spacer down at the end of the word…count the sentence again...”fold and whisper” (fold your fingers down and whisper the word you wrote…and write the next word.  Complete the sentence using the exact method for each word.

Reread the entire story.  Students can be divided into groups to illustrate the story.  The story titled "Fall Things" might read, “I see the apples.  I see the leaves.  I see the pumpkins.  I see the football.”

STEP 2
This takes another look at a good (and often misunderstood) writing technique developed by Gould and Burke.  This is a great way to get early writers writing independently.

As the year progresses, students can be directed to use a pre-made four square to write their own stories.  One of the best things about Four Square is the ability to meet each student at their level.  It’s important that the routine of counting, writing, reading, folding and whispering be encouraged for independent writing, as well.  Providing this model will prove essential in the future.

When students are independent with the Four Square, provide them with individual instruction about adding details.  If the first box is all about leaves, maybe they can add a sentence about the raking the leaves.  “I see the leaves.  I can rake the leaves.”  They could be encouraged to write about the color, size, or where the object it.  Their stories will expand and their confidence in writing, will as well.

STEP 3
This takes another look at a good (and often misunderstood) writing technique developed by Gould and Burke.  This is a great way to get early writers writing independently.

As they are ready, the students can complete a Student-Made Four Square.  They can make their own Four Square, choosing four of the six picture options. Another option might be a four square template and a word book.  Using the book in the picture above, "At the seaside" is the topic.  Students can choose 4 items on the page to write about as details.

The procedure is the same; however, on Monday the students choose the four pictures for the Four Square and write the words in each box.  Encourage students to write multiple sentences about each square, call them paragraphs and teach them to indent!  They can do it.

STEP 4
This takes another look at a good (and often misunderstood) writing technique developed by Gould and Burke.  This is a great way to get early writers writing independently.

Finally, as students are ready…they can create their own Four Squares using a template.  They can plan their story from books or word lists, or they can plan it from their imaginations.

Seeing kindergarten students achieve independence is writing is a great moment.  It’s also one of the most valuable lessons they need to move on to first grade…and it isn’t hard.  Start a routine with writing and they can write about anything.  Students are only limited by the lessons they learn.  Using Four square can help each child progress at their own pace and level.  It’s the perfect differentiation tool.

If you would like a 4 Square Sample pack, CLICK HERE.

Click here for additional packets sold in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  I have packets for fall, winter, spring, summer, sports, jobs, letters, colors and shapes, and blends and digraphs.

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This takes another look at a good (and often misunderstood) writing technique developed by Gould and Burke.  This is a great way to get early writers writing independently.


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