Instructional Strategies

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Four Corners Debate

What is it?
This debate strategy gets kids thinking and moving. This simple and active strategy helps students focus their thinking about topics of debate as they prepare to write a well-supported paragraph stating their position.
How Does It Work?

  1. The teacher creates four posters/signs printed in large letters with the following labels: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. Place each poster in a different corner of the classroom.

  2. Present to students a statement that takes a stand on an issue of interest to students or of importance to the world. Select a statement appropriate for your students, read aloud the statement, and give students 5 minutes to collect their thoughts about the topic. Then ask students if they strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree with the statement. Direct those who strongly agree to move to the corner of the classroom where the Strongly Agree sign is posted, those who agree to move to the corner of the classroom where the Agree sign is posted, and so on...

  3. Hopefully, you have four groups gathered in different corners of the classroom. Appoint one student in each corner to be the note taker, and give students 5-10 minutes to discuss with the other students in their corner the reasons they strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree.

  4. At the end of the discussion period, ask one student from each group to share with the class some of the ideas they discussed in their group.

  5. Perhaps one of the four groups made such a strong case that some students have changed their minds about their reaction to the statement. If that is the case, at this point in the activity give students an opportunity to change corners.

  6. Provide 5-10 more minutes for students to continue their group discussions. At this point, every student in the group should be taking notes.

  7. At the end of the discussion time, each student uses those notes to write a concise paragraph stating his or her position on the issue. (for example, I strongly agree with the statement [statement goes here] because…) Students should include in their paragraphs the four strongest points supporting their position.

Why use it?

Students will:

  • listen to a statement on a controversial topic and decide if they strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree with the statement.

  • work in groups to record information in support of their position.

  • reconsider their stance in light of new information.

  • write a concise paragraph expressing their opinion about the statement.

Frayer Model

What is it?

Using the Frayer Model, students will activate their prior knowledge of a topic, organize knowledge into categories, and apply their new knowledge to the compartmentalized structure.

How Does It Work?

  1. Brainstorm a list of ideas related to your topic.

  2. Have students read a selection or participate in an activity related to your topic.

  3. Pass out a blank copy of the Frayer Model.

  4. Using their brainstormed words and new knowledge of a topic, students will group their words into one of four categories: Essential Characteristics, Non-essential Characteristics, Examples, and Non-examples.

  5. Have students add additional words to the Frayer Model until all four categories are substantially represented.

Hint: Once students have learned how to utilize the Frayer Model for understanding topics in depth, the model can be used as a form of assessment or even at the beginning of a lesson as a brainstorming activity.

Why use it?

To promote students’ thinking and vocabulary development.

An Example:

Buehl, D. (2001). Classroom strategies for interactive learning. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

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