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Four Corners

four corners

The "Four Corners" activity is a fun getting-to-know-you activity that takes very little preparation. Before doing the activity, you will want to create four large posterboard signs, each with a different letter -- A, B, C, or D -- on it. Post each lettered sign in one of the four corners of your meeting room. Then pose a question to your staff. For example:

Where would you most like to take a vacation?
A. New York City
B. The mountains
C. The Caribbean
D. The Egyptian Nile

After posing the question, instruct staff members to go to the corner of the room labeled with the letter that matches their first response to the question. (For example, staff members who prefer response A, New York City, will go to the corner marked by the A poster.) Once all staff members are settled into a corner, invite them to share some of the reasons they went to that corner.

Continue the activity by asking additional questions, such as...

Which sport do you enjoy most?
A. Football
B. Racquetball
C. Hiking
D. Boating

Which flower are you more like?
A. Rose
B. Orchid
C. Daisy
D. Dandelion

Which vehicle are you most like?
A. 65 Ford Mustang
B. Solid Gold Cadillac
C. Pick Up Truck
D. Ferrari

This is a fun way to get to know staff members. Be sure each staff member has a chance to share a comment in response to a couple of the questions.

This activity can be used for grouping purposes too. If you need four random working groups, pose a question and have staff members go to a corner. The staff members gathered in each corner become a "working group."

The activity can also be worked into staff meetings in other ways. For example, say you have teachers who have strengths in different teaching approaches. Have four of those teachers prepare separate 15-minute presentations in which they share ideas and tips for using their approach. Then pose a question to your staff members such as...

About which of these classroom teaching approaches would you most like to learn more?
A. Using mini whiteboards to engage students in learning
B. Providing students with fun and interesting writing prompts
C. Presenting more varied spelling activities
D. Using more games to engage students in learning

Invite staff members to go to the appropriate corner. Among the staff members in each corner will be the teacher you approached in advance about preparing a presentation. That person will lead a 15-minute mini-workshop on the topic.

If you are looking to organize book groups, you might ask teachers...

About which of these topics would you most like to learn more?
A. Differentiated instruction
B. Reading in the content areas
C. Improving student writing
D. Engaging parents in student learning

Once teachers have "gone to their corners," present to each group the related book you have pre-selected for their "book group" to read.

With the latter two activities, if a group gathered in any one corner is too large, you might ask those teachers if any of them have a "close second choice" and might be willing to go to another corner to help fill out one of the smaller groups.

Bryan McLain, principal, Denton Creek Elementary School, Coppell, Texas