At Teaching and Learning Services, we regularly receive questions from instructors asking for ideas to enhance their teaching and improve students’ engagement in class. So, we’ve recorded 2-3 minute video bites that describe how to implement some strategies we’ve chosen based on relative ease of implementation, suitability for different class sizes, and their representation of a variety of interaction types. We’ll be sharing these strategies in the Teaching for Learning @McGill University blog over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
Strategy: 4 Corners
Students can learn by building on each other’s ideas. The 4 Corners strategy allows students to do this in an active way.
Why use this strategy?
Traditional lecturing is generally a teacher-centered approach to learning and tends to take place in a stagnant environment: the professor lectures, and the students sit and listen. If you’d like to increase engagement, encourage discussion, and have students think critically, the 4 Corners, or “write around the room,” teaching strategy may be a worthwhile activity to try. It’s a unique and engaging way to get students out of their seats, working in groups, and inspiring each other with ideas for a discussion or debate.
What I appreciate most about this strategy is that it gives students the opportunity to build on each other’s ideas. After completing the 4 corners, all students have been exposed to their peers’ thoughts and responses, giving them insight into their different values and opinions. Like other teaching strategies, such as think-pair-share and brainstorming, students build on each other’s work, making the experience a more student-centered learning approach.
You may choose to use this strategy as a warm-up activity before a lecture to raise students’ awareness of what they already know about the topic or as a follow-up activity where students can reflect on what they’ve learned. Also, students will appreciate the opportunity to physically move around the classroom. The movement can create a more dynamic learning environment and offer an exciting change from the usual inactive lecture format. After all, movement and interaction are a fantastic way to energize your lectures and stimulate learning!
Would you like to know more?
Check out the other posts in the Strategy Bites series:
- Strategy Bites: Student-generated questions (3/26/2019)
- Strategy Bites: The muddiest point (3/14/2019)
- Strategy Bites: Brainstorming (2/19/2019)
- Strategy Bites: 4 corners (2/7/2019)
- Strategy Bites: Exit cards and closing summary (1/17/2019)
- Strategy Bites: Concept mapping (1/10/2019)
- Strategy Bites: One minute paper (11/20/2018)
- Strategy Bites: Think-pair-share (11/13/2018)
- Strategy Bites: Jigsaw (11/6/2018)
- Strategy Bites: Critical debate (10/23/2018)
What strategies do you use to get students out of their seats and engaged in learning? Share your ideas!