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Four Square Writing Method


Senior Member
Our district as a K-6 is having a problem with writing. It's a long story, but to make it quick, my principal had asked me to take a look at some info on Four Square Writing Method. Have any of you ever heard of it? Does it work?

The reason she asked me to look into it is because I teach 5th grade, and we have our state writing assessments in this grade, and I went to her complaining that the kids coming to me can't even write a paragraph. We need something that builds throughout the years.

Any thoughts? Thanks!


Full Member
4 square writing method

Our school has just recently started using this and it is so simple, plus the kids love it! One of our resource teachers turned us on to this. Just today I went into a classroom and helped some first graders write a story and I also did a writing with my first grade Title I kids. Most of them did a pretty good job, even one of my lowest children. We started out the beginning of the year with k and 1 using Lucy Calkins series and it is great too! We never had one first graders tell us they didn't know what to write about. I'm glad we did that first semester. Now the kids are really going to town with the 4 square writing. Our 4th and 5th grade students are also doing quite a nice job with this technique. You really should look at it. I bet you'd like it.

Good luck! We are using 6+1, Lucy Calkings, and 4 square and hopefully next year we will see a growth in our writing scores. We have already seen a change in attitude from the students (and teachers too).



Senior Member

Here's an example of how to use Four Square.

The Four Square process: One day work on the topic sentence and brainstorm ideas for the “why” squares. The next day write in the squares. Then write a detail sentence in the “why” squares and start the rough draft. The following day, finish the rough draft and read to a partner, making any corrections needed. The final copy is written on another day and turned in stapled together with the four square and rough draft.
(There are books for the graphic organizers but some teachers just fold paper into fourths instead.)

I haven't been able to have the kind of success I want with this method yet. I'm looking into using the 6 traits now. I'd be interested in what others have found works for them too. I'm in 2nd and it seems very difficult for them. I'm bringing in more predictable books again to use as models for types of writing.



Senior Member
4 square

I have found four square is a good model for learning to organize a story. I use it a piece of my writing instruction. At the fourth grade level, I find it works the best for lower writers that struggle with getting their ideas down on paper.

Mrs. Saylor

first geade teacher

I went to one of Judith Gould's conferences last year and she was wonderful. If you ever have the opportunity to see her, do it.
The 4 square method is very useful for my first graders to organize their thoughts before they attempt their sloppy copies. It also lends itself perfectly to paragraph writing because the 4 squares can be cut or torn apart to visually show each one as a paragraph. Her books are very helpful to understand what I am talking about. I hope this helped!

Alicia G

Love it!

We've used four-square for a few years and love it. It's easy and it works. You can also combine it with something like Six Traits for grading. So, the kids use their Four Square tools for writing and then use Six Traits for checking their work and looking for ways to improve it.


Mrs. G

Senior Member
We use it!

A teacher in our county wrote the book and did a workshop at our school several years ago.

It is a great tool to use and the students get good results from it. However, we have found it hard for them to "break the mold" once they become proficient writers. All of the writing starts sounding the same.

It is a good program to start with and I recommend it!:s)