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on March 2, 2007
This approach is soooo much better than the outlining approach I learned over 30 years ago. I have no idea why it is so much easier for kids to fill in boxes than fill out an outline, but for some reason it is. My kids are writing basic reports quickly and easily and without the tears and frustration we had last fall. The method is easy to learn and use, and I highly recommend it.

However, if you are more interested in teaching creative writing, then I wouldn't use this approach - in my view, 4-square is well suited to non-fiction reports and essays, but not for writing adventure stories, etc...
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on September 1, 2006
3 years later and I'm back with an update. I still like 4 Square as a graphic organizer.

The structure is easy for children to understand. You will get writing that is organized with details.

I can say that I have moved away from it as my ONLY graphic organizer. If you plan on using 4 Square I would couple it wih 6 TRAITS materials or the authors 4 Square additions/extensions.

Students do need to be taught voice, word choice, and sentence fluency, in addtion to organization.
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on February 1, 2001
This is a very practical, useful book for teachers working with writers grades 4-8. The 4-square method offers a simple, yet innovative graphic organizer which my students (7th grade reg. ed. and grades 5-8 learning dis./lang. impaired) found extremely easy to understand and use. The method is also helpful in notetaking from text or narrative, and the authors give some lesson ideas across curriculums.
The graphics are serviceable, but seem more appropriate for younger students.
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on April 21, 2013
This product and ones in the series are great with discouraged learners, students with poor writing fluency and ELL learners.

Another great benefit of this style of organizer is that it is simple and easy for students to recreate on their own. They can duplicate it by folding a sheet of paper. This also means that for on-demand (state) writing assessments, it's "legal" for students to use.

One of the reasons I think it works better than outlining is the way it is laid out supports students with different processing styles. Concrete-Sequentials can start in the first box, fill it out completely, and go to the next one. Abstract-Randoms can bounce around until all the details are filled in in all the paragraph boxes.

Since the details don't need to be complete sentences during the planning phases, it reduces some of the anxiety students have about starting writing.

I have ELL students now finishing high school and in college coming back to visit who say that after years of being out of my middle school classroom, that the four-square is one of the single most useful things they have learned. I agree that modeling and practice are really important.
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on November 5, 2006
This is the best writing curriculum ever! When I taught my daughter the first lessons, she responded, "That was school? I didn't even know we were doing school!" It's easy to teach, very visual, and makes the child feel like a writing pro with the first lesson.
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on August 3, 2009
Admittedly, I was one of those teachers who believed that following a formula meant forfeiting creativity. Boy, was I wrong! I found that once my students had a solid understanding of the organization, creativity and improved word choice quickly followed. My students come from an English Language Learner background, so writing was a struggle for most of them. But, by using the building blocks put in place by the creators, and following them to a T, I saw remarkable improvement even though I only started about two months before our standardized testing. As a result of this program, my students averaged in the 80th percentile - better than the state average in Arizona. I am looking forward to starting earlier this year, and getting the majority of the students to the vivid adjectives and adverbs - I believe this will be the key to helping them take their writing to the next level.

I cannot stress enough starting from the beginning, do not skip any steps because you believe it to be "beneath" your students.

In conjunction with what is recommended in this book, I recommend that the teacher not only model the lesson, but do it once as a WHOLE CLASS as well, BEFORE having students practice on their own. This step has been CRUCIAL for my classes. It is especially helpful if you can make the topic something the students can buy into as a class. (Take a vote on the topic?) Secondly, spend a lot of time helping students come up with vivid adverbs and adjectives. I find that a good old-fashioned 64-count box of Crayola crayons is a great place to start. They can see a wide variety of creative names for colors. Obviously, take it to the next level with a thesaurus. Thirdly, use the method to become a better writer yourself. Why you enjoy writing, it will show when you teach writing!

Overall, I find the 4-Square books to be an excellent tool for helping improve student writing!
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on December 15, 2005
Very helpful for teaching young kids how to compose well written paragraphs and reports. Recommended!
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on April 13, 2014
So excited to be able to find such a great way to help students organize their ideas and is a wonderful visual tool.
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on July 25, 2016
My students have enjoyed working through these pages. Writing is hard for them and this made it easier!
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on December 16, 2015
Item received in brand new condition. Thank you.
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