Four Corners Discussion
This support material is incorporated into critical challenges at grades 9 and 12, however, it can be adapted for use at all grade levels.
The Four Corners Discussion strategy offers an alternative to traditional debates. Instead of staking out and defending a position, a Four Corners Discussion encourages students to listen attentively to others and to reconsider their position based on new evidence or convincing arguments presented. The Four Corners Discussion encourages students to use evidence to support a point of view, carefully listen to other points of view and remain open-minded as they reflect on the evidence and arguments presented.
To set up a Four Corners Discussion:
To begin the discussion:
Remind students that they are encouraged to change corners if they hear new evidence or convincing arguments that cause them to alter their point of view. They do not have to completely change their viewpoint; they may, for example, choose to move from the STRONGLY AGREE to the AGREE corner.
If, after 7–10 minutes of discussion, there has been little or no movement, ask all students to come together in the centre of the room. Once in the centre of the room, encourage students to turn to someone who was not in their corner and to explain why they continue to hold the viewpoint they do and what they would have to hear to persuade them to change. After each student has had an opportunity to explain his or her position, invite all students to return to a corner, encouraging them to move to a new corner if they have heard convincing evidence or arguments.
Once students have returned to the corners, invite them to explain why they changed corners or why they have not changed by identifying what they would need to hear to prompt a change in corners.
Reflections on Four Corners Discussion
Assessing Four Corners Discussion
Self-assessment of Four Corners Discussion
Adapted from Critical Challenges Across the Curriculum series. Permission granted by The Critical Thinking Consortium for use by Alberta teachers.