Four Corners - Conversations

This activity is designed to allow students to demonstrate their understanding of a message by moving around the classroom in response to a series of questions or statements. Example: A teacher might label corners “Ocean” “Rain forest” “Desert” and “Tundra” and then make statements or questions about specific animals and where they live. Students demonstrate their understanding by moving to the correct corner of the room after interpreting each prompt.

Download a Strategy Guide for this Activity


  1. The teacher posts visuals or texts related to any language-learning or curriculum topic in each corner of the classroom and explains what is posted there.

  2. The teacher models reading a prompt, thinking, and moving to a corner based on their preference or opinion. The teacher then models finding a partner or forming a small group to discuss.

  3. The teacher calls out a prompt or a question related to the theme. Students think for 30 seconds and then the teacher asks them to choose a corner that aligns with their response or ideas.

  4. Students go to the corner that corresponds to their individual response or ideas. They share ideas with one or more classmates who are at the same corner.

  5. When the students have finished talking with their partners, the teacher asks students to share about the information they exchanged in the corner. This can be done when the students are still standing in the corners or after they have returned to their seats. 

Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning

  1. This is a synchronous activity.

  2. The teacher assigns a value to each of the "four corners". This could be either a word, a phrase, a sentence, or a picture.

  3. The teacher reads or displays a sentence or question prompt that corresponds with one or more of the values in the corners. Students interpret the prompt and choose the appropriate "corner" based on the meaning of the prompt.

  4. There are two options for having students select "corners": 

    Option 1: Students re-name themselves using the following format: 'corner number-name' (e.g., 1 - John Smith). The teacher opens timed breakout rooms with the length of time depending on the proficiency level of the students and sends multiple students from the same "corner" into each room for a brief exchange or discussion. The teacher may choose to open enough rooms to allow for 2-3 students per room, this way all students will have the opportunity to share their perspectives before the breakout room time ends.

    Option 2: The teacher opens timed breakout rooms with the length of time depending on the proficiency level of the students and sends multiple students into each room for a brief exchange or discussion. Students may or may not end up with group members who chose the same corner as they did. This allows students to share and hear why other students selected different "corner".  

  5. For accountability: (Option 1) Students may be asked to create a written summary of their discussion to post when the breakout rooms close. (Option 2) The teacher may call on a few random students to state what they shared in their group and/or what they heard from others in their group. 

  6. Repeat steps 2-4 for additional prompts.

Helpful Tips

  1. Instead of taping words/phrases/pictures to different corners, a teacher can use a PowerPoint slide to assign meaning to each corner. This way, the teacher can assign different values for different corners within the same activity—allowing students to move more and also requiring students to pay attention to the text on each slide.

  2. The teacher might also provide resources such as sentence and question starters, a thematic word wall, and communication strategies for students as they interact and converse with classmates who choose the same corner.


  1. For novice learners, use the Four Corners strategy for students to select multiple choice responses or to choose preferences. Novices may simply say a target sentence frame and fill in their chosen response (i.e. "I really like to eat bananas" or "I do not like to eat bananas at all.") before returning their attention to the teacher and preparing for the next prompt.

  2. For intermediate and advanced students, instruct students to choose a corner based on open-ended prompts or questions. Once they assemble in their corner, students have a discussion to solidify their thinking. After, provide students the option of moving to a different corner if they have changed their minds.


  1. Pictures or texts to post in each corner of the room

  2. (remote learning) breakout rooms