4 Square: Digital Writing for a Virtual World

4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.

Who would have thought we’d be here? Teaching our youngest readers as much as we can through digital means wasn’t in the college curriculum or in my backpack full of teaching tricks. BUT, we have to do it.

Students can be successful writers in digital classrooms around the country. Making writing successful with this tried and true approach will make students want to write.

Do the Best We Can

We have to do the best we can with what we have. My teachers have been scrambling to come with digital this and digital that…and we’ve been doing great things.

We’ve discovered some great digital things that we never knew was out there. We’ve taken the tried and true and we’ve made it what we need because

Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Writing has been the hardest. We can find games and videos and slides and Boom Cards and so on to teach all things alphabet and reading, but writing needs to be writing.

We need pencils in the hands of our kids and pencils meeting the paper. We need to look at pencil grip and letter formation and all that is writing. BUT, here we are. So, we take what we know.

Four Square Digitally

At its most basic, 4 square is a template for writing. It asks the student to move from topic (center box) to details (top to bottom, left to right). It can be differentiated and easily scaffolded. When moving 4 Square to digital, I had a few pains. I really, really want children to be writing with pencils. It seems no matter how many pencils and pieces of paper we send home, online students tend to never have these items in hand.

That being said, we had to move forward.

4 Square Step 1

Just practice writing the title and their name. Students are not just writing and composing and copying, they are typing. It has its own set of problems, but we must try.

We need to have conversations about capitals (title case and names) and using the shift button on the computer.

4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.
4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.

4 Square Step 2

Choose where to start. Let’s say they are kindergartners who have never written anything before and this is the first attempt.

We’ll have to take it slow. We’ll have to make some concessions.

We may have to have mom and dad help, if possible.

We may have to figure it out as we go. BUT, we have to start. Students can use word wall phrases to get in the habit of writing sentences top to bottom and left to right. We’ll choose simple sentences.

4 Square Step 3

Once the routine is established, shake it up. Change sentence beginning phrases. Don’t let the sentences be predictable. If you are using sight word phrases, this step is an easy one. Students can use known phrases.

4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.
4 Square writing can be adapted for this digital world. It requires typing skills, but they can be developed along with writing skills.

4 Square Step 4

Differentiate. The name of game for success, is differentiate. Meet the student where he or she is to move them forward.

For the students who are showing understanding in simple sentences and varying sentence structure, four square can be easily differentiated.  Students can write a topic sentence and use the squares for supporting details while adding “flair” to the story.

They can also use the Student-made Templates. Students choose 4 items to add to their customizable four square.

If you’d like a look, I have a 4 Square Digital Writing Sample available. Join the list at the end of the post for your copy.

If you’d be interested in the set, it’s part of the 4 Square set.

My theory is we won’t always be doing this digitally, so I added to the Printable 4 Square sets.  Each set contains 40 Printable 4 Square Templates and 40 Digital 4 Square Templates.

The Winter 4 Square Templates are ready, are you?

Don’t forget you can get 20% off the full-year set of 4 Square Print and Digital Templates, too.

And don’t forget you can get even more off with the 4 Square Mega Bundle.

4 Square: Digital Writing for a Virtual World
4 Square: Digital Writing for a Virtual World
4 Square MEGA BUNDLE Writing Templates and Prompts for Kindergarten and 1st grade. Cathy Collier
Cathy Collier

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