4-Square Writing: Overview

The 4-Square Writing Method was developed by Gould & Gould, Published by the Teaching and Learning Company, 1999. For more information, or to order the materials, click here.

  • The 4-Square can be used to help students organize their thinking prior to writing paragraphs,solving math problems, or using the Scientific Method.
  • The 4-Square breaks down complex tasks into a sequence of simple steps.
  • The 4-Square can be used across the curriculum, and for all four of the ELA Standards.
  • As a pre-writing organizational tool, the 4-Square provides an excellent visual of how a paragraph is structured to begin with a main idea followed by supporting details.

Slideshow of the 4-Square Writing Method Progressing from Grades K to 3

Example of how to transition from the single-paragraph report to a five-paragraph report

Explanation of 4-Square for Parents (excellent visual)

The recipe for a 5-paragraph paper is:

  1. Center box:
    Paragraph #1:
    Introduces the Main Idea of the whole paper.

  2. Squares in the top left, top right, and bottom left:
    Paragraphs # 2 - 4:
    These three middle paragraphs describe and elaborate on three details or "categories of information" that support the paper's Main Idea. For each of these paragraphs, the first sentence introduces the category and connects or ties it to the paper's Main Idea (center box). It tells what the whole paragraph is going to be about, and thus becomes the main idea of its own paragraph. The next 3 sentences provide examples (details) to support it.

  3. Square in the bottom right:
    Paragraph #5:
    As the "Concluding Paragraph," no new information is introduced. This paragraph re-states what the whole paper is about (The Main Idea in the center box), and connects it to what each of the other squares is about.