User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Ice Breaker: What Do You Wonder About?

with 2 comments

The Four Quadrant Poster is the newest activity added to Technology-Enhanced Social Emotional Activities.  I love using this activity as an icebreaker for students to get to know one another and to provide me, as the educator, with a lot of information about student interests, passions, and thoughts.


  • To provide a forum for learners to explore and identify their learning interests, strengths, and personal wonderment.
  • To help learners get to know one another.
  • To provide educators with diagnostic information about each of their learners.


  • Hands-on: One 8″ x 8″ piece of cardboard or plywood per learner, lots of paint and paint brushes; paper and markers
  • Technology-Based: Google Presentation doc shared so each learner can each have a slide; Internet access to find images and/or mobile devices so learners can take images.


  • Explain to learners that they will be creating a four quadrant poster that includes images or symbols that represent the following:
    • Quadrant One – The thing you do best
    • Quadrant Two – Best learning experience ever
    • Quadrant Three – The most fun thing you’ve ever done
    • Quadrant Four – One thing you wonder about
  • The following slide can be used as a template.


  • For the hands-on version, provide learners with poster board or plywood and paints/brushes.
  • Here are some examples:


Fifth grader Marc believes he is best at writing, finds art to be his best learning experience, being with girls to be the most fun and also wonders about girls 🙂


Second grader, Jeff believes he is best at computers and finds computers to be his best learning experience. Playing with friends is his most fun thing and he wonders about sunsets.

  • Once done, tell learners that they will then present their posters to their peers.  To prepare for this sharing phase, distribute blank paper and markers.  Help learners divide paper into blocks equal to the number of students in the class and to put names of their peers as labels for the blocks; one peer’s name per block.  Explain that as their peers share, they are to sketch into the blocks the one quadrant that they find most interesting.   See example:


  • Note/Reflection: The act of orally sharing one’s poster can be a powerful experience.  It was time for one of the fifth grade boys, John, to share his poster.  He was a blend-in-the-woodwork type of kid – not popular, not ridiculed, just kind of ignored.  He got to his fourth quadrant.  He had painted a picture of a man with a jet propelled backpack.  He stated that he wondered when humans will fly on their own.  Several of the boys at the same time spontaneously yelled out, “cool”.  The look of pleasure on John’s face when they did so was priceless.)

Technology-Based Option

  • For a technology-based option, set up a Google Presentation so that there is a slide for each learner.  Ask learners to locate or take photos to represent each quadrant.  They can use their mobile devices to take photos or find copyright available images online.  Here is an example:

  • Learners can use a Google Spreadsheet to record information about each peer’s Four Quadrant poster.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

February 10, 2013 at 3:50 am

2 Responses

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  1. Great activity. I’m heading with some students from Louisville to the Navajo Nation in Arizona in a few weeks and might have to use this!


    February 10, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    • I hope you do. Used to teach grad students in Gallup – some Navajo. They really shined with the use of visual symbols.

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      February 10, 2013 at 6:30 pm

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