Four-Box Comment Card

Learning Strategy
  • appropriate text
  • paper/comment cards with four boxes
Target Student

Students who struggles with comprehension and deep understanding of a text.


The Four-Box Comment Card strategy focuses on deeper comprehension of a text by providing four prompts for the students to answer as they read through a text with discussion time to allow deeper understanding. The most common prompts include one comment, one surprise, on question, or one observation. This strategy can be used in small groups or whole group instruction, and it encourages students to critically think and take a position on an informational text.

How To

1. Choose an appropriate text that is slightly controversial or has the possibility for different viewpoints.

2. Decide what prompts you would like to use and display them so that they can be referred to throughout the strategy. Read the prompts to the students and ensure that the students understand the prompts. Use the current levels of learning for your students to plan the activity. It Is recommended that you do the Four-Box Comment Card yourself before distributing the comment cards to your students.

3. Read the text either through a read aloud or independent work.

4. Ask students to fold a piece of paper vertically and then horizontally to make four boxes. Ask students to copy the prompts into each box.

5. Students can now respond to each prompt. Make sure that they explain their thinking using evidence from the text.

6. In small groups (4-6 students), have the students discuss their thinking. Each group must select a reporter and a recorder. (Groups may also include a timekeeper, facilitator, or other roles.)

7. Allow each group 10-15 minutes to discuss the prompts. Recorders may take notes from the discussion to highlight key points.

8. Each group must reach a consensus regarding each prompt. The recorders may summarize the position of the group for each prompt.

9. The reporter from each group can now share with the rest of class. (Optional: Reporters may use a projector to show each groups' Four-Box Comment Card for the class to see.)

10. Optional: Take the data/responses from each group and compile it to see a class opinion further building skills of negotiation and consensus.

Adapted from 40 Strategies for Guiding Readers through Informational Texts

(Moss, B., & Loh-Hagan, V. (2016). 40 strategies for guiding readers through informational texts. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.) 


Apple, M. W. (1992). The text and cultural politics. Educational Researcher, 21(7), 4-11, 19.

Levine, E. (1995). A fence away from freedom. New York: Putnam Juvenile. (M)

Morgan, W. (1997). Critical literacy in the classroom: The art of the possible. New York: Routledge.

Roosevelt, F (1942, February 19). Executive order 9066. Washington, DC: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Vacca, R. T., & Vacca, J. L. (2008). Content area reading: Literacy and learning across the curriculum (9th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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