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Pedagogy /
4 Square Method for teaching writing and Mahara

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 112

11 January 2014, 3:57 AM

Has anybody use the four square method with Mahara for teaching kids how to write a 5 paragraph essay?  

If you are teaching older grades (high school or college), how do you use Mahara to help kids to organize their writing to become better writers?


anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 112

11 January 2014, 4:10 AM

What do others think of this idea?

Row 1: 50-50

Row 2: 15 - 70 - 15

Row 3: 50 - 50

Row 4: 100

That way, after the student finishes the 4 square, they can move the items into a sequential order in the 4th row.  What do other think?  Do you think this could work?  

For the 5 paragraph essay, ....

Row 0: 100 (for notes?)

Row 1: 25-25-25-25

Row 2: 50-50

Row 3: 100

Row 4: 25-25-25-25

Row 5: 50-50

Row 6: 25-25-25-25

Row 7: 100

What do other thinks?  Do you think this could work?



Don Presant's profile picture
Posts: 255

11 January 2014, 6:54 AM

HI Melissa:

Have you built this many rows successfully? I think there are technical (memory?) limits to the number of rows which can be built without problems. Postgres is better than MySQL in this regard, as I recall.

I also have noticed that trying to swich from advanced multirow back to standard columns has broken things. I keep meaning to see if there is a bug about that.

anonymous profile picture
Deleted user
Posts: 8

11 January 2014, 5:28 PM

I confirm I can t go pass 6 rows when creating a custom layout Don.

Ralf Hilgenstock's profile picture
Posts: 134

11 January 2014, 9:27 PM

Hi Don,

the number of rows is hardcoded. I don''t know if there are memory limits to do this.


    Line 217:     public static $maxlayoutrows = 6; // see number of colours avail in layoutpreview.php



Don Presant's profile picture
Posts: 255

12 January 2014, 1:31 AM

Thanks for the reminder Ralf. I see that the "add a row" button greys out after 6.

Unfortunately, on my configuration, the "Create new layout" button doesn't work when I have 6 rows. When I start deleting rows, 5 still doesn't work, but 4 does.

I think this is a function of using MySQL rather than Postgres, but if others could confirm that would be useful.

Aaron Wells's profile picture
Posts: 896

13 January 2014, 1:46 PM

Hi Don,

It works for me with up to 6 rows in MySQL. (I'm running Ubuntu 12.04, MySQL 5.5.34, and PHP 5.3.10).

We did have at least one user report a bug where they couldn't create a custom layout with more than 3 rows, but we were never able to replicate the issue locally or determine the cause on their server:

As for why there's a hard limit of 6 rows, yeah, it's basically just an arbitrary cutoff to prevent the user from creating so many rows that we start running into optimization problems. Realistically, the only thing that starts getting unwieldy after 6 rows is the size of the layout thumbnail. Other than that, we could probably go up to several dozen rows without experiencing any performance problems.



Don Presant's profile picture
Posts: 255

14 January 2014, 2:08 AM

OK, thanks Aaron. I'm going to have to think about next steps on this one.

Nice to know that it does work for most.

Kristina Hoeppner's profile picture
Posts: 3632

20 January 2014, 2:22 PM


And keep in mind that even though it says "row", you can add many blocks into one row one after the other. That would be the "old" behavior. The blocks are then only aligned in the columns, but can't be aligned horizontally anymore within a row, but you can still use the pattern of how many columns to have per row.




Don Presant's profile picture
Posts: 255

12 January 2014, 1:50 AM

Sorry Melissa, I think I sidetracked your pedagogical question with my technical one.

I looked up the 4-square method and it's interesting. But I'm wondering if you can do it with mostly 3 columns, making the side boxes in row 2 blank. You can use colour coding for the boxes like Kristina was using for a template in a workshop to make things clearer:

<div style="background-color: #eeeeee; padding: 10px;">

...subtituting other colours for the grey, of course

And maybe a single column row at the end, like you said?


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