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Nine Squares


Students think, talk, and write about a text or image to determine facts/details, make inferences, and draw conclusions.


  • Reading passage, visual, assessment question, or concept
  • Nine Squares handout (English/Spanish)
  • Notebook paper (if the handout is projected)


  1. Students read a text, view a visual, analyze an assessment question, or focus on a specific concept.
  2. Students think about the text, visual, question, or concept by writing the following on their Nine Squares handout:
    • 5 facts/details (What did it say?) or (What do I see?)
    • 2 inferences or examples (What did it mean?) or (What are examples?)
    • 2 conclusions or real-world applications (Why does it matter?)
  3. Students cut apart their Nine Squares, trade with another student, and sort their partner’s cards into the 5 facts, 2 inferences, and 2 conclusions.
  4. Students talk to each other about how they sorted the cards, correct mistakes, and justify their responses.
  5. Observe students’ thinking and clarify/verify as appropriate.

Option: Use Nine Squares with other prompts such as 5 things I know, 2 visuals or examples, and 2 questions I still have.

Classroom Management

  • Model the strategy using a think-aloud before asking students to complete the activity independently.
  • Explain the difference between the 3 prompts, outline the thinking they require, and provide exemplar responses.


  • Promote access by providing 9 responses in random order and asking students to cut and sort them into the 3 categories.
  • Promote access by partnering with a supportive adult/peer and/or providing auditory text.
  • Provide response support by offering thinking stems to frame responses, speech-to-text support, or word prediction support.

Think It Up!

  • Have students think more deeply about the concept by responding to a Think It Up prompt as an exit ticket or journal entry:
    • Summarize what you learned from this activity by writing a nine-word recap.
  • Encourage students to use lead4ward’s Thinking Stems (English/Spanish) to frame their responses, if needed.