Ask Three Before Me

Ask Three Before Me increases student ownership by having students rely on peers for support and answers to questions in the classroom.
140 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

Ask Three Before Me helps create expectations around classroom routines and supports students to take ownership of their learning, interactions, and problems. Ask Three Before Me teaches students how to depend on each other for support, information, and instruction as needed (Ask Three) before turning to the teacher for assistance (Before Me). By utilizing this strategy, the teacher can eliminate the need for repeating instructions or expectations multiple times, which can help alleviate interruptions and classroom disruptions. This strategy can also be used when students are struggling with content-specific questions or problems. Teachers in every grade level and in all subject levels can use this activity both for classroom expectations and instructional purposes.

Implementation Steps

15 minutes
  1. Create a classroom expectation that if students have a question, they must ask up to three of their peers or use research materials (i.e. consult a dictionary, look it up in a book, find an answer online) before they ask the teacher their question. Discuss with students whether the plan is to implement this expectation at all times or just during certain times (i.e. during small group instruction or when the teacher is conferencing with students individually).

  2. Consider giving students a hand signal that reminds them to follow this expectation when they have a question (i.e. hold up 3 fingers to signal the expectation of "Ask Three Before Me").

  3. Discuss with students how to make a good choice about who they ask for support based on what their question or need is.

  4. Hang a sign ("Please Follow 'Ask Three Before Me' Protocol") on the desk or in the teaching area if the teacher plans to implement this only during small group remediation or student conferences.

Ask Three Before Me for Instructional Help

Follow the same steps as above but set the expectation that students must "ask three" before the teacher for the following situations:

  • The student doesn't understand a problem that they are working on and needs help solving the problem.

  • The student is missing specific notes or support that the teacher already discussed or gave to the class.

  • The student has a misconception about the work being completed.

Ask Three Before Me for Classroom Routines

This strategy can be used to help create and enforce consistent routines in the classroom. Using this strategy will also help limit student interruptions when the teacher is working with small groups or individual students.

Follow the same steps as above, but set the expectation that students have to "ask three" before the teacher for the following situations:

  • The student didn't hear or understand the instructions the teacher gave.

  • The student is unclear or unsure on where to turn in or pick up an assignment.

  • The student can't find the materials or resources he or she needs.

  • The student is unclear about the expectations.  

Questions to Consider

  • How would you modify this strategy for the students in your classroom?

  • What might be challenging for your students about this strategy and how can you address those challenges in advance?

  • How could you use this version to improve or refine your current routine?

  • How could you establish a respectful classroom environment that ensures students are willing to support and help their peers?

Tech Tool: Twitter or any social media platform/backchannel (i.e. Twist, Slack, etc)

  • Leverage social media in a meaningful way in the classroom by allowing students to use social media to ask others for resources, troubleshooting help, etc.  within the classroom.

  • Be sure to provide clear expectations around the use of social media in the classroom

  • Consider creating a hashtag for your class (ex. #Bankston8thMath) so you can easily track student posts and responses in regards to the class.