3-2-1 to Activate Knowledge, Reflect, and Self-Assess

A simple 3-2-1 protocol can support students to activate their knowledge, reflect on their learning, and self-assess
56 teachers like this strategy
3-2-1 Exit Ticket in Action
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About This Strategy

3-2-1 is a writing or speaking protocol that teachers can use in a variety of ways to assess their students’ learning. For example:

  • Teachers can activate their students' prior knowledge at the beginning of a unit using the 3-2-1 strategy by asking students to write three things they already know about the topic, two things they want to learn about the topic, and one question about the topic.

  • Teachers can use the 3-2-1 strategy as a way to have students reflect at the end of a lesson by asking them to write three things they learned, two things they found interesting, and one question they have from the day's class.

  • Teachers can use the 3-2-1 strategy as a way to have students self-assess their comprehension at the end of a unit of study by asking the students to write down three things they learned in the unit, two questions they still have about the unit, and one thing they want their teacher to know.

The options for how to incorporate 3-2-1 in a classroom are plentiful and varied, and thus this strategy can be used with students in all grades and subject areas for a variety of intents.

Implementation Steps

10 minutes
  1. Determine the purpose for using a 3-2-1 protocol. Is it to activate students’ prior knowledge, to have students reflect on their learning at the end of a lesson, to have students self-assess their learning at the end of a unit, or for another purpose?

  2. Develop the three questions to which students should respond.

  3. Create a 3-2-1 template such as those included in the resource section below, or write the three questions on the board for students to respond to in writing.

  4. Collect students’ responses as a way to assess student learning or prior knowledge, and cater instruction to these insights.

  5. Consider having students share their 3-2-1 responses with a peer, with a small group, or with the class as a whole to determine similarities in responses or uncover similar questions about the topic, lesson, or unit.

  6. Consider having students write their responses on post-it notes and displaying those notes on posters around the room. Then, consider having students engage in a gallery walk to observe and reflect on what their peers wrote.

3-2-1 to Assess Your Own Instruction

At the end of a lesson or after trying a new strategy, teachers can engage in a 3-2-1 assessment of the strategy they tried in order to self-reflect and share with a coach or mentor.

Tech Tools

Google Forms

  • Google Forms is a Google App that allows you to quickly and easily survey participants. It has numerous questioning style options including multiple choice, free response, short answer, likert scale, checkboxes, dropdown boxes, and multiple choice grid.

  • Google Forms supports this strategy because it provides both whole group data/responses and individual data/responses and can be linked to Google Sheets for more data analysis options. It can help identifying trends in the 3-2-1 data and organizing questions that need to be addressed with individuals or small groups

Related Lessons

Explore the Character Resumes lesson by 9th grade BetterLesson ELA Master Teacher Sirinam Khalsa included in the resources below to see how he used 3-2-1 as an activator.

Explore the Review Day lesson by 12th grade BetterLesson Math Master teacher Tiffany Dawdy included in the resources to see how she used the 3-2-1 protocol as an end of unit reflection.