3-2-1 Teaching Strategy | Facing History & Ourselves
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Teaching Strategy


Use the 3-2-1 strategy to gauge students’ understanding and interest in a topic.


  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies




English — US
Also available in:
English — UK



Teaching Strategies

Use our student-centered teaching strategies to strengthen your students’ literacy skills, nurture critical thinking, and build a respectful and collaborative classroom community. These strategies can be paired with any academic content.

What Is the 3-2-1 Strategy?

A 3-2-1 prompt helps students structure their responses to a text, film, or lesson by asking them to describe three takeaways, two questions, and one thing they enjoyed.

It provides an easy way for teachers to check for understanding and to gauge students’ interest in a topic. Sharing 3-2-1 responses is also an effective way to prompt a class discussion or to review material from the previous lesson.

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How to Use the 3-2-1 Strategy

After students engage with a text or a lesson, ask them to list the following details in their journals or on separate paper:

  • Three things that they have learned from this lesson or from this text.
  • Two questions that they still have.
  • One aspect of class or the text that they enjoyed.

Use students’ responses to guide teaching decisions. 3-2-1 responses can help you identify areas of the curriculum that you may need to review again or concepts or activities that hold special interest for students.

Variations on the 3-2-1 Strategy

You can modify the elements of the 3-2-1 strategy to focus on particular content questions. For example, if the class has just been studying the International Criminal Court, a teacher might have students write down three differences between the ICC and tribunals such as Nuremberg, two similarities between the ICC and these tribunals, and one question they still have.

You could also use the 3-2-1 structure to help students identify main ideas from supporting information. For example, you could ask students to record three of the most important ideas from the lesson or text, two supporting details for each of these ideas, and one question they have about each of these ideas.

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