A routine for activating prior knowledge and making connections

Your initial responses to the topic Your new responses to the topic
3 Thoughts / Ideas 3 Thoughts / Ideas
2 Questions 2 Questions
1 Analogy 1 Analogy
Explain how your new responses connect to your initial response?
Purpose: What kind of thinking does this routine encourage?
This routine asks students to uncover their initial thoughts, ideas, questions and understandings about a topic and then to connect these to new thinking about the topic after they have received some instruction.
Application: When and where can I use it?
This routine can be used when students are developing understanding of a concept over time. It may be a concept that they know a lot about in one context but instruction will focus their learning in a new direction, or it may be a concept about which students have only informal knowledge. Whenever new information is gained, bridges can be built between new ideas and prior understanding. The focus is on understanding and connecting one’s thinking, rather than pushing it toward a specific outcome.
Launch: What are some tips for starting and using this routine?
This routine can be introduced by having students do an initial 3, 2, 1 individually on paper. For instance, if the topic is “democracy,” then students would write down 3 thoughts, 2 questions, and 1 analogy. Students might then read an article, watch a video, or engage in an activity having to do with democracy. Provocative experiences that push students thinking in new directions are best. After the experience, students complete another 3,2,1. Students then share their initial and new thinking, explaining to their partners how and why their thinking shifted. Make it clear to students that their initial thinking is not right or wrong, it is just a starting point. New experiences take our thinking in new directions.


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