Today I’m continuing the Professional Development series about how principals, school leaders, and teachers can implement thinking routines in schools. This article outlines how educators can use the 3-2-1 Bridge Thinking Routine to engage students in visible thinking.
The book Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding and Independence for All Learners, by Ron Ritchard, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison, features strategies to develop students’ thinking dispositions and to shift the classroom culture toward a community of enthusiastic and engaged thinkers and learners.
To learn more about how I got started using Making Thinking Visible, read the first article in this professional development series.
Thinking Routine of the Month: 3-2-1 Bridge
This routine assists students in activating prior knowledge and making connections as they learn new information about a topic. When new information is gained, students will learn to build bridges between new ideas and prior understanding.
The 3-2-1 Bridge thinking routine can be used with almost any concept that your students have some prior knowledge about. However, it will not work with a completely unfamiliar topic. The initial response can be done quickly and needs little, if any, discussion. The “after” stage is when students should spend time really considering their current thoughts as well as their new understandings about the concept. The bridge is a way of allowing students to see how their thinking has developed. They can compare and contrast their initial responses with their new responses in order to see how their original thoughts differ from their current understandings.
Introducing the 3-2-1 Bridge Thinking Routine to Students
When I am going to teach a concept, I often try to elicit my students' background knowledge of the topic. 3-2-1 Bridge is a tool to help students think about associations they have with the topic before and after learning. The bridge strategy is a great way for students to better understand how and what they have learned, as well as to discover what else they want to learn about the topic.
To assist students in connecting their thinking with "bridges", I use 3-2-1 BridgeGraphic Organizers. Download my graphic organizers to use with your students before beginning to teach a new concept.
Before working on a concept, each student will use the first organizer to think and record their initial response to the topic. They will each write three words, two questions and one metaphor or simile about the topic. Explain to students that their initial thinking is not right or wrong, it is just a starting point.
After working on the concept and gaining new information, students will use the second 3-2-1 graphic organizer to record their new response. They will each write three words, two questions and one metaphor or simile about the topic.
The last step is the bridge. Have students identify how their new responses connected to or shifted from their initial responses. This can be done in pairs or as an entire class.
If you want a step-by-step on how to use this routine in your own classroom, check out this post from The Husky Loving Teacher.