3-2-1 Bridge: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine
A Project Zero "Visible Thinking" routine for activating prior knowledge and making connections. 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. The framework asks students to write down 3 thoughts/ideas, 2 questions, and 1 analogy both before and after learning about a topic; then, the framework asks students to explain: “How do your new responses connect to your initial responses?”
A routine for activating prior knowledge and making connections
Write an initial 3-2-1 set of responses to the topic, then, after studying the topic further, write a new 3-2-1 set of responses:
Bridge: Explain how your new responses connect to your initial responses.
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 it be used?
Use this routine 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 soon focus 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. 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?
Have 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 about that topic. 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. Have students 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, and that new experiences take our thinking in new directions.
Use Rights Links: Visible Thinking by Project Zero is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Educational Use: Guided questions, Inquiry, Visual/Spatial, Discussion/Debate
Learning Resource Type: None
Educational Role: teacher
Time required: 1 hr
Interactivity Type: Active
Accessibility Feature: none
Accessibility Hazard: noFlashingHazard, noMotionSimulationHazard, noSoundHazard
Accessibility Control: None
Publisher: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access