3-2-1 Summary

UDL 3.3 UDL 6.2

3-2-1 Summary is a comprehension strategy in which students identify three new discoveries, two interesting facts, and one lingering question after reading a text or viewing a video. Teachers can choose to use the 3-2-1 Summary strategy to assess student learning or as a prewriting strategy to help students organize ideas. The teacher introduces the content (i.e., short passage, article, video) and then provides students with time to review the information (e.g., read aloud, independent reading, partner reading). After, students use the 3-2-1 Summary strategy to list three new discoveries (e.g., “I learned that whales are mammals.”), two interesting facts (e.g., “Whales are not fish!”), and one question (e.g., “Are whale sharks whales or sharks?”) in order to synthesize the information they learned and grow inquiries.

Implementation Tips

Recording Sheets
Prepare or print this [[ | free version of a 3-2-1 Summary recording sheet ]] before having students use this strategy. As students become more familiar with the 3-2-1 Summary strategy, allow students to create their own graphic organizers or write bulleted 3-2-1 Summary lists in their notebooks.
Pre-write sentence starters for each section to use when initially presenting the strategy to students (e.g., “Three things I remember from the “Volcanoes Erupt” video are…”/”The most interesting new fact I learned was…”/”One question I have is…”). Read these prompts before asking students to create summaries.
Introducing 3-2-1 Summary
Model how to create a 3-2-1 Summary by reading a short passage (e.g., article or one section of a nonfiction text) and demonstrate what to include in each section of the summary by thinking out loud. Explain the benefits of using this strategy to students (e.g., organization, clarification, inquiry).
Supporting Diverse Learners
Provide students with word banks or visual cues (e.g., images from a text, still pictures from a video) that reference information from a lesson, text, or video. Encourage students to re-read materials or use highlighters on copied texts in order to find the information necessary to complete 3-2-1 Summaries.
Partner/Group Shares
Give students the opportunity to share their summaries in partnerships or small groups. Students can provide feedback to one another to promote discussion and deepen understanding. Encourage students to add/change details in their summaries (e.g., “Add a new fact or question that came to mind as you were listening.”).
Deepening Critical Thinking Skills
Modify the criteria of the 3-2-1 Summary sections by directing students to focus on listing three particular types of discoveries (e.g., three differences among characters, three character changes in a text). The second section can also be adjusted (e.g., describing causes/effects or two ways to solve a math problem).
Highlighting Student Work
Post exemplars of 3-2-1 Summaries for students to reference throughout the day (e.g., on large chart paper, a section of a class wall, or at a Reading Center). Exemplars should initially be teacher generated and can shift to student generated samples overtime (e.g., student names can be included or omitted).


Post-Reading Reflection
After reading short articles about landforms, a teacher asks students to create 3-2-1 Summaries to practice synthesizing. Copies of a recording sheet are distributed to students. Students re-read the text and fill in the recording sheet: three new discoveries learned (top section), two interesting facts (middle section), and one question they still have (bottom section). After, students share their summaries within small groups. The teacher reminds students to adjust their summaries as needed. Lastly, the whole class gathers to reflect and share insights (e.g., “At first, I couldn’t think of a question, but then I heard Raoul’s interesting fact about oceans and I began to wonder which is the largest ocean?”).
Digital 3-2-1 Summary
While launching a unit about the Cold War, a teacher explains that students will be creating new and exciting 3-2-1 Summaries (e.g., “It’s time for us to step up our 3-2-1 Summaries a notch! I spoke with our Computer Specialist and we are going to visit the Computer Lab to watch an introductory video on the Cold War and then create digital 3-2-1 Summaries!” While in the Computer Lab, students access a link for the video and are invited to rewatch it as many times as needed to gain information. Next, students complete their summaries by typing information directly into a digital template.

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