Student writes in a notebook in classroom
Teaching Strategy


Gauge students’ understanding and interest in a topic by asking them to write down takeaways, questions, and something they enjoyed about a text, film, or lesson.


This resource is intended for educators in the United Kingdom.

At a Glance

Teaching Strategy


English — UK
Also available in:
English — US




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.

About This Teaching 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 previous lessons.

We have collated a selection of teaching strategies which can be used for a range of purposes and which frequently appear in Facing History and Ourselves’ resources. At their core, they all work towards creating a safe classroom space in which students feel respected and supported, are able to learn from each other, and are supported to excel academically.

What are these teaching strategies useful for?

Creating a Reflective Classroom Community (RCC)

Creating a reflective classroom environment, in which students feel safe, valued and able to share their ideas, is central to the work we do at Facing History & Ourselves. A safe, reflective space is vital for the type of learning we want to nurture; learning that seeks to build communities of empathetic individuals who are socially responsible and who challenge hate and bigotry. Our strategies to build a reflective community encourage students to think about their relationships with themselves, each other and the wider world.

Developing Knowledge and Understanding (KU)

For students to be able to fully engage with topics, particularly if they are expected to offer an opinion or complete an extended writing task, they need to have multiple ways to access and reflect on the relevant content. If students do not possess the required knowledge, or lack confidence in their understanding of a topic, then this can make them feel disempowered, thus impacting their engagement; their work may, subsequently, be off task, or lack depth and critical engagement. These activities develop students’ knowledge and understanding in a range of ways, through both independent and group work.

Developing Oracy and Listening Skills (OL)

Both at school and in the world beyond school, students need to be effective orators and listeners; such skills are necessary if they are to be effective communicators who can express their ideas, feelings and needs, and if they are to listen to and acknowledge the ideas, feelings and needs of others. Doing a range of exercises that encourage students to share their views in pairs, groups and with the class is a fantastic and simple way to develop their skills as orators and listeners. The more they are able to practice public-speaking and active, reflective listening in the safety of a classroom, the more they will be able to do so in their lives. Our activities to help develop oracy and listening skills do so through debates, discussions and group work.

Fostering Critical Engagement and Critical Thinking (CECT)

Students need to be able to critique the world around them, to critically engage with the information they encounter to make informed decisions and filter out any irrelevant or misleading information. Such skills not only pave the way for independence and success, they are also vital for the survival of democracy. These activities enable students to constructively engage with their work and to develop critical thinking skills that will help them thrive in life.

Facilitating the Sharing of Ideas (SI)

The sharing of ideas with each other is a great way for students to both clarify what they think, refining their thought processes, and to develop their ideas: other students can be great sources of inspiration. These activities offer engaging, varied ways for students to do so.

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Lesson Plans

Steps for Implementation

After students engage with a text or a lesson, ask them to write 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 the lesson 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.


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 the 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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Facing History & Ourselves is designed for educators who want to help students explore identity, think critically, grow emotionally, act ethically, and participate in civic life. It’s hard work, so we’ve developed some go-to professional learning opportunities to help you along the way.

Using the strategies from Facing History is almost like an awakening.
— Claudia Bautista, Santa Monica, Calif