Start The Topic With A Thinking Routine

3 2 1 Bridge Thinking Routine @thesuitcaseteacher

I’ll be honest, I never really used thinking routines often in class until I had more exposure to them. Following my teacher training, my style of teaching was using textbooks and delivering knowledge but with more intel about the purposes and the benefits of using thinking routines, my style of teaching has evolved.

I now teach to encourage children to be curious and think for themselves rather than feeding them with knowledge. Children need to be curious enough to find out the information for themselves so that they retain it.


For this to be efficient, children need to understand:

  • What they are learning
  • Why they are learning it
  • What skills their will develop by doing this

There are many great thinking routines out there but I wanted to share a routine that I am using to influence planning our CLI (Collaborative Learning Investigation) topic for Term 2.


Our overarching topic for our CLI is Identity and this term we are investigating our identity connection with the environment. 3-2-1 Bridge was used at the end of Term 1. Its purpose was to find out how the class connected with the environment and what they wanted to learn. Keep scrolling to download the free resource!

To use the routine:
Open a class discussion about the topic, namely environment in this case. At this point, it is important to only introduce the topic and provide very little information, instead, ask thought proving questions such as “What does your environment look like?”, “Can you think of any other environments?”,  “Where are they and what do they look like?”. The point is to encourage outside thinking.


thesuitcaseteacher, blogger, teacher, melbourne, education

Then, ask the class to independently complete the 3-2-1 Bridge activity and give about 5-10 minutes to do so.

  • 3- Think of three words that come to mind when you think about the environment, encourage use of the senses.
  • 2- Record two questions you have about the environment and be specific, for example; How are homes around the world impacted by their environment?
  • 1– What is one simile/metaphor you would use to describe the environment.

The students then share their initial thinking with one another. This was a great activity and saw my class have lots of ‘A-ha’ moments, you would see their minds heading off in so many different directions.

I can then do one of two things:

  1. Introduce some reading material based on the questions the class came up with and then ask them to complete another 3-2-1 Bridge to finalise the question they would like to research in more detail.
  2. At the end of the topic, complete the 3-2-1 Bridge activity again. The class would partner up and explain how and why their thinking has changed.

There should be a shift in their thinking and hopefully there will be new questions to be investigated too. I’m looking forward to coming back to do our second 3-2-1 Bridge this term!

Thanks for supporting The Suitcase Teacher!

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