Planning for Student Processing Time
Several of you are using advance organizers as a way to provide instructional scaffolding for our students. Instructional scaffolding is a way of offering students templates, direct instruction, and other tools that can help them experience success. The idea is to provide support until our students can “fly solo.”
Providing students with a fillintheblank style advance organizer is a great scaffolding strategy that also serves as a summarization device. See the example below:
Advance Organizer: Dividing Mixed Numbers

Working independently, fill in the blanks below.When dividing mixed numbers, we must first turn each mixed number into a ______________________.
Once done, we change the operation from division to ________________________________________. Now, we multiply the first fraction by the__________________ of the second fraction. If our final answer is topheavy or an ________________ fraction, then we rewrite it as a _____________________________, and we reduce it to ___________________ terms. 
Try this method, and see how it works for your students. Write your own summarization of the material that you’re presenting. Then review what you’ve written and make a second draft, replacing key words and phrases with blank lines.
Either during or after the learning process, ask students to complete these fillintheblank organizers by writing the correct terms. If appropriate and if time allows, they might share their responses with a class mate and agree on the best answers. As students discuss their responses, they will engage in evaluation of their own responses as well as the responses of their peers. Furthermore, if answers differ, students will justify their responses as they converse.
Even though you will have a specific idea of what word or phrase goes in each blank, you will be surprised at how our students can show us that the blank can be interpreted differently and how something else can fit logically into the space. When we are open to allowing students to explain their logic and reasoning for selecting a term or concept, we see that our students have a lot to teach us too!
Advance organizers are a great means of formative assessment. Teachers can quickly discern what students understand as well as where clarification is needed. The use of questions, cues, and advance organizers has an average effect size of 0.59 and can result in a 22 percentile gain in student achievement (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001).
Share One; Get One is another quick processing technique that works as a “brain dump” to break lectures and other extended learning experiences into smaller chunks. These miniprocessing activities can be done at any time during the lesson.
Present the lesson’s concepts as you normally would. When it’s time to take a break and have students process what has been presented, ask them to fold their paper or draw a grid of nine squares, big enough to cover at least half a sheet of notebook paper. In any three squares of the matrix, ask students to record three different concepts, facts, or skills they recall from the presentation. Now, ask students to move around the room asking classmates to fill in the remaining squares with concepts, facts, and skills that they haven’t recorded on their matrix. Each classmate can add only one idea to another classmate’s matrix, but students can add ideas to as many matrices as time allows. The task is complete when six different classmates have filled all remaining six squares with different concepts, facts, or skills. Then students return to their seats.
Ask your students to make a coherent summary of the presentation using the information recorded in their matrices. Have your students put the concepts, facts, and skills in logical order and to rewrite the points from each square in sentence form. This manipulation of content and skills into a particular format is very effective because it forces students to interact with the material, not just record it. It also allows the students an opportunity to interact with the learning environment and to get out of their seats.
References
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Researchbased strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Wormeli, R. (2004). Summarization in any subject: 50 techniques to improve student learning. Alexandria, VA: Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Pacing and Summarization
As you continue to explore ways in which you can help students process and retain content, it is important to examine your professional practice in terms of pacing. As you know, pacing involves the speed with which you move through chunks of information. If you are lecturing for more than fifteen minutes at a time before asking the students to summarize, the brain reaches its saturation point, and mastery learning does not occur. We must ask our students to summarize en route to mastery.
As a professional, you determine when to use summarization strategies — at the beginning, the middle, or the end of a lesson. Whether a student is asked to read a passage from a text, watch a video clip, participate in a debate, create artwork, or participate in a review game, summarization techniques will enable you to help students improve both their comprehension and retention of lesson concepts.
321 is an example of a summarization strategy that you can use to adjust your pacing. This technique is versatile and relatively quick. You can use it for any situation in oral, artistic, or written forms. For the written version, ask your students to write the numerals 3, 2, and 1 down the left side of a half sheet of paper. Then post or announce prompts for each number, asking the students to write three of something, two of something, and one of something.
For example, you might ask students to write:
3 — things that they learned from the lesson
2 — areas that they are still confused
1 — way they might apply what they learned to another area
The specific prompts will vary with the lesson content and your instructional goals, but you may want to think about making the “one item” task more challenging than the “three item” task.
More Examples:
3: Identify three characteristics of Renaissance art that are different from those of art in the Middle Ages.
2: List two important scientific debates that occurred during the Renaissance.
1: Provide one good reason that “rebirth” is an appropriate term to describe the Renaissance.
3: List three applications of slope, yintercept knowledge in the professional world.
2: Identify two skills that someone must have to determine slope and yintercept from a set of points on a plane.
1: If (x¹, y1¹) are the coordinates of a point W in a plane, and (x², and y²) are the coordinates of a different point Y, then the slope of WY is what?
3: Identify at least three differences between acids and bases.
2: List two uses of acids and two uses of bases.
1: State one reason knowledge of acids and bases is important to citizens in our community.
The 3, 2, 1 strategy can also be expressed artistically or verbally. For those versions, follow the same sequence but change the medium by which students express themselves. Consider allowing your students to choose their mode of expression to summarize lesson content.
If you have used this strategy or made modifications to this strategy, please feel free to share your experiences.
Check out this link for more summarizing strategies.
References
Wormeli, R. (2004). Summarization In Any Subject: 50 Techniques To Improve Student Learning. Alexandria, VA: Association For Supervision & Curriculum Development.