Posts Tagged ‘student choice’

Pacing and Summarization

October 4, 2009 6 comments

hispanic girlAs 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.



teacher at board

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.



 3-2-1 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.

question mark

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:

mona lisa3: 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.









math question

3: List three applications of slope, y-intercept knowledge in the professional world.

2: Identify two skills that someone must have to determine slope and y-intercept 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?




beakers3: 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.




Wormeli, R. (2004). Summarization In Any Subject: 50 Techniques To Improve Student Learning. Alexandria, VA: Association For Supervision & Curriculum Development.