When you’re familiar with your students’ strengths and challenges, it’s easier to help them succeed. A 3×3 card introduces you to three of your students’ strengths and challenges — along with three strategies that can facilitate success.
You can have students fill out the 3×3 card in different ways:
- Send it home for students to fill out with their families.
- Work directly with your students (one at a time) to fill it out together.
Alternatively, you can combine both approaches: First, work with your students to complete the card together. This process will help you get a sense of your students’ own ideas about their strengths, challenges, and strategies. Then, send another copy home for students to complete with their families. From this, you’ll gain more of the family’s perspective about the student’s strengths and needs.
By having the cards completed in two different settings, you’ll end up with a better overall view. You’ll have perspectives from both the students and their families and will be able to see in what ways they’re the same or different.
You can have your students fill out the card at the beginning of the school year. Or you can try to get an even earlier start if you know by late spring which students will be in your class in the fall.
At the end of the school year, connect with teachers whose students will be coming into your class. Ask if the teachers would be willing to help your incoming students complete the 3×3 cards before everyone goes on summer break. The students’ strengths, challenges, and strategies will be fresh on the teachers’ minds at that time. By August or September they may not recall some details. (If you're concerned another teacher’s opinion might sway your first impression of your students, consider waiting until a few weeks into the school year to review the cards.)
After you’ve read the cards, consider sharing them with other teachers and school staff who work with your students. Have the cards on hand for quick reference during data meetings or any other collaborative meetings about your students.
You may also want to consider meeting with students throughout the year to revisit their cards. Talk about how their strengths and challenges have changed. As students progress and face more complex tasks, they may want to fill out a new 3×3 card. You can use all the cards you complete during the year to document students’ growth, continuing challenges, and the most effective strategies that have helped them succeed.
About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Mark J. Griffin, PhD has been a professional in the field of learning disabilities for over 45 years. He was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School.