The Magic of Three: Techniques for the Writer's Craft

There’s something about our English language that lends itself to threes. Putting words and ideas in a group of three can add rhythm and cadence to the sound of the language and add inspiration and passion to the message. Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Not only was this a worthy sentiment, it was also a powerful rhetorical technique. A series of three parallel words, phrases, or clauses is known as a tricolon in literary parlance. In intermediate classrooms, we call it the Magic of Three. Tricolons are easy to read, easy to say, and easy to remember. See what I mean? In this lesson, students will learn how to apply this useful writing technique to make their writing more engaging, fluent, and rhythmical. This site encourages students to use parallel structure.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3001.2.1
Demonstrate critical listening skills essential for comprehension, evaluation, problem solving, and task completion.
GLE 0801.3.3
Organize ideas into an essay with an introduction, developing paragraphs, conclusion, and appropriate transitions.
 
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
 
Learning objectives: 

Studeent Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of tricolons through whole-group and small-group discussions
  • Learn how to craft words and phrases in groups of three for rhythm and power by creating tricolons within a defined framework
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the Magic of Three by drafting or revising an independent writing piece that contains tricolons

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Understanding
Extension suggestions: 

Extensions:

  • Encourage students to be aware of Magic of Three in the texts that they read, and discuss the impact this technique has on the way they respond to the reading.
  • Brainstorm out-of-class but in-school opportunities (like student elections or debate team) where students can use the Magic of Three for fluency and impact. Encourage students to incorporate the Magic of Three when possible in these opportunities.

Helpful Hints

Materials and Technology:

  • Interactive whiteboard, flip chart, or overhead projector
  • Computers with internet

Printouts:

  • Magic of Three Sentence Frames
  • Song of the Seasons
  • Magic of the Three Rubric

Websites:

  • Barack Obama's Victory Speech
  • Barack Obama's Secret for Stirring a Crowd (for teacher use)

References

Contributors: