Think, Pair, Share

What is Think, Pair, Share?

Think-Pair-Share is a strategy designed to provide students with “food for thought” on a given topics enabling them to formulate individual ideas and share these ideas with another student. It is a learning strategy developed by Lyman and associates to encourage student classroom participation. Rather than using a basic recitation method in which a teacher poses a question and one student offers a response, Think-Pair-Share encourages a high degree of pupil response and can help keep students on task.

What is its purpose?

  • Providing “think time” increases quality of student responses.
  • Students become actively involved in thinking about the concepts presented in the lesson.
  • Research tells us that we need time to mentally “chew over” new ideas in order to store them in memory. When teachers present too much information all at once, much of that information is lost. If we give students time to “think-pair-share” throughout the lesson, more of the critical information is retained.
  • When students talk over new ideas, they are forced to make sense of those new ideas in terms of their prior knowledge. Their misunderstandings about the topic are often revealed (and resolved) during this discussion stage.
  • Students are more willing to participate since they don’t feel the peer pressure involved in responding in front of the whole class.
  • Think-Pair-Share is easy to use on the spur of the moment.
  • Easy to use in large classes.

 How can I do it?

  • With students seated in teams of 4, have them number them from 1 to 4.
  • Announce a discussion topic or problem to solve. (Example: Which room in our school is larger, the cafeteria or the gymnasium? How could we find out the answer?)
  • Give students at least 10 seconds of think time to THINK of their own answer. (Research shows that the quality of student responses goes up significantly when you allow “think time.”)
  • Using student numbers, announce discussion partners. (Example: For this discussion, Student #1 and #2 will be partners. At the same time, Student #3 and #4 will talk over their ideas.)
  • Ask students to PAIR with their partner to discuss the topic or solution.
  • Finally, randomly call on a few students to SHARE their ideas with the class.

 Teachers may also ask students to write or diagram their responses while doing the Think-Pair-Share activity. Think, Pair, Share helps students develop conceptual understanding of a topic, develop the ability to filter information and draw conclusions, and develop the ability to consider other points of view.

Uses for think, pair, share

Note check, Vocabulary review, Quiz review, Reading check, Concept review, Lecture check, Outline, Discussion questions, Partner reading, Topic development, Agree/Disagree, Brainstorming, Simulations, Current events opinion, Conceding to the opposition, Summarize, Develop an opinion

Hints and Management Ideas

  • Assign Partners – Be sure to assign discussion partners rather than just saying “Turn to a partner and talk it over.” When you don’t assign partners, students frequently turn to the most popular student and leave the other person out.
  • Change Partners – Switch the discussion partners frequently. With students seated in teams, they can pair with the person beside them for one discussion and the person across from them for the next discussion.
  • Give Think Time – Be sure to provide adequate “think time.” I generally have students give me a thumbs-up sign when they have something they are ready to share.
  • Monitor Discussions – Walk around and monitor the discussion stage. You will frequently hear misunderstandings that you can address during the whole-group that discussion that follows.
  • Timed-Pair-Share – If you notice that one person in each pair is monopolizing the conversation, you can switch to “Timed-Pair-Share.” In this modification, you give each partner a certain amount of time to talk. (For example, say that Students #1 and #3 will begin the discussion. After 60 seconds, call time and ask the others to share their ideas.)
  • Rallyrobin – If students have to list ideas in their discussion, ask them to take turns. (For example, if they are to name all the geometric shapes they see in the room, have them take turns naming the shapes. This allows for more equal participation.) The structure variation name is Rallyrobin (similar to Rallytable, but kids are talking instead of taking turns writing).
  • Randomly Select Students – During the sharing stage at the end, call on students randomly. You can do this by having a jar of popsicle sticks that have student names or numbers on them. (One number for each student in the class, according to their number on your roster.) Draw out a popsicle stick and ask that person to tell what their PARTNER said. The first time you do this, expect them to be quite shocked! Most kids don’t listen well, and all they know is what they said! If you keep using this strategy, they will learn to listen to their partner.
  • Questioning – Think-Pair-Share can be used for a single question or a series of questions. You might use it one time at the beginning of class to say “What do you know about ________ ?” or at the end of class to say “What have you learned today?”

 How can I adapt it?

  • Think-Write-Pair-Share – To increase individual accountability, have students jot down their ideas before turning to a partner to discuss them. You can walk around the room and look at what they are writing to see who understands the concept. It also keeps kids from adopting the attitude that they will just sit back and let their partner to all the thinking.
  • Science – Making predictions about an experiment, discussing the results of an experiment, talking over charts and graphs, drawing conclusions, developing a concept through discussion, talking about environmental problems.
  • Health – Discussing healthful practices, talking about how to handle stress, discussing proper placement of foods in food groups, analyzing problems in a diet, reviewing body systems,
  • Social Studies – Discussing political viewpoints, learning about latitude and longitude, discussing economic trends, analyzing causes and effects of important events, discussing important contributions of historical figures
  • Math Problem-Solving – Place a complex problem on the overhead (For example, use one of the Weekly Math Challenges found in the Math File Cabinet.) Ask students to think about the steps they would use to solve the problem, but do not let them figure out the actual answer. Without telling the answer to the problem, have students discuss their strategies for solving the problem. Then let them work out the problem individually and compare answers.
  • Math – Practicing how to read large numbers, learning how to round numbers to various places, reviewing place value, solving word problems (as described above), recalling basic geometric terms, discussing the steps of division, discussing how to rename a fraction to lowest terms
  • Spelling – Call out a word, have them think of the spelling, then designate one person to turn and whisper the spelling to their partner. The partner gives a thumbs-up to show agreement, or corrects the spelling. You can reveal the correct spelling by uncovering the word from a chart.
  • Reading – Discuss character traits and motives, make predictions before a chapter or at the end of a read-aloud session, discuss the theme of a book or story, make guesses about vocabulary words based on context clues in the story, discuss the meaning of similes and metaphors in a story
  • Language Arts – Discuss Daily Oral Language responses, discuss ways to edit or revise a piece of writing, talk over story ideas, discuss letter-writing conventions
  • Art – Discuss elements of artistic compositions, discuss symbolism in artwork, compare and contrast the various works of a particular artist, analyze the use of color and line in works of art
  • Music – Identify elements of musical compositions, identify instruments in musical selections, compare and contrast types of music

Assessment and Evaluation Considerations

Listening skills, communication skills, using appropriate structures and features of spoken language, effective note taking and co-operative skills are most effectively assessed when using this strategy.

Student Benefits

With Think-Pair-Share, students are given time to think through their own answers to the question(s) before the questions are answered by other peers and the discussion moves on. Students also have the opportunity to think aloud with another student about their responses before being asked to share their ideas publicly. This strategy provides an opportunity for all students to share their thinking with at least one other student; this, in turn, increases their sense of involvement in classroom learning.

As a Cooperative Learning strategy, Think-Pair-Share also benefits students in the areas of peer acceptance, peer support, academic achievement, self-esteem, and increased interest in other students and school.

Teacher Benefits

Students spend more time on task and listen to each other more when engaged in Think-Pair-Share activities. More students are willing to respond in large groups after they have been able to share their responses in pairs. The quality of students responses also improves.

Teacher Resources

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