Lesson Strategies
                                                                                             
Think Pair Share  

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Introduction
Rationale
Process

More resources
YouTube Resources
Examples of Think, Pair Share on the "On the Job" website

Think Pair Share
(Source: Active Learning at King's)

Introduction

Think-pair-share (TPS) is a collaborative learning strategy where students work together to solve a problem or answer a question about an assigned reading.

This strategy requires students to

  1. think individually about a topic or answer to a question; and
  2. share ideas with classmates.

 

Rationale

Discussing with a partner maximizes participation, focuses attention and engages students in comprehending the reading material.

  • It helps students to think individually about a topic or answer to a question.
  • It teaches students to share ideas with classmates and builds oral communication skills.
  • It helps focus attention and engage students in comprehending the reading material.

A major benefit of Think-Pair-Share is the wait time. This initial phase of silent thinking is a crucial opportunity for students to retrieve their prior knowledge and organise their thoughts. This in turn promises to improve the quality of the subsequent discussion and increase participation in the ‘Share’ stage, (Lange et al, 2016; Sampsel, 2013).

The structure gives every student a low-risk opportunity to formulate a response and rehearse expressing it to one other person before ‘going public’. In this way it promotes the equal participation of every student.

It potentially exposes students to points of view and approaches which contrast with their own and bring new perspectives.

 

TPS
(Source: Semantic Scholar)

When to Use
   

Use Think-Pair-Share at any point in the lesson to structure meaningful conversation:

  • Before introducing new material to tap into prior knowledge
  • After watching a film clip to gauge a reaction
  • After reading a short text to begin a discussion
  • Before students begin an assignment, such as an essay or a set of word problems, to gather ideas or formalize procedures


The purpose of the technique may vary. At the beginning of a lesson, students may be asked to think, pair, share early connections or predictions. During an inquiry, students may be asked to share ideas, challenges or opinions. While at the end of a unit of work, students might share their reflections.

 

Process: How to use think-pair-share
  
Decide upon the text to be read and develop the set of questions or prompts that target key content concepts.
Describe the purpose of the strategy and provide guidelines for discussions.
Model the procedure to ensure that students understand how to use the strategy.
Monitor and support students as they work through the following:

T : (Think) Teachers begin by asking a specific question about the text. Students "think" about what they know or have learned about the topic.

P : (Pair) Each student should be paired with another student or a small group.

S : (Share) Students share their thinking with their partner. Teachers expand the "share" into a whole-class discussion.

 

Some question starters that could be used for a think, pair, share task:

Explain why…
Tell me how…
Compare…..with…
What are the pluses and minuses of…?
Describe…
What predictions can you share about…?
What are the three key ideas about?

TPS
(Source: TES)

For older students

  • Before the session, develop a stimulating open-ended question – have a go at responding to it yourself (Barkley and Major, p293) – and prepare materials such as slides or artefacts, as needed.
  • During the session, introduce the Think-Pair-Share activity, including the hoped-for-benefits.
  • Pose the question and ask students to spend a few minutes thinking about it individually, jotting down some notes and preparing their response.
  • Next, ask students to pair with another student and share their responses in turn for a further few minutes, noting similarities and differences. If they disagree, encourage them to summarise each other’s positions so they can explain why and how (Barkley and Major, 2018). You may ask them to integrate the ideas into a joint response for the ‘Share’ stage. Let students know whether you will be calling on every pair in the ‘Share’ stage, or inviting volunteers.
  • Finally invite the pairs to share their responses with the whole group.

Considerations
  
Students often sit with friends and may need a reason to bond with peers outside their social network, even though this is beneficial (Todman, 2018). If the room and group size allows, consider intervening to allocate students into pairs you choose. This will give them an opportunity to get to know others outside their social network. As well as helping them bond, students are likely to encounter new perspectives and approaches.

If students start chatting immediately, do emphasise the value of that first silent individual ‘Think’ phase. It gives students the opportunity to retrieve what they know and organise their thoughts about the question, both of which are central to learning and improve the quality of the discussion.

The quality of the conversation will be affected by the difficulty or sensitivity of the question, and the extent to which students feel comfortable making mistakes.

 

Variations
Think-Listening Pair-Share

To work on students’ listening skills, tell them that they can only share their partner’s viewpoint during “Share.”

Think-Pair-Square

After “Pair,” have partners “Square” with another pair to discuss their ideas, making a group of 4.

For older students: 'Stump your partner'

Stump your partner‘ is based on an idea from the Centre for Teaching Innovation at Cornell University for consolidating learning from that session’s lecture, reading, or other didactic material. For the ‘Think’ stage, ask students to individually and silently come up with a question to test their partner and help them to learn. Instruct students to try to stump their partner with a challenging question, but to keep it based on important concepts from the lecture or reading. For the ‘Pair’ stage, ask students turn to a partner and pose their question, followed by a discussion of the responses. Finally, for the ‘Share’ stage, collect the questions to get a sense of what students find central and/or challenging.

   
How to know if it works

Compared to whole-group discussions without the Think or Pair stages:

Is there more equal participation? What is the proportion of students participating in the plenary ‘Share’ stage?
Is there any change in who participates in the ‘Share’ stage e.g. quieter students, students from under-represented backgrounds?
Is there any change in the quality of the contributions e.g. is there difference in knowledge or sophistication; how productively are students engaging with differences of viewpoint?
Does the nature of the question affect the participation?
Do students find the activity helpful?

 

More resources

Graphic Organiser

Think Pair Share
NSW Dept of Education - Digital Learning Selector We are Teachers - 10 Fun alternatives to TPS

YouTube: Teacher Toolkit: Think-Pair-Share
https://youtu.be/x1EuZRQgVyE

 

YouTube: Active Learning Strategy: Think-Pair-Share [Engineering students]
https://youtu.be/fqrOxeL-fwk

 

 

YouTube: How to do a Think Pair Share - TeachLikeThis
https://youtu.be/vxMOl2Vnw54

 

 

YouTube: Think-Pair-Share
https://youtu.be/-9AWNl-A-34

 

 

Examples within the On the Job website

Art Therapist

Art Therapist
Self Portrait - based on the work of artist Frida Kahlo

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle High SchoolSecondary

Lesson Strategy: Think, Pair, Share
& create a self-portrait
Barista

Barista

Recycling and Coffee: What are the challenges? What business is it of yours?

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle High SchoolSecondary

 

Lesson Strategy: Think, Pair, Share

Material sourced from
Active Learning from King's College London

Dept. of Education, Victoria

Reading Rockets
Teacher Toolkit

 

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