Student Engagement Series: Think-Pair-Share and 3 Ways to Make it More Meaningful.

Think-Pair-Share is one of my favorite "go-to" strategies to get students talking and engaged with the lesson. It is so simple to implement and can be used in any subject or age level.

Here's a breakdown of how Think-Pair-Share works:

(You can also find a FREE handy cheat sheet below with all the info you need to smoothly run this strategy in your classroom!)

Overview: Think-Pair-Share is an excellent way to provide authentic opportunities for your students to engage during lessons and process out loud the information that you are teaching.


No materials are required but here are some optional materials:

-Visual cues

-Expectation Poster

-Observation Form

How does it work:

The beauty of this strategy is that it can be used at any time and with any subject. It will help to model the strategy the first few times, but they will quickly catch on.

1.You will first pose a question to the students, and give the students individual think time.

2.The students will then ”pair up” with the person next to them. Depending on their age, this can be the most complicated part. I taught my students to find their “elbow buddy” and anybody who didn’t have a buddy would come to the front to find one.

3.Students will take turns discussing their thoughts about the question that was asked. Again, it is important here to model that the expectation is to be on topic, not about what they want to do after school.

4.The class will come back together, and a few students can share out about their discussion.

Tips and Tricks:

Here are some thinks to think of ahead of time.

•How will the students ”pair up?”

•How can I model proper discussion techniques and phrases?

•Which students might need support from the teacher or visual support?

Benefits for ELLs:

This strategy is so easy to implement, and comes with so many benefits for ELLs. It allows the affective filter to be lowered so that they feel more comfortable thinking and sharing about the topic. It also gives them an opportunity to ”vet” an idea with a peer before sharing it with the whole class.

If you already use Think-Pair-Share in your classroom, I wanted to give you 3 easy ways to make this strategy more meaningful for your students!

1. Print and laminate a thought bubble for each student. When you pause for a think-pair-share, give the students time to write or draw their thoughts in the thought bubble. This is helpful for you to monitor if the students are comprehending the lesson or possible misunderstandings to address. This is also helpful to give all students time to think and not just rely on their peer to come up with an idea.

2. Use visual cards to show students what they should be doing. Is it think time? Talk time? Share time? (Don't worry, I included the visuals below!) Simply print, laminate, and put on a ring so that every time you do this strategy the visuals are already available. This will help guide students through the process and help them to get the most out of the time.

3. Have an expectation poster. I have found the more explicit and visual I am when introducing new strategies, the more successful the strategies will be. Have a simple expectation posters helps hold the students accountable and on track during the discussion.

One other way to make the strategy more meaningful for you is to use the talk time as a time to make notes and observations of how students are interacting and discussing the topic. I've included below a handy little sticky note observation form to have ready to go!

Ready for your Think-Pair-Share Freebie Packet?

Just click the picture below and it's yours!

What other ways do you use Think-Pair-Share?

Comment below so we can learn together!

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