Are you a teacher who relies on the think pair share strategy for student talk in your classroom? Do you ever get bored with it?
Guilty as charged.
I think that some of my best ideas come when I’m just tired of doing the same thing overandoverandoverandover. I always imagine that, if I’m bored, students must be quadruple times as bored.
So, I like to have a variety of different strategies and activities in the “teacher toolbox” of my mind, think pair share being one of them.
What is Think Pair Share?
Think pair share, sometimes called turn and talk, is one of the best ways for teachers to slow down the conversation and give students time to process their ideas before verbally responding.
- It builds student confidence and student collaboration;
- It provides a much-needed brain break,
- AND it helps flip students from passive to active learners.
Now, in my classroom, I do not lecture. Meh.
I much prefer to structure my English classroom activities so that students are the ones owning their own learning and creating meaning together.
Because of this, the way I use think pair share shifts from an opportunity for talk in the middle of a teacher-centric lesson to a discussion and processing strategy for student learning.
If it seems like students are reluctant to share out their thinking in a whole-class setting, I know that it’s usually because:
a) they’re scared their idea will be “wrong.”
b) because they legit have not had the time to think through their ideas.
c) because they haven’t read the text we’re discussing.
➡️ To increase the likelihood of student participation, I will use think pair share. I also use TPS to break up discussions, to help students process an activity, as a check for understanding, or a quick brainstorming session.
Standard-Issue Think Pair Share
Usually, when using this strategy, the teacher will ask students to stop listening or doing to individually think about a question, quote, big idea or theme, etc. Often, this thinking will be paired with journaling, a quick bullet list, or follow-up questions to ask the group. Other times, just thinking is enough.
After individual processing has been completed, the teacher will ask students to pair up with a partner to discuss their individual thinking.
This is usually just a quick exchange of ideas before a share out with the whole class or small table group, but I find that it’s helpful to also have the partners write down a thought to share with the class. This can be their “best” insight, a thought-provoking question, something to show the result of their collaboration.
📌 It’s also important to note that this strategy gradually folds in more voices and ideas so that student participation and thinking is scaffolded. This is also a great way to differentiate for students who may need more processing time because all students can benefit from this strategy.
Think Pair Share Strategy Ideas
Here are some ways that you might deviate from the standard version of think pair share. Some of these strategies add variety in terms of who a student pairs with. Other think pair share strategies add variety in terms of the structure of the activity.
In this strategy, students begin with individual thought, then pair with a partner to discuss. Here’s where the difference begins. Instead of jumping right from partner to whole group sharing, try having two pairs of students come together for an extended pairing. Then, groups of four become groups of eight, until students become one big group for sharing of ideas.
Think Pair Share: Homework Edition
Instead of completing the think pair share activity in class, it may be useful to have students do their thinking for homework (about a specific text, topic, and/or question) so that they’re prepared to pair (discussion prep) and share (actual discussion) to start class the next day.
Padlet Pair Share
For individual thinking, students will create individual Padlet posts. Then, for the paired discussion, students will look for trends and patterns in the responses so that they can draw conclusions. Then, the class can debrief and process together.
Flipgrid Pair Share
For this option, have students record individual responses, then watch and respond to other students. OR, have students think individually, then pair with a partner to record a Flipgrid conversation before watching and responding to other paired conversations.
To ensure that students have a variety of think pair share partners to talk with, you may want to randomize student groupings using a partner wheel or by giving students each a playing card when they walk in the room. You can call out groupings this way: red vs black, evens and odds together, same suit, etc.
This strategy changes the order of the typical think pair share…because variety is the spice of life as well as classroom talk.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this student discussion post and hope that you found a new way to embrace the think pair share strategy. Please leave a comment below to let me know what you thought and how I can help!
Hey, if you loved this post, I want to be sure you’ve had the chance to grab a FREE copy of my guide to streamlined grading. I know how hard it is to do all the things as an English teacher, so I’m over the moon to be able to share with you some of my best strategies for reducing the grading overwhelm.
Click on the link above or the image below to get started!