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What is Think/Pair/Share?

Think/Pair/Share is a collaborative learning strategy where students work together to answer a question, or begin to solve a problem. Students are first asked to think individually about the question or problem, then to pair up with another student to compare their thinking and to come to a consensus on one response or solution. Pairs of students then share their selected response with other classmates.

Why Use it?

  • To provoke students to think individually about a question, an image, a problem or a topic.
  • To activate students’ prior knowledge.
  • To allow quieter students to engage in personal interactions rather than in front of a larger group.
  • To promote higher-level thinking.
  • To foster collaboration among students.

How do I use it?

  • Before using this strategy, introduce its purpose to the students and work through an example.
  • Pose a question or problem and ask students to think their own response quietly without sharing it with anyone (one to two minutes).
  • Example of a Think-Pair-Share graphic organizer
    Source: photo by Let’s Talk Science

  • Once students have had their own quiet and private think time, have each student pair up with a student sitting nearby.
  • Have students share their thinking with their partner, taking turns and listening attentively to each other’s ideas.
  • Once the students in each pair have had a turn to listen to each other’s ideas, provide partner groups with an opportunity to share their ideas with the larger group. Ask them to discuss whether any of their individual ideas changed after hearing what their partner had to say.
  • To encourage active listening skills, you could ask students to tell you something their partners said that was interesting or which made them think about their ideas differently.

Tips for Success

  • Initially, educators may decide to assign partners rather than letting students choose a partner at random.
  • If using this strategy often, ensure that all students are included and that you vary the types of provocations used.
  • Give students adequate time for thinking about their own ideas and then, when in partner groups, provide adequate time to both discuss their own ideas and to listen to and respond to their partner’s ideas. You could have students raise their hand or provide another signal that they are finished with their thinking and sharing.
  • To limit the discussion of who should go first, when it is time for sharing use clear criteria for directing who will start (e.g., “the person with the longest/shortest hair goes first”, “the person with the darkest/most colourful clothing goes first”).
  • Observe and document the partner discussions and the whole class sharing. Ask students to reflect on how well the pairs and shares worked, and any challenges that they encountered throughout the process.

Variations

  • This strategy could be used to provoke a new interest or to have students reflect on what they have learned.
  • Students could draw, sketch or write their responses prior to sharing their thinking with a partners.
  • After students have shared their thinking in the first partner group, provide them with a short reflection time and then have them form new partner groups and share their thoughts on the topic with the new partner.