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Think-Pair-Share Strategy: How This Fun Activity Enhances Student Engagement

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Every teacher wants their students to be fully engaged in every lesson. 

There's nothing worse than asking a question to your class and just hearing crickets in response. No one raises their hand…no one has an answer. 

If you've been experiencing this, don't worry! There are strategies you can use to get the discussion flowing and get students involved in the lesson. 

Think-Pair-Share is one of those strategies. 

The Think-Pair-Share strategy is a dynamic instructional approach designed to enhance student engagement in the learning process.

This strategy stimulates critical thinking, encourages collaboration, and builds effective communication skills among students.

This article will explore the impact that Think-Pair-Share can have in a classroom. We'll focus on how it can create a more dynamic and inclusive educational experience for every one of your students. 

What is the Think-Pair-Share strategy?

The Think-Pair-Share strategy is an instructional strategy that works to get the entire class involved. It encourages learners to think independently before engaging in small group discussions. After chatting with a partner, students are then encouraged to share their thoughts with the whole class. 

By utilizing Think-Pair-Share, you can pose open-ended questions, drawing from the framework introduced by Frank Lyman, to foster brainstorming and collaboration amongst your students.

This teaching strategy promotes cooperative learning by having learners discuss their thoughts with a partner before participating in a larger, group discussion.

How to use the Think-Pair-Share learning strategy

When implementing the Think-Pair-Share strategy in classrooms, your first step should be incorporating the strategy into your lesson plans.

You should plan to give students the necessary time to process information and think it over before sharing ideas on diverse topics. You will need to account for this extra time when blocking out your day. It may mean that you need to cut out an activity or pare back in some other way. 

One example of implementing the Think-Pair-Share strategy could be found in math class. When teaching math problem-solving skills, you could provide a template that guides their thinking skills and guides a classroom discussion about various word problems.

Start by passing out the guide and teaching the needed concepts to complete it. Then give students a set amount of time to look through the work problems and arrive at their own solution.

Then, pair students up to discuss both their answers and how they arrive there. Finally, have the whole class discuss their answers and if there’s any discrepancies in answers, foster a discussion about the various ways that students solved the word problems. 

Integrating Think-Pair-Share as a teaching method not only gives students a place to get their questions answered, but it also promotes social skills. It allows students to share ideas and engage in cooperative learning.

You could also incorporate Think-Pair-Share into classroom activities to simply encourage whole class discussions. You know your students best, so you can draw on your prior knowledge and create a dynamic learning environment that caters to the diverse needs of your students.

See how one classroom uses Think-Pair-Share to encourage discussion below!

3 Key benefits of Think Pair Share

It’s easy to feel skeptical of new teaching methods. But Think-Pair-Share has many measurable benefits for students. Let’s go over a few of them!

1. Active student engagement

Implementing Think-Pair-Share in classrooms ensures active student engagement by allowing learners the time they need to independently process and answer questions. 

This can maximize engagement and participation in discussions because every student has had time to think of their answers. They don’t need to feel nervous about coming up with an answer on the spot. 

Using Think-Pair-Share encourages students to move beyond just looking for the correct answer. The strategy emphasizes thoughtful exploration of ideas.

2. Diverse perspectives and collaboration

Think-Pair-Share fosters collaboration by allowing students to share their diverse perspectives about different concepts.

It’s useful in every subject, ranging from language arts to social studies to math. It can be effective in teaching students how to navigate word problems and encourage them to collaborate in solving complex scenarios. 

Even in more black-and-white subjects like math, it can be used to find diverse approaches to mathematical challenges.

Think-Pair-Share brings diverse perspectives to the forefront, facilitating collaborative discussions on historical events, cultural nuances, and global issues among students. This makes Think-Pair-Share a particularly effective method in classes like social studies and history.

3. Increased confidence and communication skills

Using Think-Pair-Share builds confidence by providing students with a supportive way to express their thoughts before engaging in whole class discussions. 

Partner discussions strengthen communication skills as students articulate their ideas to a partner before presenting them to the larger group. There is less pressure in these discussions to have exactly the right answer. And if a student is more shy, there is more time and space for them to find the words that they want to say. 

When solving word problems, Think-Pair-Share enhances confidence by allowing students to collectively tackle challenges and discuss various strategies for solving problems. 

While some word problems only have one answer, others can have various solutions. These types of problems can be especially fun to use with Think-Pair-Share because students can collaborate and brainstorm to find all the possible solutions.

Frequently asked questions about Think-Pair-Share strategies

What are examples of think pair share activities?

Some examples of Think-Pair-Share activities include literature analysis, historical debates, and math problem-solving. Here are the steps that you would use in each activity to use the Think-Pair-Share strategy. 

  • Literature Analysis: Analyzing a piece of literature individually, discussing interpretations with a partner, and then sharing insights with the whole class.
  • Historical Debates: Researching a historical topic individually, collaborating with a partner to form arguments, and participating in a class debate.
  • Math Problem Solving: Students independently solve a math problem, discuss solutions with a partner, and then present their findings to the whole class.

These are just a few examples of ways to use Think-Pair-Share. Use these ideas as a jumping-off point for creating your own activities. 

Or you may find it easier to simply tweak the activities you had planned to allow for reflection time, partner discussion, and then group discussion. This model can work with truly any topic.

What is the think group share strategy?

Think-Group-Share is an extension of Think-Pair-Share. In this slight modification, pairs of students join together to form small groups. 

This would make the process a little longer, often having four steps. Or you may choose to cut out the whole class discussion or the single partner discussion.  

This extra step encourages more extensive collaboration before sharing ideas with the entire class. It gives more time for students to develop and gives students more time and space to talk with a medium-sized group. 

It’s important to evaluate how much time you have to spend on a lesson when deciding how you want to use this strategy. You can also consider how deeply the topic can be discussed. If there’s only one right answer, students may get bored after having a similar discussion four times. 

How long should a think pair share last?

The duration of a Think-Pair-Share activity can vary based on the complexity of the topic and the depth of discussion required. It will also fluctuate depending on how old the students are. 

Older students will be able to dive deeper into the topic then younger students. They have more advanced problem-solving skills to be able to think of more solutions. They also can understand and discuss more nuances to complicated topics. 

A typical range to shoot for is between 2 and 5 minutes for individual thinking and sharing with a partner.

Some pairings of students may get along better and thus talk longer. You may find that certain ways of grouping up your students are better for this strategy. The more you do Think-Pair-Share, the better it will go.

What is the difference between peer instruction and Think-Pair-Share?

In peer instruction, students individually answer questions with subsequent class-wide discussion. However, with Think-Pair-Share, one of the cornerstones of the strategy is having partner discussions before sharing with the whole class. This slight shift promotes more extended collaboration.

If you aren’t ready to dive all the way into Think-Pair-Share, doing peer instruction can be a smaller first step into fostering collaboration in your classroom.

Create an active, collaborative learning environment with Prodigy

The Think-Pair-Share strategy can be a great way to get your class involved and excited about learning. It can also take away the nerves of some students as they are given time to process their thoughts before sharing with their classmates. 

Another way to get students excited about learning is through game-based learning platforms like Prodigy.

With Prodigy, you can easily deliver standards-aligned content in math and ELA through fun gameplay. Its packed with plenty of features, including:

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  • Standards-aligned content: Our educational content covers a wide list of curricula, including Common Core.

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