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Think-Pair-Share

Think-pair-share (TPS) is a collaborative learning strategy in which students work together to solve a problem or answer a question about an assigned reading. This technique requires students to (1) think individually about a topic or answer to a question; and (2) share ideas with classmates. Discussing an answer with a partner serves to maximize participation, focus attention and engage students in comprehending the reading material.

Why use think-pair-share?

  • 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.

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.
When to use: Before reading During reading After reading
How to use: Individually With small groups Whole class setting

Watch think-pair-share in action

Visit Cathy Doyle's second grade classroom in Evanston, Illinois to observe her students learning the think-pair-share strategy. Cathy goes over the "rules" and then engages the kids around a classroom read-aloud, An Egg Is Quiet. Joanne Meier, our research director, introduces the strategy and talks about how the strategy can help build confidence with students who are often reluctant to talk in front of the whole class.

Examples:

Learn how to use the think-pair-share strategy across content areas along with some suggestions for managing and modifying the activity.

See example >

Differentiated instruction

For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners

  • Be sensitive to learners' needs (reading skill, attentional skills, language skill) when creating pairs.
  • Allow students to choose who will share with the whole group.

See the research that supports this strategy

Gunter, M. A., Estes, T. H., & Schwab, J. H. (1999). Instruction: A Models Approach, 3rd edition. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Lyman, F. (1981). "The responsive classroom discussion." In Anderson, A. S. (Ed.), Mainstreaming Digest. College Park, MD: University of Maryland College of Education.

Rasinkski, T., & Padak, N. (1996). Holistic reading strategies: Teaching children who find reading difficult. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Children's books to use with this strategy

How I Learned Geography

How I Learned Geography

Based on Shulevitz's childhood, the boy learns that imagination can ignite a passion that survives grueling times.

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad

Ali, a contemporary boy living in Bagdad enjoys soccer, "loud, parent-rattling music," and Arabic calligraphy. Ali finds solace in it during the noise of war much like 13th century calligrapher Yakut. Dynamic, evocative illustrations make this book memorable, sure to remind readers that children are similar world-over.

What to Do About Alice?

What to Do About Alice?

What must it be like to live in the White House, especially if you’re not at all like other children of your time? Read about Alice — Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest child — and her unconventional approach to life in the White House.

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"When I say to a parent, "read to a child", I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. " — Mem Fox