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

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

More comprehension strategies

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.

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Watch: Think-Pair-Share

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.

Collect resources

Language Arts

Use think-pair-share to deepen discussions about specific characters in books the class is reading together. For example, if the class is reading The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson, try think-pair-share to respond to questions such as, "Would you be able to be friends with Gilly? Why or why not?"


Try think-pair-share for math problems with more than one correct answer, such as estimation, patterns, and logic. This strategy can also be used when students are deciding how to approach a math problem.

Social Studies

Jumpstart a think-pair-share discussion by asking a gbroad question relevant to a new unit of study, such as, "What do you already know about the Civil War?" As students dig into more difficult topics, you might ask questions such as, "Would you have agreed to be a 'stop' on the Underground Railroad? Why or why not?"


Use think-pair-share to help students form hypotheses or to discuss their interpretations of a class experiment. For example, before an experiment on density, students might be asked to use the think-pair-share strategy when deciding which items will float in a tub of water.


Differentiated instruction

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

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

By: Uri Shulevitz
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

By: James Rumford
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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?

By: Barbara Kerley
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

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.


How can you use think pair share with 3 and 4 year olds in a pre-school setting?

Thanks alot . It's really a very useful strategy .It helps to think and practice the foreign languagein eeffective way .

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"I'm wondering what to read next." — Matilda, Roald Dahl