B12 Think, pair, share

More Teaching Procedures 1st Edition, page 21
January 2012

In this procedure, students are expected to take their ideas into a discussion with a partner and then share the outcomes of their interaction more widely in the classroom. There are several variations, but Think Pair Share always begins with a student brainstorming with themselves and jotting down things they know or opinions they have on an issue ( Think ). A fixed time, generally no more than 5 minutes is allowed for this and then students Pair up, compare their lists, produce a common list and then join up with one or two other pairs ( Share ). Once again lists are compared and a common list produced. These may or may not be shared with the whole class. Numbers in a class have only a 25% chance of being a multiple of 4 (allowing a 1,2,4 sequence) so usually some pairs may need to be trio s (1,2,5).

Sometimes the pairs and groups may add their ideas, producing successively bigger lists that become a resource for all members to use. However sometimes, often when opinions and value judgements are involved, pairs and groups may successively reduce their lists by reaching consensus on (a fixed) number of important points. For example in in-service sessions with science teachers a sequence has been:

This has been very effective in generating some consensus and, after a whole group discussion of the results, building shared meaning for (in this case) the goals of the in-service.

This is a widely used procedure applying the important ideas of valuing existing ideas and peer learning as a way of developing these ideas further. We can only learn from each other if we are prepared to think about an issue and find ways of communicating our ideas. Bobby Bailey (An Interesting Side Effect) had students reflecting on the Think, Pair, Share process and how much their ideas were transformed. This highlighted for students the way in which initial concepts may persist. It might be useful to ask students to reflect on their initial ideas and how they are altered during the Pairing and Sharing stages.