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In Praise of Think-Pair-Share


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Listen to this post as a podcast:


Think-pair-share has gotten a bad rap. In July of 2013, just as I was starting this blog, I read a snarky piece where the author slammed administrators’ use of the strategy in faculty meetings. The piece got a lot of attention, lots of thumbs-up, but I felt kind of indignant.

Because I LOVE think-pair-share. It’s as flexible and at-the-ready as a 16-year-old gymnast on Red Bull. It’s the first strategy I explain to people who have no teacher training but have found themselves in a position to teach.

I do, however, think there’s a right way and a wrong way to use it. So for the sake of celebrating think-pair-share, the Little Strategy That Could, and to share some best practices with this strategy, I made it the focus of my latest podcast. You can listen, read the transcript, or read the infographic that summarizes it all



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  1. rainbowkansas says:

    I love think-pair-share! I think when adults claim not to love it, it is because the group leader has not explained its value. As you explain above, the teacher (group leader; administrator; principal; department chair; “boss”) has to explain the value of the think-pair-share process. Even adults have to be “trained” to cooperate, just like kids! You can’t expect anyone to know what you expectations are until you’ve explained them. It is like giving a test before teaching the material and then complaining about everyone failing.

  2. So just before I posted this, I did a Google search for this strategy and discovered that David Ginsburg over at Education Week Teacher had just done a wonderful post on the same thing not two weeks earlier. His article includes a tip I completely forgot to add here, but feel VERY strongly about: It’s very useful to have students write down their thoughts before they share with a partner. That would make it Think-Write-Pair-Share. Adding this step really helps students process their own thoughts before being influenced by someone else. Click here to read his post on think-pair-share.

  3. Journey North features Instructional Activities that we embed into our lessons. Here’s our take: Two-Word Reflection & Think-Ink-Pair-Share

  4. Yahia Al-Ani says:

    Thank you very much madam for these valuable information, I m going to use them for my next classes. They benefit students from bracing the class information, and to switch from the receive-mode to the send-mode.

  5. Thank you! Thank you Jennifer! I’m new to your site, referred my a fellow classmate. I’m teaching my own class for the first time as an adjunct so this information is indispensable.

  6. I really share this idea! a great example of autonomous learning!

  7. Debbie says:

    Thank you for your post. I share this strategy with teaches k-12 and more importantly it is used in all of my PD sessions. I have a hard time going more than 10-15 minutes without having particpants turn and talk, etc. trying to model and practice strategies which I recommend . I would second the big idea of writing down first or at least give 3-5 seconds ( or longer) wait time. A very wise principal brought the ” wait time” to my attention.

  8. I use it with my library classes because we have such limited time with the kids, but we still want to assess what they know and what and how they are thinking and give everybody a chance to participate.

  9. Thanks, Jennifer. I originated TPS in 1978 as a way to help student teachers survive. It may now be the most used cooperative discussion technique in USA and in some countries of the world. Lynda Tredway sent me a link to you. I will stay in touch Your treatment is good. Frank

  10. Stewart Whitney says:

    I use think-write-pair-share a lot with my EFL students here in Japan. It’s a good strategy for Language learners to practice meaning-focused output. It gives them time to process the language and get their ideas down on paper, as well as providing valuable opportunities for repetition when they share their answers with more than one partner and with the class. Love it.

  11. Erica Reed says:

    Another advantage of Think, Write, Pair, Share, is that is increases the confidence of students who are reluctant to speak in front of the class. After the time provided to collect and articulate their ideas to their partner, and possibly get positive feedback, it is much easier for them to express their ideas to the entire class. They aren’t put on the spot to generate an answer immediately, as they might be during a teacher-led discussion.

  12. Kyle H Kesselring says:

    Face it, teachers are often the WORST behaved in meetings. If their students acted in class the way teachers act in meetings, they would flip out. Most teachers I have been around groan instantly when asked to do anything other than “sit and get” in PD or meetings.

    Back to T\P\S… Way back in my master’s program, I discovered a strategy called quick-write journals. Usually I pair those with a think pair share type strategy.

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