Math PK-2

Systems Change
Math PK-2 > Strategies > Think-Pair-Share



Providing a structured way for learners to think about a question and discuss their thoughts with a partner before sharing with the larger group allows them to practice their skills and participate while speaking with and listening to others. Using this process in whole group discussions allows learners with varying Speeds of Processing to collect their thoughts before participating. Providing a low-risk environment that encourages increased participation is especially important in building learners' confidence and willingness for sharing ideas. Additionally, listening and sharing ideas with a partner helps develop communication skills to verbalize thoughts and consider other points of view.

Apply It to Your Learning Environment

  • Create specific prompts or structured partner/small group discussions so learners have the opportunity to think, try, and workshop their ideas in a low-stakes environment.
  • Model what is expected from the learners when they speak in pairs and provide guided practice time.
  • This method works best with open-ended or multiple option questions where learners derive some benefit from thinking about it further with their partners.
  • Setting a time limit for the "think" and "pair" steps also offers additional structure for learners who take too little or too much time.
  • Using variations of the activity such as sharing with another pair instead of the full class, comparing notes in pairs, voting for multiple option questions after discussion, and writing down responses after the "pair" part offers variety in the skills practiced within the comfort of a familiar activity.
  • Walking around during pair sharing to listen in on some groups' reflections allows the educator to also evaluate the learners' understanding of the assignment and facilitate the classwide sharing accordingly.
  • Use features such as breakout rooms or one-to-one chats.
  • Creating slides with instructions and/or slides for pairs to write answers can help get learners on the same page and share answers.
  • Remember to be sensitive to learners' needs (reading skill, attentional skills, language skill) when creating pairs.
  • Using picture-based prompt cards and modeling the activity can help learners with varying ability levels.

In this Reading Rockets video, watch a second grade teacher review think-pair-share with her class and apply it to a read-aloud. We can see how, by having individual think time, students are more equipped to process and answer questions meaningfully. They are also held accountable for maintaining their Attention with a peer, which contributes to a more fruitful discussion.

Apply It to Product Development

  • Including both prompts and structured spaces for paired or small group discussions makes it easy for think-pair-share to take place.
  • Encourage learners to find a partner to explain their thinking.

Factors Supported by this Strategy

About this Strategy Content

The research review for this strategy was conducted by the LVP team. Application, examples, and resources were sourced with support from our Practitioner Advisory Board.