Think-Pair-Share Teaching Strategy: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

Why go it alone when you can collaborate with others - learning doesn't have to be actualized in a vacuum. In this lesson, we'll learn about the think-pair-share teaching strategy and how to effectively use it in your classroom.

Importance of Collaboration

As teachers, we want our students to be able to think and learn independently of others. There's something about our awareness of cheating and test taking that makes us think students have to learn and understand material on their own. But working with others and collaborating can be just as important and valuable to the learning process. Read on to learn about the think-pair-share strategy and how it incorporates independent and collaborative thought.


Think-pair-share (TPS) is a teaching strategy that starts with individual reflection and moves through partner sharing to whole group discussion. Let's look at an example for clarification.

An English teacher asks her students the essential question, ''What is a hero?'' If she's using the TPS strategy, she'll have her students write down their own thoughts first. After 3-5 minutes, she'll then ask her students to turn to the person next to them and discuss what they have written. After another 3-5 minute segment, the teacher will ask the students to share their ideas with the entire class.

Using this strategy, the teacher:

1.) First fosters individual thought and gives students time to brainstorm

2.) Has students work with others to clarify and reinforce ideas

3.) Assembles the entire class to share ideas and responses so that all students can gain perspective and understanding

Let's break down the steps of the TPS strategy to better understand the objective and the process.


The first step asks students to individually assess some type of concept or idea. This allows the teacher to see what students can do on their own. It's a good idea for the teacher to circle the room and assess which students are able to complete the task on their own and which students are struggling. This walk through can give the teacher an idea of who may need extra help in the future; it also gives students the opportunity to ask for help getting started.


Next, students are asked to work with a peer and collaborate. This segment allows students that may be struggling to find a starting point or some extra help from their peers. It can also give a student a safe space to ask for help if he or she is too nervous to ask the teacher. Additionally, this partnering time allows for a higher-level discussion based on an open-ended question or philosophical concept.


The last step is sharing as a whole group. Now that students have had time to prep individually and with their peers, more of them may be apt to speak out and share their ideas in a full class discussion. Everyone can have a turn participating and get other ideas or answers that they may or may not have thought of individually. The idea of having a partner can also help students reinforce new ideas and thoughts.


So, when should we use the TPS strategy? See the list below for specific examples, but don't feel as though these are the only options.

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