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What Is Think-Pair-Share And How To Use It In Your Classroom

Updated: February 16, 2023 | Published: June 5, 2020

Updated: February 16, 2023

Published: June 5, 2020


What is think-pair-share? It’s a teaching strategy you should be using in the classroom! We’ll give you a full explanation here on what this technique is all about, the benefits, challenges you may encounter, and how to implement think-pair-share in your teaching.

Background Of Think-Pair-Share

Think-pair-share is a technique that encourages and allows for individual thinking, collaboration, and presentation in the same activity. Students must first answer a prompt on their own, then come together in pairs or small groups, then share their discussion and decision with the class. Discussing an answer first with a partner before sharing maximizes participation, and helps to focus attention on the prompt given.

Why Use Think-Pair-Share?

Using the think-pair-share technique allows students time for individual reflection, thinking, and processing new information before they may be influenced by other students’ answers. This process also teaches students how to explain their thoughts first to a peer, and then to a larger audience (the entire class).

Two students sharing during think-pair-share activity
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

How To Use Think-Pair-Share?

Explain the technique to the students before beginning the exercise — describe the purpose, set discussion guidelines and time limits, and model the strategy to ensure that students know what is expected of them.

Step 1: Think

Begin with a specific question, and give students time to individually think about an answer, and document their responses on their own, either written or in pictures. Students can be given 1-3 minutes for this part of the exercise.

Step 2: Pair

Students now get into pairs. Decide beforehand whether you will assign pairs or let students choose their own partners. Remember when pairing to think of student strengths and their personalities. Ask the students to share what they came up with, with their partners and discuss. You can provide questions for the students to ask one another. This part of the activity can take at least 5 minutes.

Step 3: Share

For this part, come back together as a class and have a whole class discussion. You can either choose to have one person from each pair share with the class, or the discussion can be more open. Students can also share with the class what their partner said.


Think-pair-share is a simple technique that enhances students’ critical thinking skills, improves listening and reading comprehension, and helps with collaboration and presentation skills.

Students who are typically shy may feel more comfortable sharing with the class after sharing with a partner, and students who are outspoken will benefit from first listening to others before sharing their own opinion.


One of the challenges of the think-pair-share technique is student engagement. You may want to think about ways to ensure participation by finding interesting topics, or assigning participation points to this exercise.

Female students sitting at desk during think-pair-share activity
Photo by Akela Photography from Pexels

How To Use The Think-Pair-Share Activity In Your Classroom

Teachers can use the think-pair-share strategy at a number of different times within the classroom, such as before introducing a new topic to assess prior knowledge, after reading an excerpt or watching a film to encourage opinion formation and critical thinking, or before students begin an assignment, to help them gather ideas.

1. Language Arts

To enhance reading comprehension and critical thinking within the language arts, use think-pair-share after finishing a book or chapter. Ask the students questions to further understanding of themes and characters, or some what-if questions. If you’re struggling to come up with questions, think of the 5 Ws — who, what, where, why, when, and the bonus, how?

2. Social Studies

At the start of a unit, you can use think-pair-share to find out what students already know about a topic. As you get further into the topic, use this technique to connect students to the subject matter.

For example, ask how they would feel, or what they would do if they lived during a time period, or ask what they think of an ethical issue.

3. Mathematics

Think-pair-share can be used in mathematics as well. Questions that work well with this strategy include word problems, logic problems, estimations, and patterns. Use this strategy when students are trying to figure out how to approach the problem.

4. Science

In science, think-pair-share can be used during hypothesis formation and experiment interpretation. It can also be used for introducing new topics, such as, what do we already know about space, or what do plants need to grow?

Teach spelled out on a desk with books
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels


No matter what level of experience you have with teaching, or who you are teaching to, using the think-pair-share method is a great way to introduce topics, facilitate discussion, or increase understanding and relatability to a subject. This widely used teaching technique encourages students to come up with their own ideas, then share and present them, which increases skills such as critical thinking, listening, and presentation.

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