Type of strategy: Brainstorming and DiscussionCollaborationEnergizers and State ChangersGroup ManagementOpeners & Get to Know YouProcessingWriting and/or Reflection

Learning styles: EN: Extraversion and IntuitionES: Extraversion and SensingIN: Introversion and IntuitionIS: Introversion and Sensing

A strategy designed to provide participants "food for thought" on a given topic enabling them to formulate individual ideas and share these ideas with others. Active engagement strategy to promote speaking and listening.


  1. With learners seated in teams of 4, have them number them from 1 to 4.
  2. Announce a discussion topic or problem to solve. (Example: Which room in our school is larger, the cafeteria or the gymnasium? How could we find out the answer?)
  3. Give learners at least 10 seconds of think time to THINK of their own answer. (Research shows that the quality of learner responses goes up significantly when you allow "think time.")
  4. Using learner numbers, announce discussion partners. (Example: For this discussion, Learner #1 and #2 will be partners. At the same time, Learner #3 and #4 will talk over their ideas.)
  5. Ask learners to PAIR with their partner to discuss the topic or solution.
  6. OPTIONAL: Have partners report out responses to group of four.


Teachers may also ask learners to write or diagram their responses while doing the Think-Pair-Share activity. Think, Pair, Share helps learners develop conceptual understanding of a topic, develop the ability to filter information and draw conclusions, and develop the ability to consider other points of view.


What is its purpose?

  • Providing "think time" increases quality of learner responses.
  • Learners become actively involved in thinking about the concepts presented in the lesson.
  • Research tells us that we need time to mentally "chew over" new ideas in order to store them in memory. When teachers present too much information all at once, much of that information is lost. If we give learners time to "think-pair-share" throughout the lesson, more of the critical information is retained.
  • When learners talk over new ideas, they are forced to make sense of those new ideas in terms of their prior knowledge. Their misunderstandings about the topic are often revealed (and resolved) during this discussion stage.
  • Learners are more willing to participate since they don't feel the peer pressure involved in responding in front of the whole class.
  • Think-Pair-Share is easy to use on the spur of the moment.
  • Easy to use in large classes.


Hints and Management Ideas

  • Assign Partners - Be sure to assign discussion partners rather than just saying "Turn to a partner and talk it over." When you don't assign partners, learners frequently turn to the most popular learner and leave the other person out.
  • Change Partners - Switch the discussion partners frequently. With learners seated in teams, they can pair with the person beside them for one discussion and the person across from them for the next discussion.
  • Give Think Time - Be sure to provide adequate "think time." I generally have learners give me a thumbs-up sign when they have something they are ready to share.
  • Monitor Discussions - Walk around and monitor the discussion stage. You will frequently hear misunderstandings that you can address during the whole-group that discussion that follows.
  • Timed-Pair-Share - If you notice that one person in each pair is monopolizing the conversation, you can switch to "Timed-Pair-Share." In this modification, you give each partner a certain amount of time to talk. (For example, say that Learners #1 and #3 will begin the discussion. After 60 seconds, call time and ask the others to share their ideas.) 
    Rallyrobin - If learners have to list ideas in their discussion, ask them to take turns. (For example, if they are to name all the geometric shapes they see in the room, have them take turns naming the shapes. This allows for more equal participation.) The structure variation name is Rallyrobin (similar to Rallytable, but kids are talking instead of taking turns writing).


  • Instead of sharing out with the group, they share their answers with the other team at their table. This is called Think-Pair-Square.
  • To increase individual accountability, have the learners write their answers after think time and before they pair. By writing down their answers, learners organize their thoughts and access any necessary language and processing prior to sharing orally with a partner
  • To increase equal participation, after think time, make the students share their answers in a Round Robin format at their table.

Management Tips

  1. Model good listening skills.
  2. Model how pairs discuss instead of just one member answering the question.

Social Skills

  1. Active Listening
  2. Appropriate noise level.


Kagan Publishing and Cooperative Learning Instructional Strategies Workshops

Related strategies: 

Rally Robin

Submitted by: Jennifer Arns