THINK-PAIR-SHARE helps students organize their thinking, see other viewpoints and put their ideas into words.

The “Think-Pair-Share” model was developed over 30 years ago to help students clarify and articulate their thinking. There are many variations of the PAIR-SHARE MODEL but they generally include posing a question or prompt, and inviting students to discuss it with a partner before bringing the conversation to the whole group.

The power of this model has been documented in many research studies, and for good reason. When questions are posed to the whole class, some students monopolize the discussion and others hide behind their more assertive peers. When students have an opportunity to first discuss an idea or question with a partner, they are able to organize and rehearse their own thinking, articulate their ideas and consider alternative viewpoints.  The teacher is able to listen-in on the paired conversations to observe, assess and perhaps intervene as necessary.



Unfortunately, many students weren’t born knowing how to hold a discussion with a partner.  It’s important to model behaviors, clarify expectations and establish routines for “literate conversations.”

Some key routines might include:

  • Who speaks first and how to start the conversation (e.g., “I think…because”)
  • How to comment on your partner’s ideas before introducing a new idea
  • How to share the talk time
  • How to clarify or question your partner’s ideas
  • Providing evidence or support for thinking
  • How to disagree courteously
  • Allowing your partner some “think time”

Watch this video of a teacher introducing PAIR-SHARE.


The other pitfall occurs during large-group sharing. When students volunteer to share or are selected randomly, the shared information can sometimes be irrelevant or downright wrong, thereby railroading the whole discussion. Also, if we’re pausing to discuss small sections of text, then reading on, the Sharing can occupy too much of reading time. Some considerations for Sharing time:

  • It’s not always necessary to have a large-group share. Maybe the learning goals have been achieved by the partner talk and there’s no need to bring ideas to the large group.
  • As the teacher is circulating and listening in on the PARTNER TALK, s/he can note ideas worth sharing with the whole group and invite those specific students to speak.
  • If the teacher wants to introduce an idea that no group came up with, s/he might say, “I’m sure I heard someone say…”
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