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Think, pair, share: Formative assessment for the classroom

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think, pair, share


Tap into your students’ full potential, encourage open communication and maximise their reading comprehension with Think-Pair-Share. Think-Pair-Share is a formative assessment strategy that encourages students to work together to solve a problem. 


We have looked at formative assessment techniques previously, in this blog post we will focus on the Think-Pair-Share strategy for your classroom. This week we will look at: 

  1. What is Think-Pair-Share?
  2. What are the benefits of this strategy?
  3. How to implement Think-Pair-Share in the classroom

What is Think-Pair-Share? 

Think-Pair-Share is a formative assessment strategy that asks students to work together in order to answer a question or solve a problem. Within the framework of this strategy students are required to think independently about a task that has been set for them, they are then divided into pairs or small groups to discuss their thoughts and finally the whole class participates in a group discussion on the subject. 


For younger children it can be useful for the teacher to model the task with a volunteer so the class knows what they need to do. Emphasise the need for independent thinking, taking it in turns with their partner to share their thoughts and raising their hand during the class discussion if they wish to speak. 


What are the benefits of Think-Pair-Share? 

  • Think-Pair-Share encourages independent thinking. 
  • It teaches students to share their ideas and knowledge with their classmates as well as helping them to develop better communication skills.
  • Working together encourages higher participation and a more focused approach to a particular task.
  • Some students find talking in front of the whole class intimidating, encouraging them to work with a partner or in a smaller group allows them to share their ideas in a less intimidating setting.
  • As well as helping to hone verbal communication skills, the Think-Pair-Share strategy helps students to become better listeners - they must take it in turns to speak and listen to their partner as well as the other members of the class.
  • When students’ brainstorm together they learn from each other expanding both their knowledge and their vocabulary.


Tips for incorporating Think-Pair-Share into your classroom

  • Using Think-Pair-Share at the end of a unit can be an ideal way to assess your students’ comprehension of the topic but Think-Pair-Share can be used at any point over the course of one unit and works with any kind of subject matter. 
  • Explain to the class what Think-Pair-Share is and model the activity with a volunteer. 
  • Pose an open-ended question to the class on the subject and set out your expectations before they begin.
  • Ensure you allow enough time for independent thought before you ask them to divide into pairs or small groups. Two to three minutes for independent thought is great with a longer time set aside for the group discussions. 
  • Make sure you discuss the answers or questions your students’ pose during the group section of this activity. 


For more information about the Think-Pair-Share strategy and a useful video on the subject take a look at our hand-picked blog here. 


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Written by Rebecca Sparling



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