Think, Pair, Share - Facilitating Discussions in Small and Large Groups


This discussion technique gives students the opportunity to thoughtfully respond to questions in written form and to engage in meaningful dialogues with other students around these issues. Asking students to write and discuss ideas with a partner before sharing with the larger group gives students more time to compose their ideas. This format helps students build confidence, encourages greater participation and often results in more thoughtful discussions.


Step One: Think
Have students reflect on a given question or write a response in their journals.

Step Two: Pair
Have students pair up with one other student and share their responses.

Step Three: Share
When the larger group reconvenes, ask pairs to report back on their conversations.  Alternatively, you could ask students to share what their partner said.  In this way, this strategy focuses on students’ skills as careful listeners.


Examples of when "Think-Pair-Share" might be used in a Facing History classroom:

  • After reading a short text to begin a discussion
  • After watching a film clip to gauge a reaction
  • Before introducing new material to tap into prior knowledge
  • Before students begin an assignment, such as an essay, to gather ideas


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Teaching Strategy

Big Paper - Building a Silent Conversation

This discussion strategy uses writing and silence as tools to help students explore a topic in-depth. Having a written conversation with peers slows down students’ thinking process and gives them an opportunity to focus on the views of others. This strategy also creates a visual record of students’ thoughts and questions that can be referred to later in a course.

Teaching Strategy

Learn to Listen/Listen to Learn - Developing Deeper Conversations

Structure a classroom discussion according to this format to help students develop their discussion skills and their listening abilities.

Teaching Strategy

Jigsaw - Developing Community and Disseminating Knowledge

Using the jigsaw teaching strategy is one way to help students understand and retain information, while they develop their collaboration skills.  This strategy asks a group of students to become “experts” on a specific text or body of knowledge and then share that material with another group of students. These “teaching” groups contain one student from each of the “expert” groups. Students often feel more accountable for learning material when they know they are responsible for teaching the content to their peers. The jigsaw strategy is most effective when students know that they will be using the information they have learned from each other to create a final product, participate in a class discussion, or acquire material that will be on a test. 

Teaching Strategy

Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, Text-to-World

Help students connect ideas in a text to their own lives, current events, and their understanding of history with this teaching strategy.

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