What is ThinkPairShare?
Thinkpairshare is a cooperative learning strategy used to easily monitor student understanding of content or language objectives (Echevarria, Vogt, Short, 2014). It gives all students a chance to think and discuss.
Steps in implementing thinkpairshare:
1. Teacher asks a question to the whole class.
2. Think: Students think independently about the question and form own ideas.
3. Pair: Students are grouped in pairs (elbow partners) to discuss thoughts and ideas.
4. Share: Students share ideas with a larger group or whole class.
Teachers can model the thinkpairshare strategy before students participate. This step is beneficial for students who are ELL because each step is explicitly explained and demonstrated. In using thinkpairshare, students are allotted silent think time, which improves the quality of student responses. This time to process ideas is especially important for students who are ELL. Oral communication skills are built as students of any age share with classmates in a lowrisk environment. This provides all students with opportunities to elaborate on ideas through talk and practice language skills, which highly benefits students who are ELL. According to Wright, students who are ELL can receive clarification of misunderstandings from their partner and can answer with greater confidence in a whole group setting after practicing their answer (2015). Thinkpairshare is based on the social constructivist learning theory, which emphasizes collaborative learning. As students collaborate to reflect and discuss in a thinkpairshare, information is retained at a higher level. This strategy also fosters student ownership of learning and promotes participation.
1. Teacher asks a question to the whole class.
2. Think: Students think independently about the question and form own ideas.
3. Pair: Students are grouped in pairs (elbow partners) to discuss thoughts and ideas.
4. Share: Students share ideas with a larger group or whole class.
Teachers can model the thinkpairshare strategy before students participate. This step is beneficial for students who are ELL because each step is explicitly explained and demonstrated. In using thinkpairshare, students are allotted silent think time, which improves the quality of student responses. This time to process ideas is especially important for students who are ELL. Oral communication skills are built as students of any age share with classmates in a lowrisk environment. This provides all students with opportunities to elaborate on ideas through talk and practice language skills, which highly benefits students who are ELL. According to Wright, students who are ELL can receive clarification of misunderstandings from their partner and can answer with greater confidence in a whole group setting after practicing their answer (2015). Thinkpairshare is based on the social constructivist learning theory, which emphasizes collaborative learning. As students collaborate to reflect and discuss in a thinkpairshare, information is retained at a higher level. This strategy also fosters student ownership of learning and promotes participation.
Visual Representations
In the video above, steps in implementing the thinkpairshare in the classroom are described. The video suggests helpful tips to using this strategy and ways it can be varied. This includes having individual students raise their hands during step 3, which is sharing, or calling on groups to share. Another variation to this strategy is writing student responses on the whiteboard for the rest of the class to see. Students who are visual learners or those who are ELL will then be able to easily see each response as it is offered. Another variation discussed in the video is having students write their answers down. This way, students remember their original ideas and become more confident in sharing ideas after they are written down on paper. Lastly, wait time is described as being used to slow down the question and answer process, which is important in giving all students a voice.

The picture above shows a thinkpairshare anchor chart that can be displayed in a classroom for students of any grade level and used for any content area. This anchor chart includes guiding questions such as, “what experiences have you had?” and “what connections can you make?” during the first “think” step. For the other steps, “pair” and “share,” this chart sets guidelines to follow when listening and sharing ideas with others. The picture next to each step serves as a visual that would help students who are ELL better understand what each part of the strategy looks like.

The video above shows a teacher at Roosevelt Elementary in Willmar, Minnesota implementing the thinkpairshare strategy in her second grade classroom. The example shown is used with the reading curriculum to introduce a new topic. Mrs. Johns asks students, “what can families do to work together?” Students then pair with one partner and share their ideas. Mrs. Johns calls on individual students to respond, then uses the thinkpairshare strategy once more to ask, “why is it important that they work together?” All students have an equal opportunity to voice their opinion in this example, which encourages students who tend to avoid speaking in front of the class to share.
Content Area Examples
Reading Thinkpairshare can be used in reading when discussing a variety of topics. Students can participate in a thinkpairshare to make predictions before reading a new story or during reading. This is beneficial for struggling readers or students who are ELL because they begin thinking about the text and can anticipate what might happen next, increasing comprehension. Thinkpairshares can also be used to discuss the theme of a book. Students who are ELL benefit from using this strategy when it comes to discussing new vocabulary words based on context clues in a particular story. Students are able to better comprehend text as they discuss and build vocabulary.
Math Thinkpairshares can be used in math as students complete word problems. Students can think about a given word problem and the steps that could be used in order to solve it. Without solving the problem, students can share the problemsolving strategies they thought of with a partner. After discussing, students can solve the problem on their own and compare answers with a partner. This is beneficial for those who are ELL because they are given an opportunity to discuss their thinking prior to solving the problem. Students can think aloud their understanding with a peer, and receive feedback in solving the given problem.
Science This strategy can be used in science as a means of discussing experiments. While students are conducting an experiment, a thinkpairshare can be used to form hypotheses. For example, prior to completing an experiment on density, students could think about which items will float when placed in a tub of water. Students could then discuss their predictions with an elbow partner. This fosters learning especially for students who are ELL because they are given an opportunity to listen to and offer ideas, and ask questions they may have. That way, they begin to create understanding prior to conducting an experiment. The thinkpairshare strategy could also be used in drawing conclusions after an experiment is performed.
Social Studies Students can participate in a thinkpairshare when presented with a new topic or lesson, when discussing prior knowledge of a given topic, or when analyzing causes and effects of important events. When introducing the United States government for example, students can think independently about what they already know about the government and share with a peer. There may be a range of background knowledge students have on a given topic. Students who are unfamiliar with the topic, which could include students who are ELL, benefit from discussing a broad range of topics because it builds background and fosters connections to past learning. As students share ideas, they build off one another and students’ learning is maximized as they think aloud ideas.
Math Thinkpairshares can be used in math as students complete word problems. Students can think about a given word problem and the steps that could be used in order to solve it. Without solving the problem, students can share the problemsolving strategies they thought of with a partner. After discussing, students can solve the problem on their own and compare answers with a partner. This is beneficial for those who are ELL because they are given an opportunity to discuss their thinking prior to solving the problem. Students can think aloud their understanding with a peer, and receive feedback in solving the given problem.
Science This strategy can be used in science as a means of discussing experiments. While students are conducting an experiment, a thinkpairshare can be used to form hypotheses. For example, prior to completing an experiment on density, students could think about which items will float when placed in a tub of water. Students could then discuss their predictions with an elbow partner. This fosters learning especially for students who are ELL because they are given an opportunity to listen to and offer ideas, and ask questions they may have. That way, they begin to create understanding prior to conducting an experiment. The thinkpairshare strategy could also be used in drawing conclusions after an experiment is performed.
Social Studies Students can participate in a thinkpairshare when presented with a new topic or lesson, when discussing prior knowledge of a given topic, or when analyzing causes and effects of important events. When introducing the United States government for example, students can think independently about what they already know about the government and share with a peer. There may be a range of background knowledge students have on a given topic. Students who are unfamiliar with the topic, which could include students who are ELL, benefit from discussing a broad range of topics because it builds background and fosters connections to past learning. As students share ideas, they build off one another and students’ learning is maximized as they think aloud ideas.