3 Ways to Think-Pair-Share Differently

As I mentioned before in the past, I get bored quickly. It has its disadvantages, but it also has many advantages. By getting bored quickly, I’m more likely to be on the same level of my students and keep them engaged. It also leads to changes. Can you guess what changes we’re making today? (Well, the picture kind of spoils it…) Think-pair-share!

Think-Pair-Share does not have to be the only strategy that you use in your classroom to engage students and assess them! Check out these 3 strategies to help your students think-pair-share differently!

I have used Think-Pair-Share over and over in my classroom through the years – most especially during an observation as a method to get students thinking and talking about content. But really, I was tired of it and I found that some students turned it into a think what else I can talk about- pair up with my best buddy- and share how my weekend went kind of thing. There were also those students who sat back and let their partner share the entire time. To engage both students, I tried saying, okay now switch, the other partner shares – but I heard “I think the same thing as you” responses. It just wasn’t working as I wanted it to. I’m sure you can relate.

So how could I get students to think and share without the *yawn* boredom? I narrowed it down to three different ways – verbal, written, and action – but hold on, it’s deeper than that.

Three Ways to Use Think-Pair-Share


When we think of verbal think-pair-share, we are thinking of just that. Students think quietly to themselves, then lean over to a friend, and share. Why not mix it up a bit by having them share out to the group chorally or echoing one another? Another way to think-pair-share verbally is by singing or using funny voices to share it. You could even have them think as a group, then pair up with another group, and share out whole class. I have even had students stand in a fishbowl method. (Half the class is in an outer circle, while the other half of class creates an inner circle. Together these two circles pair up and share. To make it interesting, have just the inner circle move over one partner so they have a new partner to share with.)


As a variation of TPS, have students write out (or even draw!) their thoughts before pairing up. They could put their writing in journal form or even do it on a whiteboard. I’ve had students write their thoughts down on a sticky note, then pair up with someone around the room to share it with. I’ve also had students skip the pairing up and place it on the board to share whole group. Instead of giving students paper or a sticky note, why not consider providing them with a graphic organizer to brainstorm thoughts. Then have students pair up and share. Afterward, you could share out whole group and create a whole class TPS chart.


My regular blog followers know by now that I am HUGE on action. I’m a bit ADHD and I need to move, move, move. I sometimes feel for my kiddos because I can almost turn anything into a kinesthetic activity! I will sometimes use response cards in my classroom and after students think, they touch the answer on their response card, then share out to the class. But, let’s get those video-game-couch-potatoes up and really move- have them act it out, use gestures, or create hand-signals. I have done the think-pair up and move to a corner with your answer to share. (Four Corners). I have had students think, create a model, and share.

I think my point is, it doesn’t always have to be, “think about what the answer could be. Okay, now find a partner and share your thoughts.” It can be mixed up a bit. In fact, by mixing it up a bit, it keeps them on their toes. Those students who have a ton of energy (me!) can get it out and those reluctant students may be more willing to participate (in the writing portion). I also like the writing a bit more because then I have “evidence” I can collect and reflect on!


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