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Classroom example: think, pair, share

Watch the questioning strategy of think-pair-share being used in the classroom.
ANDREA: Think, the teacher poses a question and gives pupils thinking time on their own.
JANE: So first of all, I’m just going to give you one minute. You can close your eyes if you want. I know it’s a little bit tricky with the noise outside. Think about all those things that we’ve just been talking about. Can you tell me what the circulatory system is? What does it do? What different parts of our body are involved in that? Think of those new words you might have learned. OK? So just one minute, have a little think about what you’ve already learned. Just on your own first, Scarlett, so you get it clear in your mind. Things that you think, actually, yeah, I now know that. I didn’t know that before.
ANDREA; Pair– the teacher clarifies what pupils need to try and explain to each other in talk partners.
JANE: Between you, discuss, can you explain what happens? What does the heart do? Where does the oxygen come into things? Where does that go to? OK? Is everyone clear on that? Yes? So quick two minutes with the person next to you, see if you can explain. And then we’ll share together as a class. Off you go.
STUDENT: So those are what you need to pump the blood to the rest of the body. Because if it only did that, the blood would pretty much be useless. So it has to pump it to the lungs first, so that it gets the oxygen. And then the blood comes back and it pumps it again. Except this time, it pumps it to the rest of your body. And then it goes back to restart the whole process.
JANE: OK. Alveoli, so where would I find those?
STUDENTS: In your lungs.
JANE: In your lungs. They’re like little tiny– what do they have in them?
STUDENTS: They have air in them. Air.
JANE: Little air sacs, aren’t they? So if you’re thinking about our two loops, where
STUDENTS: I only thought there was one. –can you explain?
JANE: Do you know what? I think a lot of adults think that as well. I was explaining it to someone at the weekend. Someone didn’t know that. Did not know that.
ANDREA: Share, the teacher then gathers ideas across the classroom about pupils’ thinking.
JANE: Between us, then, I’m hoping that we can explain what the circulatory system is, what it does, and how it works. So would someone like to just start us off, just to give us something that they have learned? We’ll perhaps work from there. Teagan, just give me one thing that you’ve learned.
STUDENT: I learned that blood returns oxygen to the lungs for us to breathe out.
JANE: So blood– say it again, but louder.
STUDENT: Blood returns oxygen to the lungs for us to breathe out.
JANE: Now, blood returns oxygen to the lungs for us to breathe out? A few of us got mixed up on this. Can someone add to that, or explain a bit more on that one? Peter, do you think that’s right?
STUDENT: Kind of. Yes and no.
JANE: Can you explain? You’re right, we’ve got oxygen in the lungs. But we need to get this the right way around.
This activity has three parts:
1. Think – The teacher poses a question and gives children thinking time on their own (up to two minutes). Open-ended questions, or questions with several possible solutions, are more likely to generate discussion.
2. Pair – The teacher clarifies what children need to try and explain to each other in talk partners. Each pair compares their ideas and reaches a mutually agreed response to the question. This step ensures that every child has the opportunity to explain their thoughts to an audience and contribute to a shared solution, and can particularly benefit children who are uncomfortable speaking in front of the whole class. Make sure there is enough time for both children in a pair to discuss their ideas. Circulate around the room and listen to the conversations, planning which children you will ask to share in the final stage.
3. Share – The teacher then gathers ideas across the classroom about children’s thinking. You can allow each pair to choose who will present their ideas to the class.


The value of pairing and sharing
What does the think-pair-share approach offer you in terms of finding out how much your students have understood a concept? If you didn’t have the pairing step here, what would you (and your students) miss out on?
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