The Think/Pair/Share strategy is a great strategy to use for differentiation because it provides time and structure for thinking on a given topic. This strategy can be used for a wide variety of classroom activities, such as: brainstorming, topic development, discussions/debates, concept reviews, etc.
It's obvious in the classroom when there are the same students always raising their hands to chime in a discussion, while the rest don't bother or are disengaged. This disengagement is usually because most students need more time to think and so they either don't bother or haven't had the chance to process their thoughts by the time the quicker participators have stolen the spotlight . . . yet again! This is where the Think/Pair/Share strategy works really well, because it gives all students a chance to think about it, then discuss it with a partner (so they are heard by at least one other person), and then gives even the 'slower' students a chance to confidently participate in the sharing component with the rest of the class.
The Think/Pair/Share strategy could also be used as an assessment tool. The teacher poses a problem, and then walks around the classroom listening to the partner discussions and making observation notes about the conversations.
Timing with this strategy depends on the topic and your class. Give your students ample time to think and discuss with a partner, but not too much that they will be tempted to begin talking about other things. Listening in on the conversations helps determine whether its time to wrap it up or keep it going for longer than intended.
On the right hand side you will see an example of how I have implemented this strategy in the classroom.
An example of how I sometimes incorporate the Think/Pair/Share strategy is in the Power Point slide above.
In this lesson, my aim was to get students thinking about making real life connections with decimals. To implement the Think/Pair/Share strategy I carried out the following steps:
1. First, I explain to students that I want them to think about i.e. where do you see or use decimals in every day life?
2. Then I explain/or refresh students memories about what happens in Think/Pair/Share. They must first think independently about some examples of where they have seen decimals. I usually set a timer on for 'thinking time'. In this example I gave students 1 minute only to think before turning to their partner. (Depending on the topic, I adjust how much time I give students to do this. It's usually best to be flexible in this area to suit your own students and time available.)
3. After thinking time is up, students are instructed to turn to the person sitting next to them to discuss their ideas and examples with each other. In this example, they were given 2 minutes for 'pair' time (I try to not spend too long on pair time to prevent students beginning to chat off topic).
4. Then, students share the everyday examples they thought of with the rest of the class. I write the examples given by the students on the board.
5. At the end, I click on the slide to reveal some more examples and ask students to check if we need to add any of these to our class discussion list.