Think - pair - share

Students think about a question or idea in three steps. First they think about it individually (Think), then they discuss it with another student (Pair), and finally they share their answer with the whole group (Share).
  • Pairs
  • 10-30 minutes
  • 30-60 minutes
  • Assessment
  • Discussion
  • Practicing academic skills
  • Apply
  • Create
  • Evaluate

When to use it?

  • When you want students to actively think about the study material.
  • When you want to encourage discussion between students.

Activity instructions


  • Choose a clear and complex question or idea for the students. Try to avoid simple questions or ideas, but challenge the students to think about something more complex.

Activity steps

  1. Pose a question
  2. Provide the students with a question or idea.
  3. Think
    Give them 1-2 minutes to think about their response individually.
  4. Pair
    Divide the students into pairs and let them share their responses and discuss the differences and similarities for 5 minutes.
  5. Share
    Bring the students back together for a 5-10 minute plenary session. The pairs can share their answers or findings with the whole group. Allow the
    students to respond to each other.
  6. Summarise
    Provide a summary of the key points and fill in any knowledge gaps.

Tips for implementation & variation

  • Online teaching: The pairs can discuss their answers in breakout rooms.
  • If there is just one right answer to the question, you can choose to let the students vote in two rounds: First, after they have thought about their answer individually and a second time after they have discussed it in pairs. Students can vote by using an online tool (PresentersWall, Brightspace or a video lecture tool), give a thumbs up/down or show a coloured object (something green if they agree and something red if they disagree) in front of their camera.
  • As a variation, you can also use the Snowball format (individual - pairs - two pairs - two groups of four students - two groups of eight students, two groups of sixteen students, etc.).
  • As a teacher, you can walk around the classroom (offline) or you can visit the separate breakout rooms (online) to hear what the students are talking about and help them if necessary.

Supporting tools