Think-Pair-Share is proficiency's best friend

Think-Pair-Share is proficiency's best friend

July 02, 2020

If you were to sit in my class on any given day, the one thing that happens over and over is a Think-Pair-Share:

  • I pose a question.
  • The kids talk about it.
  • They share with the class.

Typically, in any subject or grade-level in schools, the teacher asks a question to one student, the student answers the teacher, the teacher evaluates somehow ("Correct!", poses a recast, etc.), then the teacher moves on to another question and another student. All the while the other thirty some students are staring out the window willing someone to walk by.  

On the other hand, a Think-Pair-Share appropriately removes the control from the teacher and provides the opportunity for MANY more students to participate. It gives the students the power to share thoughts and opinions.  It allows the teacher to monitor student conversations and to highlight the thoughts of students who may not typically volunteer to participate.  Think-pair-share is so much more authentic in its communicative properties than the traditional Initiation - Response - Follow-up construction.

It could be one of the single best things that we can do to help our students move in proficiency levels as they must negotiate meaning, string together words -->phrases --> sentences --> paragraph length discourse.  All they need is our support and scaffolding.  

As students do move across levels (both curricular and proficiency), that first step can even be modified.  Instead of being the one to always propose the question, students employ visual literacy and higher order thinking by simply observing an image and discussing their observations.  Alternatively, asking students to recall a task from the previous day or a short video, article or listening activity done as homework can provide opportunities for students to have even more autonomy, especially in place of a traditional warm-up.  To get them there, they will need some training, so you'll want to try this a few times per week:

-->Display a picture (or ask them to discuss an activity completed as homework)

-->Ask students to share the top 3 things that stood out to them.  Ask that at least one be original from the other students, or have them go around the group, sharing one thing, but repeating that cycle 3 times.

-->Ask additional questions in your Target Language, such as:

  • Who is the intended audience? / What is the purpose of the document / text?
  • What is a cultural standout in the text (video, article, photo)
  • What is something similar to our community?
  • What is something different in our community?

...and other questions that are ALWAYS the questions that they will use.  Before you know it, they will be used to the routine and will quickly jump right in, especially if the discussion surrounds something that is particularly engaging! You'll find tons of options in the visual literacy section in your unit!

 



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