Geordi and Data from Star Trek stand next to each other. Data holds a calculator, and Geordi points to the camera. They're standing in front of a control room.

Think / pair / share

Activity aim: To get students to synthesize the most important “takeaways”; to build student confidence to ask questions; to have students reflect on their points of confusion

Materials: Nothing!

Activity description:

Think / pair / share is probably the simplest active learning technique to incorporate.

At any point in the class (at the beginning, after a section of a lecture, at some point before the class ends), pose a question to students. Make sure that the question does not have a simple, yes-or-no answer and that it’s sufficiently challenging.*

Students should take a few minutes to answer the question alone. After that, the student can “pair” with another student to share their responses. Finally, students regroup as a whole class and share what they discussed (and any additional questions that came up) with the group.

During the “pair” portion, be sure to walk around and make yourself available for questions. This is also a good time to make note of the questions that students are asking each other so that you can bring them up during the “share” portion.

*For some tips on how to write effective questions, you might consider this PDF.

Image credit: JD Hancock, Flickr Creative Commons