Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

Today I have a little twist on the Think-Pair-Share strategy. When using Think-Pair-Share, you pose a question to the class, give them a minute to think about it without talking, have them talk to their partner about their solution, and then, finally, the pairs share out with the class. The twist is to add a written component to the process, resulting in Think-Write-Pair-Share.

As an example, you might ask students to think about all the combinations for 10 they know (3 + 7, 4 + 6, etc.). After a minute to just think, they independently write the combinations on paper or a small dry erase board. Next, partners compare lists and make adjustments. Finally, the pairs share out, and the class creates an anchor chart showing all the combinations for 10.

How about using it for problem-solving? Present students with a word problem. Students spend a minute or two independently analyzing the problem and drawing a model to represent the problem. They then compare models with a partner and discuss their strategies for a few minutes. To wrap up the activity, choose several partners to share their models with the entire class.

What is the advantage of using this type of activity in the math classroom? Simple. It gives kiddos time to think and compose their thoughts without a bunch of hands waving in the air or answers being shouted out! Nobody likes to feel they are the last one to figure something out. Math is already a high-anxiety subject for many students, and we need to be sensitive to the fact that some kiddos just take longer to process than others. Think-Write-Pair-Share is a great way to give them that processing time.

In addition, Think-Write-Pair-Share helps you incorporate critical process standards into your math instruction. If you are in a CCSM state, you know these standards as the Mathematical Practices. These critical standards, as shown below, should be woven into instruction for all content areas. So, regardless of the content standard, students should be engaged in, for example, communication and reasoning and proof. Think-Write-Pair-Share is a great way to accomplish that.

Click here to download a free poster showing the strategy.

What other variations of Think-Pair-Share have you used? Share in the comments!

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