Think, pair and share
The Think – Pair – Share strategy underlies nearly all Cooperative Learning classroom activities.
The first step – Think – indicates that every student has to work on the provided material on their own. This ensures that both weak and strong students get the opportunity to work at their own speed on the task and try to solve it individually.
Step two – Pair – means that pairs of students have to get together and compare the results they got in step one. This means that they have to make notes and discuss the results. It also means again that every student has to participate actively, but this time actively using the second language to communicate. As they are communicating with a peer the affective filter should be lowered. Unlike teacher-fronted classrooms, the teacher is just a facilitator for the students and offers support and helps in case questions arise. This way, students do not have to be afraid of getting wrong answers, because they are able to check and correct the answers with their partners.
The third step – Share – stands for sharing the results with a larger group of pupils or the rest of the class. This can happen in various ways depending on the goal of the class, but usually every student should be prepared to present if necessary.
One big advantage of working in this way is that students are obliged to actively use the foreign language. Another point is that all students have to be involved, which is the great advantage of this method when compared to teacher-fronted classrooms where only some students can get involved.
Another benefit is that strong language students using this method are able to apply their recently acquired knowledge and teach it to their fellow students. In this way they not only reinforce and deepen their own knowledge but also share it.
Perhaps the biggest advantage this method provides is that the students have to deal with the same material three times and so the paths in the brain are used three times and not only once or twice. Therefore the Think – Pair – Share steps help students not only to apply the learned knowledge directly, but also to remember the learned knowledge better. The mixed levels in pairs and groups can be seen as an advantage rather than a problem. Whereas in teacher-fronted classrooms weak students are often left alone with their problems and questions, and strong students lead the classes, in Cooperative Language Learning and the Think – Pair – Share process the individual steps ensure explicit involvement for all kinds of students.