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Using Think-Pair-Share with Struggling Readers

written by: Margo Dill • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 2/14/2012

One instructional strategy that keeps students engaged and active in a lesson is introducing the Think-Pair-Share model. You can use it with any subject matter and in a variety of situations. This tool helps keeps students involved in your lessons, especially those struggling readers.

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    The Three Steps to Think-Pair-Share

    buddy students by goddard photo and video blog www.flickr There are three steps to the Think-Pair-Share instructional strategy.

    Think: The first step after you have introduced a subject, is to ask struggling readers a question about what you have just taught them. Explain that you are giving them 1-2 minutes to formulate an answer to your question. They CAN NOT ask questions or raise their hands during this "Think" time. Everyone must be quietly thinking of what they will say if you call on them.

    Pair: Next, with Think-Pair-Share, pair up your students with a classmate that is sitting next to them or behind them. For example, say, "First row, turn around and face the second row, and there's your partner," and so on.

    Share: Finally, both students share what they were thinking about during the "Think" time. Their assignment is to come up with ONE answer to present to the class if their team is called on. If they cannot agree on one answer, they can use both answers, but they are encouraged, in the time they are given, to find a way to consolidate their two answers into one.

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    Using the Instructional Strategy with Remedial Reading Students

    If your classroom consists of students with different reading levels, it is common for struggling readers to not take part in class discussions and activities. You can use Think-Pair-Share to solve this problem. Struggling readers have learned that if they stay quiet and not bring attention to themselves, they will probably not be called on to answer questions. This serves a purpose for them especially if they don't know the answer to the question. It becomes routine to not raise their hand even if they do know the answer.

    The Think-Pair-Share strategy can help shake things up and get children talking, even those who normally withdraw from class participation because of embarrassment. Regardless of their ability level, all of your students can think about how they would answer a question, can ponder what their opinion is, and can share their ideas and discuss their thoughts in an environment filled with encouragement and support.

    When using the Think-Pair-Share strategy, It is important to offer reassurance and make it fun:

    1. Model the instructional strategy several times before using it, especially with struggling readers.
    2. Praise students when you see them doing it correctly.
    3. Check to see that your paired teams are working out, and all students are involved.Try pairing two extroverts together.
    4. Use Think-Pair-Share in a variety of situations such as during current events, on a field trip or on a rainy day.

Instructional Strategies for Students Reading Below Grade Level

Many teachers use instructional strategies, such as reciprocal teaching or think-pair-share, with their students. But sometimes with students reading below grade level, it is hard for them to read the text AND use a strategy to help them comprehend. Instructional strategies can benefit all.
  1. Using Reciprocal Teaching with Your Struggling Readers
  2. Using Think-Pair-Share with Struggling Readers
  3. Helping Struggling Readers Using the 3-2-1 Reading Strategy
  4. Activating Prior Knowledge to Help Struggling Readers
  5. Instructional Strategies: Before, During, After to Help Struggling Readers

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