Table of Contents

Using Think-Pair-Share to Check for Understanding

“Think-Pair-Share” is a peer-to-peer discussion strategy where students discuss their constructed responses to a prompt or question before sharing with the whole class. It is a strategy that engages every student so that checking the understanding of the whole class can be done efficiently. The following steps outline the strategy (Fisher & Frey 2007).

  1. Pose a question, prompt, reading, visual, or observation.
  2. Allow a few minutes to individually THINK about the question.
  3. PAIR up students with designated partners to discuss their respective responses, comparing thoughts and agreeing on the best responses.
  4. After an appropriate length of time, ask the pairs to SHARE their thinking with the whole class.
    Students need specific feedback on speaking and listening especially since these skills do not always have products for reviewing.

View an example of a student rubric for elementary students can use to assess and improve their Think-Pair-Share skills.

View an example of a teacher rubric teachers can use to assess and improve Think-Pair-Share activities in their classrooms.

More information about rubrics will be covered in Unit 7.

Many of these strategies ask students to self-assess their level of understanding. When students over-estimate their understanding, assessment- literate educators:

  1. Set a comfortable climate where honest self-assessment has no consequences;
  2. clearly communicate learning targets and criteria for mastery; and
  3. make learning public and welcome mistakes as opportunities for everyone to learn.
Time to Reflect

Respond to the questions below and include other thoughts you have about checking for understanding.



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Time to Extend

Using a learning target you have developed for your grade level and/or content area, develop multiple methods for assessing the target. For assessments you can use formatively, develop a selected-response item, a constructed-response item or prompt (written or performance as appropriate), and one check-for-understanding strategy you will try for monitoring student progress in real time during instruction. Then, develop a summative assessment you can use to assess mastery of the learning target.