Classic Tutor Tip: Think, Write, Pair, Share

clipart pictures titled think, write, pair, share

Purpose:  This activity can be used as a warm-up, to get students thinking about a topic, as a comprehension check, or as a problem-solving activity. It also asks students to use English to think, speak, read, listen and write.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  Create handout with a notes chart for learners to complete, if desired (description in the procedure below); choose question that students will work with, based on your topic.


I do it/we do it:

  1. Write a question on the board.  Then a chart on the board with three sections. The first section is labeled “My thoughts”, the second section is labeled “My partner’s thoughts” and the third section is labeled “The class’s thoughts”.
  2. Pose a question to the group.  Then model “my thoughts”, writing down some words and sentences that reflect your thoughts on the topic.
  3. Have a student share their ideas on the topic with you, and write notes on what they say in the second section of the chart. Ask several other learners in the class to share their ideas and write down notes on their responses in the third section of the chart.

You do it:

  1. Hand out the chart for learners to complete. If not using a handout, have the students copy the chart from the board in their notebook.
  2. Ask the class a new question.
  3. Give students at least 15-20 seconds to THINK about their answer.  The quality of answers goes up significantly when you allow “think time”.
  4. Ask students to record their thoughts on the chart in the “My thoughts” section.
  5. Have students pair up, preferably with someone who speaks a different first language.
  6. Next, students discuss the topic or solution with their partners and record the partner’s ideas.
  7. Finally, call on a few (or more) students to share their ideas with the rest of the class.  Students listen and record what they hear in the third section of the chart.
  8. Ask several students to summarize what they heard and wrote.  Discuss the question as a whole group.
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