One of the best things teachers can do to support student learning is get them interacting with new content. We do this often by having students engage in the "think-pair-share" strategy. But sometimes this feels old and tired. Is there something else to try?
There are 10 great alternatives to "think-pair-share" found here at We Are Teachers. The "think-pair-share-square" gets kids talking to even more students. The "mingle-pair-share" is the same idea, but gets kids moving. "Sticky-note-storm" is a great way to get individual students to commit to paper their ideas in a low-stress way. "Sage-and-Scribe" also gets kids writing. And the "Tea Party" or the Circle Chat is a strategy that gets students up and moving while maintaining a structure for partner talk. Students form two circles, one inside and one outside, facing each other. Students have a set amount of time to discuss with the student they are across from, and then the outside circle moves one person to the left. Now they have a new partner to discuss with. Check out all the strategies described at the link.
Kagan Structures are also another way to think about cooperative learning. In particular, the "rally coach" strategy, where one partner works on solving a problem while the other partner coaches and then partners switch roles, can provide a different structure to the "pair-share" time.
We can still use "think-pair-share," but it can help to mix it up. And even better than "think-pair-share," try to be more specific than telling students to think. As this blogger wrote, ask students to summarize-pair-share, generate an opinion-pair-share, or estimate-pair-share. Instead of asking students to simply think, give them a clue about the strategy they should be using.
What are your most effective ways to get kids interacting with content in your class?