How to lead a Think-Pair-Share session

Do you need to get as many students as possible contributing to a discussion in an online session?

Use this lesson recipe to lead a session in Collaborate in which as many students as possible contribute to a discussion by 1) considering their response to a prompt 2) rehearsing their response in a low-risk context (pairwork) 3) sharing their ideas in front of the whole class.

Visit the hyperlinks in the recipe for specific guidance.

Before the session

  1. Schedule the meeting and let participants know the session name and time, so they can access it in the appropriate Blackboard module.
  2. Download the introduction to Collaborate features animation gif to share at the start of the session.
  3. Decide if you need to run a light-hearted ‘features diagnostic’ e.g.
  4. Develop a question or a problem for your students that has many potential responses. Put this prompt onto a PowerPoint slide so that you can show it during your session.

At the start of the session

  1. Open the scheduled meeting.
  2. Share animation gif so students are reminded of functionalities they can use (Share > Share Files > Upload the gif file, select it and choose Share Now). Pro tip: The animation will then play on a loop to users.  The animation stops either when you share something else (e.g. a PowerPoint) or when you stop sharing the file.
  3. Interact with students either by using the chat pane or by using your microphone.
  4. Run a features diagnostic/intro if necessary (see above for ideas).

During the session

  1. Pose your prompt to the entire class by sharing your screen or PowerPoint slide.
  2. Allow 1 – 3 minutes for students to silently consider their response. Pro Tip: If you have your camera on, use John Schulz’ technique of sitting back in your chair and sip on your tea/coffee to clearly show that you are not talking and there is space for students to think.
  3. Inform students that you’ll put them into breakout rooms to share their responses. Explain that if their ideas differ then they should clarify each other’s position and create a joint response integrating each other’s ideas which they can later share with the whole class.  They can choose how to capture their shared idea – they could use the whiteboard, print screen and save, or one student could be the scribe and either note it down offline, or type it in on a PowerPoint slide while sharing their screen in the breakout room.
  4. Designate a time limit. Pro Tip: As the time needed to move into breakout rooms can vary slightly depending on participants’ bandwidth, state a time when you will close the breakout rooms).
  5. Assign students to break out rooms and remember to press ‘start’.
  6. Monitor the main room or move between rooms to listen in/support.
  7. Close the rooms at the designated time to bring all students back into the main room. Pro Tip: It can take a little while for all students to come back to the main room,
  8. Once all students have been moved back into the main room, ask for 2 – 3 volunteers to take turns and share their group’s ideas. Promote/change a student’s role to presenter, if they have an image/file they need to share with the others.
  9. Finally, ask all students to share their favourite idea by typing in the chat.
  10. Invite final comments, questions either by raising their hands and using their mics to speak.

Top tips

  • Try out Collaborate and familiarise yourself with how to resolve issues that students might encounter.
  • Turn off notifications you don’t want to see/hear via Settings in the Collaborate panel.
  • Stop the recording if you started recording. If you make other colleagues or students moderators, they can stop the recording, too.
  • If you recorded the session, remember that it can take some time for the video to process and therefore it might not show immediately.
  • Tell students they can stay in the meeting if they wish. You don’t need to be present for the meeting to continue and by leaving the meeting open you provide additional opportunities to for students to interact.