Virtual Think Pair Share

Create a virtual seating chart that is shared with the whole class to implement quick Think-Pair-Share activities. By having a universal virtual seating chart, teachers are able to call on students equitably and also pair off students with ease. By having students go in the order they are on the screen (e.g., “chat the person to your left to share your answer”) teachers are able to have students pair off without having to have lots of breakout groups, which saves time and also allows for multiple pairings.

Child displaying paper to Virtual meeting

Key drivers around effective learning:

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    Socially Connected

    Peer learning and collaboration

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    Actively Engaging

    Choice and agency

Student learning on the computer

The Why

Think-Pair-Share is a popular and effective strategy that teachers use often in person which fosters peer discussion and gives all students the chance to share. It is done by first asking the class a question and giving students time to think independently about their answer. Once they have formulated their own answer, they then share it with a partner next to them. Finally, the teacher calls on some students to share their answers with the entire class.
 In a physical classroom, students are usually sitting in a way that makes it easy for a teacher to have students talk to someone right next to them. A remote space is different since a student is not physically sitting next to any of their peers. To address this challenge, teachers can create a virtual seating chart by rearranging the order of participants in Zoom and, as the host, teachers can make it so that students see the same order.

The Feature:

Changing the Video Layout

Teachers can change the order of participants on their screen by clicking and dragging on a participants’ tile and moving it to where they want it. As the host, teachers can also make it so that all participants display their order (find this feature by clicking on View). By doing this, all students have the same virtual seating chart to reference during activities, presenting, etc. as they would in an in-person setting.

Team on Zoom video chat
Woman teaching on a computer

The Implementation

Get students to reflect and share their answers with their peers and the class using Virtual Think-Pair-Share. Steps to implement this strategy include:

  • Arranging students in the order teachers would like as students join the Zoom room.

    • Once all students have joined, click on View and enable Follow Host’s Video Order.
  • Preview the activity. Share the expectations for the activity and the steps to complete once it begins:

    • Think: Teachers will give students a question and time to independently and silently think about their response on their own
    • Pair: Students will then share their response with a partner via chat or in a collaborative document if private chat isn’t enabled for student
    • Share: Teachers will call on a few students to share their response or their
  • Introduce who their partners are for Think-Pair-Share. For the first few times, name the pairs out loud by saying the student at the top left is partnered with the student to their right. Ask if anybody does not know who their partner is and if so, tell them who it is. It is also fun to change up partners periodically to ensure all students are able to meet and connect.

  • Instruct students on how they will share their answers with their partners. Students can send their response to their partner in a private chat. If private chat is disabled, create an alternative way for students to share their response with their classmates. For example, create a Google Doc with a chart where each partner group has a cell and students can write in their respective cells. Students could also write their responses on a Learning Management System (LMS) discussion board or messaging system. Keep the same order to save time and so students know who their partner is.

  • Bring all students back and call on a few students who will un-mute to share what they and their partner discussed. Teachers can also have additional students share via whole group chat.

Note: Students may not see the exact same view as teachers because their screens may not show the same number of people so avoid having people talk to the person above them or below them as that may vary from device to device.

Developed with The Learning Accelerator




The Learning Accelerator