Think-Pair-ShareThere are three steps to a Think-Pair-Share activity. The first is the Think step, and requires students to think independently about a question or concept you have just posed. It is best if you have students actually write their "answers" down on paper, as this will provide support for those students who might be more introverted. You can give the students as short as 1-2 minutes for this step, depending on the complexity of the question you have posed. It is best if the question requires more than just a factual answer.
The second step is to get students paired up so that they can exchange their ideas. It is not strictly necessary that there be two students in each "pair" but the more that there are, the longer this step will take. You should instruct your "pairs" to discuss their individual answers and agree on 1 (or at most 2) answers that they think are best. You can give them as little as 1-2 minutes for this step.
The third step is to get some or all of the pairs (depending on the size of the class) to share their answers with the rest of the class. The number of "pairs" you call on depends on the complexity of the question and what you hope to achieve. If you keep getting the same or similar answers, either the question was too concrete or your students are all looking at the problem the same way. At this point, you can also ask if there are any different answers. The sharing phase can be as short as 2 minutes if you require your students to give very pointed answers (e.g. "Give me your answer in five words", "...in one sentence").
Think-Pair-Share can, therefore, take as short as 5 minutes or as long as you like. It can also be a bridge to the next part of the lecture if used as the "break" exercise in a modified lecture. It is a good structure because each student gets a chance to think, and then talk with another student before having to put himself or herself on the line by sharing with the entire class. By use of this exercise you can provide a structure where more of your students will talk.