Practices in Pedagogy

"To Teach is to Learn Twice Over"

The “Think-Pair-Share” Approach to Assessment

Why is it important to use oral language to check for understanding? What is your impression of the “Think-Pair-Share” approach? How might you use “Think-Pair-Share” in your own teaching?

The legacy of oral language is incredibly significant. Not only is our modern form of literature, music, and storytelling mostly due to the oral tradition, but the universality of verbal communication is unparalleled. The ability to speak out loud and communicate directly with another person serves as a bridge between cultural, racial, social, and economical gaps. Anybody can talk, anybody can communicate through an oral medium; therefore, the magnitude of such interaction is unbelievable. With this in mind, how can one not acknowledge the importance of using oral language to check for understanding in the classroom?

By assessing students in such a manner, teachers are effectively able to engage a universal audience. Students who have difficulty reading can express their understanding comfortably and confidently. Students who perceive the world in a way no standardized test can grasp can finally showcase their abilities. Students who are outgoing will enjoy participating in classroom assessment. Even shy, timid students will be encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and positively open up. Any style of learner, a child from any culture, a student from any particular background- all of these can be understood in the oral form.

Not only is oral assessment universal, it also allows for a great deal of accountability in the classroom. Fisher and Frey both focus on this specific aspect in Checking for Understanding. Their thorough discussion of “Accountable Talk” is both interesting and educational. Especially as the authors suggest the idea of pairing students for assessment conversations. This concept not only provides an opportunity for students to talk and become engaged in the subject, but also trains them to be accountable with their own personal work.

The “Think-Pair-Share” approach is a wonderful model for collaborative learning. Students can first learn through personal reflection, then critically examine their conclusions with a partner, finally culminating in a prepared classroom discussion. With three varying aspects of assessment, the “Think-Pair-Share” model maximizes the possibility of learning. Students are encouraged to engage the subject on a personal and public manner, allowing for accountability in personal work, critical-thinking, and reflective application. Hopefully, I can someday incorporate the “Think-Pair-Share” approach into my own classroom. I can set aside time in each lesson for students to partner up and actively explore the material for that day. I will constantly push my students to ask deeper, more probing questions- thereby allowing for more discussion, more reflection, and more learning. I think students will enjoy the aspect of class (or partner) interaction, and more importantly I will enjoy the active, formative assessment taking place.

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