Engagement Strategies - Pair-Share


Pair-Share is an effective way of increasing student engagement in the classroom. Asking students to pair-share their answer to a question allows time for students to process their thoughts and discuss it first before sharing it with the class. Students should be encouraged to use complete sentences when responding to a question. Teachers should ask a question, then pause to allow thinking time. This allows students time to formulate a response before talking with their partner. Pair-Share increases the amount of student to teacher talk in the classroom, embedding speaking and listening into every lesson.


  Use in the Classroom

Pair-Share works best in the classroom when teachers have established routines. To maximise its impact, seating arrangements that allow students to easily talk to a partner should be arranged, either at desks or on the floor. Having allocated partners also ensures pair sharing can be done efficiently as time is not wasted on students deciding who to talk to. Pair-Share buddies could be of the same or mixed ability and teachers may vary the buddies for different activities.

Labelling the buddies also means the teacher can give instructions to students to enable effective pair sharing.


  • Partner A, tell Partner B what number this is and how you know."
  • Butterflies tell poppies how to spell the word ‘edge’.”

Students will benefit by practising how to pair share. “Attention signals” can also be used effectively to bring students back together after pair sharing.

  Personalised Learning

When students with additional needs are engaging with learning by using the strategy of Pair-Share, there may be some potential barriers that need to be considered. These may include listening to questions and formulating a response during the lesson. Some students may have an increase in anxiety when demonstrating their work.

Some potential adjustments may include:

  • Providing sentence starters to assist in recalling information or using appropriate language.
  • Instructions are provided one on one or repeated.
  • Instructions are written on the board and may include visual explanations.
  • A student may use dot points to record down key ideas when a partner is speaking.
  • Allow for additional time to listen to partner’s ideas.
  • Seating may be prearranged to minimise movement of groups.
  • Ability groups may be predetermined.
  • Allow for a quieter space to participate in activity.
  • Use a visual timer to indicate duration of a task.


Pair-Share (AISNSW)

This handout suggests tips for teachers in setting up pair-share successfully in the classroom. It also outlines 14 reasons why pair-share is an effective technique for teachers to use.

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Anita Archer’s Active Participation Instruction: Pair-share

This video shows Anita Archer in a 2nd grade classroom using a range of engagement strategies including pair-share.

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