My Best Lesson


Pippa Speed, D&T Team Leader shares a simple formula that maximises student learning.

My best lesson?

Really simple actually…  Think, Pair, Share

After our recent advisory subject inspection in Design and Technology by Ofsted inspector Peter Cox I received some excellent feedback on my lesson and started to realise that this very simple formula of Think, Pair, Share could work so well in so many subject areas that I had to share myself.

Think, Pair, Share is a structure first developed by Professor Frank Lyman at the University of Maryland in 1981 and adopted by many writers in the field of co-operative learning since then. It introduces into the peer interaction element of co-operative learning the idea of ‘wait or think’ time, which has been demonstrated to be a powerful factor in improving student responses to questions.

It is a simple strategy, effective from early childhood through all subsequent phases of education and beyond.

PURPOSE: Processing information, communication, developing thinking.

RELEVANT SKILLS: Sharing information, listening, asking questions, summarising others’ ideas, paraphrasing.


  1. Teacher poses a problem or asks an open-ended question to which there may be a variety of answers.
  2. Teacher gives the students ‘think time’ and directs them to think about the question.
  3. Following the ‘think time’ students turn to face their Learning Partner and work together, sharing ideas, discussing, clarifying and challenging.
  4. The pair then share their ideas with another pair, or with the whole class. It is important that students need to be able to share their partner’s ideas as well as their own.

Benefits to using this teaching technique…

Positive interdependence: The students are able to learn from each other Individual accountability: Students are accountable to each other for sharing ideas. The student may also be required to share their partner’s ideas to another pair or whole group.

Equal participation: Each student within the group has an equal opportunity to share. It is possible that one student may try to dominate. The teacher can check this does not happen.

Simultaneous interaction: High degrees of interaction. At any one moment all of the students will be actively engaged in purposeful speaking and listening. Compare this with the usual practice of teacher questioning where only one or two students would be actively engaged.


  • Before a lesson or topic to orient the class (previous knowledge etc).
  • During teacher modelling or explanation.
  • Any time, to check understanding of material.
  • At the end of a teacher explanation, demonstration etc., to enable students to cognitively process the material.
  •  To break up a long period of sustained activity.
  • Whenever it is helpful to share ideas.
  •  For clarification of instructions, rules of a game, homework etc.
  • For the beginning of a plenary session.


I often use this technique when asking students to think about the construction of an object whether it be made from food, textiles or resistant materials. Think, Pair, Share can be used in all curriculum areas and is limited only by the creativity of the teacher.

My Best Lesson… Observations from 3 Outstanding Lessons at CLV

This guest post is courtesy of Mark Lovatt, a Deputy Head Teacher at Cramlington Learning Village.  You can follow Mark on Twitter here: @mlovatt1

From the 3 outstanding lessons he observed last week, he explains the 6 characteristics the lessons shared that made them brilliant:
1.  Lessons were very well planned and resourced
2. There were good relationships between the teacher and students with consistent classroom protocols in place
3. Lessons had clear learning outcomes and learning was reviewed at appropriate times during the lesson
4. The teachers explicitly referred to the learning behaviours and skills required to be successful (resilience, responsible etc..)
5. Lessons were differentiated and there were a choice of resources for the students
6. Students were active in their learning and thinking

My Best Lesson… The Marketplace

This post is the first in a series of many that is open to every teacher who would like to share their BEST lesson (or many great lessons) with the global teaching community.

Through careful and flexible lesson planning, how do you encourage students to actively learn in whatever pedagogical guise you design?  We would love for you to contribute your expertise!

In return you will get to steal and adapt brilliant ideas from other brilliant teachers.

All you need to do is email your resources and explanations (PowerPoint, Prezi, Word document or likewise) to and I will upload them in a jiffy!

1. Marketplace

Here is Lookout for Learning’s inaugural ‘My best lesson…’

  • Learning Intention = To consolidate the knowledge and understanding of the circulatory system.
  • This lesson design is adapted from Paul Ginnis’s brilliant book, The Teacher’s Toolkit, and can be found on pages 122 – 125.

  • Students see the test for 1 minute only before the learning commences and they cannot make any notes on the questions they see.  The test is then switched off.
  • The test is sat under exam conditions, after the peer teaching stage, with no reference to any materials they produced throughout the lesson.  This means they really must help each other in the 3 subdivisions (characteristics of blood vessels, functions of the blood and effects of exercise on the circulatory system)
  • The preparation stage is completed on a big A1 sheet where all 3 students must contribute to their subdivision.  They are only allowed to use 10 words so they must be creative with diagrams and anagrams to supplement their learning
  • I use an online timer that is on display at all times so the students know how long they have left in each stage of the lesson
  • A the review stage I get the each group to draw a circle representing a pie chart and ask them to honestly split the chart into 3.  Each of the 3 sections represent each student’s contribution to the group (%).  This does spark some great learning conversations between students and highlights passive students or students who just take over.  When we do this type of lesson again you do seem to get a much more equal contribution from all group members.
  • You can adapt the length of each stage depending on the length of your lesson.  Our lessons are 50 minutes long hence the shorter time
    Matt Bebbington
    Twitter: @BebbPEteach