Reading Without Limits

Maddie Witter

Activities that Increase Student Thinking Time Before Sharing Out

Student summarizes his new thinking before sharing out to the whole class.

Student summarizes his new thinking before sharing out to the whole class.

Researcher Mary Budd Rowe discovered that the average teacher waits just 1.5 seconds before calling on a student.  When teachers increase that time to merely three seconds, accuracy dramatically increases.




Three seconds still doesn’t feel like enough time.  How can one formulate a great answer in three seconds?

One classic way to increase student thinking time is with the think-pair-share.  The think-pair-share allows students to think or jot down their answer, turn and talk with a partner, then share out with the entire group.  It’s effective, but can get a little boring.

Yesterday on Edutopia, I shared five strategies that can boost student think time. There were too many ideas to share in one post, so I added one more here.

Below is another strategy that I love to do, that works with kids of all ages as well as adult learning.

Concentric Circles (Total time: 10-15 minutes) Ask students to generate a question based on whatever you are teaching that day.  The question must be one that they really want answered, and one that doesn’t have a “right answer”.  Divide your class into groups of 10-12 students.  Each group then divides into two circles, one inside the other like this:



Students on the inside face the student across from them on the outside.  Students on the inside ask the student that they are facing on the outside their question, spending about a minute chatting.  Then, the student on the outside asks.  After a couple minutes, the inside circle rotates while the outside circle stays in place.  Therefore, each partnership is different.  They repeat the question and answer process.  After students have met with several (or all) students in their circle, they summarize their thinking in one of the following ways.

  • What response surprised you?
  • Summarize your new thinking in five words.  Now three words.  Now one word.
  • Tweet your new learning in 140 characters or less.
  • Create an image summarizing your new understanding.

After students have had a chance to summarize their new thinking, students now can share out to the whole class.  This is one more strategy that will boost collaborative learning, thinking time, and ultimately quality participation in your classroom.







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow Maddie on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: