Pairing & Sharing

Have you ever stood in front of a group, asked a question and got blank stares as the response? Pairing and Sharing is a wonderful technique to use that helps ‘warm’ your participants up to talking. Some people are not likely to raise their hand and share their thoughts in a group setting unless they are called upon, especially early on in the program. Other participants are ‘over sharers’ and they speak up too often. The art of pairing and sharing allows everyone to have an equal opportunity to share their thoughts or ideas.

This technique also gives participants a chance to practice their answer before sharing with the large group. Many people do not like being put on the spot when asked question in front of their peers. Pairing and Sharing also allows for each participant to answer the question, not just one person talking while the rest of the group listens. Everyone gets a chance to answer each question that is asked.

With this technique, the facilitator first asks participants to find a partner. Once everyone has a partner the facilitator instructs the group to discuss a question together. This could be an icebreaker question, a general discussion topic, or a debriefing question.

My favorite Pairing and Sharing Tools that are available commercially include Icebreaker Wheelies, Debriefing Wheelies and Spot It or Ubuntu Cards.  What are some of your favorites?

Make Your Own:  This is also an easy tool to make yourself.  Come up with your own questions and write them on index cards.  Laminate them if you want to use them over and over again.  You can also create card sets that match specific curriculum you have created.  Let’s say you just taught a class on a specific subject.  Come up with targeted questions that relate to the content they should have learned.  Have them pair and share with a partner as a way to spot check whether they understood the concepts.  You could also format your questions in a Word document, print them and reuse them year after year.  If you format them to pre-perforated business card stock, they are easy to pop apart and are a nice size for participants to handle.  Purchase business card sized laminate pouches and you have a tool for life!