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Teaching Tip #17

March 4, 2012

This week make your study team strategy focus “Teammates Consult.” This strategy is especially helpful if some of your students are not committed to working together as well as for students who tend to be slow at getting started with the lesson.

Teammates Consult (Pencils in the Middle)

  • All pencils and calculators are set aside (or in the middle of the table/work space).
  • Students read the problem or question (aloud is best).
  • Give students individual think time. 
  • The team discusses the problem to clarify what it is asking.
  • Possible strategies are devised and shared orally.
  • Optional: Each team raises their hand when they are ready to explain their plan to the teacher.
  • The teacher indicates when pencils may be picked up and the written work should begin.


This activity should take no more than five minutes and is a GREAT strategy for those lessons with one big problem for the day. Teammates Consult helps all of the students to slow down, talk about, and plan first, then start to work. Besides helping students who are often unsure how to begin their work, this strategy slows down students who may know what to do but who only see the problem in one way or who tend to quickly solve problems but without much depth. Use this time while the students are sharing suggestions to check that they understand the task by listening in on the team conversations.

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