Teacher Toolkit

Thinking Routines and Discursive Strategies


Who is this for?

Middle Years +

Why use it?

Develops two skills:

Listening carefully, thoughtfully, humbly for a sustained period of time.

Sharing wisdom, skills, and energies with one another, to the community, to help decision-makers advance the common good

Bloom’s Level


What is it?

Students engaged in inquiry are in continuous decision-making mode– determining what to do and think next!

There’s no need for them to do this alone!

Troika provides a way for teams of 3 to share, shoulder, and address one another’s challenges.

Materials – Question Starter Cards

Set-Up – Groups of 3

How does it work?

1. Students have 3-5 minutes to identify the most pressing challenge in their work at the moment. This can include things they are struggling to do and things they are struggling to understand.

2. Students form groups of 3 and sit knee-to-knee.

3. Students number themselves 1, 2, and 3.

4. Person 1 starts by sharing their dilemma; 2 & 3 ask questions to clarify if needed.

5. Person 1 turns their back to 2 & 3, who shift their positions to face one another directly.

6. For 3-5 minutes, (choose the duration within yet at the outer limit of students’ current capacity), 2 & 3 “dig in” to 1’s problem, considering as many relevant details and possible solutions as they can. As they do, 1 records ideas that stand out as significant and promising. They may not speak or turn around during this time!

7. 1 turns to face 2 & 3 and:

a. Expresses thanks

b. Shares how they think they can/will proceed, integrating key suggestions and contributions of peers

c. 2 & 3 listen, encourage, and pose clarifying questions.

8. Switch—2 now shares their problem; 1 & 3 shoulder it.

9. Switch—3 now shares their problem; 2 & 3 shoulder it.


  • How will this new information help your group move forward?

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Discursive StrategiesTroika