How to Use Interaction as a Teaching Strategy

smiling teacher and students at chalkboard for interaction using the siop model Suzanne Marie

This blog post explores the SIOP Model’s component of interaction as a teaching and learning strategy.

The SIOP Model

The SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) Model (CREDE, 1996) is a research-based approach to instruction that is effective for second language learners and students who need to improve their academic language and literacy skills. The model provides a framework for planning and delivering instruction in core subject areas and can be adapted to meet the specific needs of any classroom.

The SIOP Model is an instructional framework that guides educators when unit planning and lesson planning for student achievement. The SIOP Model focuses on high level academic language and content acquisition, as well as scaffolding instruction to meet the needs of students based on their level of language proficiency.

The 8 Components of SIOP:

  1. Lesson Preparation
  2. Building Background
  3. Comprehensible Input
  4. Strategies
  5. Interaction
  6. Practice & Application
  7. Lesson Delivery
  8. Review & Assessment
  9. Interaction


Interaction encourages educators to plan how they will balance the interaction between teacher and students and students with students for student success. Examples of interaction include Q&A think-pair-share, group work in small groups, debates, reading club, formative assessments, and negotiating the meaning of ideas. 

Planning Talk Time

Planning for teacher and student talk time is one example of how educators plan for interaction in their lessons for student learning. Generally, in my lessons for vocabulary development, I use 10% teacher talking time and 90% student talking time. In my lessons for projects, I incorporate interaction at a value of 30% teacher talking time and 70% student talking time.

Here is a post about comprehensible input and how to give instructions during teacher talk time using The SIOP Model

Planning for interaction when unit planning and lesson planning, it is important to include how you will engage your students in the lesson activities. Using an instructional framework for interaction like 21st Century Skills (Jenkins, 2009) creates a learning experience for students that is engaging and stimulating.

21st Century Skills

In today’s world, students need to develop 21st Century Skills. Developing 21st Century Skills means students must have certain core competencies teachers present to students during their lessons. These skills help students thrive in an increasingly connected and complex world.

21st Century Skills include five core competencies, known as the 5 C’s:

  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Citizenship (Global and Local)
  • Creativity & Innovation

When planning for interaction using the SIOP Model, teachers use 21st Century Skills and Inquiry-Based Learning approaches. This video shows an overview of 21st Century Skills:

Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-based learning is a powerful way for students to engage with the world around them. By connecting to real-world problems and experiences, inquiry-based learning encourages students to think critically and solve complex problems. This type of learning is an excellent way for students to develop 21st Century Skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.

Inquiry-based learning focuses on the learner as the center of an active learning process. The teacher’s role is to facilitate the learning process by providing instructional resources and technology.

Here is a post about how to build background using The SIOP Model

Ignite Curiosity

Children are naturally curious and thrive when given the opportunity to explore and discover. This research-based approach to learning allows children to ask questions, find answers, and think critically about important topics. In addition, by providing a real-world context for learning, this approach improves higher-order thinking skills and deepens children’s understanding of the curriculum.

The questioning process should focus on eliciting children’s thoughts, curiosity, and theories. It should be flexible in duration and structured to allow children to discover their questions and ideas more deeply and directly. Realizing their questions and ideas makes it easier for students to reach high-level considerations.

Designing Lessons

Using 21st Century Skills as a framework, students focus on questioning, sharing ideas, and practicing through real-world examples. Active learning strategies used may include:

  • Individual, Pair, and Group Projects and Activities
  • Presentations (PowerPoint/Keynote, Video, Digital Games, Demonstrations)
  • Data Collection (Questionnaires and Surveys)
  • Using a Graphic Organizer
  • Leadership and Mentoring 
  • Asking Questions

As students explore and discover, they ask more questions and express their opinions more clearly. Asking questions and expressing opinions are vital parts of the learning process for students in all grade levels. By interacting with their peers, they can gain new perspectives and learn to see different solutions to problems. Thanks to this back-and-forth exchange, teachers help expand children’s thoughts and better equip them to draw conclusions. Teachers who ask probing questions for deeper insight into a topic help to facilitate the learning process.

Sample probing questions a teacher asks students:

  • What is the relationship between (idea 1) and (idea 2)?
  • What would happen if?
  • What are the similarities in metamorphosis between a butterfly and a frog?
  • How do you present your ideas?
  • What are your plans for your dream?
  • What are the 7 Wonders of the World?

Inquiry-based learning is a student-centered approach to education where learners are actively involved in their learning. This type of learning is not new but rather a different way of looking at teaching. Through inquiry-based learning, students have control over their learning, and the learning is purposeful.

Cycle of Inquiry

Inquiry-based science refers to activities, materials, and teaching methods that use the cycle of inquiry to promote greater interest and deeper learning in science. It also allows students to learn how to find answers to questions and solve problems. 

5 Examples of Inquiry-Based Learning

  • Planning
  • Retrieving Information
  • Developing a Project
  • Creativity Skills
  • Sharing a Project
  • Scientific Inquiry

Here is an example of a writing and digital media project using Inquiry-Based Learning

Scientific Inquiry involves noticing, collecting, recording, analyzing, and interpreting information about objects and events in the natural world. Scientific laws, hypotheses, and theories structure scientific Inquiry. There are four standard scientific inquiry methods:

  • observational science
  • experimental design and analysis
  • performing experiments and collecting data
  • constructing explanations and models.

Scientific Inquiry learning seeks to develop critical thinking and higher-order problem-solving skills. As the learning model, inquiry-based learning can be applied to the classroom in different ways. Often the inquiry process begins with students asking a question or generating their hypothesis to be tested. Through this process, they may explore other options, create theories or test their ideas, and evaluate the information to conclude.

Summary of Inquiry-Based Learning

In inquiry-based learning, students are actively involved in their learning processes, investigating real-life questions, problems, and issues that have genuine relevance to them.

Inquiry-based learning is based on the principle that education should be student-centered rather than teacher-centered. And it involves getting them to defend their beliefs against the criticism of others so that their ideas can become more refined and flexible.

The main criticism of inquiry-based learning is that it takes more time and energy from teachers and students. To make inquiry-based learning work effectively, teachers need to stop teaching so much and learn how to teach others how to teach. People, especially young people, need to be able to do stuff themselves.

5 Benefits of Inquiry-Based Learning

  1. It nurtures passions and talents
  2. It increases their motivation and engagement
  3. It allows them to develop research skills
  4. It fortifies the importance of asking questions
  5. It allows children to take ownership of their learning experience

Lesson Planning for Interaction

The beginning of the instructional cycle includes strategies for engaging and motivating students before instruction.

Examples include:

  • Requiring high-interest pre-assessment activities.
  • Using previews to set up learning expectations.
  • Requiring engagement questions.
  • Finding the most effective exercise for students.
  • Setting up for success by introducing questions and materials.

Interaction encourages educators to plan how they will balance the interaction between teacher and students and students with students. Examples of interaction include Q&A think-pair-share, group work, debates, reading club, and negotiating the meaning of ideas.

Best Practice to Apply the SIOP Model (Lesson Planning)

Interaction and Learning

Interaction contrasts with more passive ways of learning, such as listening to lectures, reading and memorizing (by rote) facts, and cramming for exams. Interaction can involve getting students to share their assumptions so that historically familiar ideas can become unfamiliar and so students can achieve a more profound understanding than they could in isolation.

For example, teachers ask students to suggest a definition for a common word. The responses reveal that students may not share common assumptions.

Student-Initiated Discussion

Interaction can include student-initiated discussion on topics of interest to them and activities such as student-led discussions, case studies, role-playing, and debate. However, student-initiated interaction is not the same as having students talk out of turn. This latter is disruptive and behaviorally challenging to manage and is generally discouraged.

Interaction is an essential aspect of learning and potentially the most critical ingredient of the learning process. It is necessary for learning situations that are both complex and challenging, like creative writing, science projects, and media studies.

Goal of Interaction

The goal of the interaction is for students to construct knowledge for themselves. To reach this goal, students must be active in the learning process.

This can happen with a teacher leading the discussion, but it can also occur with students working in groups, allowing them to develop their ideas and choose which to share and which not to share. Students can, in effect, ask the teacher questions by giving and seeking feedback on presentations they have prepared or by asking and answering questions of one another. When students use the skills they have learned, they learn those skills better than if they had not used them.

Interaction in Projects

When unit planning and lesson planning, teachers look at their specific project questions and overall project goals to map out how an interaction will occur. Teachers should plan for appropriate interactions for their students and the learning goals in the project’s broad question.

There are many facets to interaction. There are many ways to interact with students, but teachers must always be aware of their student’s needs and how to meet them best.

Interaction is dynamic because it is more than just asking questions and giving answers. It is the exchange of ideas, the give and takes of communication, and the sharing of thoughts, feelings, and questions.

Modeling as Interaction

Modeling involves the teacher showing or doing something and having the students copy or mimic it. Examples of modeling include the teacher writing on the board, the teacher reading a story or poem, the teacher writing a sonnet, and asking the students to write a poem. The teacher can also model behavior or an attitude.

Examples of modeling include:

  • Modeling enthusiasm for learning.
  • Modeling persistence and effort in problem-solving attempts.
  • Modeling respect for others.

Skills can be taught by a teacher, a peer, or even a computerized human character if the technique is interactive enough.

Modeling can be used as an alternative to lecturing to inform students about the structures and strategies of different types of writing and to encourage students to imitate the teacher. At the same time, they read what they have written.

Demonstration as Interaction

Teacher demonstrations serve to make the abstract visible, to give substance and form to abstract concepts. Demonstrations allow students to observe a teacher interact with the physical environment or manipulate objects.

To use demonstration as interaction, a teacher’s performance focuses on having the students observe and follow the teacher’s actions. It has students complete a task by imitating or following along with what is done by a teacher.

Examples of demonstrations include:

  • Giving different math problems for the students to solve.
  • Give the students an example of a poem and have them write their version.
  • Giving a short lecture followed by group work.
  • Asking the students to complete a worksheet.
  • Guided Practice as Interaction

Examples of guided practice as interaction include having the students work in cooperative groups, the teacher assigning different math problems in the classroom, having the students compete with one another while learning new skills, and asking the students to write poetry.

Teaching Style as Interaction

Teaching style may be a classroom management technique. It is used to level out an otherwise unleveled classroom. It is also used when a class becomes unruly and the teacher needs to regain control. It can be used for the same reasons a quiet voice can be used; it creates a calm and orderly environment. A teacher with a quiet, unleveled classroom can also display their teaching style.

Common Methods of Interaction

Modeling or demonstration is often the most common instructional method used by teachers. The model is presented by an instructor or a demonstration teacher, who provides a model of actual skill. Students then try to imitate this model to achieve the desired results in performance. Instructional strategies such as modeling and demonstration are more typically associated with teacher-centered instruction.


5 Benefits of Inquiry-Based Learning. (2018, March 15). Bartram Academy.

5 Examples of Inquiry-Based Learning. (n.d.).

Principles of Inquiry-Based Learning | Next Century’s Education Model. (n.d.). Canada.k12.Tr.

Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. MIT Press.

The SIOP Model


Teaching with The SIOP Model


If you are an educator, parent, or grandparent and looking for practical strategies to use with children, concepts to understand, and ideas that can be easily implemented about how to create space for self and others, you have landed in the right spot.

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Children learn how to solve problems the same way they learn how to read, write, and add. Like reading, writing, and adding, there are three specific components to solving problems. These are teachable skills children can learn at any age.

Published by suzannemarie

Educator and published author of conflict management and children's books. Living life to its fullest. I believe in courageously honouring my truth and living my legacy. Lover of meaningful conversations, coffee, food, art, and building connections. I love writing about my fascination with culture, food, adventure, self-love, and living a healthy and fulfilled life!

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