How to Use SIOP Interaction Teaching Strategy to Ignite High School Students

Suzanne Marie demonstrating how to use interaction as a teaching strategy for culturally responsive teaching with Chinese students


Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

The interaction component of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model is an effective teaching and learning strategy.

This blog post explores the importance and strategies behind this key aspect of successful instruction and how SIOP creates a more inclusive and equitable classroom environment.


The SIOP Model is an evidence-based method for culturally responsive teaching of English Language Learners (ELLs).

Through experience teaching adult and high school students for over two decades and having a Master of Education, a Master of Arts, and a TEFL Certificate, I am experienced in helping ELLs succeed.

Discover how I use the SIOP Model to encourage interaction.

The SIOP Model

The SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) Model (CREDE, 1996) is a research-based approach to instruction. It’s effective for second language learners and students who need to improve their academic language and literacy skills.

The SIOP Model provides a framework to plan and deliver instruction in core subject areas. It can also be adapted to meet the specific needs of any classroom.

Focusing on high-level academic language and content learning, as well as scaffolding instruction, meets the needs of students for their language proficiency goals.

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

SIOP Interaction

SIOP Interaction encourages educators to plan how to 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
  • 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.

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 an engaging and stimulating learning experience for students.

21st Century Skills

In today’s world, students must develop 21st Century Skills.

Developing the 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 learning by providing instructional resources and technology.

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, providing a real-world context for learning 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.

To achieve this, 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 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. 

They also help facilitate the learning process by asking probing questions for deeper insight into a topic.

Sample probing questions:

  • 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 a different way of 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 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

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 a learning model, it’s applied to the classroom differently.

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 relevant issues.

This is based on the principle that education should be student-centered rather than teacher-centered.

5 Benefits of Inquiry-Based Learning

  1. Nurtures passions and talents.
  2. Increases motivation and engagement.
  3. Students develop research skills.
  4. Reinforces the importance of asking questions.
  5. Students take ownership of their learning experience.

Lesson Planning for SIOP Interaction

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

Examples of interaction include:

  • Pre-assessment activities.
  • Previews to set up learning expectations.
  • Engaging questions.
  • Effective activities for students.
  • Introducing questions and materials.

Interaction and Learning

Interaction contrasts with more passive ways of learning, such as listening to lectures, reading and memorizing facts, and studying for exams.

Interaction involves getting students to share their assumptions so familiar ideas become unfamiliar. In addition, students 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 students may not share common assumptions.

Student-Initiated Discussion

SIOP interaction teaching strategies include student-initiated discussion about topics of interest to them and activities.

Student-led discussions, case studies, role-playing, and debate are all examples of interaction.

However, student-initiated interaction is different from having students talk out of turn. To manage interaction, establish a transition to interactive activities.

Interaction is an essential aspect of learning and potentially the most critical ingredient of the learning process.

Learning complex and challenging situations, like creative writing, science projects, and media studies, benefit from SIOP interaction.

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.

How to promote interaction:

  • Lead a class discussion about the lesson topic.
  • Form groups for students to develop ideas and choose which to share and which not to share.
  • Create a system for students to ask questions.
  • Develop a process for giving feedback.
  • Encourage students to ask and answer questions with each other.

When students use the skills they have learned, they remember 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 with their students and the learning goals in the project’s broad question.
  • There are many elements to interaction. However, teachers must always be aware of their students’ 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, reading a story or poem, writing a sonnet, and asking the students to write a poem.

In addition, teachers model behavior or 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.

Demonstration as Interaction

Teacher demonstrations make the abstract visible and 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.

Then, 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.

Examples of guided practice as interaction include students working in groups to complete:

  • different math problems
  • science experiments
  • debate to practice new skills
  • creative writing
  • digital media projects
  • poetry projects
  • poster projects
  • presentation projects

Teaching Style as Interaction

Teaching style may be a classroom management technique.

Consistency with teaching style helps students know what to expect.

  • Level out an otherwise unleveled classroom.
  • Manage big emotions and chaos.
  • Like a quiet voice, it creates a calm and orderly environment.

Common Methods of Interaction

Modeling or demonstration is often the most common instructional method used by teachers.

The model is presented to demonstrate specific skills or processes.

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.


Thanks for stopping by! Read more about each SIOP model component in my articles linked below.

Until next time,


Related Topics


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.

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