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Indicator 29 – Sustain Interactions

Delivering Instruction

Developing Thinking Skills

Indicator 29 - Sustain Interactions UETS 2d., 7d., 7h.

Effective teachers sustain interactions with students by asking follow-­up questions about the student's contribution or restating the student's response to elicit continued participation by a student. It is important for teachers to have students supply additional information to have a better, more complete idea of the students’ understanding. Sustaining interactions provides opportunities for students to process information, to deal with the why, the how, and the basis for their answers. Questions used to sustain interactions may be factual or higher order. Effective teachers may begin with a factual question, and follow with a more probing, higher-order question.


  1. Respond to student answers so that further student response is inevitable.
  2. Call on students who seldom raise their hands because they need the opportunity to interact with other students. Over a period of time such a practice will allow all students to feel more comfortable in class and encourage more student interaction.
  3. Ask questions frequently because you allow students to think and express themselves; in addition, the practice shows students that discussions are not quizzes but an enjoyable way to share information.
  4. Ask many open-ended and follow-up questions. Show students that quick answers are less important than thoughtful expressions. Make sure students know that you and the class will benefit from listening to them.
  5. The following question stems should be practiced to produce more productive discussions with students:
    • Clarification Questions
      • I'm not sure I understand . . .?
      • Tell me more about . . .?
      • Do you see gaps in your reasoning?
      • Are you taking into account something different from what I have considered?
    • Support Questions
      • Can you give us an example of . . .?
      • Where in the story . . .?
      • What would be a good reason for . . .?
      • What is some evidence for . . .?
    • Cause and Effect Questions
      • Why do you think that happened?
      • How could that have been prevented?
      • Do you think that would happen that way again?  Why?
      • What are some reasons people . . .?
    • Compare / Contrast Questions
      • How are __________ and _______ alike?  Different?
      • What is that similar to?
      • Can you think of why this feels different than . . .?
      • How does this (poem, book, incident, etc.) remind you of . . .?
    • Benefits/Burdens Questions
      • What are some of the reasons this wouldn't (would) be a good idea?
      • Would anyone like to speak to the opposite side?
      • Those are some reasons this would work; what reasons might it not work?
    • Point of View/Perspective Questions
      • How might she/he have felt . . .?
      • What do you think he/she was thinking when . . .?
      • He might not like that, but can you think of someone who would
      • _____________ has expressed a different opinion.  Are there others?
      • Do you have a different interpretation?
      • Do you have different conclusions?
      • How did you arrive at your view?
    • Structure/Function Questions
      • If that was the goal, what do you think about . . .(the action, reaction)?
      • What were her/his choices of how to . . .?
      • Why was she/he doing that?  (Reply gives reason)
      • What do you think of that approach?
      • What better choices could he/she have made?
      • What rules would we need to make sure . . .?
    • Counterexample Questions
      • Would that still happen if . . .?
      • What might have made the difference?
    • Different Situation Questions
      • Can you describe a situation that would . . .?
      • Suppose ________________.  Would that still be true?  Why or why not?
    • Solicit Questions
      • What are some things that you wonder about?
      • What would you like to know about?
      • Are there questions we should remember now?
    • Personal Experience Questions
      • What would you do in that situation?
      • Has anything like that ever happened to you?
      • In what way are you alike or different from . . .?
  1. Use various forms of group work to sustain student interactions. Teachers must monitor the activity to make sure all students feel comfortable, contribute, and are held accountable.
  2. React to spontaneous student comments if they are relevant to the topic to sustain interaction and foster student enthusiasm.

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