Why Does Interactive Modeling Work?

When it’s done effectively, Interactive Modeling helps students achieve greater, faster, and longer-lasting success in meeting expectations and mastering skills. My new book, Interactive Modeling, provides step-by-step guidance on using this powerful technique in the classroom, and I’m excited to let you know that now there are several new videos on the Responsive Classroom YouTube channel that support the book. The videos show what Interactive Modeling looks and sounds like in a variety of real classrooms. In this one, Michelle Gill uses Interactive Modeling to teach fourth grade students at Garfield Elementary School how to choose partners for reading:

I chose this lesson to share with you because it illustrates several of the reasons why Interactive Modeling works so well:

Students learn why the routine or skill is important.

Michelle succinctly explains why choosing choose partners in a kind and respectful way will be important. Knowing why a routine or skill matters increases students’ motivation to become expert at it. In this case, the explanation is extra-motivating because it connects the skill being taught to the classroom rules the children developed together, which derive from their personal goals for the school year.

Students create a clear, positive mental image of what’s expected.

Interactive Modeling builds in multiple opportunities for children to see accurate models of the desired behavior. In a very short period of time, Michelle’s students saw four different people quickly and respectfully choose partners.

Students do the noticing.

In Interactive Modeling, the students point out details as they observe the demonstrations given by the teacher and student volunteer(s). By doing the noticing themselves, students get the message that they are important, that their observations matter. This sense of importance, combined with opportunities to talk, listen, and practice, naturally leads children to be fully engaged and to retain their learning better.

Students have a chance to practice and get immediate feedback.

As many researchers have noted, practice is necessary to master any skill. Rather than just assuming the children “got it,” Michelle gave the whole class time to practice choosing a partner in the way they’d just seen modeled, and she observed them closely so she could give them immediate feedback. Such practice, with close teacher observation and feedback, helps cement the learning of the lesson and dramatically increases the likelihood that students will succeed.

The lesson is brief.

Michelle’s lesson took less than three minutes, but in that short amount of time, students were fully engaged and quickly but effectively began to master the challenging task of choosing a partner respectfully.

If you’d like to learn more about Interactive Modeling, check out:

Interactive Modeling: A Powerful Technique for Teaching Children Get step-by-step guidance on how to use Interactive Modeling to teach a variety of skills throughout the school year. Includes practical tips, real-life examples, and sample lessons and scripts that you can adapt for specific classroom needs.

For even more ideas, have a look at our Interactive Modeling board on Pinterest!

Margaret Berry Wilson is the author of several books, including: The Language of Learning, Doing Science in Morning Meeting (co-authored with Lara Webb), Interactive Modeling, and Teasing, Tattling, Defiance & More.

Tags: Engaging Academics, Getting Started with RC