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Authentic learning through quality interactions

What does it mean?

Children construct knowledge through interactions with people, objects, and the physical environment in contexts that are real, relevant and meaningful to them. Quality interactions occur when the teacher intentionally plans for children to be engaged in shared and sustained conversations with others as they interact with people/objects/the environment and work together to develop a concept or build on an idea.

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How can you do it?

  • Create a positive and supportive environment so that children feel comfortable about working and playing together, talking about their experiences, asking questions, and expressing their thoughts and feelings.
  • Set clear classroom expectations and routines to maximise time for shared and sustained interactions between the teacher and children, and between children, as well as using a variety of strategies and materials to actively engage children.
  • Foster cognitive development by using questions and prompts to extend children’s thinking and understanding, as well as language modelling to support children’s language development as they build on ideas and concepts together.

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This video illustrates the iTeach principle, Authentic Learning through Quality Interactions, in action in the classroom. When children are given ample opportunities to engage in sustained, shared conversations, these quality interactions expand their thinking, stimulate their creativity and enrich their learning. The teacher shares how she thoughtfully plans an authentic learning activity for the children and facilitates sustained back-and-forth exchanges to promote quality interactions with the children. In addition, we also see that quality interactions can happen beyond the classroom, even during transitions and routines!

Here are some examples of questions you can use to engage children in sustained conversations:

Questions for... Examples
 Recalling information
  • What do you remember about...?
 Directing attention
  • What do you see/hear/feel/smell?
Purpose: to promote organising skills   
 Comparing and classifying
  •  How are they alike/different?
 Sequencing of events
  •  What comes next?
Purpose: to promote analysing skills
 Analysing parts and whole
  •  What are the parts or features of...?
 Analysing patterns and relationshops
  •  Why do you think...?
 Purpose: to promote generating skills
 Eliciting predictions
  •  What do you think will happen next?
 Proposing alternatives
  •  What are some other ways to...?
 Encouraging creative/imaginative thinking
  •  What would it be like if...?
Purpose: to promote metacognitive skills
 Becoming aware of one's thinking processes
  •  How did you know...?
 Comparing one's thinking with the thinking of others
  •  How did your observations compare with other children's?
 Expressing emotion and making personal  connections
  • How did you feel about...? 

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