Interactive Strategies support both TEACHER-DIRECTED and STUDENT-CENTERED learning. Both of these learning styles are important, and should be used when appropriate. Student centered learning especially validates and encourages student participation.


What is the difference?


What: Teacher-directed learning is learning where the focus is exclusively on the teacher. This can look like the teacher reading a story, asking the students to repeat after them, or giving them directions.

Pros: Teacher-directed learning is helpful in maintaining a focused classroom and encourages students to develop listening skills.

Cons: This style discourages collaboration and can cause students to disengage.


Example: Let’s All Say/Do That

Storyteller: Outside the pig’s house, the wind was gently blowing, (sings) whoooooo.  Let’s all do that. (Students repeat whoooooo.)

And above the wolf’s den the tree branches were moving back and forth in the wind (Demonstrates by extending arms and waving back and forth.) Let’s all do that. (Students repeat waving arms back and forth.)  

And the wolf stood outside the door and said, “And I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!” Let’s all say that! (Students repeat “And I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!”)

student-centered learning

What: Student-centered learning is learning where the focus is equally split between students and teacher. This can look like a teacher asking students what they think will happen in a story, coming up with a solution together, and incorporating those answers into the story.

Pros: Student-centered learning lets students invest in creating their own learning experience. Invested students are more likely to understand and retain material. Student-centered learning validates learners' thoughtfulness and creativity, which builds self-efficacy: the belief that you can and will succeed.

Cons: Student-centered learning can create noise or controlled chaos, and may be challenging for students who prefer to work independently.

Example: Questioning and Incorporation

(After the wolf unsuccessfully attempts to blow down the third pig’s home.)

Storyteller: The wolf refused to give up and decided to figure out another way to knock down the house of bricks. What different ways do you think he tried?

(The storyteller gathers the children’s ideas: use a hammer, run up against the door, dig a tunnel, sneak in through a window. They choose one idea, and tell the wolf’s “new” attempt.)

So, the wolf went to his garage to grab his hammer. He ran back to the house and started banging on the walls. Bang bang bang! (Let's all do that!) But then he hit his thumb. "Oooow" (Lets all say that!) Furious, the wolf threw his hammer to the ground, and said, “FINE! I’ll just sneak in through the chimney!” (Let's all say that!)