SIOP consists of instructional features that cover eight aspects of lesson design and delivery: Lesson Preparation, Building Background, Comprehensible Input, Strategies, Interaction, Practice & Application, Lesson Delivery, and Review & Assessment.
Each SIOP lesson has content and language objectives that are clearly defined, displayed, and orally reviewed with students. These objectives are linked to subject area standards and curricula, and the academic vocabulary and language that students need for success. For teachers, the goal is to help students gain important experience with key grade-level content and skills as they progress toward fluency in academic English. Students know what they are expected to learn and/or be able to do by the end of each lesson. Also within this component, teachers provide supplementary materials (e.g., visuals, multimedia, adapted or bilingual texts, and study guides) because grade-level material may be difficult for many second language learners to comprehend. Adaptations are provided through a number of ways, such as differentiated texts, supportive handouts, and audio selections such as those that may come with texts or are available online. Also, meaningful activities must be planned to provide access to the key concepts and provide opportunities for students to apply their content and language learning.
In SIOP lessons, teachers help students connect new concepts with their personal and cultural experiences and past learning. Teachers sometimes build background knowledge because some immigrant language learners have not attended schools in the new country, or are unfamiliar with the cultural references in texts. At other times, teachers activate students’ prior knowledge to tap into what students already know, to identify misinformation, or to discover when it’s necessary to fill in gaps. The SIOP Model places emphasis on students building a broad vocabulary base. SIOP teachers increase attention to vocabulary instruction across the curriculum so students become effective readers, writers, speakers, and listeners.
SIOP teachers realize that English learners acquire their new language differently from majority language speakers and their instruction includes a variety of SIOP techniques so students comprehend the lesson’s key concepts. Examples of language accommodation techniques include teacher talk that is appropriate to student proficiency levels; restatement; paraphrasing; repetition; written records of key points; and previews and reviews of important information. Additional techniques include demonstrations and modeling of tasks, processes, and routines; gestures, pantomime, and movement to make concepts more clear; opportunities for students to engage in role-plays, improvisation, and simulations; visuals and supplementary materials, such as pictures, real objects, illustrations, charts, adapted texts, audiotapes, CDs or online resources (perhaps in the students’ home languages, if available); and hands-on, experiential, and discovery activities. Further, teachers explain the academic tasks they expect students to perform, orally and in writing, with demonstrations, modeling, and sample products as needed.
This SIOP component addresses student learning strategies, teacher-scaffolded instruction, and higher-order thinking skills. Some students aren’t familiar with learning strategies and benefit from learning how to use them flexibly and in combination. SIOP teachers frequently scaffold instruction (provide support, as needed) so second language students can be successful with academic tasks. As English learners master a skill or task, teachers remove supports that were provided, and add new ones for higher levels of application. The goal, of course, is the gradual increase of student independence, so that second language learners can achieve independence . SIOP teachers also ask English learners a range of questions, many of which require higher levels of thinking, thus going beyond questions that can be answered with a one- or two-word response. Instead, they ask questions and create projects or tasks that require students to think more critically and apply their language skills in more extended ways. Students’ answers may contain few words but the goal is for those words to represent complex thinking.
Students learn both conversational and academic language through interaction with one another and with their teachers. However, it is academic proficiency that is associated with school success. In SIOP classes, oral language practice helps students develop and deepen content knowledge, and it supports their second language listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. In pairs and small groups, second language learners practice new language structures and vocabulary that they have learned, as well as important language functions, such as asking for clarification, confirming interpretations, elaborating on one’s own or another’s idea, citing evidence in the text to support claims, and evaluating opinions. Opportunities for oral language practice are especially important since oral language proficiency impacts all aspects of educational achievement.
Practice & Application
Practice and application of new material is important for all learners because it helps them master newly learned skills. SIOP teachers ensure that lessons include a variety of activities that encourage students to apply both the content and language skills they are learning through hands-on materials, group assignments, partner work, projects, and so forth. For second language learners to learn the target language, it is imperative that every lesson provides opportunities for them to practice and apply content information, as well as literacy and language processes (i.e., reading, writing, listening and speaking).
Throughout SIOP lessons, tasks, activities and teaching practices support the content and language objectives. SIOP teachers routinely ensure that students know a lesson’s content and language objectives, so everyone knows what they’re to learn and be able to do. SIOP teachers introduce (and revisit) meaningful activities that appeal to students, they provide appropriate wait time so students can process concepts, and the classroom instruction fosters high motivation and engagement.
Review & Assessment
As part of each SIOP lesson, teachers make time for review and assessment throughout a lesson. In fact, a lesson may begin with a review of previous learning or a check of students’ knowledge of a topic. SIOP teachers check on student comprehension frequently to determine whether additional explanations or re-teaching are needed. By doing so, they can also provide feedback on correct and incorrect responses, a practice shown to benefit second language learners. Effective SIOP teachers also review key vocabulary and concepts with students throughout the lesson and as a final wrap-up they review the content and language objectives. The assessment information gleaned throughout the instructional period is then used to plan subsequent lessons.
Based on: Echevarria, J., Vogt, ME. & Short, D. (2017). Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model 5e. New York: Pearson.