SIOP “Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol” and ESL Classrooms

The SIOP Model

[Note: This information was partly published in the TESL Saskatchewan Newsletter (Winter, 2013); the link to the blog information wasn’t provided in the newsletter.]

The SIOP Model is a “comprehensive, well-articulated model of instruction” for teachers teaching English language learners. It was developed by researchers Jana Echevarria and Mary Ellen Vogt at California State University, Long Beach and Deborah J. Short at the Center for Applied Linguistics during the research project through the Centre for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE), a national research Center funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education from 1996 through 2003. Jana Echevarria is Professor of Education at California State University, Long Beach, and MaryEllen Vogt is Professor Emerita of Education at California State University, Long Beach while Deborah J. Short is Professional Development Consultant and Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC.

SIOP is sometimes referred to as SDAIE (Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English) as well. “Sheltered Instruction is an approach for teaching content to English learners (ELs) in strategic ways that make the subject matter concepts comprehensible while promoting the students’ English language development (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2008).”

Theoretical Support

“The theoretical underpinning of the model is that language acquisition is enhanced through meaningful use and interaction…In effective SIOP lessons, there is high level of student engagement and interaction with the teacher, with other students, and with text, which leads to elaborated discourse and critical thinking (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2008).” SIOP was at first just an observation instrument to observe and rate teachers’ lessons and their delivery, but later, it turned into the SIOP Model, which focus on the instructional practices to appropriately work with linguistically and culturally diverse groups of learner population.

How does the author of this article come to know of the SIOP Model this much?

—Appreciate the opportunity for an in-depth study of the SIOP Model in 2008 while pursuing Master’s Degree in Education (TESL) at the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma, US

—Have successfully been incorporating this model since the beginning of 2009 at a variety of settings, including the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Seneca College, Centennial College, Camosun College and the University of Regina. Conducted action research on the use of the SIOP Model in 2011.

—Have been presenting this model at local, provincial, and national level conferences

—What is said about SIOP?

—  “ We believe, and our research confirms, that when teachers use the SIOP for their planning and teaching of English learners, high-quality and effective sheltered instruction results, and student achievement is improved (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2008)”

—   “If teachers want their students, including Els, to grow in their academic content knowledge and English ability and leave the classroom feeling successful and excited about what they are learning, the SIOP model is a framework to consider implementing (Hanson & Filibert, 2006).”

“As an instructional framework, the SIOP Model has been instrumental in enhancing learner language skills, and developing responsible and autonomous learners. One of the conclusions that SIOP also very plays a significant role in assisting ESL teachers effectively and efficiently facilitate adult ESL classes can not be overlooked at all (Khatri, 2011: Action Research Project Discussion).”

SIOP: 8 Components and 30 Features

  1. Lesson Preparation
  2. Building Background
  3. Comprehensible Input
  4. Strategies
  5. Interaction
  6. Practice/ Application
  7. Lesson Delivery
  8. Review and Assessment

1. Lesson Preparation

  1. Content Objectives Clearly Defined, Displayed, and Reviewed with Students
  2. Language Objectives Clearly Defined, Displayed, and Reviewed
  3. Content Concepts Appropriate for Age and Educational Background
  4. Supplementary Materials Used to a High Degree
  5. Adaptation of Content to All Levels of Student Proficiency
  6. Meaningful Activities that Integrate Lesson Concepts with Language Practice Opportunities

2. Building Background

7. Concepts Explicitly Linked to Students’ Background Experiences

8.  Links Explicitly Made between Past Learning and New Concepts

9. Key Vocabulary Emphasized (introduced, written, repeated, and highlighted for students to see

3. Comprehensible Input

  1. Speech Appropriate for Students’ Proficiency Levels
  2. Clear explanation of academic tasks
  3. A variety of techniques used to make content concepts clear

4. Strategies

  1. Ample opportunities provided for students to use learning strategies
  2. Scaffolding techniques consistently used, assisting and supporting student understanding
  3. A variety of questions or tasks that promote higher-order thinking skills

5. Interaction

  1. Frequent opportunities for interaction and discussion
  2. Grouping configurations support language and content objectives of the lesson
  3. Sufficient wait time for student responses consistently Provided
  4. Ample Opportunities for Students to Clarify Key Concepts in L1

6. Practice/Application

  1. Hands-on Materials and /or manipulatives Provided for Students to Practice Using New Content Knowledge
  2. Activities Provided for Students to Apply content and Language Knowledge
  3. Activities That Integrate All Language Skills

7. Lesson Delivery

  1. Content Objectives Clearly Supported by Lesson Delivery
  2. Language Objectives Clearly Supported by Lesson Delivery
  3. Student Engaged Approximately 90% to 100% of the Period
  4. Pacing of the Lesson Appropriate to Students’ Ability Levels

8. Review

  1. Comprehensive Review of Key Vocabulary
  2. Comprehensive Review of Key Content Concepts
  3. Regular Feedback Provided to Students on Their Output
  4. Assessment of Student Comprehension and Learning of All Lesson Objectives throughout the Lesson

The author is of the utmost belief that this Model, although basically suited for content-based ESL and sheltered content courses, works very well for (language) skills classes as well since it is for teachers teaching linguistically and culturally diverse students.

If you’d like the author to present this framework for your school or institution, please contact him, and he would be happy to voluntarily provide PD workshops on the SIOP Model.


Centre for Applied Linguistics. SIOP model professional development: Helping educators work effectively with English language learners.  Retrieved April 20, 2012 from

Echevarria J. , Vogt M. , & Short, D.J. (2008).  Making content comprehensible for English learners: The SIOP model.  Boston: Pearson Education.

Hanson S. & Filibert C. (2006).  Teaching English learners the SIOP way:   Classroom connections.   Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, 12-14.

Short, D., Himmel, J., Gutierrez, S., & Hudec, J. (2011). Using the SIOP    Model: Professional development manual for sheltered Instruction. Washington, DC: Centre for Applied Linguistics.

Vogt, M., & Echevarria, J. (2008).  99 Ideas and activities for teaching English learners with  the SIOP Model.  New York, NY: Pearson Education.

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Mixed Methods Research

Mixed methods research has been gaining popularity among researchers in social and behavioral sciences around the globe these years as it is “increasingly articulated, attached to research practice, and recognized as the third major research approach” (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, & Turner, 2007, p. 112). The popularity has resulted partly from the fact that several noticeable changes have taken place in the methodology of social and behavioral research during researchers’ search for a third, new paradigm (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003).

Many publications, including Journal of Mixed Methods Research, have appeared with a focus on mixed methods research, and several conferences and workshops take place every year around the world, wherein several proponents have thus defined mixed methods differently.  “Many definitions for mixed methods have emerged over the years” (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011, p. 2). This is how Creswell defined mixed methods research in his work Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches:

“Mixed methods research is an approach to inquiry involving collecting both quantitative and qualitative data, integrating the two forms of data, and using distinct designs that may involve philosophical assumptions and theoretical frameworks. The core assumption of this form of inquiry is that the combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches provides a more complete understanding of a research problem than either approach alone” (Creswell, 2014, p. 4).

Mixed methods research is an “intuitive way of doing research, and people have been constantly using it in their daily lives (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011, p. 1). Collecting only two distinct “strands” of research – qualitative and quantitative- is not mixed methods. These two “strands” are to be merged, integrated, linked or embedded (Creswell, 2005).

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“cognitive pruning” or systematic forgetting in Second/Foreign Language Classroom

Cognitive pruning involves the process of eliminating unnecessary clutter from and allowing more important aspects to fill in the gaps into the cognitive field of a learner (Brown, 1972). Very interestingly, some of the small aspects learned already gradually lose their value and identity in their own right and become subsumed into a single larger aspect or structure. These small aspects are thus pruned out and the larger aspect assumes the role of all the small aspects combined together.

In the beginning stages of learning a language, based on teaching/learning approaches, learners are encouraged to study some definitions, such as parts of speech in grammar, rules, such as changing verbs into progressive forms with the addition of +ing, and certain greetings, such as good morning/hello/hay. These things facilitate subsumption and learners at a later stage are able to converse on a particular topic, say ‘Having a conversation with a friend about attending a marriage ceremony’ in the target language. When learners become able to converse easily on certain topics in the target language, the greetings learned earlier individually are gradually pruned out and the conversation as a whole becomes a larger and more important aspect. Though learning greetings is a meaningful learning in the beginning, forgetting intentionally takes place. Now, learners do not have to learn greetings individually as it becomes unnecessary and as they have better achieved the goal of communicative competence.

When teachers find that learners are making progress in learning a language, they might tend to prune out unnecessary, small things being practiced individually by their learners by directly asking learners to remove certain aspects of what they have already learned and to become more specific. Sometimes even learners themselves naturally, in the process of conversation, ignore such less important or sometimes unnecessary aspects already learned and make their language learning a better experience.

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Working with Students with Learning Disabilities? Here are the Strategies!

Studies show most students with learning disabilities require differentiated teaching and assessment system in inclusive classrooms, possibly in combination with assistance from resource teachers and other specialists as depending upon severity of disabilities. Teachers should understand circumstances in inclusive classrooms and be willing to be differentiating teaching and be responsive. A supportive and encouraging classroom should be provided. Echevarria, Vogt, and Short suggest a structured learning environment, scaffolded instruction, and opportunities to experience success help alleviate frustration (2008).

Incorporating ADAPT Strategy: Hutchinson points out that teachers need to use differentiated instruction that is effective for exceptional students, efficient for teachers, and becomes a regular part of teachers’ planning and teaching (2010). Therefore, a systematic strategy called ADAPT is suggested here. Accounts of students’ strengths and needs, demands of the classroom, adaptations, perspectives and consequences, and teach and assess the match are five steps included in this strategy.  During the final stage of this strategy, teachers assess how well his or her adaptation has matched student strengths and needs to classroom demands. This will help teachers think of altering continuing or the differentiation. While planning adaptations during ADAPT strategy, students’ strengths and needs, and demands of the classroom environment are considered.

Bypassing Strategies (Teaching Around the Mismatch), Remediating or Accelerating, and Teaching through the Mismatch: Students are allowed to succeed in class using alternative methods during Teaching Around the Mismatch. Intensive Remediation and Acceleration examples of Remediating or Accelerating to Overcome the Mismatch. As Hutchinson (2010) has stated, teachers can made “differentiations in the fundamental organization and instruction” taking in the classroom to Teach through the Mismatch.

Differentiating Teaching: The Ontario Curriculum Planner on Special Education mentions that individuals learn in different ways and at different rates, and that in order for the student with a learning disability to be successful within the context of the curriculum, he or she may require modifications to the curriculum expectations or appropriate accommodations (2001). So, to help students with learning disabilities succeed, teaching and assessment should properly be differentiated. Adapting the curriculum to students’ needs, providing different materials in different forms, making notes about important points, reinforcing oral descriptions with visual materials, allowing extra time for students to process information, and incorporating colour-coded and manipulative learning materials are some suggestions for teachers to keep in mind while teaching students with learning disabilities.

Differentiation can be performed in a variety of ways:

Dehn (2008) suggests complex projects or assignments be broken into several key steps or components (as cited in Martinussen & Major, 2011). This helps students process information in part and reduce their working memory demands. Similarly, According to Graham, Harris, and Olinghouse (2007), explicit instruction in learning strategies can be provided to students (as cited in Martinussen & Major, 2011). As a result of this, they find it easy to approach complex academic tasks such as writing an essay. Martinussen and Major (2011) recommend external memory aids such as cue cards be also made available to students. Studies also suggest organizational skills be explicitly taught to students so that they are aware of the importance of being organized and timely.

Regarding differentiation in the classroom, Hutchinson (2010) specifies that students can benefit from checkpoints for assignment or project completion and homework journals for nightly assignments. Students can be provided with clearly numbered, and written as well as oral instructions to begin, stay on and successfully complete tasks. Flexibility, teaching strategies for all content areas, allowing students to work at the place of their interest, and making accommodations so as to promote concentration as well as required movement in the classroom are some of differentiating techniques teachers can incorporate to enhance students’ learning experiences.

Teaching Strategies: Hutchinson recommends that teachers teach strategies and skills about how to learn things to students with learning disabilities. Sufficient time should be provided to students to learn these ideas. Note-taking, highlighting main ideas, organizing assignments and writing, making entries in a diary, working in groups, cognitive strategies, critical thinking and problem solving, enquiry and research strategies are some of the strategies students should be taught to make their learning experience a success.

Incorporating a Variety of Techniques and Materials: Hutchinson (2004) says it is always affirmative to incorporate a variety of materials and techniques in an inclusive setting. Incorporating visually oriented materials, and manipulatives, and teaching aids such as diagrams, organizational charts, graphic organizers, and videos would enhance students’ learning experiences. Echevarria, Vogt, and Short (2008) recommend using gestures, body language, pictures, and objects to accompany speech; providing a model of a process, talks, or assignment; preview material for optimal learning; allowing alternative forms for expressing their understanding of information and concepts; using multimedia and other technologies in lessons, providing repeated exposure to words, concepts, and skills; and using sentence strips make students’ learning more productive.

Teaching can be scaffolded by paraphrasing what is already said or what is written, reinforcing contextual definitions for students to contextualize the meaning, and slowing speech, increasing pauses, speaking in phrases, and allowing students the wait time to process information (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2008).

When needed, one-on-one teaching, coaching, and modeling can be incorporated. A buddy system can also be introduced.

Helping Students Speech-Read: According to Hutchinson (2004), using gestures and facial expressions, and trimming beards and moustaches if they interfere with speech-reading make students feel more comfortable. I would not mind at all following these suggestions. Hutchinson (2010) also says, “For students who are speech-reading, arrange the classroom so the student can see your face at all times, and get the student’s attention before speaking to him or her.”

Assisting Students in Reading: “Collaborative learning and guided or scaffolded learning to allow students to complete tasks, with support, before they would be able to complete them independently” can be used as Hutchinson points out. Studies show that incorporating prereading, during-reading, and postreading activities results in enhancing students’ participation and knowledge on content concepts.

Adapting Classroom Organization: It is important that teachers adapt classroom organization according to students’ needs. For instance, to enhance the learning of students with ADHD, Hutchinson (2010) suggests that classrooms be organized so as to provide the student with a carrel to minimize distracting factors. It is warned that this experience be “a high-status opportunity, not a punishment”. While incorporating ADAPT, Hutchinson further recommends that teachers maintain students’ interest, model by thinking aloud, and provide adequate opportunities for practice.

Building Relationship with Students: Knowles (2010) mainly advocates building proper relationships with students, and changing curriculum, instruction and assessment. Displaying warm welcome and respect, talking to and planning for individual students, valuing individual gifts and talents, and being a patient teacher and good listener are some of the strategies Knowles shares with us in regard to building relationships with students. For example, praising and rewarding positive behaviour, giving specific instructions, explicitly creating and encouraging students to follow classroom rules and routines, providing appropriate reprimands and prompts for behaviour, ignoring mild negative behaviour should be considered while working with students with ADHD (Schultz et el., 2011).

Though studies suggest little attention be given to inappropriate behaviour, Hutchinson (2010) reminds that a verbal reprimand – “immediate, unemotional, brief reprimand backed up with a time out or less of privileges” – might be necessary when behaviour is getting out of hand. Hutchinson further mentions “a time out” procedure, a punishment in which a student is removed from opportunities for reward.


Chaban, P. (2010. Spring).  ADHD: From intervention to implementation. Toronto: Canadian Education Association.

Echevarria, J., Vogt, M., & Short, D. (2008). Making content comprehensible for English  learners: The SIOP model.  New York: Pearson Education.

Hutchinson, N. L. (2004).  How much do I have to change for one student?  Teaching

 exceptional children  and adolescents: a Canadian casebook (pp. 89 – 96). Toronto: Pearson Education Canada.

Hutchinson N.L.  (2010).  Inclusion of Exceptional Learners in Canadian Schools:  A practical handbook for teachers.  Toronto:  Pearson Canada Inc.

Knowles, T. (2010).  The kids behind the label: Understanding ADHD.  The Education Digest, 76: 3, 59 – 61.

Martinussen, R. & Major, A. (2011).  Working memory weaknesses in students with ADHD: Implications for instruction.  Theory Into Practice, 50: 1, 68 – 75.

Ontario Ministry of Education.  (2001). Special education companion: Curriculum unit planner.

Retrieved April 28, 2011, from

Ontario Ministry of Education.  (2001). Special education companion: Curriculum unit planner.

Retrieved April 28, 2011, /documents/companions/speced2002.pdf

Schultz, B., Storer, J., Watabe, Y., Sadler, J., & Evans, W. (2011).  School-based treatment

of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.  Psychology in the Schools, 48: 3.

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Language Experience Approach in Second Language Learning and Literature Based Approach

Research shows that language experience approach is a useful way to motivate students for their reading and writing skills. When the instructor gets his or her students to do their own writing, he or she is preparing the reading material from students’ own words. While reading their self-created materials, students are usually able to read the stories with minimal decoding skills because they already know the meaning (Peregoy and Boyle, 2005) as the stories are their own creation. As well, I often experience the way students feel while reading their own materials. As a teacher, I often notice that, though the process takes some time for students to get engaged in reading, reading their own stories slowly develops their interest in reading, writing and re-reading. Certainly, language-experience approach is very useful in motivating students for reading and writing, but it does not mean that the instructor solely depends on this approach only. It is suggested that he take a look at all the circumstances he comes across while teaching a language and use different methods and techniques as needed to meet the objectives.

Stories and literature become the foundation and context for learning a language in a literature based approach, which is also known as top-down approach. This approach is considered a valuable way of developing and enhancing oral language and literary skills. Students would be more enthusiastic when they are encouraged for reading quality literature that would give them some fun and, at the same time, they would be encouraged for language learning. One of the obviously observed shortcomings of a literature-based approach is making choice about reading a book. The instructor should be careful when helping students choose a book for reading. In the beginning, he might choose a book that can be useful for all students in the class. Peregoy and Boyle suggest that the instructor assist students in making choices about students’ reading materials, about what they do with what they select, and with their own responses to literature (2005). It has been discussed on several occasions that teaching a language is an effort to combine various methods and techniques, depending upon different circumstances such as characteristics of learners, classroom setting, number of learners, and background information of learners. Using a specific technique for all the times might not work.

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Krashen’s Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis

Stephen Krashen’s (1982) Monitor is one of the models of second language acquisition influenced by Chomsky’s theory of first language acquisition (Lightbown & Spada, 2006). Faltis and Hudelson (1998) claim that though Krashen first introduced the Monitor Model in 1977 as a comprehensive theory to explain second language acquisition among adult ESL learners, Krashen, by the mid-1980s, explained and elaborated the theory so as to include children (Krashen, 1985). Krashen had five hypotheses to describe this theory:

a. The acquisition-learning hypothesis

b. The natural order hypothesis

c. The monitor hypothesis

d. The input hypothesis

e. The affective filter hypothesis

a. Acquisition-learning hypothesis: Krashen (1981, 1982, as cited by Richardo-Amato, 2003) distinguished between two different linguistic systems: acquisition and learning. Acquisition is a subconscious process through which children naturally develop language proficiency as they understand language and use it for meaningful communication. Learning is instead a process through which we ‘learn’, by paying conscious attention to forms and rules. Learning a language results in explicit knowledge on the forms and patterns of that language and is a result of formal teaching. However, learning does not lead to acquisition. “Acquired language knowledge is stored in a part of the brain reserved for language, and it serves as the major source of initiating and understanding speech (Faltis & Hudelson, 1998).” According to this hypothesis, children can talk about the language they learn, but it is not necessarily stored in language parts of the brain. Learned language is available only as a means to monitor their output. Since acquisition and learning are two separate entities or ways of developing language abilities, what is learned does not lead to become acquired knowledge, so Krashen focuses on the ways to facilitate language acquisition.


Faltis, C. J., & Hudelson, S. J. (1998). Bilingual education in elementary andsecondary school communities.Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richard-Amato, P. A. (2003). Making it happen: from interactive to participatory language teaching: theory and practice. New York, NY: Pearson Education.

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Children and their Language

It’s quite interesting that after anguished crying and babbling stage in the beginning, children gradually learn their language and become able to gain competency. There are several studies conducted to investigate how children learn their languages. Though several language theories related to the first language acquisition, such as Behavioral, Nativist and Functional, have been developed, a complete and confirmed theory has not yet been claimed.

Chomsky (1965) claimed the brain is not just a blank slate (tabula rasa) that is waiting to be filled and that it already possesses some highly complex structures that is operational as we get mixed up and interact with our linguistic environment. As proposed by Chomsky, there is, in our brain, a device called LAD (Language Acquisition Device), which is optimally operational and it allows children to acquire language easily and fast.

In the beginning, children listen to their environmental stimuli i.e. languages spoken around them, and gradually, they try to speak the utterances they have already heard during their silent period. Some children who are intelligent and have good auditorial skills learn their language fast while some others do not learn so easily.

Theorists claim that children constantly form hypotheses on the basis of the input they receive, and then they test those hypotheses in their speech. As their language develops, those hypotheses are continually revised and used in speech correctly after making some changes. Children, saying

“Mummy milk” in the beginning, learn to utter “Mummy milk me” “Mummy, I want milk” gradually.

Studies claim that it depends on a child’s individual construction of linguistic understanding and reality in interaction with their environment. Parental speech and speech of older siblings affect children’s acquiring their language. Children are good imitators, and imitation is one of the important strategies a child uses in the acquisition of the first language. Their fluency or fastness depends on how much they they practice. I mean the frequency that they hear and produce the same words, phrases or sentences in acquisition of the language also plays a vital role. Thus children’s individual capacity, their environment and input, imitation and practice become some of their “secrets” that enable them to acquire a language seemingly efficiently.

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