While SIOP was developed originally as a support tool for English Learners, educators quickly found that its 8 components and 30 features supported all learners in the classroom.
Let's examine why teachers should use SIOP and how TESOL Trainers can help.
What is SIOP?
The 8 components of SIOP are:
- Lesson Preparation
- Building Background
- Comprehensible Input
- Lesson Delivery
Under each component is a set of features that define how a teacher can meet the objectives of that SIOP component. For example, under the SIOP component Strategies are the following features:
13. Provide ample opportunities for students to use strategies (e.g. Problem solving, predicting, organizing, summarizing, categorizing, evaluating, self-monitoring).
14. Use scaffolding techniques consistently throughout lesson.
15. Use a variety of question types including those that promote higher-order thinking skills throughout.
While 30 of anything may sound like a lot, most of these SIOP objectives tend to be second nature to many teachers. In fact, take a look at the list of SIOP Components and Features and see how many of them seem to be solid for you.
Using the SIOP framework, its components and features as a means of framing our jobs as educators can have a powerful, lasting effect on teaching and learning.
As we examine why K-12 teachers should use SIOP, we will look at it from three important angles:
- How can SIOP help connect my students to the content?
- How can SIOP help connect my students to the language?
- How can SIOP help connect my students to one another?
SIOP helps connect students to the content
Sheltered Instruction's aim is to make content more accessible to students, especially English learners. Throughout the SIOP instructional framework we see lots of ways to connect students to the content.
The most obvious example is the third component of SIOP, Comprehensible Input. The whole focus of this component is to make the content more accessible. There are three features that fall under this SIOP category:
- Use speech appropriate for students’ proficiency level.
- Explain academic tasks clearly.
- Use a variety of techniques to make content concepts clear (e.g. Modeling, visuals, hands-on activities, demonstrations, gestures, body language).
- SIOP Component: Building Background: The first two features in this SIOP component ask the teacher to connect the students to the content of the classroom. This is always a good place to start learning. The last one pertains to vocabulary development which is critical to all content classes.
- SIOP Component: Strategies: All of the features under Strategies help students connect to the content. The first one deals with learning strategies. The second feature pertains to scaffolding. The final feature of this component is higher order thinking skills which also support understanding content.
- SIOP Component: Practice/Application: The first feature challenges teachers to gives students hands-on ways to interact with the content. The second feature of Practice/Application reminds teachers to give students plenty of chances to apply their content knowledge.
- SIOP Component: Review/Evaluation: Finally, this component asks teachers to review the content with the students and to somehow assess their progress. Both of these features also help connect the students to the content.
SIOP helps connect students to the language
The main reason why language is so prominent in the SIOP framework is because of the crucial role it plays in learning content. After all, to get to the language, you have to go through content and to get to content, you have to go through language.
Content and language go together and both deserve equal time as SIOP points out. Regardless of what we teach, we are fundamentally language teachers first. SIOP shines light on that by giving language such a visible presence in the framework. Note the direct ways that SIOP addresses language specifically:
- SIOP Component - Lesson Preparation: In this first SIOP component, teachers are asked to write language objectives in addition to the content objectives they are so used to writing.
- SIOP Component - Building Background: The final feature in this SIOP category is emphasizing key vocabulary.
- SIOP Component - Comprehensible Input: Apart from all of these features supporting the connection between students and language, the first one specifically asks teachers to make sure their speech is comprehensible.
- SIOP Component - Strategies: Learning strategies such as using context clues to guess the meaning of unknown words is an important aspect of learning language.
- SIOP Component - Interaction: The first feature here asks teachers to make sure students have a chance to discuss things. This promotes oral language development.
- SIOP Component - Practice/Application: This feature suggests that teachers provide plenty of opportunities to apply the language. It also is the second time (the first time happening in Lesson Preparation) where teachers are asked to integrate the four domains of language (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) as a means of stimulating learning.
- SIOP Component: Review/Evaluation: Finally, this component asks teachers to review and assess the language with the students.
SIOP helps connect students to one another
The SIOP Component, Interaction, deals explicitly with this. Take a look at the features that fall under this aspect of SIOP.
- Provide frequent opportunities for interaction and discussion between teacher/students and among students about lessons concepts, and encourage elaborated responses.
- Use group configurations that support language and content objectives of the lesson.
- Provide sufficient wait time for student responses consistently.
- Give ample opportunities for students to clarify key concepts in L1 as needed with aide, peer, or text.
What's the benefit of using SIOP?
Because there are more students in the classroom than teachers (usually) it makes mathematically sense that the best way to practice the content and language is with other students. Encouraging these kinds of academically meaningful activities can have a profound impact on all types of learning.
Finally, students want to be with other students. The social angle of learning is the one they enjoy. Getting students to work effectively with one another is not only necessary at their age; it's also a life skill. To summarize:
SIOP helps teachers connect their students to three the things:
- the content
- the language
- their peers