Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) model is a research-based method of instruction that addresses the academic needs of English language learners (ELLs). Traditionally, ELLs would be pulled out of mainstream classrooms and given sheltered forms of English instruction. The SIOP model eliminates this separation by combining multiple instructional components with teaching strategies to ensure the content and language needs of ELL students are met as they learn alongside their native English-speaking peers.

Let’s take a closer look at the eight SIOP components, as well as the process of employing them into lessons and content delivery. As the number of English learners increases in schools across the United States, educators are seeking effective ways to help them succeed in K-12 ESL, content area, and bilingual classrooms. Research shows that when teachers fully implement the SIOP Model, English learners’ academic performance improves.

SIOP Model

For those of you who don’t know, my colleagues Deborah Short, MaryEllen Vogt, and I developed a model of instruction for English learners known as the SIOP Model. For the past 20 years, SIOP has been a widely used approach for teaching in U.S. classrooms where there are English learners.  (It is also used in more than a dozen countries when teachers teach content through students’ non-native languages.) We often receive inquiries about how SIOP was developed, and in response, we put together the following description to answer many of the questions we receive.

SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) is an empirically-tested, research-based model of sheltered instruction as a framework for planning and delivering instruction in content areas such as science, language arts, history, and mathematics to second language learners (called “English learners” in the U.S.) as well as other students who need to strengthen their academic language and literacy skills.  It also helps ESL (English as a Second Language) and ELD (English Language Development) teachers incorporate content topics and classroom tasks into their language lessons.  The model is fully described in the main text, Making Content Comprehensible for English Learns: The SIOP Model (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2000; 2004; 2008; 2013; 2017).

Siop Model
Siop Model

SIOP classes are student-centered and welcoming where English learners have opportunities to use language in authentic ways, collaborating with peers around concepts and information, practicing and applying the material to meet the lesson’s objectives.  SIOP provides teachers with a coherent approach for planning and delivering relevant, meaningful lessons that provide ample opportunities for students to interact with one around content concepts aligned to the Common Core and state standards.  While doing so, students develop academic English skills across the four domains–reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

The SIOP Model is intended to be applicable at levels of education from pre-K through community college.  The instructional features address the academic and linguistic needs of English learners and all students who are learning content through a second language.  Recent research shows the SIOP Model is effective for native English speakers as well, particularly those who struggle with academic literacy.

Siop Model Lesson Plan

Prepare Your Content and Language Goals

Choose content which you would like your students to learn. Unlike the type of language lessons most students are used to, the content should not revolve around the English language. That means No grammar or pronunciation exercises. Some examples might include a lesson about zoology, history, or film.

Bring in Background

Review where your students stand in relation to the rest of the curriculum. To effectively use the SIOP Model, all lessons need to be anchored to previous concepts and learning experiences. Review the previous vocabulary and introduce new words, but make sure to do so in the context of the lesson content. That might mean asking the student to pick out vocabulary they think is useful for the subject.

Comprehensible Input

The theory of comprehensible input was developed by linguist Stephen Krashen. It is crucial for many learning models, including the SIOP Model and VIPKid’s own.  Comprehensible input is a language that the learner can understand. Krashen maintained that comprehending input is the key to acquiring a second language. This is in contrast to the belief that speaking a new language, or comprehensible output, results in language acquisition. According to Krashen’s theory, speaking the new language is the result of the acquisition and can help in learning it, but is not the main cause of it.

In other words, teachers must constantly speak, show, and present the target language in front of students. Furthermore, that input must be based on the real language as it is used, at a slightly higher level than students easily understand. The use of repetition, aids, and other teaching methods will allow students to acquire this slightly-higher-than-before level.

Siop Model Components
Siop Model Components

Siop Model Components/Strategies

While teachers of ELLs have used sheltered English instruction for many years, a consistent understanding of the components of sheltered instruction has emerged only within the past five years. In 1999 the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) was developed following intensive observation of sheltered English teaching across the United States (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2004). The SIOP identifies 30 important elements of sheltered instruction under eight broad categories:

  • Preparation
  • Building Background
  • Comprehensible Input
  • Strategies
  • Interaction
  • Practice/Application
  • Lesson Delivery
  • Review and Assessment

Critical to effective sheltered instruction is the preparation of learning objectives for every lesson. These include content objectives, aligned with state and local content-area standards, and language objectives, aligned with state language proficiency benchmarks or language arts standards, or the national TESOL standards. Teachers communicate content and language objectives to students, design activities to achieve objectives throughout the lesson, and assess progress toward objectives by the end of the lesson. In this way learning, teaching and assessment are integrated into an ongoing process that provides feedback to students and informs future instruction.

Within each sheltered lesson, the teacher seeks to ensure that students have sufficient background knowledge to tackle new curriculum material. Teachers modify their speech and, when necessary and feasible, content text so that English language learners can grasp important content concepts, facts, and questions. Teachers explicitly teach learning strategies – from teacher-centered to peer-supported to student-centered – so that students develop a toolkit for accomplishing difficult learning tasks. Teachers also provide ample opportunities for students to interact in the target language around purposeful tasks that are meaningful to them.

Siop Model template
Siop Model template

Ever mindful of the lesson’s framing objectives, sheltering teachers are careful to integrate listening, speaking, reading and writing skills into each lesson. They provide opportunities for students to apply their new knowledge through tasks that involve concepts and skills students have learned. Sheltering teachers work to engage all students at least 95% of the time in instructional activity, at the same time paying attention to pacing, so that no student is left behind.

Benefits Of Siop Model

The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) is a framework for planning and delivering instruction in content areas such as science, history, and mathematics to ELL students. The goal of SIOP is to help teachers integrate academic language development into their lessons, allowing students to learn and practice English as it is used in the context of school, including the vocabulary used in textbooks and lectures in each academic discipline. Using this planning framework, teachers modify the way they teach so that the language they use to explain concepts and information is comprehensible to these students. The SIOP planning and observation framework covers eight areas of instruction: preparation, building background, comprehensible input, strategies, interaction, practice and application, lesson delivery, review, and
When implemented to a high degree, SIOP is proven to
a) increase student achievement;
b) improve academic content skills and language skills;
c) deliver results aligned to district objectives; and,
d) prepare students to become college and career ready.

What is the SIOP Model?

The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol Model, or SIOP Model, is a model for teaching ESL that is increasingly used in US classrooms. Its components and features, based on numerous studies and leading ESL research, provide an effective way of teaching English and core content together.

Why is the SIOP model important?

SIOP encourages teachers to give students a greater number of opportunities and a higher level of responsibility for their own learning. It requests that teachers scaffold students into independence and ownership of the language and content of the lesson.

What are the components of sheltered English instruction?

  • Preparation.
  • Building Background.
  • Comprehensible Input.
  • Strategies.
  • Interaction.
  • Practice/Application.
  • Lesson Delivery.
  • Review and Assessment.

How does SIOP benefit students?

SIOP teachers increase attention to vocabulary instruction across the curriculum so students become effective readers, writers, speakers, and listeners. Effective SIOP teachers design lesson activities that give students multiple opportunities to use new vocabulary orally and in writing.

What is the SIOP lesson plan?

The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model is a research-based and validated an instructional model that has proven effective in addressing the academic needs of English learners throughout the United States. The SIOP Model consists of eight interrelated components: Lesson Preparation. Building Background.