SIOP Teaching Strategies

Instructor: Amanda Wiesner-Groff

Amanda has created and taught English/ESL curricula worldwide, has an M.Ed, and is the current ESOL Coordinator for the Saint Louis Public School District.

This lesson will cover teaching strategies connected to the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP). Focus will be placed on strategies geared toward English Language Learners.

What is SIOP?

The (SIOP) model, or Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, is a research-based, English-only method of instruction that addresses the academic needs of English language learners (ELLs). Traditionally, ELLs would be pulled out of the mainstream classroom to be given special 'sheltered' forms of English instruction. Within the SIOP model, multiple elements come together with teaching strategies to provide effective instruction that meets all content and language needs of ELL students alongside their native English speaking peers.

SIOP Elements

There are eight elements in the SIOP model. Every lesson plan should provide examples and clarify how each element will be addressed as teachers detail how students will meet the chosen content and language objectives. The SIOP elements are as follows:

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

SIOP Strategies

This lesson will be focusing on ELL strategies that can be used in conjunction with the SIOP elements. There will be a description for each strategy and they will be categorized according their corresponding SIOP element.

Building Background

These are strategies that should be used to help motivate and focus students on the content that is being taught. This element is important because students need to be motivated and drawn in from the beginning. New content can be intimidating; building background helps students feel comfortable and confident as they become experts on new content being learned.

  • KWL- Know/Want to Know/Learned- This is a chart that students can fill out when a new topic or theme is introduced. They fill out what they already know and what they would like to know. When the lesson is complete, they fill out what new information they have learned.
  • Picture File Cards- These are cards (index cards, flash cards) related to the topic or theme to be taught. They are presented when new lessons are being introduced.
  • Read-Aloud with Pictures- Reading a story aloud with pictures helps students understand and make connections between images and content they may already be familiar with.

Comprehensible Input

These strategies are all about making sure the content you are delivering is comprehensible to your students. This element is important because teachers need to ensure students are able to make sense of the information that is being given. When it comes to objectives, content, vocabulary, etc., ask yourself: Is it understandable? Can they explain it back to me? These strategies help you answer those questions.

  • Comparative Input Chart- These are large charts that identify the similarities and differences between things, ideas, themes, or concepts. Students can all work together to contribute to the chart to show what they understand about what is being learned.
  • Narrative Input Charts- Teachers use this when telling or reading a story. During the reading/telling, teachers will add pictures or pieces of information to the chart. This helps students learn about identifying important story details.
  • Pictorial Input Chart- Using a large piece of paper, the teacher will sketch a chart in pencil with pictures and words about a topic, theme, or concept. As the lesson is taught in sections, those sections of the chart are colored in. At the end of the lesson, students add pictures and words to go along with the concepts on the chart.


These strategies will have students interact with one another as they practice the concepts being learned. It is important for ELLs to have structured oral practice, or strategies where they practice speaking English to help with language acquisition skills. Additionally, practicing with peers is beneficial, as it allows students to learn from one another as they master skills being taught in the classroom.

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