SIOP: Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol

Improving the Quality of Instruction for English Learners

The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2000) was developed to provide teachers with a well articulated, practical model of sheltered instruction. The intent of the model is to facilitate high quality instruction for English Learners in content area teaching.

The SIOP Model is based on current knowledge and research-based practices for promoting learning with all students, especially English Learners (ELs). Critical features of high quality instruction for ELs are embedded within the SIOP Model.

The SIOP Model can be viewed as an umbrella under which other programs developed for improving instruction can reside. Administrators and teachers alike are bombarded with new approaches to instruction, reform efforts, and practices that sometimes seem to be in competition with one another. Often what is lacking in schools is coherence, or a plan for pulling together sound practices (Goldenberg, 2004). The SIOP Model is not another “add on” program but rather it is a framework that can bring together a school’s instructional program by organizing methods and techniques, and ensuring that effective practices are implemented - and can be quantified. The SIOP Model is currently used in most of the 50 states and in hundreds of schools across the U.S. as well as in several other countries.


Sheltered Instruction and the SIOP Model

Sheltered instruction (SI) is an approach to teaching that extends the time students have for receiving English language support while they learn content subjects. SI classrooms, which may include a mix of native English speakers and English learners or only ELs, integrate language and content while infusing socio-cultural awareness. Teachers scaffold instruction to aid student comprehension of content topics and objectives by adjusting their speech and instructional tasks, and by providing appropriate background information and experiences. The ultimate goal is accessibility for ELs to grade-level content standards and concepts while they continue to improve their English language proficiency. SI has become a preferred instructional approach for teaching English learners, especially at the secondary level, as schools must prepare students to achieve high academic standards and to demonstrate English proficiency on high-stakes tests.

The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP®) Model (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2000) was developed to provide teachers with a well articulated, practical model of sheltered instruction. The SIOP Model is comprised of 30 features organized into eight components. Its effectiveness was validated by a research study conducted through Guarino, et al (2001), who determined that it was a highly reliable and valid measure of sheltered instruction.

Although sheltered instruction is widely advocated as an effective instructional strategy for English learners, few research tools allow for the assessment of an effective sheltered lesson. The SIOP Model provides the assessment piece through the observation protocol. The items included in SIOP drew upon the knowledge and experience of professionals working in SI and the research literature. Potential items were narrowed to the final features through field-testing (Short & Echevarria, 1999).
The SIOP focuses on the following eight components and thirty features:

       I. Lesson Preparation

               1. Content objectives clearly defined, displayed and reviewed with students

               2. Language objectives clearly defined, displayed and reviewed with students

               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

     II. Building Background

               7. Concepts explicitly linked to students' background experiences

               8.  Links explicitly made between past learning and new concepts

               9.  Key vocabulary emphasized (e.g., introduced, written, repeated, and highlighted for students to see)

   III.  Comprehensive Input

             10.  Speech appropriate for students' proficiency levels

             11.  Clear explanation of academic tasks

             12.  A variety of technique used to make contents concepts clear

    IV.  Strategies

             13.   Ample opportunities provided for students to use learning strategies

             14.   Scaffolding techniques consistently used, assisting and supporting student understanding

             15.   A variety of questions or tasks that promote higher-order thinking skills

      V.  Interaction

             16.   Frequent opportunities for interaction and discussion

             17.   Grouping configurations support language and content objectives for the lesson

             18.   Sufficient wait time for student responses consistently provided

             19.   Ample opportunity for students to clarify key concepts in their native language

     VI.  Practice/Application

             20.   Hands-on materials and/or manipulatives provided for students to practice using new content knowledge

             21.   Activities provided for students to apply content and language knowledge

             22.   Activities that integrate all language skills

    VII.  Lesson Delivery

             23.   Content objectives clearly support by lesson delivery

             24.   Language objectives clearly supported by lesson delivery

             25.   Student engaged approximately 90% to 100% of the class period

             26.   Pacing of the lesson is appropriate to students' ability levels

   VIII.  Review and Assessment

              27.   Comprehensive review of key vocabulary

              28.   Comprehensive review of key content concepts

              29.   Regular feedback provided to students on their output (during lesson and after lesson)

              30.   Assessment of students comprehension and learning of all lesson objectives throughout the lesson

Summary of research:

The SIOP is a research-based observation instrument that has been shown to be a valid and reliable measure of sheltered instruction (Guarino, Echevarria, Short, Schick, Forbes, & Rueda, 2001). The SIOP is also used as a model for lesson planning and implementation of high quality sheltered instruction. All features of the SIOP model are aligned with current research on instruction for ELs. Details of the alignment can be found in Figure E.3 on page 187 of the “Implementing the SIOP Model through Effective Professional Development and Coaching”

In a study examining the effects of the SIOP Model on student achievement, students whose teachers implemented the SIOP model to a high degree in middle school classes outperformed those students in sheltered classes whose teachers were unfamiliar with the model.