10-Minute SIOP Model Lesson Plan for ESL Teachers

siop model

In this article, we’ll explain what the SIOP Model is, then provide a guide for quickly creating a lesson plan according to SIOP best practices. We’ll include a SIOP Model lesson plan template as well at the end of the article.

Note:  This information is not primarily for VIPKid teachers to use in VIPKid classes. The VIPKid blog aims to provide useful, actionable advice and tips for ESL teachers around the world, across all types of classrooms and platforms.

What is the SIOP Model?

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.

Two questions you might have if you’re not familiar with ESL theory are:

  1. Why is the SIOP Model effective?
  2. What exactly is “Sheltered Instruction”?

What Makes the SIOP Model Effective

The SIOP Model was developed on top of a large body of research by the Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence. In reviewing the effects of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol Model, studies have shown that students taught by teachers trained in the SIOP Model performed better on English tests than those who did not.

The SIOP Model has 30 features, and a SIOP Model lesson plan can be broken down into 8 components.

If you are serious about using the SIOP Model in your classroom, you should seek training. It’s estimated that it takes about a year to become an effective practitioner of this framework.

However, if you don’t have access to SIOP Model training professionals, you can still draw on some of its features.

While the SIOP Model is complex, it is not hard to see why it’s so effective. It pushes teachers to make each class results-oriented, and emphasizes the role of interaction in ESL. Therefore, lessons that follow this model tend to be organized and engaging.

What is Sheltered Instruction?

Sheltered Instruction has become synonymous with the SIOP Model and SDAIE, and refers to teaching English through other subjects that English-native classmates are already learning. The purpose of Sheltered Instruction it to have ELLs catch up with English-first learners in linguistic ability without falling behind in core concepts.

And, let’s be honest… When have straight-up grammar lessons ever been fun?

The “sheltered” part of Sheltered Instruction comes from the fact that ELLs often cannot participate lessons that use in native-level, specialized language. One reason for this is because CALP, or Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency, takes much more time to learn than regular, everyday speech. Trained teachers can, however, teach ELLs a curriculum that mixes real subjects with language learning. They can do this at a comprehensible, or sheltered, level.

Now, you might be asking, how can you implement the SIOP Model and Sheltered Instruction in your ESL lessons.

A 10-Minute SIOP Model Lesson Plan

The first-thing to know about setting up a SIOP Model lesson plan is that the model is not a step-by-step guide, but a framework. Below are the elements that you’ll need as a foundation. Feel free to build on it using the unique needs of your students.

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 previous vocabulary and introduce new words, but make sure to do so in the context of the lesson content.

That might mean asking student to pick out vocabulary they think is useful for the subject. Another strategy, outlined here [link], is to create word wall for the content using cards. 

Note: 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. While we previously wrote about it in greater detail here [link], here is a summary:

Comprehensible input is 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 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. Then, rinse and repeat: More input!

What does all this mean for a SIOP Model ESL lesson plan?

Avoid explaining grammar rules and (especially) explaining what a specific word means. Just use the language points identified for the lesson naturally. Use repetition, context clues, and other ESL strategies to present this vocabulary and grammar. 

Get a Template

To organize your SIOP Model lesson, it is helpful to use one of the many free templates available online.

Here is one collection of templates from a leading book in the field [link], called Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model.

Furthermore, this article, which we found online, provides a straightforward guide to planning a SIOP model lesson.