What is SIOP?

Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol 


Engaging students meaningfully
If you ask a teacher what SIOP is, you may get a host of answers.  One might say, “It means Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol.”  Another could say, “It’s a way to plan a lesson for ELLs.” Still others may say, “SIOP has to do with using Best Practices when you teach.”  Some teachers may even ask, “doesn’t SIOP have to do with academic language?” 

In essence, each response carries some truth. SIOPSheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, was created as a means of helping teachers meet the needs of English language leaners (Ells) in the content area classroom.  It's now used to help teachers plan, teach, and reflect on a content-based lesson with a language and literacy focus.  


Read on for more information about Sheltered Instruction....

What is SIOP?


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The History of SIOP

The SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) was originally designed as a teacher observation tool as researchers were studying how best to teach English Language Learners (ELLs) in the content-area classroom - hence the term:  Sheltered Instruction.  Over the duration of this project, teachers discovered that SIOP could be a useful tool for lesson planning and to direct and develop teacher reflection. The model that was formed was then used to train teachers to implement effective sheltered strategies in their classes.  Now SIOP is used in all K-12 settings as a means of supporting the language and academic development of all students, including English language learners.

SIOP at the Macro Level

SIOP is a set of instructional practices that help ELLs more easily understand and acquire both language and content.  The protocol consists of 8 categories of focus:  Lesson Preparation, Building Background, Comprehensible Input, Strategies, Interaction, Practice/Application, Lesson Delivery, and Review/Evaluation.  

Together, these 8 categories provide the teacher with a clear guide of how to set all students up for success (especially the ELLs).  Here is a complete list of SIOP components and features.

SIOP at the Micro Level

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Within each category are a series of features that define and that particular component of SIOP .  For example, under Lesson Preparation You will find a reference for clear content objectives and clear language objectives; under the category of Lesson Delivery, it challenges teachers to engage students 90-100% of the time.  Each component is designed to encourage the teacher to consciously plan how the students will interact with the language, the content, and their peers.

Here's an example of the second SIOP component, Building Background and its features:
§  Explicitly link concepts to students’ backgrounds and experiences
§  Explicitly link past learning and new concepts
§  Emphasize key vocabulary for students

As you can see, the 3 features (sometimes called objectives) define what is meant by building background and therefore give teachers a clear guide on how to approach this component of teaching and learning.  This post explores this component of SIOP in depth.

Benefits of SIOP

There are many benefits to using SIOP when designing and delivering lessons.  


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First, research shows that ELLs improve dramatically in their academic performance both in terms of content and language proficiency.  Secondly, all students, not just the ELLs, benefit from the use of the strategies found in the SIOP model.  They are, after all, a complete set of Best Practices.  Thirdly, using SIOP can help a teacher hone her reflective-teaching skills by providing a well-detailed framework for designing and delivering learner-centered lessons. 

Uses of SIOP

SIOP can be used to help plan more effective lessons, to teach more learner & learning centered lessons, and to reflect on lessons taught.   
  1. As a lesson-planning guide, SIOP allows teachers to consider all aspects of teaching and learning such as clear language objectives, activities that integrate the four language domains, and cooperative learning.  
  2. As a teaching tool, SIOP supports teachers in engaging students, maximizing learning opportunities, and constant assessment.  
  3. Looking back at a lesson through the lens of SIOP can be a transformative way of reflecting on teaching and learning.

SIOP Summary

John Kongsvik teaching SIOP Seminars
Few teachers would claim these SIOP strategies are not effective. In fact, most teachers find that how they teach already reflects many components of SIOP.  All teachers will find something in SIOP that resonates with them and also inspires them to stretch, grow, and fill in the gaps in the teaching/learning that SIOP helps elucidate.   

Read: Why should I use SIOP? for more info.


SIOP takes the mystery out of mastering key content & language by outlining key strategies and techniques a teacher can employ to set every student up for success, including the English language learner. 

Contact TESOL Trainers to Get SIOP Inspired!


Contact John Kongsvik to learn how TESOL Trainers, Inc. can support your school, staff, and students with SIOP Professional Development.  Our approach to professional development is one-of-a-kind.  

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