Why is SIOP so important?

Why is SIOP so important?


If you have been in education for a while, there’s no doubt that you have heard someone somewhere mention something about SIOP. 

You may have even wondered, at some point, what the acronym, ‘SIOP,’ stood for. SIOP is much easier to say than, ‘Sheltered Observation Instructional Protocol.’

There has probably been some  Professional Development on SIOP at your school or in your district; your school may have ordered some books; your district may have put something about SIOP on the lesson plan form you need to fill out.  In fact, someone may have even observed you using a SIOP form in hand.

So, what’s the big deal about SIOP anyway?


The SIOP framework will not solve all of the challenges in education, yet it is definitely more than just a means of supporting ELLs (English Language Learners).  SIOP can set everyone up for success.

So whether you are a SIOP novice or a SIOP Sensei, this outline on why SIOP matters will be useful.

(Spoiler Alert:  SIOP can help you regardless of what, who, where, and when you teach.)

SIOP is more than Best Teaching Practices

While SIOP was created as a means of evaluating how effective a teacher is at working with ELLs, SIOP is much more than just a set of Best Teaching Practices.

As a framework, SIOP is made up of 8 components which have, in all, 30 features connected to them.  (For a deeper look at SIOP, its components and features, click here)

SIOP gives teachers a set of tools to help guide them during planning, teaching, and reflecting on the lesson taught.  

These three aspects of an educator’s responsibilities are vital to the success of the teaching and the learning.  


SIOP gives us a framework for planning a lesson, guidelines for teaching the lesson, and a means of assessing what really helped and what really hindered learning.

Stage One:  Planning using SIOP as a Guide

On the macro level, the 8 components (Lesson Preparation being the most obvious) give the K-12 teacher a number of factors to consider while lesson planning:


SIOP component
Key Question when planning
How am I going to plan a lesson with both content and language objectives in mind?
What can I do to build my students’ background so the content and language are more accessible?
How can I make the language, the content, and the concepts clearer to the students?
What do my students need in terms of strategies & scaffolding to own the content and language of the lesson?
How can I use student-student interaction as a means of working with the lesson’s content and language?
Practice/Application
How can I maximize the opportunities students have to interact with the content and language of the lesson?
Lesson delivery
How am I going to engage my students and keep them focused on the key content and language?
Review/Evaluation
When and how will we assess learning and address strengths and challenges with the content and language?

On the micro level, the 30 features give a teacher more than enough things to consider such as including HOTS questions (Higher Order Thinking Skills), emphasizing key vocabulary, and integrating the four domains (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). 

Perhaps the most striking important aspect of all (and definitely the most useful) has to do with the   two italicized words in each component:

content and language.

SIOP encourages teachers to place just as much importance on language proficiency as on proficiency with the content.  SIOP reminds teachers to create both content & language objectives for each lesson.  SIOP demands that students be given opportunities to practice both the content and the language.

All of this 'preparation' happens before the next stage.

Stage Two:  Teaching a Learner centered Lesson

The features and components of SIOP can also help us when we teach.  Caleb Gattegno used to say, “the question is not how can I teach but how can I help these people learn.”

SIOP nudges teachers to engage students more meaningfully, get students to do more practicing,
modify instruction to meet students’ needs, and communicate constantly with students. 

SIOP has nothing to do with dumbing down language and content.  In fact, this framework challenges teachers to up the rigor with both language and content.

SIOP encourages teachers to give students a greater number of opportunities and a higher level of responsibility.

It requests that teachers scaffold students into independence and ownership of the language and content of the lesson.


Purposefully, SIOP reminds teachers to focus on more on the learners and the learning and less on the teacher and the teaching. 

Stage Three:  Reflecting on Our Teaching

Nowhere is SIOP more useful than after the lesson is done.  After all, when is the only time you know how to teach something, before or after you teach it? 

By reflecting on the lesson with the 8 SIOP components and its 30 features, teachers can begin to recognize where their individual strengths lie and where challenges appear. 

Reviewing a lesson through the lens of SIOP is an empowering way to pinpoint what teachers need to do make their teaching more effective and the learning more efficient.

Highly effective teachers are high reflective individuals who spend time considering what helped and what hindered learning and who make concrete action plans to improve their craft.

How Can SIOP improve teaching and learning?

SIOP is more than just ‘one more thing’.  While it may seem a bit overwhelming with 8 components and 30 features, don’t let that intimidate you. 

Sure, SIOP is a wonderful list of Best Practices.  The connections between the components and their features (e.g. language and content, 4 domains of speaking, listening, reading and writing) can be quite interesting to reflect upon.

Is SIOP the panacea for K-12 teachers and students?  It’s doubtful that such a silver bullet exists however, planning, teaching, and reflecting with SIOP in mind only has benefits.

One thing is for sure, the more you learn about SIOP the more you will see how its framework can make your planning and teaching more effective and make your reflecting richer and more worth-while.

Got a question about SIOP?  Feel free to ask The SIOP Trainer.


TESOL Trainers sets all teachers up for success!










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