SIOP Component Lesson Preparation

SIOP Component #1:  Lesson Preparation

"Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail"

Regardless of the emotion that lesson planning provokes, no one can argue that being prepared increases our confidence and competence.  All educators have taught well prepared lessons and have gone through a lesson just shooting from the hip.  For the most part, we were better off (as were our students) with the prepared version of ourselves rather than the other.

Using SIOP to help guide our planning can improve the efficacy of lesson planning.

The first component of SIOP (Sheltered Instructional Observational Protocol) is Lesson Preparation.  It's no mistake that this is component comes first.  Indeed, it's a helpful reminder that even highly effective educators  consider certain factors prior to teaching.

The six features of Lesson Preparation within the SIOP Framework are:

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John Kongsvik Lesson Preparation Time is Reflection Time
  1. Write content objectives clearly for students:  SWBAT….
  2. Write language objectives clearly for students:  SWBAT….
  3. Choose content concepts appropriate for age and educational background
  4. Identify supplementary materials to use
  5. Adapt content to all levels of student proficiency
  6. Plan meaningful activities that integrate lesson concepts with language practice opportunities for reading, writing, listening, and/or speaking.

What's the Purpose of the SIOP Component Lesson Planning?

This SIOP component is designed to encourage teachers to consciously plan how they are going to set their students up for success in terms of content, language, and activities.  Each of the 6 features of Lesson Preparation are powerful reminders of  these three critical ingredients to lesson planning.

Let's unpack the features under Lesson Preparation...   
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SIOP & Lesson Preparation

In examining the progression of these six features, it may be beneficial to notice the 3 pillars of reflection: the lesson's objectives, the students, and activities to connect the two.

Step #1:  Determine the content and language objectives (Lesson Prep. 1,2).
Step #2:  Consider the students and their needs in relation to the objectives (Lesson Prep. 3,4,5).
Step #3:  Create activities with which students practice the content & language using all four domains of language (Lesson Prep. 6).

SIOP Feature #1:  Write content objectives clearly for students

Since everything we do should have its roots in the course content and language, it makes sense that we begin by identifying those objectives first.  This feature challenges us to consider not what we will be teaching, but what the students will in fact be learning.

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SIOP Says:  Focus on the Learner & the Learning 
SIOP asks us to begin our objectives with the acronym, SWBAT (Students Will Be Able To) as a visible reminder of the importance of the learner.

As Caleb Gattegno quipped, "Teaching is subordinate to learning."

Starting off a learning objective with the learner is a good way to set everyone up for success.

This is as true for the teacher as it is for her students.

TESOL Trainers offers PD on writing effective objectives for K-12 teachers.

SIOP Feature #2:  Write language objectives clearly for students

In addition to determining the content objective, SIOP asks us to turn our attention to the language that is connected to the class content.  Writing a language objective serves two purposes.  First, it makes the teacher (and students) more conscious of the exact language the students will own in addition to the lesson's content.  Rather than just 'winging it' and supposing that students will learn some language, SIOP has teachers decide exactly what that language is.

Secondly, beginning the entire process with clear content & language objectives anchor their importance in planning and teaching.  Indeed, language & content objectives are explicitly mentioned in 5 of the 8 components of SIOP and implicitly mentioned in the rest.

What's the difference between a content objective and a language objective?

Content Objective:  Create and label correctly a bar graph that represents data from the class survey.

Language Objective:  Explain to a partner what the bar graph shows using the phrases correlation, sample, bias, probability, outlier.

Notice the difference between the two:  The first one, the content objectivedeals with content only (create and label a graph) where as the language objective explains how the students will interact with that content (by using specific language to describe the graph to a peer).

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Language supports the content; content supports the language
The language objective has two distinct parts.

  • First, there's a language task:  (Speaking) Explain your graph to a partner.
  • Next, there is specific language:  correlation, sample, bias, probability, and outlier.
While a language objective may take on many forms, the inclusion of language objectives in a lesson plan differentiates SIOP from most other teaching methodologies.

Having the content and language objectives help both the teacher and student get off on the right foot.  Since both of these objectives begin with the students in mind (SWBAT), it makes sense that teachers consider what their students will need in order to attain the objectives that they laid out.

SIOP Feature #3:  Choose content concepts appropriate for age & educational background

As we reflect on how the lesson will unfold and how we will scaffold our students into success, we make conscious choices about the concepts we will introduce in the lesson.  If a concept is far beyond the students' ZPD, it may be more beneficial to choose a different concept or, at the very least, consider what kind of additional materials students may need in order to succeed.

SIOP Feature #4:  Identify supplementary materials to use

The student-centered focus of SIOP encourages teachers to consider supplementary materials that students could use. Rather than relying solely on a textbook and its accompanying materials, SIOP asks teachers to take a deeper look at the students and what they will interact with during the lesson.  Here is a brief look at some of the most popular supplementary materials that teachers use:

  • visuals - pictures, images, diagrams, etc.
  • videos - tutorials, short clips, documentaries, etc.
  • manipulatives - cuisinaire rods, scrambled stories, post it notes, etc.
  • laptops - games to practice math skills, wikipedia article, powerpoint, etc.

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Incorporating supplementary materials into your lessons does not have to eat up large amounts of time or money.  While it may be challenging at times to find supplementary materials, it is worth trying things out to see how students respond.

Sometimes the materials we use help; sometimes they hinder.  Either way, we get to know our students and their needs a little better each time we try something new.

SIOP Feature #5:  Adapt content to all levels of student proficiency

As if all of this attention to the students was not enough, the fifth feature reminds us to consider the students' language proficiency and the content of the class.  SIOP asks teachers to adapt any content if it is found to be above or below students' proficiency.  In the third SIOP feature, we aligned the content with the students' ZPD.  In this feature, we are to align the language with the students' ZPD.

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SIOP Feature #6:  Plan meaningful activities that integrate lesson concepts with language practice opportunities for reading, writing, listening, and/or speaking.

The final feature of the SIOP component on Lesson Preparation encourages teachers to consciously choose activities that give students (not teacher) the chance to practice the content and the language.

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Students need to practice both the language and content.
If an activity isn't moving students towards the SWBAT (objective), it's moving students away from the SWBAT.

By looking at every activity through the lenses of language and content, teachers can plan both more effective and more efficient lessons as every step aligns with the objectives and the students.

What a fabulous way to keep our eyes (and our students' eyes) on the prize:  the lesson's objectives.

In fact, this final feature in this SIOP Component captures the purpose of Lesson Preparation perfectly:

Lesson Preparation is figuring out where your students are, determining what content & language they need and choosing lesson's activities to get them there.

How can SIOP set you up for success

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If you want to set yourself and your students up for success, start planning your lessons with these six features in mind.

The SIOP component of Lesson Preparation helps teachers reflect on the three important aspects of a lesson:  the students, the objectives, and the activities that connect the two.

As you consciously attend to these 6 aspects of lesson preparation, you will find more efficient and effective ways to support student learning.  In fact, you may even encounter a deeper appreciation for lesson planning!

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TESOL Trainers & offers experiential professional development on Sheltered Instruction.  We are the #1 provider of experiential K-12 professional development in the United States.  Here's why:
  1. The workshops are highly engaging.
  2. Teachers experience real lessons and strategies.
  3. Teachers leave every PD with practical strategies and techniques that make a difference.
  4. Teachers can apply everything to their contexts the next day without lots of teacher prep.
  5. Teachers become empowered and inspired to support all students in their contexts.

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