SIOP Strategies and Scaffolding

SIOP provides learning & teaching strategies

SIOP Component #4:  Strategies 

The SIOP (Sheltered Instructional Observation Protocol) Framework, designed to support teaching and learning, has 8 components.  (Overview of SIOP)

Right in the middle of the SIOP framework, component #4, comes Strategies. Whether it be a strategy to solve a two-step math problem or a strategy to teach students how to pronounce challenging words, strategies can be quite useful.  Much like all of the other SIOP components, this one examines strategies from the learner & teacher perspectives.

This component of Sheltered Instruction, Strategies, has three features:
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  1. Provide ample opportunities for students to use strategies (e.g. Problem-solving, predicting, organizing, summarizing, categorizing, evaluating, self-monitoring).
  2. Use scaffolding techniques consistently throughout the lesson.
  3. Use a variety of question types including those that promote higher-order thinking skills throughout.


Notice how the 1st feature attends to learning strategies, the 2nd  to a teaching strategy, and the 3rd to the cornerstone of empowerment:  critical thinking.

For many reasons (which you will see soon see), this SIOP component is deceptively simple and delightfully powerful.  Here's why.....



Scaffolding, Strategies, & SIOP


The fourth SIOP Component, Strategies, highlights the importance of consciously teaching learning strategies, challenging students' thinking skills, and focusing on scaffolding as a means of setting the students up for success.  These three features have critical impacts on teaching and learning.   They also play important roles in the SIOP Framework. 

John Kongsvik and TESOL Trainers provide K-12 Professional Development in the USA and abroad.
Effective Readers use Strategies Effectively
 The 1st feature under the SIOP component, Strategies has to do with the importance of getting students to consciously use learning strategies.  Strategies like predicting, paraphrasing, synthesizing, etc. all stimulate higher order thinking processes.  Some students seem naturally capable of employing learning strategies successfully without ever really having been taught how.  However, most students do not have that level of confidence or competence in using learning strategies.  
SIOP encourages teachers to empower their students by consciously teaching to use learning strategies effectively.


Scaffolding is the focus of the 2nd SIOP feature.  It is very true that students are able to do anything that we set them up to do.  This is where scaffolding comes in.  While a minority of students may not need everything scaffolded, most students benefit dearly from having a well-scaffolded lesson.  Scaffolding is a fancy way of capturing a step-by-step, digestible approach to teaching and learning.  One of the most popular models of scaffolding is the Gradual Release of Responsibility.  SIOP challenges teachers to be diligent and consistent about scaffolding.

John Kongsvik and TESOL Trainers provide K-12 Professional Development in the USA and abroad.The final feature under Strategies deals with stimulating higher order thinking skills (HOTS).  No one can argue about the importance of critical thinking.  It's certainly an important focus in K-12 classrooms throughout the country.  It seems to be a familiar topic of staff meetings and PLC meetings.

Once again, only a small percentage of students come already equipped with strong, higher-order thinking skills.  Yet, as in so many other cases, the vast majority of students need much more transparent learning opportunities.  These students need conscious, scaffolded support to cultivate these skills and to move from being unconsciously unskilled to consciously skilled (more on Conscious Competence Matrix).

SIOP reminds teachers of the significance of HOTS in learning and the importance of modeling HOTS in teaching.




These three features ripple throughout the SIOP framework.  For example, when planning (Lesson Preparation) we should consider giving students opportunities to use learning strategies and develop HOTS no matter what we are teaching.  Likewise, we can't plan effectively without scaffolding students into owning the language and content of the lesson.  Glancing at the other 7 SIOP components will immediately show connecting threads between the 3 features of Strategies and the other 27 features of SIOP.

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When learning is scaffolded correctly, it is more enjoyable.
As I said in the beginning,  this SIOP component, Strategies, is deceptively simple and delightfully powerful.  The effort we put into honing our skills this SIOP component and its features pay incredible dividends.

Just imagine being able to empower your students with learning strategies no matter what you're teaching.  Just imagine being able to scaffold anything.  Just imagine being able to crack the code on critical thinking.  Those three gifts are waiting for any teacher who chooses to focus on developing them.





We are TESOL Trainers, and we are your scaffold to success™.  John Kongsvik and his team are leaders in providing experiential professional development for K-12 teachers.

We offer quite engaging and incredibly empowering SIOP Seminars for all Pre K-23 teachers.  Our SIOP for Community College Educators professional development series sets all college faculty up for success.

Contact John Kongsvik, the director of TESOL Trainers, to learn more. 


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