(Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) 


The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) is a framework for planning and delivering instruction in content areas such as science, history, and mathematics to limited-English proficient students.  This method is often used in mainstream secondary classrooms where the students have a foundation of English education.  A variety of instruction is used including the theories of Vygotsky’s proximal development and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences.  The goal of SIOP is to help teachers integrate academic language development into their lessons, allowing students to learn and practice English as it is used in the context of school, including the vocabulary used in textbooks and lectures in each academic discipline.  Instead of providing watered down curriculum for LEP student, sheltered instruction allows for the content to be equal to that of native English speakers while improving their grasp of the language.  Using this planning framework, teachers modify the way they teach so that the language they use to explain concepts and information is comprehensible to these students. The SIOP planning and observation framework covers eight areas of instruction: preparation, building background, comprehensible input, strategies, interaction, practice and application, lesson delivery, review and assessment.  The differences between ESL instruction and the use of sheltered instruction is that sheltered instruction does not focus entirely on language development; instead, through various other topics in the curriculum, English proficiency is achieved. In most cases, teachers receive professional development on the SIOP Model before using it to modify their lessons.  The ESL certified teachers and programs have decreased due to new legislation, but the number of LEP students is rising causing teachers to build upon their abilities to take on the linguistically diverse classroom.


Since the basis of sheltered instruction is to provide a framework for language development then one of the simplest ways follow a set format of instruction.  For example, beginning each lesson with an introductory activity that assesses the students’ knowledge in a non-threatening and non-graded format will allow the teacher to evaluate the students’ skill set.  It is vitally important the teacher designs his/her lessons to clearly define language and content as well as make the activity meaningful through the linkage to past knowledge and present and supplemental materials.  Some examples of lessons include hands-on and cooperative learning activities, vocabulary, and the use of visual clues.  Teachers also place an emphasis on developing the students’ habits of organization and study skills.  Teachers may use sheltered instruction within a variety of program models (e.g. immersion, pull out, team-teaching).  Teachers may use sheltered instruction in a mainstream class to support English language learners, or a class may be specially designed, such as "Sheltered U.S. History." Such classes may include only English language learners or English language learners and English-fluent peers.

What Is the SIOP Model?

The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model is a research-based and validated instructional model that has proven effective in addressing the academic needs of English learners as well as fluent English speaking students throughout the United States.  In addition, teachers report that SIOP-based teaching benefits all students, not just those who are learning English as an additional language.

The Eight Components

There are eight interrelated components to The SIOP® Model;
(Click the links to watch a video for each component)

1. Lesson Preparation »

  • Clearly define content objectives
  • Clearly define language objectives
  • Select content concepts that are appropriate to learners’ age and educational background
  • Use a variety of supplementary materials to make the lesson clear and meaningful (computer programs, graphs, models, visuals)
  • Adapt the content to all proficiency levels
  • Use authentic and meaningful activities and integrate them into lesson concepts

2. Building Background »

  • Concepts should be directly linked to students’ background experience. This experience can be personal, cultural or academic.
  • Links should be explicitly made between past learning and new concepts.
  • Key vocabulary is emphasized. New vocabulary is presented in context. The number of vocabulary items is limited.

3. Comprehensible Input »

  • Use speech that is appropriate for students' language proficiency.
  • Make the explanation of the task clear using step-by-step manner with visuals.
  • Use of a variety of techniques to make content concepts clear. Teachers need to focus attention selectively on the most important information. Introduce new learning in context. Help students learn strategies such as predicting, summarizing.

4. Strategies »

  • Provide ample opportunities for students to use learning strategies. Learning strategies should be taught through explicit instruction. You want students to develop independence in self-monitoring.
  • Consistent use of scaffolding techniques throughout the lesson. Introduce a new concept using a lot of scaffolding and decrease support as time goes on. Restate a student's response or use think-alouds
  • Use of a variety of question types, including those that promote higher level thinking skills.

5. Interaction »  Provide the following for ELLs:

  • frequent opportunities for interactions about lesson concepts which encourage higher level thinking skills.
  • grouping which supports language and content objectives. Cooperative groups, buddies, pairs, large and small groups
  • ample wait time for responses
  • opportunities for clarification in native language, if possible.

6. Practice and Application »  Lessons should include:

  • hands-on materials or manipulatives for student practice.
  • activities for students to apply content and language knowledge in the classroom.
  • activities that integrate all language skills :listening, speaking, reading and writing.

7. Lesson Delivery »

  • Content objectives supported by lesson delivery.
  • Language objectives supported by lesson delivery.
  • Students engaged 90% to 100% of the period.
  • Pacing of the lesson appropriate to students’ ability level.

8. Review and Assessment »

  • Include a comprehensive review of key vocabulary
  • Include a comprehensive review of key content concepts
  • Provide regular feedback to students on their output
  • Conduct assessments of student comprehension and learning of all lesson objectives throughout the lesson 
 Additional Links and Resources

Lesson Plan Checklist for The Sheltered Instruction Observation ...

Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol - Tools & Resources

Scholarly articles for sheltered instruction observation protocol resources

The SIOP Institute

SIOP Model: SIOP Model Lesson Plans

SIOP Sheltered Instruction Observational Protocol - ELL Tool Box

SIOP: Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol
(Lesson Plan Examples)

The SIOP Institute
(Lesson Plan Templates)