The English Language Learner in Your Classroom (Part 2)

SIOP – An English Language Learner Methodology

SIOP is a research driven, teacher supported methodology that has been proven to increase engagement and achievement.   Have you had a chance to practice and apply some of the methodology from Part 1 of this blog post?   I hope you have found it successful.  What follows is part two of the introduction to the SIOP methodology!

SIOP teachers are instructing children to communicate effectively in a new language; therefore, it is not surprising that Interaction is the next component.  ELLs should be encouraged to interact with other students a minimum of two times during any class period.  I love using the  Think Ink Pair Share (TIPS) strategy.  It is one quick way to get ELLs talking and when it becomes a routine it is highly successful as a building background technique or formative assessment.   There are hundreds of cooperative learning strategies that teachers can include in their instruction;  four corners and concentric circles are two of my favorites.

After students have been exposed to the new content and skills it is time for the sixth component Practice and Application.  In this component the SIOP experts recommend that children integrate all four language domains (listening, speaking, reading and writing) into practicing and applying new information.  I find that manipulatives help ELLs make abstract concepts concrete.  Online manipulatives are a good alternative when tangible tools aren’t available.  Additionally, teachers can try to illicit a total physical response to increase engagement and learning.  For example, instead of students completing a matching worksheet.  Have them wear cards with words and definitions and walk around to find their match!  My students, even those who are college age seem to really enjoy this activity!  They tell me that they remember their friend who had the answer and it helps them remember the vocabulary word and definition!  This strategy comes with a built-in mnemonic device!

Lesson Delivery is the seventh component of SIOP.  Teachers should ideally aim for student engagement throughout 90-100% of the lesson.  You can follow this link to a list of instructional strategies aimed at increasing student engagement.  The last component is Review and Assessment.  ELLs need extra review of key vocabulary and concepts.  I use formative assessment strategies to determine how much review is necessary.  When developing summative assessments authentic assessments increase engagement and achievement.  For example, instead of asking students to take a quiz or writing a report after reading a novel, have the student pretend to be a New York Times book reviewer and write a review to be published in the New York Times.  I recently worked with a biology teacher who wanted students to complete a template on genetic disorders; instead she had them write pages for a book to be published by the local children’s hospital.

Free Webinar: Join us for a free webinar  Supporting Your ELL’s, presented by Heather Bickley. Click here for more information!

Encourage your students to be reflective about their learning and I encourage teachers to do the same about their teaching.   Try some of the suggestions and take notes about what worked and what didn’t, what strategies kept students engaged, which did not.  You can continue to implement the strategies and techniques that are successful to create lasting engagement, increase overall achievement and hopefully have fun teaching and learning!


  1. Alexandra Myers May 11, 2013 Reply

    Thanks so much for the great blog. Looking forward to the webinar!

  2. Chad Salin May 11, 2013 Reply

    Great blog – I have a lot of ELLs in my classroom. Info was helpful.

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