New teaching model aims to help English language learners

Glen Ellyn, IL

Glen Ellyn School District 41 is implementing a new instructional model to address the educational and linguistic needs of English language learners while simultaneously teaching other students in the classroom.

Teachers districtwide began training this summer on the research-based model known as Sheltered Instruction Observed Protocol.

According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, the SIOP model addresses the academic needs of English-learning students in the United States through eight interrelated components: lesson preparation, building background, comprehensible input, strategies, interaction, practice/application, lesson delivery and review/assessment.

“It’s a system of steps that you go through in a lesson that has to do with science or social studies typically, but you can use it with anything,” said Teresa Shea, English language learning teacher at Ben Franklin Elementary School, where a group of teachers received training during the summer.

Using the eight components, teachers design and deliver lessons that cater to English learners and other students at the same time.

“It’s something that’s taught in the classroom with, I guess you can say, a targeted group of your English language learners, but really you’re teaching a lesson to all the students in the classroom,” Ben Franklin Principal Kirk Samples said.

Though SIOP training has not ended, some teachers already have begun to implement the model in their everyday lessons. Shea gave the example of a lesson in which a teacher read aloud about rural, urban and suburban communities.

“(The student’s) goal — and you share the goal with the students before the lesson begins — was to listen and identify at least two features or at least two advantages or disadvantages of living in an urban community in a city,” Shea said. “So, the idea was that we wanted them to use the word ‘urban’ correctly, but also to understand what the words ‘feature,’ ‘advantage’ and ‘disadvantage’ mean.”

After Shea and other teachers complete their SIOP training, more teachers will be trained in how to use the model.

Shea said there already has been an overall improvement with Ben Franklin’s English language learner students taught under the SIOP model.

“(A girl once explained in class) ‘I know the answer a lot of the time, but I don’t have time to think of how to say it before somebody else answers it and we move on to another question,’” Shea said. “But now, the teachers are noticing that they’re raising their hands and they’re taking a risk and answering and participating with other students and with (the teacher).”