The widespread use of the pull-out model for language instruction often isolates language teachers from content teachers and isolates English learners from their native English speaking peers. Co-teaching, on the other hand, unifies the efforts of content teachers and language teachers in order to provide language instruction in conjunction with classroom or content instruction. Coincidentally, the simultaneous implementation of both content and language teaching is the exact purpose of The SIOP Model. Initiating a shift to collaboration and co-teaching can be challenging for teachers who are used to teaching on their own, but fortunately the 8 components and 30 features of The SIOP Model serve as the perfect blueprint for co-creating lessons. Because The SIOP Model supports the intentional merging of content and language, the components and features address both well. When the content and language teachers come together in partnership to co-plan lessons, each teacher can bring expertise from their respective areas and together they can rely on The SIOP Model when thoughtfully planning lessons that maximize language development within the context of teaching meaningful content.
Lesson preparation is a foundational component of any successful lesson, but the combination of the features of the SIOP Lesson Preparation Component with the thorough, collaborative approach of co-planning, takes lesson planning to a whole new level. Co-teaching emphasizes the importance of collaboration between the content teacher and the language teacher, particularly when it comes to planning lessons. Co-planning functions most effectively when time is allocated for teachers to collaborate together, but also make time to plan independently in order to gather materials needed for planning together and to prepare materials for lessons. The co-planning cycle provides time for each teacher to bring his/her expertise to the planning process, resulting in an explicit focus on how language development will be woven into the content instruction.
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The SIOP Component of Lesson Preparation emphasizes the use of content and language objectives, which are a perfect example of the necessity for both content and language expertise in the planning process. The content teacher brings in depth knowledge of the content standards and what students should know or be able to do as a result of the instruction. Meanwhile, the language teacher brings the expertise regarding which language domains (including forms and functions) would be most appropriate to practice with the content. This connects to the SIOP feature of lesson preparation which emphasizes planning meaningful activities so that students engage in all of the language domains in a given lesson. We love the acronym SWIRL, which stands for speak, write, interact, read, listen, because it’s a great reminder that each of these functions is essential in order to build language and learn content to greatest extent. When content teachers and language teachers co-plan, they can intentionally plan how students will engage in each of these domains throughout the lesson.
Although in person co-planning is ideal, teachers schedules don’t always provide those opportunities. Fortunately, there are also a multitude of ways that teachers can collaborate remotely through the use of virtual tools such as google docs, email, and google hangouts, and even texting in order to engage in discussion and interaction around planning. Content and language teachers can “divide and conquer” different elements of the lesson plans and use digital tools to add comments and well as questions for their colleagues. Digital tools can also be used as a great way to archive plans for future use. We’ve included some examples of what digital lesson plans can look like, but teachers can truly design personalized planning templates to reflect all essential information they want to address. Teachers new to using The SIOP Model in conjunction with co-teaching may prefer to more explicitly call out each SIOP component and feature to ensure all are addressed. More seasoned SIOP-ers may find that the components are more naturally embedded in their ideas for lesson plans and therefore they may not be individually called out in written plans.
Digital planning for 8th grade ELA using Google Docs
Digital planning for Kindergarten Reading using Google Docs
Collaborating to Address all of the SIOP Components
In order to design SIOP lessons that support the language needs of all students, each of the SIOP components will be considered in the co-planning cycle. In addition to lesson preparation, collaborating teachers work together to anticipate and plan for how to build background with students, how to provide students with comprehensible input, what learning strategies will be taught to support students, and how students will interact. Additionally, they will decide how to assess students on both the content and the language that has been taught. Each of these components is addressed collaboratively with attention to sharing the workload through contributions from each area of expertise. Utilizing The SIOP Model provides both the content and the language teacher with a framework that helps them honor their own expertise while also collaborating together to co-teach in a way that builds success for all students. For teachers who are new to The SIOP Model, we recommend you start by working together to implement one SIOP component well and move toward a goal of ultimately incorporating all eight of them as you co-plan and co-teach. Revisit the purpose and features of each component with co-teachers in order to reflect on how well you are implementing each component.
As language teachers, we have worked with a variety of classroom and content teachers in order to deliver co-taught lessons. Co-teaching can be a challenging process, requiring a lot of flexibility and willingness to design new routines and practices as a team. For teachers who are new to co-teaching or even teachers who are still working to improve their collaboration and co-teaching practices, using The SIOP Model as a roadmap for planning and delivering co-taught lessons will be a game changer. The 8 components and 30 features provide the foundation for a successful lesson and will guide teachers with different area of expertise to apply their strengths to the creation of lessons that develop both content and language knowledge.
For more information on Co-Teaching with The SIOP Model, come see Jess, Carlota and Katie present at the 2019 SIOP National Conference.
Carlota Holder has been using the SIOP model since she began her career in English language learning in 2009 and is now a member of the SIOP Advisory Panel. She first started using SIOP within her credential courses to receive her add on license. While she was learning SIOP, she was also given the opportunity to practice it as an EL assistant. She continued her practice with the SIOP Model as a licensed teacher. She has taught grades K-8 and has co-teaching experience with the SIOP Model. In 2014 she was chosen to be one of the SIOP trainers for her district at the time. She participated in the state’s four-day SIOP training. After training she began the execution in her district starting with professional development on the SIOP model. They offered summer overview sessions and SIOP refreshers throughout the school year to support teachers who chose to execute the SIOP model in their classroom. Her school was one of the first to jump in and begin implementation. After the first year of using SIOP, her ELA co-teachers that participated in her district training showed the most pass rates for 7th and 8th grades on state testing. Currently she is at Enlace Academy, as an EL Coordinator where 70b % of students are English language learners. As an EL coordinator her goal has been to coach teachers on how to use the SIOP Model in their classrooms to amplify rigorous instruction in the classroom. Carlota has begun teaching pre-service teachers at Marian University, and is also currently working on her Masters in Educational Leadership.
Jessica Bell, M.Ed., was initially trained in SIOP as a content area English teacher, even though she is also a licensed ENL teacher and Reading Specialist. She recently completed the SIOP Virtual Institute and is a member of the SIOP Advisory Panel. She began using SIOP in the classroom in a co-taught middle school English class, and utilized it in this role for two years. She then moved to the high school in her district as a split ENL teacher/English teacher, and continued utilizing SIOP methods in her classroom – even proposing and teaching Sheltered English 11 and 12. She also began coaching and supporting teachers in her school using SIOP strategies, through modeling and presentations and is a SIOP trainer for her district.
Katie Toppel, Ed.D. is a K-5 English Language Development Specialist and adjunct professor at Portland State University. She is SIOP trained and a member of the SIOP Advisory Panel. Katie has utilized the SIOP Model as both an elementary classroom teacher and in her role as an English Language Development Specialist. Katie emphasizes the use of content and language objectives as well as the necessity of building background for English learners in general education settings. She supports and models for classroom teachers different ways to engage students in opportunities to talk and interact during lessons through cooperative learning structures with assigned roles, interactive games, and instructional strategies such as QSSSA. Katie is also the co-founder of #EllChat_BkClub on Twitter, a book chat focused on improving instruction for English learners.