Sheltered Instruction: Everything You Need to Know

It’s a method of making English language learners assimilate content better as they work on getting proficient in the English language.

Though most teachers aspire to be teachers of language, they still remain teachers of topics. Even teachers of the English language prioritize learning the language above access to content. However, unless the students have effective literacy skills in the language, they won’t be able to access its content. If the focus is just on content, language will transform from being social to merely academic. Sheltered instruction brings these two opposing priorities together into a solitary powerful force by empowering English learners (ELs) access content while developing their language skills.

Though sheltered instructional strategies are a vital segment of almost every other model and method, they can also be arranged into a cohesive program model in their own right. This model of instruction needs significant teaching skills in both subject-specific academic teaching and English language development.

Sheltered instruction consists of clearly defined content and language goals, namely modified curriculum, additional materials, and alternative assessments. A content-based sheltered instruction model for teaching grade-level content is SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol), which is pronounced as “sigh-op.” This model emphasizes teaching grade-level content in a way that’s comprehensible for ELL students, while simultaneously supporting their English language development. It employs a wide range of sheltering strategies in a cohesive, structured way.

Sheltered instruction teachers use various techniques to make the content comprehensible. Some of them are modeling, visual aids, demonstrations, vocabulary previews, graphic organizers, adapted texts, predictions, multicultural content, cooperative learning, native language support, and peer tutoring. Their goal is to create a non-threatening setting where students don’t feel vulnerable or uneasy while taking risks.

When following the SIOP model of sheltered instruction, teachers can use this rubric in their classroom instructions:

·         Joint productive activity – where they make their students collaborate on a joint product that combines several standards.

·         Contextualization – where they activate background know-how across content areas to generate a context for new information.

·         Language and literacy development – where they engage students in activities that help develop their skills to express their thoughts and feelings using the language of multiple standards through modeling, questioning, and rephrasing.

·         Challenging activities – where they help their students reach a more complex stage of understanding and provide feedback to them.

·         Instructional conversation – where students talk about academic subjects and put forward their opinions, points of view, and explanations.

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