Spice Up Your Lesson Planning

Many teachers strive to construct lessons that follow the SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) Model developed by Jane Echevarría, MaryEllen Vogt, and Deborah Short. As the name suggests, it was originally intended as an observation tool, but its use has morphed over the years into a framework used to develop effective lessons for ELs. Its eight components and 30 features can be prescriptive, but judicious teachers apply the ideas as they are most appropriate to the students in their classes. 

If you are familiar with SIOP, you know that the first component is Lesson Preparation. There are very few teachers who can effectively teach students with little to no forethought about what or how they are going to teach! Unless lessons are carefully planned, there’s a good chance ELs will not learn the knowledge and skills intended.

An important part of this preparation is designing both content and language objectives which describe what the students will be able to do by the end of the lesson. In essence, objectives lay out the goal, or the intended outcome, of the lesson. Many schools now require teachers to post content and language objectives for all students to see. However, that’s often as far as it goes. Over time, the posted objectives, even though they change, may become part of the classroom’s invisible “wallpaper.”


In order to make objectives more beneficial for students, the SIOP authors encourage teachers to at least read the objectives to students. It’s even more effective if the students read and discuss them. This allows them to understand the goals of the lesson so they can hopefully “get on board” with where the teacher is taking them. It also provides a chance for them to use metacognitive skills to monitor their own learning. “Am I understanding this?”

Here are a couple of activities as examples to help you better implement Content & Language Objectives in the Lesson Preparation component:

Sharing & Discussing Objectives

  1. Have a student volunteer to read the objectives to the class.
  2. Have the class chorally read the objectives together. They can even add hand motions!
  3. Post sentence frames for students to discuss:
    – I predict that the objective _________ will be easy for me to learn because ________________.
    – I predict that the objective _________ will be hard for me to learn because ______________.

Another feature of the Lesson Preparation component is that the teacher plans for the Use of Supplementary Materials to make lesson content clear. It’s easy to get too busy to think about how we can use materials other than ourselves to enhance the lesson. Perhaps you’ve been lulled into thinking that your fabulous lecturing skills will certainly keep all students engaged and learning. (It happens to all of us!) Instead, it is important to plan for the effective use of materials to supplement those great lectures. Here’s an idea:

Rotating Graffiti (Rotating Doodles)

  • Choose words or short phrases that describe important concepts of the lesson (or series of lessons).
  • Write one concept on each of several large pieces of chart paper and post them around the room.
  • Divide students into pairs or triads, giving each group a different colored marker.
  • Student groups then rotate through the concepts adding their own graphic representation of the concept. This isn’t the time to write a paragraph! Remind students that graffiti is typically composed of pictures and stylized wording.
  • Each group must add a unique contribution to each chart. They cannot repeat what other groups have already used.
  • At the end of the activity, assign 1-2 groups per chart and have them discuss the graffiti and how it helps them better understand the concept. They might also ask other groups to explain how their contribution represents the concept. Perhaps it’s a new way of understanding it that the others had not considered before!

The activities above are among many described in this useful SIOP resource…

99 More Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with The SIOP Model
by Vogt, Echevarría, and Washam
ISBN: 978-0133431063
Amazon

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