Sheltered English Instruction

Sheltered English Instruction is an instructional approach that engages ELLs in developing grade-level content-area knowledge and academic skills, while increasing English proficiency (Teaching Diverse Learners). The goal of any Sheltered English Instruction is to consciously, constructively, and consistently increase comprehensible input to all students by use of clear, direct, appropriate English and a wide range of scaffolding strategies (e.g. modeling, using realia, teaching the text backwards, cooperative groups, increased use of visuals, pre-teaching vocabulary, graphic organizers) to communicate meaningful information in the content area. Therefore, differentiation is a must.

Within the framework of sheltered instruction lie three pillars of successful instruction of ELLs that Dr. Jim Cummins, language acquisition expert, identified:

1. Activate Prior Knowledge/Build Background

2. Access Content

3. Expand Language

These three pillars have been combined in a Pearson Education model of instruction expounded upon in "Five Basic Principles for Teaching Content to English Language Learners."

Some great guidelines or reminders about effective teaching practices in a sheltered English instruction classroom are found in a list created by Don Bouchard of World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA)

Contextualizing Academic Language with Effective Classroom Teaching Practices
Don Bouchard

1. Always post the content objective and the language objective when delivering a lesson. Consider also including a social objective which defines the interactional nature of the lesson.
2. Always integrate the four language domains – listening, speaking, reading, writing – when delivering a lesson.
3. When delivering a lesson, frontload your teaching by paying attention to the language (words and expressions) you use. Explain and write on the board for clarification; avoid idioms and slurred language.
4. Use clear, unambiguous referents, e.g., avoid pronouns and use explicit, targeted words.
5. Use the academic register, i.e., the language of written formal English, when delivering a lesson.
6. Assign a ‘process partner’ and periodically ask the partners to explain to each other what you have taught . Ask for clarifying questions afterwards.
7. Pose questions that span the range of Bloom’s Taxonomy in cognitive demand.
8. Post Bloom’s labeled question prompts and stand by them when posing questions.
9. Avoid the “popcorn” pattern of questioning: teacher response, student-response, teacher response, student response, etc.
10. Avoid asking close-ended, yes/no questions.
11. Use flexible seating for a range of interactions.
12. Engage in Wait Time II: in addition to waiting for a student response (Wait Time I), pause after a student replies to encourage expanded use of English.
13. Allow for other student responses before inserting your own.
14. Teach collaborative routines and always assign everyone a role in group tasks.
15. Engage learners with several experiences of an activity before you consider rejecting it.
16. The evidence is overwhelming that students of all abilities perform better in heterogeneous groupings; as a result, avoid homogeneous groupings.
17. Shape student responses by repeating the answer and elaborating with expanded language.
18. Periodically ask learners if they understand with hand signals (5=completely understand; 4=almost understand; 1=not understood, etc.).
19. Expect students to use academic language.
20. Allow learners to clarify and/or explain concepts in their home language if they are able. Since they must eventually respond in English, this can help them ‘jumpstart’ their understanding.
21. Post content-related vocabulary in the classroom.
22. Post common content-related sentence starters in the classroom
23. Post and use academic language category words when delivering a lesson such as main idea words, introductions, conclusions; comparing and contrasting idea words, and connecting idea words.
24. Always teach and review vocabulary when delivering a lesson. Remember the rule: 24/48/7/14
25. Select grade level or above content-related material to read aloud to the class, no matter what the grade or the content.
26. Always preface a reading requirement by frontloading vocabulary, engaging in topic related activities, and skimming for general information.
27. Require a reading journal and regularly provide a content-related prompt for responding to the lesson.
28. Use a ‘ticket to leave’ at the end of a lesson, i.e., have learners summarize in writing what they have learned.
29. Promote reflection after every lesson, i.e., an examination of how students viewed their learning.
30. One of the most important activity types for process content learning and engaging in language growth is summarizing. Seek out and use them!

Sheltered English Instruction Design

The three different models of Sheltered English Instruction design that we have chosen to offer as examples are the three most common, research-based approaches available today: SIOP, SDAIE, and CALLA. For more information on any of these models, please refer to the web sites linked to each method.


(Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol)

The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2004) was developed to provide teachers with a well-articulated, practical model of sheltered instruction that can facilitate high quality instruction for ELLs in content area teaching. It is not another “add on” program, but rather it is a framework that can bring together a school’s instructional program to increase comprehensible input in an organized fashion.

(The following information is adapted from the Bilingual and Compensatory Education Resource Team, Dearborn Public Schools, Michigan 2002SDAIECALLA whose source was: “Making Content Comprehensible for English Language Learners,” Echevarria, Vogt, Short.)

Making Content Comprehensible for English Language Learners—SIOP Model of SHELTERED ENGLISH INSTRUCTION—for Academic Achievement

Key Components – Teaching language and content effectively:

1. Preparation: Clearly define content objectives; write on the board; state orally; clearly define language objectives; write on the board; state orally; choose content concepts for age appropriateness and “fit” with educational background of students; use supplementary materials to make lessons clear and meaningful; adapt content to all levels of student proficiency (use graphic organizers, study guides, taped texts, jigsaw reading); provide meaningful and authentic activities that integrate lesson concepts with language practice opportunities (surveys, letter writing, making models, plays, games)

2. Building Background: Explicitly link concepts to students’ background experience; make clear links between students’ past learning and new concepts; emphasize key vocabulary

3. Comprehensible Input: Speak appropriately to accommodate students’ proficiency level; clearly explain academic tasks; use a variety of techniques to make content concepts clear (modeling, hands-on materials, visuals, demos, gestures, film clips)

4. Strategies: Provide ample opportunities for students to use strategies (GIST, SQP2R, Reciprocal Teaching, mnemonics, 12 minute research paper, 2 column notes, repeated readings); consistently use scaffolding techniques throughout lesson (think-alouds, paraphrasing, partnering); employ a variety of question types (use question cube, thinking cube, Bloom’s Taxonomy)

5. Interaction: Provide frequent opportunities for interaction and discussion (supplies much needed “oral rehearsal”); group students to support language and content objectives; use at least two different structures during a lesson (pairs, triads, teams, varied by language proficiency or interest); consistently afford sufficient wait time (let other students write down answers while waiting for one student to respond); give ample opportunities for clarification for concepts in L1 (use bilingual paraprofessionals, native language materials, notes by students)

6. Practice/Application: Supply lots of hands-on materials; provide activities for students to apply content/language knowledge (discussing and doing make abstract concepts concrete); allow students to work in partners before working alone; integrate all language skills into each lesson (listening, speaking, reading, writing)

7. Lesson Delivery: Clearly support content objectives (objectives apparent throughout lesson- no “bird-walks”); clearly support language objectives (students given ample opportunities to “show off” their language capabilities in speaking, reading, writing); engage students 90-100% of the lesson (less “teacher talk”, no “down-time”, students are actively working in whole groups, small groups, individually); appropriately pace the lesson to students’ ability level

8. Review/Assessment: Provide comprehensive review of key vocabulary (teach, review, assess, teach); use word study books, content word wall; supply comprehensive review of key content concepts (review content directly related to objectives throughout lesson); use graphic organizers as review; regularly give feedback to students on their output (clarify, discuss, correct responses); conduct assessment of student comprehension and learning (use a variety of quick reviews: thumbs up-down, numbered wheels, small dry erase boards); include student self-assessment.


(Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English)

(The following information is adapted from information published by Ron Rohac, educational consultant and S.D.A.I.E. specialist, at where you can enter the site using the username: rohac and password: tennis.)

To work through proper lesson design, we must first understand the nature of the class, who it is intended for, and the goals of such a lesson. The nature and goals of S.D.A.I.E. lessons are to provide equal access to the curriculum of study. That means, simply, that the course of study offers full academic credit and is appropriate material for the age and grade of the students. It is not remedial or watered down curriculum but rather the course is presented in a fashion that allows students to comprehend the material through strategies and tactics that the teacher designs to support lectures, activities, reading, writing, questioning and assessment. In essence, the course doesn’t change, only its method of presentation. As it turns out, many of these changes provide meaningful input for a vast majority of students so that teachers find themselves borrowing from many disciplines, including multiple intelligences, gifted and talented, and even special education. Teachers find a way to allow ALL students an opportunity to participate and learn. For the students acquiring English, it is this context that provides one of the best vehicles for language acquisition.
The first thing for the new S.D.A.I.E. teacher to remember when preparing to work with ELLs is not to panic. Much of what you already do in the classroom is appropriate, powerful teaching. S.D.A.I.E. should add to your skills, improve your presentation and incorporate much of what you already do intuitively. Think of it as adding to your options! That stated, let's begin with some of the easiest things to adapt. Since the basis of S.D.A.I.E. is to provide context for language, the easiest way to provide that is to start lessons, units, and concepts with an activity. That is to say that activities are the engines that drive the S.D.A.I.E. classroom. These activities provide the linguistic hooks for students to pin language on. It provides context for complex language and a vehicle to send us to important readings and resources in our textbooks.

The four major components of S.D.A.I.E. lesson design are hands-on activities, visual clues, cooperative learning, and guarded vocabulary, which can be easily incorporated into the following presentation cycle of any lesson plan.
Ron Rohac provides all Iowa teachers free membership to his site that is filled with hundreds of lesson plans and strategies to increase comprehensible instruction.
Log on to www,, member login, username: rohac, password: tennis.


(Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach)

(The following information is adapted from The CALLA Handbook: Implementing the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach by Anna Uhl Chamot and J. Michael O’Malley, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1994.)

The CALLA approach was designed to provide comprehensible instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs) in ESL or bilingual programs. CALLA integrates language development, content area instruction, and explicit instruction in learning strategies. With content as the primary focus of instruction, academic language skills can be developed as the need for them emerges from the content.

How does the CALLA approach work?

Through a comprehensive lesson plan based on cognitive theory and efforts to integrate academic language and learning strategies with content, CALLA lessons rely on content to determine the academic language selections and learning strategies to be taught. These lessons rely heavily on scaffolding, or the provision of instructional supports, when concepts and skills are first introduced and the gradual removal of supports as students develop greater proficiency, knowledge, and skills.

The basic framework for CALLA is built upon the following concepts:__**
*Learning is an active and dynamic process;
*Learning can be grouped into three types of knowledge: declarative (knowledge of facts), procedural (knowledge of “how to” do things), metacognitive (relate current learning tasks to past knowledge and learning procedures);
*Declarative and procedural knowledge are learned in different ways and retrieved from memory in different ways;
*Teachers should learn to recognize declarative and procedural knowledge in content materials, identify strategies used by students, and influence strategy use; and
*Students can take control over their own learning and develop independent learning skills.