Editor’s Note: The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model is one of the most popular strategies in the U.S. used to teach English Language Learners. Jessica Bell attended the recent SIOP National Conference, and graciously agreed to write this guest post.

Jessica Bell teaches Sheltered English and English as a New Language at Warren Central High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Follow her on Twitter @jessbell79 – and watch their SIOP NC presentation here.


“Successful schools for English Learners have a shared sense of community and responsibility.” – Dr. Deborah Short, SIOP National Conference. As educators, administrators, parents, and stakeholders in public education, we want success for all students. The SIOP model is a research based model that has helped many schools find success. I was thrilled and honored to be selected to present at the 2018 SIOP National Conference with two of my peers, Carlota Holder and Dr. Katie Toppel about co-teaching with the SIOP Model.

If you’re unfamiliar with SIOP, this introduction from Pearson will give an overview, but the basic tenets are that with appropriate training and scaffolding ALL teachers can be language teachers and provide English Learners with instruction using academic grade-level content. For more information, follow @SIOPModel on Twitter, and search the #SIOPNC hashtag.

It was very powerful to hear Drs. Jana Echevarria, Deborah Short, and MaryEllen Vogt speak about the difference that SIOP has made in the twenty years since the research model was first published – and for them to show how relevant and applicable it is today.

Another important message from SIOP NC is the need to value every student and to know them – their dreams, assets, talents, skills, challenge areas, and home language proficiencies so that we can truly teach them. It’s important for teachers to acknowledge their students strengths as well as areas they will need scaffolded. Our students have great assets, and we need to value those in the classroom so that our students value themselves. Dr. Short’s new book, The 6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English Learners has just been published. These six principles are:

1 – Know your learners.

2 – Create conditions for language learning.

3 – Design high-quality language lessons.

4 – Adapt lesson delivery as needed.

5 – Monitor and assess language development.

6 – Engage and collaborate within a community of practice.


Dr. Jim Cummins is a world renown author and professor of language development and literacy. He spoke about the need of all students to have exposure to books – and to be readers! Research shows that students engagement in reading can overcome achievement gaps – even at the high school level! This means teachers need to provide books (or help students find books) that they can relate to and see themselves in. It is our challenge, even as EL teachers, to build that love of reading. Spend your time with authentic reading of books – not grammar taught in isolation! Hearing speaker after speaker reiterate the importance of reading and academic language really inspired me. Schools should consider this research when planning intervention strategies. Dr. Cummins’ keynote was not streamed, but he included a lot of the same research here (graphic from his keynote).

Four Outstanding Quotes

  • “Academic language development is the responsibility of every teacher, ELD/ESL and content teachers alike.” Dr. Jana Echevarria
  • “The person who uses the academic language the most, learns the most.” – Dr. Martha Trejo
  • “Maximize print access for all students the minute they walk into school. Reinforce academic language across all contents.” Dr. Jim Cummins
  • Speaking about the Thai soccer team rescue, “We can either say this young Thai man is a multilingual high-achieving student, or a stateless, undocumented, ethnic-minority alien.” Dr. Jim Cummins


Action Steps from Dr. Jim Cummins

  • Affirm students cultural identity
  • Increase engagement
  • Provide diverse literature and access
  • Provide opportunities for ELs to share culture
  • Increase opportunities for student use of multiple languages

This conference offered a lot – the chance to hear educational researchers talk about their passions and projects, administrators talk about using SIOP to meet the needs of their students and how it has helped change their schools, and classroom teachers presenting the strategies and applications they use in their classrooms. One of the things that has stuck with me, is that SIOP is a great way to help teachers refine their practice – it’s not about reinventing the wheel, but about doing what we already do, but better.

Dr. Deborah Short challenged us with a quote, and I’ll challenge you as well, “We are not here to make HISTORY, we are here to make the FUTURE.” Our students are the future.