Saturday, August 11, 2012

SIOP Saturday 2 - Lesson Preparation

Let me begin by saying... thank goodness you don't have to have an actual voice to be able to blog, because mine deserted me!  I drove to Indianapolis yesterday to visit a fellow teacher friend... my voice began the trip with me, but did not arrive with me! But I don't need it for typing, thank goodness!  And, maybe I can get this out of my system now so that I don't have to lose it this year when I start teaching, which always seems to happen!

Anyway, time for installment 2 of SIOP Saturday!

Today's focus is on the first component of the SIOP model: Lesson Preparation.  If you remember from last time, the SIOP model has 30 features, broken down into 8 components. Here they are again:

Lesson Preparation
Building Background
Comprehensible Input
Lesson Delivery

Lesson preparation contains the first 6 features.  Think of the "features" as "important things to remember".  For me, at least, that makes it just a little easier to understand.  So, let's dive into the first 6 features:

1. Content objectives clearly defined, displayed, and reviewed with students
Many districts are requiring teachers to post their objectives in their classrooms so that any visitors or passers-by can see what learning is taking place.  SIOP stresses the importance of actually talking to your students about what the learning objectives are.  That way, everyone is held accountable for the learning being accomplished, and learning stays on track.

2. Language objectives clearly defined, displayed, and reviewed with students
Here is an important new concept for many teachers: language objectives.  I like to think of language objectives explaining HOW students are going to demonstrate their learning of the content objectives.  Language objectives should encompass one or more of the 4 language domains: reading, writing, speaking, or listening.  Here are some examples:

Content objective: Students will identify parts of a plant and their functions.
Language objective: Students will label (write) the parts of a plant on a picture and discuss (speaking and listening) the functions of each part with a partner.

Content objective: Students will understand the difference between parallel and perpendicular lines.
Language objective: Students will explain (speaking and listening) to a partner how parallel and perpendicular lines differ.

Especially with ELL students, it is important to give them opportunities to practice their language skills, and give them support when they need it (example: sentence starters or a template for note-taking).  The next time you are planning a lesson and looking at the content objectives, consider how you might be able to integrate a language objective for your students as well!

3. Content concepts appropriate for age and educational background
Occasionally teachers may have to build additional background knowledge for students if they have come from another district or another country where concepts are taught in a different order.  The common core standards that many states are adopting should help to be a good framework for teachers to reference to see what students are learning in the grades above and below the grade they teach as well.

4. Supplementary materials used to a high degree
Hands-on learning experiences and the use of realia can make lesson concepts more relevant and meaningful to students, especially if they can see how the concepts apply to real-life situations.  Thus teachers should look for opportunities to use additional materials as they are appropriate.

5. Adaptation of content to all levels of student proficiency
Especially with ELLs, every student in your classroom should be held to the same high standard of learning.  ELLs should be learning the same content, but may require the method of delivery to be adapted.  For example, they may require books at an easier reading level; a template for note-taking, or perhaps a quick one-on-one session with the teacher to build the required background knowledge so that the student can be able to learn the concepts.

6. Meaningful activities that integrate lesson concepts with language practice opportunities
Any time that students have an opportunity to practice a new skill they are learning, or a new concept, the teacher should provide a chance for ELLs to use the appropriate vocabulary and language that accompany the concept.  For example, if students are learning to compare numbers (greater than, less than, equal to) the teacher should provide the students with the chance to practice this vocabulary.  This could include talking to a partner, playing a whole-class game, or writing number comparisons while incorporating the language aspect and not just the number sentences.

Next Saturday's topic: Building Background

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