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Frequently Asked Questions

Read answers to frequently asked questions about the SIOP Model, its implementation, and CAL SIOP services and resources.


Questions about the SIOP Model and its Implementation

Questions about CAL's SIOP Professional Development Services and Products

Questions about the SIOP Model and its Implementation

What is the SIOP Model?

The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model is a research-based and validated instructional model that has proven effective in addressing the academic needs of English learners throughout the United States. Learn more.

Who uses the SIOP Model? How do they use it?

The SIOP Model can be used by professionals from a wide range of backgrounds, such as

  1. Elementary classroom teachers
  2. Secondary subject-area teachers
  3. ESL teachers
  4. Two-Way Immersion teachers
  5. Bilingual teachers
  6. Coaches and staff developers
  7. School and district administrators
  8. Teacher education faculty
  9. Preservice teacher candidates

Teachers use the SIOP Model to design and deliver effective sheltered instruction lessons for their students. Administrators utilize the SIOP Model to focus and support school and district improvement efforts, monitor progress, and evaluate and provide feedback to SIOP teachers. Staff developers, coaches, and teacher educators often use the SIOP Model to teach and support prospective or practicing teachers as they learn how to integrate language and content instruction.

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In what type of instructional settings can SIOP be used?

The SIOP Model can be applied successfully in any context where English language learners are learning content and language simultaneously. It is most frequently implemented in content-based or thematic ESL classes, secondary content classes and elementary classes that serve a mix of ELLs and native English speakers, specifically designed sheltered content courses, and in bilingual education and two-way immersion contexts. Learn more about how the SIOP Model was adapted for two-way immersion education.

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How is the SIOP Model different from just good teaching?

The eight components of the SIOP Model were designed to increase the academic achievement of ELLs by supporting their language development and making grade-level academic content comprehensible to them. The SIOP Model is heavily informed by research on second language learning, but it also uses instructional practices recommended for mainstream students such as  hands-on materials and cooperative learning. While successful implementation of the SIOP Model may benefit all learners, using the SIOP Model to design and deliver lessons helps to ensure that teachers have the tools to meet the unique educational needs of ELLs as they simultaneously acquire proficiency in English and in the content areas.

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Is it possible to consider and incorporate all 30 features of SIOP when designing each lesson?

Yes, it is entirely possible to incorporate all features into lessons. Many of the features overlap with each other. The ability to incorporate them successfully comes with time and expertise. The lesson plans available in Making Content Comprehensible, Using the SIOP Model: Professional Development Manual for Sheltered Instruction, and on our website provide some examples of how multiple SIOP features can be incorporated into a single lesson. We will periodically upload exemplary SIOP lessons, developed by the teachers with whom we work, to our website.

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What is the difference between language and content objectives?

SIOP lessons are characterized by two sets of objectives that support and complement each other: content and language objectives. Content objectives are usually drawn from state standards for the content areas. They can be recognized by verbs related to knowledge of the content area, such as identify, analyze, rank, construct, graph, divide, solve, visualize, design. Teachers are often familiar with how to write content objectives before they learn about the SIOP Model.

Language objectives, on the other hand, address the language needed to engage with the academic content, perform classroom tasks, and achieve the content objectives. They are related to the language skills. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing (for example: read, write, listen, list, tell, discuss, journal, record, persuade, debate, draft), key vocabulary, language functions or ways students use language in the lesson, grammar or language structures, and language learning strategies.

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How can SIOP be implemented at different grade levels?

Although most SIOP research has focused on the middle and high school levels, there is evidence of successful implementation of SIOP at the elementary school level as well. CAL’s SIOP facilitators can effectively deliver SIOP professional development to teachers working in Kindergarten to 12th grade settings at the same workshop by providing examples from and adapting strategies to different grade levels and content areas. Participating teachers develop and share lesson plans during the workshops, thus applying what they are learning about the SIOP Model’s components and features to their particular grade level and content area.

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How long does it take to become proficient in implementing the SIOP Model?

Research on the SIOP Model shows that it takes teachers at least a year to become high implementers in the model. However, the quality of the school’s SIOP Model professional development plan can have a significant impact on a teacher’s acquisition and understanding of the model. Professional development plans that incorporate coaching in the SIOP Model, lesson study, or SIOP study groups can jump-start a teacher’s implementation. See An Insider’s Guide to SIOP Coaching for more information.

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Can the SIOP protocol be used for teacher evaluation purposes?

Since teachers need time to learn the SIOP Model, it is important for administrators not to use the SIOP protocol to formally evaluate teachers who are new to the model. Using the SIOP protocol for evaluative purposes too early in the SIOP learning process may be counterproductive since teachers may shy away from trying new SIOP strategies for fear of getting low marks in their formal evaluations. Instead, as they learn to implement the model, teachers need to be observed by instructional leaders, such as coaches and professional development personnel, who can discuss their lessons with them and provide constructive feedback and support.

As teachers gain confidence in the SIOP Model and the model is established as the instructional approach in the district or school, the SIOP protocol can be a very helpful tool to evaluate individual teachers’ and whole schools’ fidelity to the model and progress towards full implementation.  

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Where can I find examples of real-world teachers using SIOP in their classrooms?

A variety of examples are provided in Making Content Comprehensible and in our instructional videos. Both types of materials are readily available at the CAL Store. The CAL SIOP team plans to make more instructional videos of SIOP lessons available in the future. We also encourage teachers who are learning and implementing the SIOP Model to videotape and analyze their own lessons individually or in collaboration with colleagues.

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What research is the SIOP Model based upon?

The SIOP Model was developed by researchers at California State University, Long Beach (Jana Echevarria and Mary Ellen Vogt), and the Center for Applied Linguistics (Deborah J. Short) under the auspices of the Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE), a national research center funded by the U.S. Department of Education from 1996 through 2003.

The CREDE researchers worked with middle school teachers in four large metropolitan school districts to identify key practices for sheltered instruction and develop a professional development model to enable more teachers to use sheltered instruction in their classrooms. After five years of collaboration with practicing teachers, CREDE researchers developed a model of high quality sheltered instruction, now known as the SIOP Model. A later study was conducted to establish the validity and reliability of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol; it found the protocol to be a highly reliable and valid measure of sheltered instruction. More localized analyses conducted between 1997 and 1999 demonstrated that English language learners in classes whose teachers had been trained in implementing the SIOP Model achieved significantly higher scores on selected language skill tests than did the English language learners whose teachers had not been trained in using the SIOP Model. Learn more about the SIOP Model’s foundational research study.

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What other research has been conducted on the SIOP Model?

Most recent research studies on SIOP were focused on academic literacy (conducted in NJ), the impact of SIOP on middle school science and language learning (conducted in CA and MD), and the impact of SIOP on elementary school math learning (conducted in TX). More information on these projects can be found on our SIOP research page.

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Which states/districts are already implementing SIOP?

School systems in all 50 states and in a dozen of countries are implementing the SIOP Model. Learn more about our recent and current SIOP professional development projects.

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Questions about CAL's SIOP Professional Development Services and Products

Are there any workshops offered in my state? How can I sign up for a SIOP workshop?

CAL typically works with individual schools, schools in a district, or in some instances entire states. On occasion the SIOP team offers a CAL SIOP Training of Trainers Institute in Washington, DC where individuals can attend to learn more about the SIOP Model and how to help teachers learn and implement it in their classrooms.

Usually SIOP workshops are most cost-effective if your school system is interested in getting at least 25-30 teachers trained on the SIOP Model. Once we have collaboratively designed a SIOP professional development project with your school or school system and determined a schedule of services, our SIOP facilitators/coaches travel to your site  to conduct workshops and provide any other services stated in the contract (such as coaching, site visits, and technical assistance).

The primary reason for such an arrangement is to encourage team work and collaboration among the educators who participate in SIOP workshops. In addition, working with whole schools or school systems allows us to provide targeted technical assistance to district and school leaders, and follow-up support to teachers as they implement the SIOP Model in their classrooms.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of bringing SIOP professional development to your school or district, email us at

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How many teachers can participate in the SIOP workshops?

Our SIOP workshops (both overview and teacher workshops) are designed to serve a maximum of 30 participants per facilitator. Two or more SIOP facilitators work collaboratively to meet the needs of larger groups. We can help your school system figure out what group size would work best for your particular context.

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What is the average cost of SIOP professional development?

Because we tailor each SIOP professional development project to a given district’s or school’s needs, the price depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the group, length and type of services, as well as travel involved.

The price we quote to your school district will include our professional fees, travel expenses, and books for participants. Our price also includes the design of project-specific SIOP handouts for the participants. Our clients find it most cost-effective to provide their own materials like chart paper and markers, as well as to cover the costs associated with the workshop site and logistics. However, we ask that schools or districts reproduce the handouts and ready them for distribution to workshop participants as this has proved to be more cost-effective for our clients.

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Are there any grants available at CAL to cover partial costs of the workshops?

As a non-profit organization, CAL does not provide grants or assistance with covering the costs of the workshop. Most schools/school districts use Title I or Title III funds and other professional development grants available locally to cover the cost of our workshops.

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What is the recommended number of workshops necessary to get a good understanding of the SIOP Model?

We recommend doing between four and eight workshop days in order to help teachers fully understand and implement the SIOP Model. If possible, the series should be spread out throughout the year, in order to allow teachers to progressively implement what they learn after each workshop. In our experience, a total of fewer than four workshop days does not provide a sufficient basis for workshop participants to fully understand and, accordingly, implement the SIOP Model in their classrooms. Our SIOP overview workshop, designed to provide an introduction to the SIOP Model components, can be one to two days in length. They are recommended for schools or districts that are considering engaging in a more comprehensive SIOP professional development project. If you would like to discuss the possibility of bringing SIOP professional development to your school or district, email us at

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What do teachers experience when they participate in SIOP workshops?

The content of the workshop may vary depending on the type of SIOP professional development service we are providing. For example, teachers participating in a SIOP workshop series will learn about and practice the eight components of the SIOP Model in order to effectively integrate language and content instruction for English language learners, while coaches attending a SIOP coaching workshop will learn about the SIOP coaching cycle and practice coaching skills.

Although each SIOP workshop is unique, our workshops always start with a discussion of our content and language objectives for the day, and they include a variety of activities, such as demonstrations, explanations, analysis of video-taped lessons, small group tasks, discussion, reading, journaling, and the creation of classroom activities and lessons. Throughout the workshops, SIOP facilitators encourage collaboration and dialogue within and across school, grade-level, and content area teams of teachers so that they can support each others’ learning during and beyond the workshop series.

By sharing their deep knowledge of the SIOP Model and engaging participants in interactive activities and dialogue, SIOP facilitators provide a comprehensive education in the SIOP Model that is responsive to the diverse needs of workshop participants.

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Is it necessary to have a SIOP Overview workshop as part of the SIOP professional development project in my district/school?

A SIOP overview (one to two-day workshops that provide a summary of the SIOP Model and its research base) is very important if the school and district administrators will not be involved in the teacher workshops. If they are going to attend the workshops, a SIOP overview is not essential.  SIOP overviews for administrators help to ensure that they have the resources and knowledge to support their teachers. Two or three-day SIOP Overview workshops are also appropriate for districts or schools that want to get a sense of the SIOP Model and the quality of our work before they engage in a comprehensive SIOP professional development project with us.

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Are there any videotaped SIOP lessons and/or instructional SIOP videos available for purchase?

The video used in our SIOP workshops to analyze SIOP instruction is titled The SIOP Model: Sheltered Instruction for Academic Achievement (VHS/DVD). It is available for purchase at the CAL Store.

Our other video, Helping English Learners Succeed: An Overview of the SIOP Model, includes shorter clips of the same teachers. It is more appropriate for those who want to get a general introduction to SIOP. It is also available for purchase at the CAL Store.

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What other resources can I use to get more information about teaching ELLs?

Visit CAL’s website for more information about resources for working with English language learners.

CAL publishes a number of CAL Digests on key issues related to language learning and instruction, culture, bilingualism, and others. They can be downloaded free from the CAL website. Many of these digests contain information relevant to the SIOP Model and ELL instruction in general. Other publications on a variety of topics (such as ELL literacy, dual language instruction, and newcomer center for ELLs) are available for purchase at the CAL Store.

In addition to our SIOP professional development services, CAL offers other training opportunities for teachers and paraprofessionals working with ELLs. Learn more.

Outside of CAL, publications made available by TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) tend to be very teacher-friendly and helpful for various instructional needs. You can get more information on that from their website.

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Can I subscribe to a listserv that will keep me informed of SIOP developments?

We do not have a SIOP listserv; however, we periodically send out emails and the CAL SIOP Bulletin, an electronic newsletter with up-to-date information concerning SIOP research and practice to educators with whom we have worked or are currently working. Read past issues of the SIOP Bulletin and sign up to receive future communications regarding SIOP research and practices.

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