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Lesson Preparation

Lesson planning and preparation are critical aspects of teaching and learning, and are often given less importance than they deserve. Over the years many teachers have become accustomed to receiving scripted lesson plans in teacher edition manuals, but the lesson plans often do not meet the needs of English language learners at various proficiency levels. It's important that teachers spend sufficient time planning and preparing lesson plans prior to teaching the lesson.  As the old saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". When lesson plans have been well thought out and prepared in advance, lessons will go much more smoothly and it will be easier for students to achieve the goals of the lesson. 
 
The SIOP model recommends that teachers include the following components when planning lessons:
 
Content Objectives
Content objectives are grade-level standards, objectives and goals that identify what students will learn in the lesson in various subject areas (i.e., English language arts, Science, Social Studies, Math, etc).  Teachers can find the content objectives in their grade-level content standards required for their state or school district. Some state content standards are typically very broad and must be broken down into smaller objectives that can be taught over the course of one or two periods. For example, the third grade California Science standard,"Students know plants and animals have structures that serve different functions in growth, survival and reproduction" is too broad to be taught in one lesson. The standard can be broken down into smaller objectives where teachers might teach that "Bald eagles have physical characteristics that help them survive" over the course of one lesson. In subsequent lessons, the teacher can plan lessons to teach about the bald eagle's behavioral characteristics that help them adapt to survive, or their life cycles and reproductive habits. 
 
Language Objectives
In addition to content objectives, each lesson should include a language objective that is designed to facilitate language development. The language objectives may be listening and speaking, reading, or writing and should be objectives that are slightly beyond the students' proficiency level in order to promote literacy development. Language objectives can be: vocabulary, functional language, reading, writing, listening/speaking, grammar/language structures, etc. Language objectives can be derived from state ELD/ESL standards, English language arts standards, district ELD/ESL objectives, or can also be identified by the teacher based on student need. 
 
For example, when studying about the physical characteristics of the bald eagle in the example mentioned above, one example of a language objective that teachers may include in the lesson might be one or more of the following:
  • Orally restate details about the physical adapations that bald eagles use for survival
  • Write a paragraph with a topic sentence and supporting details about the physical adaptations of bald eagles
  • Read a chapter in a Science book about the bald eagle and identify three physical adaptations
The language objectives chosen should integrate well with the content objectives being taught in each lesson. Teachers should include a variety of language objectives that represent all four language domains: reading, writing, listening and speaking over the course of the unit of study. While reading and writing skills are important, oral language development is equally important for English learners and listening/speaking language objectives should not be ignored.
 
Appropriate Content Concepts
Content concepts taught to students should be grade-level appropriate. In the event that students do not have the prerequisite knowledge to learn about the grade-level concepts, teachers should activate prior knowledge and utilize a variety of building background strategies in order to build background knowledge about the concepts. It is not advisable to give older students materials that are designed for younger students; instead, teachers should build background knowledge or adapt and modify grade-level instructional materials in order to expose students to grade-level content. Teachers can also utilize small group instruction to preteach and reteach grade-level content with struggling students or students at lower English proficiency levels who might need review of the content. During lesson planning, teachers should brainstorm a variety of ways that they will expose struggling students to grade-level concepts. 
 
Effective Use of Supplementary Materials
When planning lessons, teachers should plan to include materials and resources designed to supplement and enhance the content and language objectives as well as concepts taught. In each lesson teachers might include the following supplemental materials, depending on the lesson: realia, manipulatives, pictures/photos, visuals (GLAD pictorial input charts, charts, graphic organizers, timelines, etc), videos, powerpoints, adapted text, Project GLAD teacher-made big books, related fiction and nonfiction books, and a variety of other supplemental resources. All supplemental resources are utilized to enhance and expand the information provided in core curriculum.
 
Adapting Content to All English Proficiency Levels
When planning lessons, teachers should brainstorm a number of ways to make the content understandable and accessible to students at all English proficiency levels. It's important that when adapting content that teachers do not water down the concepts to such a degree that students are not learning grade level standards. A vary of SIOP strategies, as well as Project GLAD and other ELD strategies can be utilized by teachers to make cognitively complex adacemic concepts accessible to students at all proficiency levels. You can find additional information in Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model99 Ideas and Activities for Teaching English Learners with the SIOP Model, and other books in the ELD Strategies store  

Meaningful and Authentic Activities that Integrate Lesson Concepts with Opportunities to Practice Language
When planning lessons for English learners, teachers must plan meaningful and authentic ways that students will practice the content and language objectives identified in the lesson. Students should practice all four language domains (i.e., reading, writing, speaking, listening) when studying concepts.
 
For additional information on the SIOP model of English language development (ELD) and second language acquisition, please visit our SIOP overview page , which contains information about additional SIOP components.