How to Boost Your SIOP Teaching Strategies

Chinese students sitting together in a group in a circle working on a lesson for Making The Most Of Your SIOP Teaching Strategies by Suzanne Marie


Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

Struggling to engage your students? Unlock the potential of SIOP teaching strategies to naturally captivate and motivate them.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll gain access to the essential resources and tools required to implement SIOP teaching strategies in your classroom seamlessly. Say goodbye to disengagement and hello to an environment where learning flourishes.

But we don’t stop at theory. This post is packed with real-life examples of SIOP teaching strategies, drawing from my own experiences in both teaching and learning with these methods.

Discover how SIOP naturally transforms your teaching approach and inspires your students to excel.

What are examples of SIOP teaching strategies?

Integrated Skills-Based Approach SIOP Teaching Strategy

In the Integrated skills-based approach teaching strategy, teachers deliver lessons where students practice more than one language skill.

This method helps students to reach language proficiency because they can focus on the context of the target language by understanding the content and how it is applied.

Teachers can provide a variety of teaching methods to meet the needs of learners when using this teaching strategy.

Discrete Skill-Based Approach SIOP Teaching Strategy

The discrete skill-based approach teaching strategy targets one domain of language the student wants or needs to focus on.

For example, this teaching strategy may focus only on pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, or writing in the perfect tense.

Emphasis on specifically targeted skills helps students focus on critical growth areas. This teaching strategy is best applied in addition to the integrated skills-based approach teaching strategy.

Comparison Between SIOP Teaching Strategies

My teaching experience has been with the integrated skills-based approach teaching strategy.

My lessons include all four domains of language learning: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. I find that using this teaching strategy to deliver lessons helps to provide the students with an immersive experience in the English language.

By using this method, students experience enhanced overall learning of the English language as they focus on more than one target language domain at once. 

Challenges Using SIOP Teaching Strategies

The challenge with this method for teaching English to Chinese learners is it can be overwhelming to use all four domains in each lesson.

My lessons include a variety of media and opportunities for students to discuss, share, and practice appropriate grammar structures. Then, they apply appropriate grammar, vocabulary, and spelling with their writing activities.

Depending on the proficiency level of my students, some may have a limited vocabulary which they apply very well. In contrast, others have an extensive vocabulary they do not know how to use for speaking and writing.

Generally speaking, my students have expressed that reading is the easiest form of learning English while writing is the most challenging. 

Benefits of SIOP Teaching Strategies

The benefit of this learning style is that although a slower pace requires meticulous attention to details throughout the lessons and students’ learning experience, it provides a well-rounded approach for them to learn how to master the English language.

Students achieve mastery of English by integrating all four language domains into the lessons. 

My Personal Experience with SIOP Teaching Strategies

In my learning experiences, I have learned by the discrete skill-based approach teaching strategy with my Chinese teachers. During our lessons, they focused on the target skills of grammar structures and pronunciation of tones for speaking and listening.

During self-study, they direct me to focus on writing and reading and then assess me in classes for proficiency with these two skills.

Depending on the lesson, this method could also be an integrated skills-based teaching strategy. My Chinese teacher often combines the target skills, yet sometimes only focuses on tones with speaking. 

Challenges for Learners

The challenge with this method is the time I need to make for more self-study to practice Chinese enough to gain proficiency in the language.

The four language domains are applied very quickly in lessons, and I need to arrange for another Chinese teacher and friends to practice speaking and listening.

The benefit of the discrete skill-based approach teaching strategy is only focusing on target areas of language using this method. I am clear on the grammatical structures, tones, and characters.

The remaining learning occurs through self-study and practical application through reading applications on my phone, creating vocabulary flashcards, and practicing in the community. 

Feedback from Students

I have heard feedback from my students that when we focus on a discrete method in lessons, they seek more information outside of class for the other language domains they would like lessons about. 

Conclusions About SIOP Teaching Strategies

I have found that with adult learners, my teaching strategy is more collaborative than when I am teaching high school students.

Teaching Strategy for Teaching Adults

I start each class of adult learners for their desired learning outcomes during our time together.

This type of poll at the beginning of our class time helped me assign appropriately suited homework for each student.

  • Speaking. For students who want to practice speaking in more of a discrete method, I would ask them to read articles of their choice out loud, record themselves, listen to their recording, re-record and then send me the file for feedback.
  • Listening. When students want to practice listening, I ask them to choose an English radio program and listen to a five-minute topic for discussion. Then, they make notes about what they understood from the radio program and include any new vocabulary and definitions along with synonyms. They would then send me their notes, and we would discuss their experience.
  • Writing. For writing, students would tell me the area of interest for writing skills, and I would do a short pre-assessment and then assign homework accordingly. Most students in business chose to learn the basics of writing emails and business proposals.
  • Reading. When students want to increase reading comprehension, I assign classical novels based on their level of proficiency, along with chapter questions for them to write about after reading each chapter.

All my students were required to read aloud for at least five minutes of their reading time, complete the question sets, and return them to me for review and discussion. 

Teaching Strategy for High School Students

I do a pre-assessment for my high school students and then mix lesson plans between the discrete skill-based approach teaching strategy and the integrated skills-based approach teaching strategy.

Lessons are designed with teaching strategies depending on the skills needed, the language domain, and the content we need to cover.

Although there is some room for collaboration with my lesson planning, I make the decisions for my high school students as the classes are much larger than with my adult students.

As we move through the content, I hold individual meetings with my students to ask for their input about what they need to practice with their English language studies.

In both instances, I find ownership of learning goals with my adult and high school learners. 

Lesson Plan Examples with SIOP Teaching Strategies

Mini Classroom Activities
Discrete skill and Integrated skill based

INSTRUCTOR: Suzanne Marie, Youlyee Jun 


For this lesson plan activity, we used the ‘Instructional Skills Workshop Mini-Lesson Plan Model’ (ISW Handbook, 2021, p. 7).

Instructional Skills Workshop Model

The ISW was developed in 1979 for Canadian colleges and universities. Initially, it was intended to provide new instructors with basic instructional skills. Early participants found themselves engaged in a process that deeply affected their beliefs about pedagogy (p. 2). 

ISW was initially intended for competency-based adult education working towards competencies required for performance in a given field like the trades. Competencies were clearly conveyed to participants in the form of performance objectives.

Since then, ISW has encompassed the learning outcomes approach, which fits nicely with Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom’s Taxonomy, 2001). Learning outcomes integrate performances and mastery of basic competency components of the curriculum.

Teaching strategies relate directly to the learning outcomes.

Purpose of ISW

The overall purpose of ISW is to help educators develop increased competence and confidence and to provide resources to assist individuals in becoming more reflective teaching practitioners. 

This is an overview of the ISW Mini-Lesson Planning Model we used for this activity:

ISW Model for Making The Most Of Your SIOP Teaching Strategies by Suzanne Marie

Discrete Skill-Based Activity (Reading Comprehension)

Lesson Title: Trains (Vehicles that we use)

Grade level: Grade 4 (Since students are ELL Reading grade is one level lower)

Time Segment of Lesson: 15 minutes

Standards address in Lesson:
Read with grade-level accuracy for comprehension.

Teaching Strategy

The teacher will use interactive discussions to create real-world context with the lesson material.


The teacher will have an image of three different trains on the overhead projector and screen. 

Objective(s) of the Lesson

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • List three types of trains.

Students will read a short story and answer questions related to the story. The assessment will include multiple-choice questions and written responses.


The teacher will ask the students how many have taken a train to travel. 

Participatory Learning

Trains        By Jack Hastings

Read the passage below.

The first steam engine to pull a passenger train was built nearly 200 years ago. It took two hours to travel 40 kilometers. The early steam trains burned coal to boil water and make steam. Trains have changed a lot over time. They use different sorts of power to help them travel faster and use less fuel. Some trains use diesel fuel, and some use electricity. Trains that use diesel fuel have large, heavy engines that use less fuel than other engines. In many cities, passenger trains run on electricity. Some electric trains run underground through tunnels. One of the fastest trains in the world is called the bullet train. It is a Japanese electric train. It can travel at 300 kilometers per hour.


Answer each question.

  1. When was the first steam engine built?
  2. Some trains use diesel fuel, and some use electricity. (True/False)
  3. Which type of trains uses diesel fuel?
  4. Electric trains run underground through a mine, tunnel, or cave?
  5. Which is the fastest train in the world and why?

Lesson Summary

The teacher will lead a class discussion based on the following leading questions:

  1. Where did you see the trains?
  2. What type of trains do you know?
  3. Explain the differences between different types of trains.

Big Ideas Addressed in the Lesson 

Discuss different types of trains.

Integrated Skill-Based Lesson Plan (Speaking, Listening, Writing)

Lesson Title: Measuring Distance in Kilometres

Grade level: Grade 4 

Time Segment of Lesson: 20 minutes

Standards address in Lesson:


Relate reading to real-world relevant to students, experience, and culture through discussion, writing, and speaking presentation.

Teaching Strategy

The teacher will use interactive discussions to create real-world context with the lesson material.


The teacher will have a Google map on the overhead projector and screen with the distance between the school and the teacher’s hometown. 

Objective(s) of the Lesson

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain distance in kilometers.

Students will discuss distance in kilometers to their families who do not live in the same city in which they live and go to school.

Students will write the outcome of their think-pair-share discussion in a journal entry and present their writing in a short speech to the class. 


The teacher will ask the students if they have family members who live far away from their home and classroom community. 

Participatory Learning

Activity 1: Students will think-pair-share for five minutes to discuss the distance from home and school to a relative living in another city or country.

They will research the distance in kilometers from their home and school community. 

Guided Discussion Questions
  1. Who in your family Iives farthest away from you?
  2. What is the distance in kilometers your family member lives?

Activity 2: Students will write about the distance of their family members in a one-paragraph journal entry. (5 mins)

Journal Entry
  1. Names of family members and relationship to the student.
  2. Name of the city, town, or community in which the family members live.
  3. Distance in kilometers from the student’s home and school community to where the family members live.

Activity 3: Students will organize in groups by the distance their family members live and present their journal entries in a speech to the class. (10mins)

The teacher will draw a line on the whiteboard, starting with point 1 being the home community and school. Then add 50km, 100km, and 500km+.

Home        50km        100km            500km +

Organization Method
  1. The teacher will ask for a show of hands how many have family who lives 50km, 100km, 500km, or more away from their home community and school.
  2. The teacher will ask students to join up into three groups along the line on the whiteboard.
  3. Starting with the shortest distance in kilometers, students will read their journal entries to the class. 

Post- Assessment

Students are assessed based on their understanding of distance in kilometers as presented in their journal entries and in their speech to the class. 

Students are assessed in Speaking by the grammar structures learned in previous classes and how they present their journal entries.

Students are assessed in Writing based on grammar structures, and spelling learned in previous classes for their journal entries. 

Students are assessed in Listening based on how they organize by distance on the whiteboard. 

Lesson Summary

The teacher will lead a class discussion based on the following leading questions:

  1. When was the last time you visited your family members?
  2. What do you like most about traveling to visit your family members?

Big Ideas Addressed in the Lesson

Talk and write about real-world examples as they relate to personal experiences. 

Summary of SIOP Teaching Strategies

With both research-based best teaching strategies for multilingual learners presented here, I think choosing the right SIOP teaching strategy for students depends on the learners’ style and preferred learning method.

Some of my students are experiential learners who enjoy the English language’s practical application and immersion and create TedTalk-like presentations. They use the vocabulary, concepts, and ideas discussed in class for their presentations.

In contrast, others prefer a targeted approach to focus on only one skill: speaking in a conversational tone. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,


Related Topics

Further Reading

Integrated Skills in the ESL/EFL Classroom

A Discrete Approach to Teaching ESL

Integrated Skills Approach in the EFL Classrooms


Blooms Taxonomy :: Resource for Educators. (2001). (n.d.). Englishlinx.Com. Retrieved June 23, 2021, from

Integrated Skills in the ESL/EFL Classroom. ERIC Digest. (2019).

ISW Handbook | Instructional Skills Workshop Network. (n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2021, from 

Integrated vs Discrete Skills ESL Courses: Advantages of Discrete Skills. (n.d.). Retrieved June 25, 2021, from

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