What is Sheltering Classroom Content for ELLs?

According to CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics):
Sheltered instruction is an approach to teaching that promotes language development and content-area learning. Content-area and ESL teachers adapt grade level content lessons to the students’ levels of English proficiency. At the same time, teachers focus on English language development and help students increase proficiency in English.

According to Brown's Alliance:
Sheltered English instruction is an instructional approach that engages ELLs above the beginner level in developing grade-level content-area knowledge, academic skills, and increased English proficiency. In sheltered English classes, teachers use clear, direct, simple English and a wide range of scaffolding strategies to communicate meaningful input in the content area to students. Learning activities that connect new content to students' prior knowledge, that require collaboration among students, and that spiral through curriculum material, offer ELLs the grade-level content instruction of their English-speaking peers, whilelesson delivery to suit their English proficiency level.

The Components of Sheltered Instruction:

a. Preparation
WHAT
Content and language objectives, aligned to state and local standards, frame each lesson. Teachers incorporate supplemental materials to assist ELLs in the lesson.
WHY
Sheltered lessons help students make connections between new knowledge and prior experience. Teachers plan meaningful, relevant learning activities to enable those connections.
HOW
  • Consult state and district content standards and state or national language benchmarks.
  • Develop thematic units to lead to essential understandings.
  • Develop content and language objectives, aligned with standards and unit goals, for each day's lesson for content and language.
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b. Building Background
WHAT
Sheltered lessons link new content to students' background experience and prior learning. Special activities build vocabulary related to specific content as well as to general academic language.
WHY
Highly proficient readers activate their schema as they read and listen. Schema is background knowledge of the world that provides a framework for understanding and acquiring new ideas and information.
HOW
  • Through direct questioning, conversation, and shared activities learn about student background.
  • Emphasize key content vocabulary.
  • Help students make explicit connections to personalize new word learning.
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c. Comprehensible Input
WHAT
Sheltered lessons present content information in ways that ELLs can comprehend. Linguistic input – both teacher speech and text – is adjusted to maximize student comprehension, without lessening content or expectations for achievement.
WHY
ELLs are called upon to process, manipulate, and display large amounts of new material at a rapid pace in a foreign language. Visual aides, allowances for processing time, and opportunities for clarification provide support in this intense, demanding process.
HOW
  • Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Employ pauses, short sentences, simple syntax, few pronouns and idioms.
  • Use redundancy and discourse markers, keywords, outlines.
  • Provide examples and descriptions, not definitions.
  • Use visuals, hands-on resources, gestures and graphic organizers.
  • Provide content texts at multiple language proficiency levels.
[RETURN TO QUESTION 6]

d. Strategies
WHAT
Strategies have been described as "special thoughts or behaviors that individuals use to help them comprehend, learn or retain new information." (Chamot & O'Malley, 1994). Teachers model and scaffold strategies, working toward independent competence. Teachers also push students beyond content knowledge to higher order skills including critical analysis and inquiry.
WHY
Teaching explicit learning strategies improves reading and learning and helps ELLs acquire the tools they need to approach learning tasks and solve problems with assistance, as part of a team or independently.
HOW
Through careful modeling and scaffolding, teach a range of metacognitive, cognitive, and affective strategies, one at a time. Allow time for repeated practice so that students acquire procedural knowledge of one strategy before introducing another.
[RETURN TO QUESTION 6]

e. Interaction
WHAT
Sheltered lessons provide frequent opportunities for students to interact with different groups of peers and others.
WHY
To acquire language fluency, students need opportunities to produce real, purposeful language and to direct the course of conversations and arguments.
HOW
  • Facilitate frequent pair and small-group activities centered around meaningful tasks.
  • Model and assign tasks requiring turn-taking, questioning, supporting/disagreeing, clarification.
  • Model and discuss ways of communicating respect.
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f. Practice/Application
WHAT
English language learners have opportunities in the classroom to practice and apply the language skills and content knowledge they have acquired.
WHY
Trying out new knowledge and practicing new skills in a safe environment, supported by teacher and peer feedback, leads to mastery. Initially, students can reflect on and adjust their performance initially with assistance and ultimately independently.
HOW
  • Provide hands-on materials for students to use in practicing new content knowledge.
  • Provide opportunities for students to apply new knowledge and use language skills in the classroom.
  • Create activities that call upon students to integrate listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
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g. Lesson Delivery
WHAT
Throughout the lesson, learning activities support and reinforce the content and language objectives established at the beginning of the lesson. Students are actively engaged in the lesson activities. The lesson's pace is appropriate to the students' language ability levels.
WHY
Effective lesson delivery maximizes students' understanding, which increases student participation and enhances the quality of student work.
HOW
  • Refer to and reinforce content and language objectives explicitly throughout the lesson.
  • Engage students in meaningful activity 90-100% of the lesson.
  • Keep the pace of the lesson challenging, but do-able, for all students. Be mindful that students' comfort level varies in terms of pace; use appropriate pacing strategies.
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h. Review and Assessment
WHAT
Teachers of English language learners observe student performance systematically with regard to criteria established in the preparation phase. Both content-based products and language-related processes are taken into account.
WHY
Traditional whole-class methods of assessment may provide no way to showcase ELLs' development. Assessment should be a continuous and interactive process between teacher and student.
HOW
In lieu of or in conjunction with discrete point and objective-style tests, assess through:
  • Conferences
  • Take-home reflections
  • Oral retell
  • Learning logs
  • Graphic organizers
  • Content inventory
  • Cloze exercises
  • Dictations
Use with a scoring guide or performance rubrics, aligned with learning objectives to collect evidence of content learning.
[RETURN TO QUESTION 6]
References:
[return] Chamot, A. U., & O'Malley, J. M. (1994). The CALLA handbook: Implementing the cognitive academic language learning approach. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
[return] Echevarria, J., Vogt, M., & Short, D.J. (2004). Making content comprehensible for English learners: The SIOP model (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson.
[return] Freeman, D., & Freeman, Y. (1988). Sheltered English instruction(ERIC Digest ED301070). Retrieved January 2005 fromhttp://thememoryhole.org/edu/eric/ed301070.html


Curriculum Mapping for Sheltered Lessons:

Click here to see Proficiency Level Descriptions for ELLs:

Mapping Tool for Classroom Sheltered Curriculum: