Strategies That Matter: How to Use SIOP’s Building Background in Social Studies

Teaching social studies to English Language Learners can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. One of the best solutions is the Structured Instruction Observation Protocol. You can create engaging history ESL lessons using the “Building Background” component of SIOP.

Structured Instruction Observation Protocol. Strategies That Matter: How to Use SIOP'S Building Background in Social Studies

Now, what exactly is the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol? It’s a research-based framework created by Drs. Jana Echevarria & MaryEllen Vogt. It’s designed to support ESL students. As a matter of fact, it helps all learners. By focusing on the “Building Background” component, you can ensure your students connect with the historical context, develop language skills, and deepen their understanding of the world.

There are 8 components of SIOP:

  1. Lesson preparation
  2. Building Background
  3. Comprehensible Input
  4. Strategies
  5. Interaction
  6. Practice & Application
  7. Lesson Delivery
  8. Review & Assessment.

What is the “Building Background” component of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol?

“Building Background” focuses on creating a strong foundation before delving into new content. It involves providing students with the necessary background information, vocabulary, and cultural context to engage meaningfully with the subject matter. Students will connect prior knowledge to:

  1. New concepts
  2. Develop language skills,
  3. Deepen their understanding.

To effectively implement this component, use visual aids, pre-teach vocabulary, make real-world connections, and incorporate diverse cultural experiences. This ensures students have the background knowledge to actively engage with the content.

Goals of Building Background:

  • Accessing Prior Knowledge
  • Linking to prior learning experiences
  • Exposing kids to new vocabulary

Let’s dive into some interactive history ESL lesson ideas for U.S. History, World History, and Civics. These ideas are infused with the “Building Background” component of SIOP.

U.S. History ESL Lesson: “Primary Source Detective”

Transform your students into history detectives as they explore primary sources from different eras in U.S. History. Provide them with historical documents, such as letters, photographs, or newspaper articles. Encourage them to look at these sources to see the perspectives, motivations, and impact of historical events.

Students engage in critical thinking and language development while looking at historical documents. Students build background knowledge by connecting with the voices and narratives of the past. They also develop historical thinking skills and get a deeper appreciation for U.S. History.

World History ESL Lesson: “Time Capsule Journey”

Take your students on a time-traveling adventure through the pages of history!

  • Divide the class into small groups and assign each group to a different time period or civilization.
  • Challenge them to create a time capsule representing their given era’s key aspects.
  • This project can include
    • artifacts
    • artwork
    • music
    • short skits or presentations.

This aligns with the “Building Background” of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol. It allows students to immerse themselves in different time periods or civilizations. They can actively engage with their assigned era’s cultural, social, and political aspects. This project enhances language skills and deepens their understanding of the era’s significance. It also fosters a connection to the past and builds a solid background knowledge of historical events and civilizations.

Civics ESL Lesson: “Government in Action”

Make the study of civics come alive through an interactive exploration of different forms of government.

  • Assign each student or small group a specific type of government
    • democracy
    • monarchy
    • Communism.
  • Encourage them to research and prepare presentations or role-plays
  • Highlighting their assigned system’s features, advantages, and challenges.

This activity engages students in an interactive exploration of different forms of government. Through this process, they get a deeper understanding of the characteristics of various forms of government. They build solid background knowledge of civics concepts and develop critical thinking skills. This activity enhances language development. It also immerses students in the complexities of government systems. This allows them to make meaningful connections and engage with the subject matter.

Now that you’ve explored some lesson ideas let’s focus on effectively implementing the “Building Background” component of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol in your classroom.

Here are a few “Building Background” strategies to engage your students using the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol:

  • Visual Aids and Graphic Organizers:
    • Use visuals to provide contexts and enhance understanding.
      • These can include:
        • maps
        • timelines
        • infographics to provide context and enhance understanding.
    • Use graphic organizers to help students organize and connect their knowledge.
  • Pre-teaching Vocabulary:
  • Real-World Connections:
    • Relate historical events or civic concepts to current events or real-world situations.
    • This connection helps students see the relevance and application of their learning.
  • Cultural Experiences:
    • Use diverse resources, texts, and perspectives
    • This provides a well-rounded understanding of history and civics.
    • Celebrate and respect the diversity of your students’ backgrounds.

Remember, the “Building Background” component of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol empowers you to create engaging history ESL lessons. These lessons connect students with the content, foster language development, and deepen their understanding of the world. So, go ahead and embark on this exciting journey with your students.

Don’t forget to Grab my 5 Foolproof Strategies to Support ELs in Your Social Studies Classes lesson bundle. It’s chock full of some of the strategies discussed in this post.

Did you miss the first two components of SIOP? Check out the blog posts below to catch up!

  1. How to Craft Powerful Social Studies Lessons with SIOP
  2. Engage & Empower: SIOP Interaction in Social Studies Lessons

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  1. […] Like this post? Check out another one: Strategies That Matter: How to Use SIOP’s Building Background in Social Studies! […]

  2. […] Strategies. (Haven’t read about the first two components? Here’s Lesson preparation, Building Background, and Comprehensible Input). As a high school social studies teacher, you know how essential it is […]

  3. […] (Haven’t read about the first two components? Click here for Lesson Preparation and here for Building Background). Let’s explore how this component can make social studies come alive for our ELL students. […]

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