Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners: The SIOP Model (#3)

“Clearly, there is little benefit in selecting 25 to 30 isolated vocabulary terms and asking English learners (and other students) to copy them from the board and look up their definitions in the dictionary (Allen, 2007; Fisher & Frey, 2008b). Many of the words in the definitions are unfamiliar to these students, which renders the activity meaningless. Although using the dictionary is an important school skill to learn, the task must fit the students’ learning and language needs. The number of terms should be tailored to the students’ English and literacy levels, and they should be presented in context, not in isolation”
— Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2017, p. 81

For the past year, I have been second-guessing whether I should continue to use the personal thesaurus with my learners. This personal thesaurus asks that they lookup vocabulary words, input them into their electronic personal thesaurus, and list synonyms and antonyms along with the vocabulary term. After reading this quote, along with many of our other texts, it is clear to me that it is the interaction with the words that are important. Odds are, I will be phasing out of that tool and moving onto more meaningful activities for interaction and application of vocabulary terms.

Differentiating how learners understand new vocabulary is also a huge consideration I need to implement. Next year, I plan on keeping a word wall to keep those vocabulary terms visually in front of us as we grow along with it. I would like activities I do for different texts to have some exploratory vocabulary element to it.

“In the revised taxonomy, the six levels are, again from lowest to highest: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create. Webb (1997) developed a similar, but more complex system and criteria for aligning standards, teaching, and assessment, called Depth of Knowledge (DOK)”
— Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2017, p. 132

I am extremely interested in the Depth of Knowledge (Webb, 1997) levels. In my backward design unit template that I use when planning out a unit, I have a section that asks for assessments of, for, and as learning. This Depth of Knowledge (Webb, 1997) criteria gives me great elements to work off of, especially because they are aligned with the standards. The levels allows for me to analyze my assessments and implement different assessments and activities into my units that scaffold prior knowledge with new knowledge, make the content meaningful, and allows for plenty of differentiation.

There is a graphic of the Depth of Knowledge Levels (Webb, 1997) that is really handy and nice to have when you are planning. I highly recommend it! I may even have to implement this into my backwards design template.

Echevarria, J., Vogt, M.., & Short, D.J. (2017). Making content comprehensible for english learners: The SIOP model (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.