Examples of Building Background Using the SIOP Model

This blog post is part of a series where we unpack each of the eight components of the SIOP Model. In this blog post, we will focus on the second component, Building Background.

Rationale for Using the SIOP Model

When designing a curriculum around the SIOP Model, teachers plan explicit instruction and scaffold content based on the use of the second language, the primary language being English.

The SIOP Model includes eight components, which are systematically and sequentially implemented:

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

These eight phases can be applied throughout all subject areas, and at all levels—from elementary school through high school and beyond. The components are combined to meet the needs of individual learners and subject areas.

Instructional Strategies

Teachers use instructional strategies and encourage students to participate in meaningful interactions throughout the learning process. They can choose to create grade-level lesson plans from unit planning that reflect varying levels of complexity or are as simple as a scripted dialogue or a role-play while also incorporating more complex activities such as relevant vocabulary, going on field trips, doing projects, or creating art. The goal should be to provide high-level instructional practices with formative assessments for student achievement. 

Lesson Planning

Lesson planning and learning topics are guided by unit planning with a theme, topic, or topic themes. Activities are based on cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. Student success through learning experience is achieved through both teacher-centered instruction and student-centered activities.

Building Background

In this stage, teachers use a student-centered approach to create engaging lessons for students. 

Building background provides opportunities for educators to link previous knowledge of students with their lessons. This step helps educators to assess the level of implementation in a lesson. By building background, teachers link not only previous knowledge but also students’ learning in other subjects and life experiences. 

Students enter classes with a variety of backgrounds, curricula, and classroom experiences. The data collected throughout assessments can be used to help teachers assess their current teaching strategies, student learning, and the alignment of standards.

Building Background Through Assessment

Teaching for the past two decades, I have witnessed a multitude of ways of learning. I am constantly assessing my students not only for lesson content but their behavior, attitude, and relationships with each other and at home. To do this, I observe students who arrive in class eager to learn and others who have been forced to attend their English lessons. I monitor, learn, and adapt as needed to support my students to achieve the lesson outcomes.

Prerequisite for Learning

The prerequisite for learning via the SIOP Model is that learners have achieved a solid understanding of the key concepts and strategies that underlie their current learning. This step, therefore, helps to meet the second component of building background for integrated learning.

Examples of How to Build Background in the SIOP Model

This step helps to link previous knowledge as well as students’ learning in other subjects and in life.

For example, students who learned about steam engines and engines in their science lessons can apply knowledge from that lesson to their investigation of the steam engine in their history lessons and even their art lessons. Students who have seen a steam engine or built an engine can apply that knowledge as well. Background helps teachers to align content and skills with their lessons.

Use background to link not just previous content knowledge but also previous experience with the concepts to be learned. The assessment, monitoring, and evaluation of background activities help teachers to determine where students are coming from and what they already know.

Example of a Lesson with Building Background

In order to help students develop a better understanding of the role that the steam engine played in history, the activities in this lesson will involve the students in thinking about how they can apply scientific knowledge to better understand history. This lesson focuses on the following concepts:

  • Energy is the ability to do work.
  • Energy can be transformed from one form to another.
  • The steam engine converts heat energy from burning coal into mechanical energy that can be used to do work.
  • Coal was a key resource used to build economies.
  • Healthy economies, like in ________ (country of origin) are developed today using resources like _________.

This information is critical for teachers to select materials and plan the lessons.

Another example is if students have been studying airplanes for the past few days, a teacher can introduce the first lesson about the steam engine by bringing in a model of a steam engine. This model is related to what students have already studied but is different in its use and structure. The purpose is to get students to think critically about the similarities between the two machines.

Teachers can also create an activity where students write a story or create a graphic or digital representation of a time when they traveled by airplane.

Benefits of Building Background with The SIOP Model

Teachers ask questions to help students to be active participants in their learning. The questions they ask, how they ask them, and how the students answer them are all important. Bloom (1956) considered the role of questioning in learning to be a key one, and he stated that questions should focus on four levels of cognitive learning: recall, comprehension, application, and analysis.

Another benefit of building background information is that when students learn a concept in one subject area and then apply that same concept in another subject area, they are likely to remember it better. For example, if students explore how to reduce the friction of a wheel in science and then use that same concept to reduce friction in historical events, and then extend to how the wheel moves on their bicycle, the topic will stick with them longer.

The SIOP Model


Teaching with the SIOP Model


If you are an educator, parent, or grandparent and looking for practical strategies to use with children, concepts to understand, and ideas that can be easily implemented about how to create space for self and others, you have landed in the right spot.

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Children learn how to solve problems the same way they learn how to read, write, and add. Like reading, writing, and adding, there are three specific components to solving problems. These are teachable skills children can learn at any age.

Published by suzannemarie

Educator and published author of conflict management and children's books. Living life to its fullest. I believe in courageously honouring my truth and living my legacy. Lover of meaningful conversations, coffee, food, art, and building connections. I love writing about my fascination with culture, food, adventure, self-love, and living a healthy and fulfilled life!

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