Presenters: Cara Bernard and Joseph Michael Abramo

Students come to the music classroom with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. For those classified as English learners (ELs), the ability of music teachers to scaffold instruction in order to make it meaningful and help the students develop English proficiency at the same time is essential. According to the federal government, there are currently 5 million EL students (10.1 percent of the total U.S. student population), and this statistic has increased every year with a predicted continued upward trajectory. Without supports in place, ELs often experience challenges in the classroom setting. These challenges are related to their comprehension of the academic content as well as their ability to engage meaningfully with their teacher and peers for social or academic purposes. Even in the music classroom, ELs may struggle with the linguistic demands put upon them, from unknown vocabulary in an Appalachian folk song to navigating a score in an orchestra rehearsal, or even something as basic as understanding and being able to follow directions for a class activity.

Sheltered instruction can help connect students to the content, to language, and to one another. Sheltered instruction encourages teachers to build on students’ background knowledge (including language and literacy skills in the home language) using an asset-based approach that affirms and centers what students know and can do (Short et al., 2018). This session will provide music teachers with components for effective instruction of ELs using the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP). Participants will then apply the SIOP practices to lessons and repertoire they currently teach.

Watch the video of the webinar below.




April 2024 Teaching Music


  • Culturally Relevant Teaching
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA)
  • Educational Topics
  • Representation

Resource Type

  • Classroom Resource
  • Video
  • Webinar

Year Added


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