Biology teacher, Daryl Traylor, helps El student with an assignment.
Biology teacher, Daryl Traylor, helps El student with an assignment.
Salem Ortega-Morales

Empowering English language learners

SHS provides sheltered classes to help English learner students

For many years, SHS has been known as a very diverse institution. However, this comes at the expense of hard work and dedication.

“I love the diversity that we have here … it’s what makes up for such an amazing place to be every day,” principal Amy Boone said. 

Although most English-learning students have experienced a long and difficult journey to reside in the United States, their struggles do not end there. To accommodate new English learners, SHS provides sheltered classes where teachers take extra precautions and steps.

These sheltered classes include math, english, science, and social studies, some of which were not available in the student’s previous academic lifestyle.  

“There’s a need for prior learning that maybe didn’t happen in their home country,” Boone said. 

Depending on what a student is taking, there may or may not be a sheltered class available. While all levels of English are available, the only science class options are biology and integrated chemistry and physics (ICP). The math class options are algebra and integrated math. Social studies options include geography, government and economics. 

“People might think that those (classes) are easier…that’s not necessarily true. Those students are learning a lot of the same things, but they’re learning a brand new language,” said SHS science teacher Daryl Traylor.

Sheltered classes are not as different from normal classes. They still meet the necessary standards and continue to pursue the same objectives as other classes.

Teachers are teaching in a way so kids can still be successful and move on to the next level, but they are focusing on different aspects of learning. The four domains of learning a language (speaking, reading, listening, and writing) play a very large an

d important role. 

“The biggest changes are teaching the content but teaching it at a little bit of a slower pace and making sure to emphasize the vocabulary,” Traylor said.

The content in these classes is also modified so that there are more specific strategies.

While EL students will spend the majority of their time in sheltered classrooms, they are still being exposed to the language through a variety of different immersion classes. Family and consumer science, business, health and P.E. are all immersion classes. Immersion classes are combined with EL students and English speaking students. 

The idea of sheltered classes is still new. SHS teachers are still in their process of learning and improving their skills.  

“We find ourselves having to create and generate best practices by ourselves at times,”  Boone said. 

Although SHS is still in the learning process, other schools have already begun to catch on. Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) is coming to observe SHS sheltered classrooms to brainstorm ideas for their own school. 

“Not everything’s perfect, but we’ve seen growth and success as a school and district,” Boone said. 


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  • J

    JohnOct 22, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    Thank you for the post – very interesting —
    Question: are paying positions (( tutoring only in ESL / TESOL) available in Chicago?
    – John

    • A

      adviserNov 30, 2023 at 11:00 pm

      I’m sure there are! It would just take a little searching to find it. There’s a website called upwork that has paid tutors. I’m sure it’s possible to get on there.