Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 20, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “We Should Be Obsessed With Racial Equity”

This summer, I will be taking a break now-and-then from blogging to both take some R & R and to also finish-up our next book on teaching English Language Learners.

During those short breaks, I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite posts of 2017 so far.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2016’s Best Posts From This Blog

I have often shared links to Education Week posts by Walt Gardner in this blog.  His pieces are short, to-the-point, and often, in my opinion, right on target.

However, I have to say that I was shocked and appalled by his latest post, The ‘Racial Equity’ Obsession.  In it, he begins by writing a misleading characterization of events at the St. Paul public schools based on an opinion article headlined, incredibly, “No Thug Left Behind” (see this NPR piece about the racial overtones of the word “thug”).  The article, and Gardner’s summary, paints a picture of school mayhem and “destroyed teacher morale” because of efforts to reduce racial disparity in discipline. He then uses that inaccurate description to condemn efforts in schools that are responding to racial disparities in school discipline that are often based in teacher bias.  His evidence is the “thug” article and the memory of his personal teaching experience, and cites no other evidence.  Of course, he omits the countless studies that have, indeed, connected a large percentage of racial discipline differences to teacher bias (links to that research can be found later in this post).

How do I know that Gardner’s description of the events in Minnesota are wildly inaccurate?  Well,  I actually asked teachers in Minnesota about what happened.

I learned that St. Paul teachers were, and continue to be, very concerned about racial equity in their schools.  I also learned that professional development on bias were incomplete, and that a past contract with administrators included a merit pay clause based on suspension reduction.  As Jim Peterson, the principal at our school, has told me, “If you want us to reduce suspensions, I can do that easily.  But that does nothing to get to the root causes behind suspensions.”

I asked Mary Cathryn Rucker, a teacher on leave from St. Paul public schools currently serving as Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Teacher, her perspective on Gardner’s post.  She replied, ” His characterization is incredibly inaccurate .  It does not recognize the complexity of the work teachers and students are trying to do. In his post, he is promoting the very racist tropes we are trying to destroy.”

The evidence that teacher bias exists is overwhelming.  We cannot wish it away with “alternative facts.”  I have been and, I’m sure, continue to be guilty of it.  Trust me, if you believe you are free of bias, just ask your students of color, as I have done.  They have not been afraid to answer my question with specific examples.

Change is hard.  Our high school has been working hard for two years moving towards restorative practices, and it has not been easy.  But claiming that we teachers should live in a “color-blind” world, as Gardner suggests,  is a picture not rooted in the reality of our world today (see “Colorblind Education Is The Wrong Response,” Ed Week).

Education Week, the publication that published his post, is an extraordinary publication, and one where I have published a weekly teacher advice column for many years.  I was surprised that such a admirable journal would allow the piece to be published.  In response to my concerns, editors pointed me to the disclaimer Mr. Gardner’s blog has (mine has a similar one):

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Yes, I understand that we bloggers have our own opinions.  However, it seems to me that having an opinion based on facts would be a reasonable bar to have to reach in order to publish a piece. I don’t think Gardner’s piece reaches that bar.

Here are links to articles and studies (many of the articles contain direct links to the research) about the role of teacher bias:

Understanding Implicit Bias appeared in The American Educator.

Want To Address Teachers’ Biases? First, Talk About Race is from NPR (here’s a longer version).

How you can eliminate bias in your own classroom is from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

When Implicit Bias Shapes Teacher Expectations is from NEA Today.

Tackling Implicit Bias is from Teaching Tolerance.

Just How Racist Are Schoolteachers? is from Mother Jones.

5 Keys to Challenging Implicit Bias is by Shane Shafir and appeared in Edutopia.

Four Ways Teachers Can Reduce Implicit Bias appeared in The Huffington Post.

Biased Discipline at My School is by Kelly Wickham Hurst and appeared in Edutopia.

Teachers Undo Personal Biases To Help Students Of Color Engage is from Colorado Public Radio.

More related resources can be found at:

The Best Resources For Learning About Restorative Practices – Help Me Find More

A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism – Help Me Find More

Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section..

August 19, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “Here’s My Entire ELL Beginners Seven-Week Unit On Writing A Story (Including Hand-outs & Links)”

This summer, I will be taking a break now-and-then from blogging to both take some R & R and to also finish-up our next book on teaching English Language Learners.

During those short breaks, I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite posts of 2017 so far.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2016’s Best Posts From This Blog

My previous post, Here Are The Ten Downloadable Graphic Organizers I Use With ELL Beginners To Write A Story, was very popular, so I thought readers would find it useful if I shared my entire seven-week unit on writing a story. I hope you can suggest ways I can make it better.

After a simple “Word Splash” (words that I pre-teach like “setting,” “theme,” “protagonist,” and “antagonist”), I use very modified versions of the WRITE Institute’s story unit as we read two books together: The Story Of Ferdinand and Teacher From The Black Lagoon. You can purchase a supplementary copy of that unit from the WRITE Institute for $20 here. We have copies of their full unit, but I only use a three of their graphic organizers (a protagonist/antagonist sheet, a sheet for listing words related to the five senses and a story map) – I’m sure you could create or find other versions (lots of story maps are here, a five senses sheet here, and protagonist/antagonist graphic organizers are here).

So, the first week we do the word splash, then I read The Story of Ferdinand from the doc cam while students have their own copies. As you may remember, Ferdinand has his “favorite spot” in the story. At that point, I provide students with this sentence starter: “My favorite spot is ____________________________ because _________________________.” They create posters and share with the class. Every six pages or so we stop, students are paired-off, given small whiteboards and markers, and they take turns reading the story to each other while the other writes the words down on the board (if necessary, students can “cheat” by looking at the book). The “reader” checks the accuracy of the “writer.”

Afterwards, we complete a story map. The most difficult part of that process is helping students understand “theme” and, to a lesser extent, protagonist/antagonist. So, after the story map is done, students create a poster identifying three of their favorite movies or stories and identify the theme and the protagonists and antagonists.

Next, we read Teacher From The Black Lagoon using a similar process, without the “favorite spot” activity. Then we create a Story Map, without following-up with the theme poster.

Next, students write their own stories, and that’s where my previously posted ten graphic organizers come in.

After they complete handwriting their story, I have a short individual conference to provides simple suggestions (read about my thoughts on error correction at my British Council post, ESL/ELL error correction – Yes, No or Maybe?), and then students type it in Word – the red indicator of errors is obviously very helpful. We conference again, and then students copy and paste it into our class blog. You can see them all here.

Then, students record their stories using Speakpipe’s Voice Recorder. It says they only keep the recording online for a few months, but it’s the only stand-alone voice recorder that gets through our district’s content filters. Students record, past them onto our blog, and then I manually copy and paste them that night so it’s on the same comment as their story.

Students then read each other’s stories and leave a comment. I fell down on the job here and didn’t originally do as much pre-teaching on commenting as I should have, and it shows. I followed-up the next day with more explicit support, which resulted in a better comment like this.

Unfortunately, because of student absences, time constraints and the fact that I was out of class for a couple of days with district meetings, we couldn’t continue with the improved comments (they’ll have another chance later).

Instead, at that point I provided students with this guide for their writing a second and longer story. I gave them the option of either revising their first story or starting from scratch.

Students worked on their revisions/new stories, but we couldn’t get enough time in the computer lab for them to post all their creations on the blog – yet, at least.

Now, we’re moving onto a series of fable lessons. These appeared in my latest book, Navigating The Common Core With ELLs. Fortunately, the publisher has made the lesson plan and all the hand-outs available for free download – no registration required!

Just go to the book’s website, scroll to “Downloads” and click on “Fables Lesson Plan.” It teaches fables inductively and leads to students writing their own. I’m in the middle of doing these lessons now. The only change to the book’s lesson plan is that I have three more advanced beginners who, after having done part of the lessons, are now creating a collection of fables from their home countries that we’ll also study.

Student-created fables will be posted on the class blog and we’ll try commenting again. Here’s the graphic organizer I’m having students use to create their own fables.

So, that’s what we’re doing. Let me know how you think it can be improved!

I’m adding this post to The Best Sites For Learning To Write A Story.

Addendum: See Video: Trailer For New Animated Move Based On “The Story Of Ferdinand”

August 18, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “What ‘Scarcity’ Does To The Mind & Why Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough”

This summer, I will be taking a break now-and-then from blogging to both take some R & R and to also finish-up our next book on teaching English Language Learners.

During those short breaks, I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite posts of 2017 so far.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2016’s Best Posts From This Blog

I’m a big advocate of Social Emotional Learning (see The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources), but I’m also concerned about it being “over-sold” and used to short-circuit needed policy changes.

I’ve written about those concerns in my Washington Post piece, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning.

I’ve also shared many pieces on those concerns at The Best Resources Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough.

Among those articles are several talking about some specific research finding that poverty causes a lack of self-control and perseverance and it’s not the other way around. In other words, we have just a certain amount of “cognitive bandwidth” which can be overwhelmed by worry and concern related to “scarcity.”

Recently, NPR did an interview with one of the authors of that study, and you can read and listen to it at How The ‘Scarcity Mindset’ Can Make Problems Worse.

Here’s an excerpt:

Another quote from the piece – this one from the NPR host – says:

To be clear, it’s not that poor people focus on immediate needs because that’s all they want to think about. It’s all they can think about. Scarcity captures the mind. In fact, the tunnel vision produced by scarcity can actually lower how you perform on an IQ test.

As I’ve said before, SEL has its place, but it also has to be kept in its place. Yes, we should help our students develop self-regulation skills. But we should also organize for better public policies that can Outside Of School Factors That Impact  Student Achievement.

And, of course, want to help equip students with the skills so that they can also effectively advocate for themselves.

August 17, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “Google’s ‘AutoDraw’ Is Likely To Become A Favorite Place For Those Of Us Who Are Artistically-Challenged”

This summer, I will be taking a break now-and-then from blogging to both take some R & R and to also finish-up our next book on teaching English Language Learners.

During those short breaks, I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite posts of 2017 so far.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2016’s Best Posts From This Blog

Google has unveiled AutoDraw, a free site that uses artificial intelligence that provides a series of guesses about what you are drawing. You can choose the right “guess” to pretty-up your artistic creation, write up some description, and then download it or share the link. The image above is an example.

This is perfect for English Language Learners – instead of spending tons of time getting their drawing “just right,” they can, instead, have fun drawing quickly and spend more time on the language part of the exercise.

And it’s great for ESL teachers, too – no more working hard trying to draw images of scenes for vocabulary items to support language acquisition. Now just draw a few lines, project it onto the screen, and you’ll be able to show a masterpiece.

I’m adding this info to The Best Art Websites For Learning English.

You can read more about AutoDraw at Technology Review article, Google’s AI Turns Your Crappy Doodles Into Proper Pictures.

August 16, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “Animated Video I’ve Done With Ed Week – “What Is ‘Transfer of Learning’ & How Does It Help Students?”

This summer, I will be taking a break now-and-then from blogging to both take some R & R and to also finish-up our next book on teaching English Language Learners.

During those short breaks, I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite posts of 2017 so far.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2016’s Best Posts From This Blog

I worked with Education Week to create an animated video on the topic of transfer of learning, which you can find at the bottom of this post.

I’ve written a lot about transfer, including devoting a chapter in one of my books to the topic (see an excerpt from that chapter published by The Washington Post, The real stuff of schooling: How to teach students to apply knowledge) and publishing a popular “Best” list – The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer” — Help Me Find More.

In my book I give credit to the late Grant Wiggins for an example of how to promote transfer through generalizing.  He used the example of students learning about the qualities of a successful social movement from analyzing the women’s movement.  I also use that example in the video but, because of a miscommunication, credit to him , unfortunately, doesn’t appear.  You can see links to several articles by him on the topic at my “Best” list.

Here’s the video:

August 15, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Around The Web In ESL/EFL/ELL

Four years ago I began this regular feature where I share a few posts and resources from around the Web related to ESL/EFL or to language in general that have caught my attention.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2016 – Part Two and The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2017 – So Far.

Here are this week’s choices:

Can I Still Rely on the National Reading Panel Report? is an excellent post from literacy expert Timothy Shanahan. I certainly still rely on it, and it was great to read that follow-up studies have found that its recommendations work for English Language Learners, too. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Reading Strategies & Comprehension – Help Me Find More!

Quick, Draw!: an adaptation for world language classes is a nice post about using Quick Draw With Google as a language-learning tool. Thanks to CASLS for the tip.

Back-to-School Reading for English-Language-Learner Teachers is from Ed Week.

CREATING A CLASSROOM CULTURE OF CONVERSATION: THE FIRST TWO WEEKS is from Karen Lewis.

Tan Huynh shares useful materials here:

Here are some good videos to show to ELLs and then have them talk and write about what they saw:

I’m adding that last one to The Best Video Clips Of Sneaky Critters — Help Me Find More.

August 15, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Statistic Of The Day: We Need More Teachers Of Color

The National Center For Education Statistics issued a report today titled Characteristics of Public Elementary and Secondary School Teachers in the United States: Results From the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey.

Here’s a depressing, though unsurprising, excerpt from it:

 

Learn more about why these numbers are so bad, how they affect our students, and what can be – and is – being done about it at A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism – Help Me Find More).

August 14, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Resources For Teaching About Confederate Monuments

As witnessed by this past weekend’s events, monuments to the Confederacy continue to be used by white supremacists to support their ideology.

I’ve shared many other related resources (see A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism – Help Me Find More), but I thought a specific one on these monuments might be helpful to teachers.

Feel free to let me about about ones I’ve missed:

I’ve previously posted Read, Listen, Watch New Orleans Mayor’s Speech On The Removal Of Confederate Monuments and New PBS News Hour Video Segment: “Why Confederate monuments are coming down.”

Confederate Monuments and Their Removal seems like a decent lesson plan from the Anti-Defamation League.

The debate over Confederate monuments and how to remember the Civil War makes an interesting point about a difference between “memory” and “history.” I might use it in IB Theory of Knowledge.

Confederate Monuments and the ‘Searing Truth’ is a lesson idea from The Morningside Center.

As Confederate Monuments Come Down, Teachers Wrestle With Class Discussion is from Ed Week.

Debate over US Confederate monuments intensifies is from Al Jazeera.

Robert E. Lee Topples From His Pedestal is from The Atlantic.

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