Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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VERY Interesting Info On The Results Of KIPP’s “Character Education” Program

The Fordham Institute has just published a post by Laurence Steinberg titled “Is character education the answer?”

It shares some fascinating research results on the KIPP charter schools’ well-publicized character education program.

The results came from a Mathematica study that compared KIPP students with those who did not win lotteries to attend the KIPP schools. Of course, the obvious flaw in such a study is that both groups of students have highly-motivated parents/families. It’s always surprising, if not shocking, to me that many charter school supporters and researchers don’t recognize this obvious characteristic of charter school students (and lottery participants).

Even with this flaw, the results are intriguing. Here is what Mathematica found in comparing the qualities that typically are described as Social Emotional Learning skills:

The KIPP children showed no advantage on any of the measures of character strengths. They weren’t more effortful or persistent. They didn’t have more favorable academic self-conceptions or stronger school engagement. They didn’t score higher than the comparison group in self-control. In fact, they were more likely to engage in “undesirable behavior,” including losing their temper, lying to and arguing with their parents, and giving teachers a hard time. They were more likely to get into trouble at school. Despite the program’s emphasis on character development, the KIPP students were no less likely to smoke, drink, get high, or break the law.

As Sternberg suggests:

developing teenagers’ self-regulation may require something other than parables, slogans, inspirational banners, and encouragement from compassionate teachers.

I would also suggest that KIPP’s system of grading these kinds of character traits have a lot to do with this lack of success, also, as I wrote in a Washington Post column about KIPP’s program awhile back. The piece is titled Why schools should not grade character traits.

Sternberg makes his own suggestions about what he thinks would make for an effective character education program. I don’t think it has to be that complicated, particularly since there is substantial research showing that short-and-simple classroom lessons and a relationship-oriented school culture can help students want to develop these kinds of skills. You can find links to that research and to many of those kinds of lessons at The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources.

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September 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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PBS Releases “The Roosevelts” Lesson Plans With 19 Video Clips

roose

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding Ken Burns’ “The Roosevelts” fascinating, though I’ve only watched Part One so far (the others are taped, since I’m also trying to watch the third season of Homeland this week :) ).

PBS just released three related lesson plans, along with nineteen video clips from the mini-series.

It’s part of a larger PBS site of President-related lesson plans called The U.S. Presidency.

And, of course, there are plenty of other resources on the actual The Roosevelts mini-series website.

I’m adding this post to The Best Sites To Learn About U.S. Presidents.

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September 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Three Skeptical Posts About Ed Tech

Here are few interesting recent skeptical posts on ed tech issues:

Why I’m Asking You Not to Use Laptops is from The Chronicle Of Higher Education. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Highlighting Why We Need To Be Very Careful Around Ed Tech.

Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away is by Clay Shirky. I’m adding it to the same list.

iPads for Young Children in School is by Larry Cuban.

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September 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Nice Video Animation: “Scottish independence referendum 2014 explained”

The citizens of Scotland are voting on whether to be their own independent country. In fact, the voting is taking place as I’m writing these words.

I’ve previously shared a nice, short video explaining what’s going on, and here’s another good explanation — an animated video from The Guardian:

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September 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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An ESL Teacher’s Good Friend –”America’s Funniest Home Videos” — Turns 25

afv

American’s Funniest Home Videos, whose DVD collections have been a great tool in my English Language Learner classes, is turning twenty-five years old, and The New York Times is marking the occasion with a lengthy article, A Generation of Unintended Laughs: ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ Turns 25.

The program, which now also has a very popular YouTube channel is a great source of videos to use in the many language-development activities I describe in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them).

I do think that some of them are in poor taste and a bit cruel, but the vast majority are good clean fun.

With Thanksgiving in the not-so-distant-future here in the United States, here’s their YouTube playlist for the holiday (I still think it’s worth investing in the DVDs, though):

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September 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Our School’s Writing Assessment For Some Students With Special Needs

I’ve shared many writing prompts that I use in my classes (see My Best Posts On Writing Instruction).

Included in that “Best” list is a very popular post by my colleague and English Department leader Lara Hoekstra. In it, she describes a pretty sophisticated fall and spring writing assessment process we use with all of the students at our school. Students spend two days writing to the same prompt early in the year and at the end of the year, and all the English teachers get together for two days after each assessment to evaluate all the essays (ones not written by their own students) using an “Improvement Rubric.” We then use the results to guide our future instructional priorities.

We’ve had a modified assessment for English Language Learners and, just recently, my very talented colleagues Jennifer Adkins and Jonathan Mikles created a good one for some students with special needs. They have given me permission to share it here.

They have students read the Chicago Tribune article titled, Inner-city Mentoring Program Helping Youths Improve Lives.

Students then write to this prompt:

Essay Topic:

A role model or mentor is a person you look up to. Before you begin writing, think about someone you look up to.

Why do you admire or respect this person? Write at least a 3 paragraph essay in which you explain whom you admire, and why you look up to this person. To develop your position, be sure to discuss specific examples; those examples can be drawn from anything you’ve read, as well as your experience.

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September 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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My BAM! Radio Show “Kicks-Off” A New Season With Episode On Teacher Attire

attire

My weekly ten-minute BAM! Radio Show has just kicked-off a new season with an episode where educators Renee Moore and Roxanna Elden discuss how gender, class and race relate to the question of teacher attire.

You can also listen to the previous twenty-one episodes at the same link.

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September 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Search For Historical Word Use In Movies With “Bookworm”

bookworm

I’ve previously written about several web tools that let you search for word usage in various places — books, the NY Times, Yelp — and then chart them out over the years. You can read about all of them here.

There’s a new addition to that list — Bookworm.

Despite its name, it focuses on word use in the movies, and operates in a similar fashion to the other sites I mentioned. Type in a word or phrase and it will search the dialogue in thousands of movies and TV shows and trace differences over the years.

Thanks to Flowing Data for the tip.

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September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Self-Control, Grit & All That Stuff

Marshmallows from Flickr via Wylio

© 2007 rjp, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Regular readers know that I’m a big advocate of teaching Social Emotional Learning skills in the classroom (see The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources), but that I also am wary of how it is being viewed by some as almost a cure-all (see my Washington Post piece, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning).

There have recently been some interesting articles and research about the topic that I thought readers might want to know about…

The MindShift blog writes about a new study by “grit” researcher Angela Duckworth that has tried to update the famous self-control marshmallow experiment for the digital age. She calls it a “diligence test” and you can read about it at Measuring Students’ Self-Control: A ‘Marshmallow Test’ for the Digital Age. You can see a demo of the online test here, though it won’t make much sense until you read the MindShift post. The post says she’s going to put the test online for people to take for free, and that might be useful. The key point to remember, though, is to tell students what I tell mine before they take her online “grit” test — it’s just one more piece of information they might or might not find useful and they should feel free to ignore the results if they don’t agree with them.

Speaking of her grit test, I was prompted by the post to see if her diligence test was online yet and found that, other than the demo, it wasn’t. However, I did find that she upgraded her website, and the online grit test is now better designed. In addition, multilingual versions are available.

And, speaking of The Marshmallow Test, The New York Times has published an article about its originator, Dr. Walter Mischel. It’s headlined Learning How to Exert Self-Control.

I’ve previously written a lot about Dr. Mischel, and you can read my interview with him on Sunday in Education Week Teacher.

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning About “Grit” and to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

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September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Video: “See Eyewitness Testimony Fail”

Studies abound on the lack of confidence in eyewitness testimony, and teaching about it is a staple in International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes when we cover “perception.”

The Pacific Standard just published a useful related article titled See Eyewitness Testimony Fail—Right Before Your Eyes that contained this great video I’ll be using next week in class:

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September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Learning From Failure

What The Hype Behind Embracing Failure Is Really All About is a useful article that appeared in Fast Company.

Here’s a quote from it:

In-the-end-failure-by

I’m adding it to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures.

While I’m at it, I’m also adding Rejection letters to superstars early in their careers give us all hope [9 pictures] to the same list.

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September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Dreamreader” Looks Like An Excellent New Site For English Language Learners

dream

Dreamreader is a new reading site for English Language Learners created by Neil Millington, an English teacher in Japan.

Here’s how he describes it:

There are 25 lessons on the site right now and they cover a variety of topics. I’ll be updating with more free lessons on a regular basis, and by the end of the year I intend to have over 50 free readings on the site. Teachers can have their students read the articles online and do the quizzes or, if they want to use them in their class, they can just download the PDFs and print/copy them. There are also downloadable vocabulary worksheet PDFs that students can use for vocabulary study. The lessons are all graded across a wide range of levels (from beginner through to advanced) and I’ve done my best to develop them by using academic-based criteria (JACET 8000, Flesch Kincaid, etc.) and testing them out with EFL learners. I am planning on adding feedback videos to the site too, and hopefully they will be up and ready next month. I hope that students and teachers will find the site useful.

I’m quite impressed with what he’s done, and I suspect you will be, too….

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September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Destination Unknown” Is A Well-Done Online Geography Game

german

Destination Unknown is a very slick online geography game using Instagram photos. It’s particularly good because it offers hints. Unfortunately, since it utilizes Instagram, there’s probably no guarantee that all the photos will be classroom appropriate, though I didn’t see anything bad when I played the game.

Because of that potential issue, and because it may not be around for the long-term (since it’s sponsored as a promotion by a company), I’m not going to add it to The Best Online Geography Games. But it still might be worth a visit.

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September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Two New iPad Resources That Look Intriguing

ipad

Here are two new intriguing resources I’m adding to The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users:

The Library of Congress has published a series of interactive ebooks:

The new Library of Congress Student Discovery Sets bring together historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind documents on a wide range of topics, from history to science to literature. Interactive tools let students zoom in for close examination, draw to highlight interesting details and make notes about what they discover.

The first six Student Discovery Sets are available now for the iPad, and can be downloaded for free on iBooks. These sets cover the U.S. Constitution, Symbols of the United States, Immigration, the Dust Bowl, the Harlem Renaissance, and Understanding the Cosmos.

The second resource is an app called FiftyThree – Mix. I’m on a waiting list to get access to it, but you can read about it at TechCrunch. You can also watch this video, though it isn’t very informative:

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September 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Two New Sesame Street Videos On Social Emotional Learning

Sesame Street has been sharing a series of videos on Social Emotional Learning skills, and you can see their previous ones on self-control at The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

I think they’ve been pretty good, and my high school students enjoy watching them as a reinforcing/reminder activity after we’ve done lessons on The Marshmallow Experiment (by the way, watch for my interview with Dr. Walter Mischel, the creator of the Marshmallow Test, in Education Week Teacher on Sunday).

They just issued another one on self-control — a Star Wars parody. I don’t think it’s as good as their previous ones, but it still gets the job done:

They’ve also just released a video called “The Power Of Yet” — a message on the growth mindset idea that even if you haven’t succeeded now, it’s just a matter of “not yet.” I like this one better, and I’m not familiar with Sesame Street doing other videos on SEL skills other than self-control. Perhaps this season they will expand their content.

I’m adding this video to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”:

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