Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 24, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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A Look Back: “I’ll Work If You Give Me Candy”

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Next February, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Leading up to it, I’m re-starting a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ll be re-posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

I wrote this post in 2009, and continue to believe in the importance of making “individual deals.” You might want to also check out The Best “Fair Isn’t Equal” Visualizations and The Best Resources On Differentiating Instruction.

Students were working on an assignment a couple of weeks ago. “Jack” (who faces a lot of challenges at home, and has been having some difficulties at school), however, was not. I went over to him and asked how it was going, and if he had some questions about what he needed to do.

“I’ll work if you give me some candy,” he replied.

I told him that wasn’t going to happen, that he was better than that, and that he needed to get to work. I knew that he didn’t like me “bugging him,” and we had made an arrangement a couple of months ago that when he was in this kind of mood I would leave him alone for a few minutes. Often, after that period of time, he would get focused without needing any additional intervention.

A few minutes later, though, and Jack still wasn’t doing the assignment.

I went over to him to check-in. “I’ll work if you give me some candy,” he repeated.

I asked him to go outside where we could talk privately. I asked him if he felt that eating helped him to concentrate. He said yes, it did.

I said, “Jack, I want you to be successful.   We all have things that help us concentrate — with me, it’s important to be in a quiet place.   You know there’s a class rule against eating in class, and I certainly don’t feel comfortable with your eating candy. But how about if I give you the option of bringing something besides candy to school and, if you’re having a hard time concentrating, as long as it doesn’t happen too often, you can have the option to eat while you’re working? How does that sound?”

He eagerly agreed, we shook hands on the deal, and he went back to class and focused on his work.

He’s been working hard since that time, and has not eaten anything in class since we made our agreement.

But his knowing that he has the option to do so, I believe, has been a key part of the solution.

This is similar to the option I’ve given some students to leave the room when they feel like they’re going to “blow”  — as long as they remain directly outside the door (see When A “Good” Class Goes “Bad” (And Back To “Good” Again!). All of us, particularly students who have family lives which are often out-of-control, function better when we feel we do have a certain level of control over…something.

I have individual “deals” with many students in my class, and everybody knows it (we talk pretty explicitly about everybody being different, having different talents and different needs).  Only very, very ocassionally will students actually exercise the power they have in these deals.   Some might think these kinds of arrangements would prompt charges of unfairness from other students.  Surprisingly enough, in my five years of teaching, that has never occurred.  The students who don’t need these deals to focus understand why some do,  and everybody else understands because they have their own special arrangments with me.

What kinds of individual “deals” have you made with students in your classes?

August 24, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Data On How Much Money Teachers Pay Out Of Their Own Pocket – What Do You Spend?

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The beginning of the year is often the time when teachers cough up the most cash for supplies – I know it’s when I do! During the rest of the year, most of the rest of the money I spend is on having students pick books off of Amazon that I buy for them.

Here is the data out there on what teachers spend. I tend to think most of the data lowballs our outlays. I know I’m certainly in the $1,000 range.

How about you? Tell me in the comments or on Twitter and I’ll write up the results in a future post:

Vox published a number of very good charts on the same topic (I’d encourage you to check out Most teachers spend hundreds to pay for supplies, special projects, even field trips).

They presented, in a much less “busy” form, information from a Horace Mann survey (they also included info from other surveys). You can see the entire Mann survey here, but here’s a particularly interesting chart:

mann

Ellen heaps prizes on teacher who pays for class supplies out of her own pocket is an article in The Washington Post about a Ellen DeGeneres’ effort to give teachers gift cards.

Here’s an interesting statistic from the article:

The-average-US-teacher

Teachers Spend Way Too Much Of Their Own Money On School Supplies, And Here’s Proof is from The Huffington Post.

August 23, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Statistic Of The Day: People Like Their Schools, But Not Everybody Else’s

Education Next came out with results today of a poll on education.

You can read all about it at NPR’s article, Americans Like Their Schools Just Fine — But Not Yours.

Here’s an intriguing excerpt:

In-the-EdNext-poll

The NPR piece includes a useful explanation for the discrepancy.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts/Articles On This Year’s Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup Education Poll — 2015.

August 23, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The World Wide Web Opened To The Public 25 Years Ago Today – Here Are Related Resources

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Here’s how Venture Beat described today, known as “Internaut Day”:

On this day back in 1991, a British researcher working in Switzerland suddenly opened a little thing called the World Wide Web to the public.

And now, 25 years later, it’s safe to say that the WWW has changed just about every aspect of our lives — for better and for worse.

The child of Tim Berners-Lee, who was then working at CERN, it has had an impact so profound and complicated that it’s difficult to even know how to make sense of it all.

I’ve just completely revised and updated The Best Sites To Learn About The Internet.

August 23, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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New Resources On Starting The New School Year Strong

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Answers To “What Do You Do On The First Day Of School?” has been receiving many, many thousands of visits over the past month.

Here are some recent additions I’ve made to it:

Creating a Classroom Community: 5 First Day Activities for ELLs is from TESOL.

Icebreakers, Ice Breakers, Ice Breaker Games

The 7 Questions Your MS Students Ask First is from Middleweb.

10 ELL Must-Haves for the First Day of School is from TESOL.

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