Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Websites To Learn About California


'Image taken from page 329 of 'California of the South. Its physical geography, climate ... and health-resorts, being a complete guide-book to Southern California ... Third edition, rewritten, etc'' photo (c) 2013, The British Library - license:

I live and teach in California, so am obviously interested in resources about the state. Assisting my students become familiar with their new home is an important part of my classes.

I know there are many teachers from California who read this blog, and I thought they in particular might be interested in this newest “The Best…” list. I also know there is a lot of interest in the state from other places — both in the U.S. and around the world, so thought that others might find a list like this useful.

I’ve tried to make this list fairly broad (including sites about California history, geography,current events, and culture) and accessible to English Language Learners.

Here are my choices for The Best Websites To Learn About California:

Our state is certainly known for earthquakes, and there were none as devastating as the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. The Great Quake from the San Francisco Chronicle is ranked number eight on my list. It’s filled with photographs, videos and interactives.

Number seven relates to another famous event in our history — the California Gold Rush. Here again I’m listed two separate sites from PBS — a good overview called Gold Fever, and a Strike It Rich! online game.

Calisphere is number four. It’s from the University of California, and has over 150,000 accessible items related to California history and culture.

Number three is from McGraw-Hill, and is the online companion to a textbook called California Vistas: Our Golden State. You can go to different chapters using the menu on the upper right hand corner of the screen. It’s a pretty thorough site.

I’m ranking three video and image sites at number two. Travelago has online videos of most major California sites (though they might be a little too slick and “cheezy” for my personal taste). But it’s certainly a complete collection. I really like videos, again covering different areas of the state, from a site called Open Road. And my third recommended resource in this “video and image” category is the San Francisco Chronicle’s Photo Gallery, which provides recent California news coverage.

And, now, for my pick as the number one Best Website To Learn About California is… Christina Niven’s EL Civics For ESL Students. I particularly like her California overview and her lessons on four major California cities. They’re great for English Language Learner students.

I had wanted to include a site about the historical role of Chinese immigrants, particularly around the Gold Rush and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. However, I just couldn’t find a site that I felt comfortable putting on a “The Best…” list. You can, however, find sites about that topic (and many other California-related ones) on my website under the California section.

The Los Angeles Times has an impressive photo section on their website. I’m adding their California Galleries to this list.

“California Vs. The World” is a neat infographic that provides some scale to descriptions of the state.

“San Francisco in Ruins” by George Lawrence is a redigitalized version of the famous photo

As always, feedback is welcome.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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