Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 30, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Post Rank’s Top Posts For July

I regularly share my picks for the most useful posts of each month. I also publish a list of the month’s most popular posts, based on the number of times they are “clicked-on.”

I also share a list of Post Rank’s analysis of each month’s top posts. Post Rank uses a variety of ways to measure level of “engagement” that readers have with specific blog posts.  I have a constantly updated “widget” on my blog’s sidebar that lists these posts, but I thought a monthly post would be helpful/interesting to subscribers who don’t regularly visit the blog itself.

Here are their rankings for the month of July (actually, all of these posts tied for the highest rank — once a post reaches a “10″ in Post Rank, it can’t go any higher).

The Best “Practical” Ed Tech Blogs

Google Voice & English Language Learners

What Do You Do On The First Day Of School?

The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn Vocabulary

The Best Sites To Learn About The Apollo 11 Moon Landing

The Best (& Most Thoughtful) Blogs On “Big Picture” Education Issues

Yack All

The Best Sites To Help ELL’s Learn Idioms & Slang

The Best Sites To Learn About Advertising

The Best Twitterers For Sharing Resource Links

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2009

July 29, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

What Do You Do When You Have A Few Minutes Left In Class? — Part Two

Earlier this month, I wrote an article titled Teaching Secrets: How to Use Leftover Class Time Wisely that was published by Teacher Magazine. It appeared a week ago as part of a series coordinated by the Teacher Leaders Network. That functions as a sort of “Part One” on this topic. In order to view the whole article, you have to register for the Education Week site. It’s free, though, and only takes less than a minute. You’ll see where it says “Free Registration” just below the beginning portion of the article that you can see.

I’d strongly encourage readers to check-out that piece, where I share a few of the ideas shared by readers of this blog in a previous post. I also share some of my own and frame them in a bit of a community organizing context.

In this “Part Two” post, I’d like to more completely share reader suggestions and also include some links to additional resources that you might find useful.

This is the latest post in my “What Do You Do?” series. Previous ones have included:

What Do You Do When You’re Having A Bad Day At School?
What Do You Do To Keep Students (And You!) Focused Near The End Of The Year?
What Do You Do On The Last Day Of Class (Part Two)?
What Do You Do When You Have A Few Minutes Left In Class? — Part

The next question I’ll be tackling is “What Do You Do On The First Day of Class?”

I’m eager to hear what readers do.  I’ll, of course, highlight your ideas (with credit) in the post.

Please share how you handle your first day of class each year.  You can leave a comment at my original call for contributions (the experiences that have already been shared are great, and you can see them there).   The “deadline” for comments will be August 15th.

Now, back to the primary topic of this post — What Do You Do When You Have A Few Minutes Left In Class?

I’d like to give a framework for this post by quoting what I wrote in the Teacher Magazine article:

“My thoughts … fall into seven categories: Review, Summarize, Relate, Reflect, Intellectually Challenge, Technologically Engage, and (a student favorite) Chill.”

In this post, though, I’m adding an eighth one — Read.

1) REVIEW:

A common plan is to use the extra time for review.

Angela Cunningham:

I teach Geography, so the last 5-10 minutes of class time is always well spent reviewing maps. We grab atlases and compete to see who can find a random country the fastest. The first one with their finger on the country and their hand in the air wins. It’s easy and requires no advanced preparation, but has long-lasting results.

R. Turneron

I teach 3 subjects, but this doesn’t matter because they all need the review. I like to review the day’s topic with real-world applications. When I taught Area the application was painting. If you want to paint the classroom three colors what are the colors and a close approximation of the amount paint you would need? Some are still trying to figure out the amount of paint!

Karenne Sylvester

I have several options (to keep things from getting stale ;-)

1. Vocabulary Review – students go back through their books- previous units or through my conversation control sheets and look for highlighted words and make example sentences.

2. Vocabulary Review – students take two words from their lessons today and tell me how they anticipate activating these new words in English conversations during the coming week.

3. Feedback – how are we doing? What have we learned so far/ in the lesson today / how can we apply this knowledge to our real lives?

Amyon

I love to play the Princeton Review Vocabulary Minute for my students. There are always 4-5 words that go with the theme of the song. Whether it is a greek/latin/french root, or a list of synonyms, the students like to sing along and try to remember the words and meanings at the end (for a small treat, usually… cap eraser or m&m). Sometimes, for the really good ones that we play over and over, I’ll catch the kids singing them on their own, or even asking me to play them.

Mister Teacher

I teach 3rd grade math, so on days when we have a few minutes left (rare), we play little math games that don’t require cards, pieces, or any kind of equipment. “Math around the World,” or a “Multiplication Bee” or something like that. The kids enjoy it because it’s a game, and it helps to drill their basic facts.

Paula Mc

As a third grade teacher teaching South Carolina History and ELA I use the last 5 min. for a review of South Carolina Facts. Each week my students have 10 SC social studies facts that they have to know by Friday. So each day I review. I also take that time to read to my student.

2) SUMMARIZE:

Summarizing the day’s lesson is another good activity.  I’d highly recommend Rick Wormeli’s book Summarization In Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning,

3) RELATE:

Using the time to get to know students is another excellent idea.

Gladys Baya

I teach classes of over 30 teens and usually assign some homework, so if I finish everything I’d planned before the bell goes off, I usually encourage them to start working on their homework so that they don’t need to go about it at home. If they have tests on other subjects after my lesson, they usually request permission to use that time for reviewing, and I let them. While they do whatever they’ve chosen to do, I walk around and try and start some casual conversation with those of them I haven’t had much chance to interact during the lesson, especially if they seem not to be using their time in any fruitful way… ;-) it’s just light-hearted chat on any topic of their interest, not on the point of the lesson!

adventurelearning

Reminds me of 2 years ago when I was teaching biology.. In last few minutes, I ask my student about their activities in campus or home…also about their boy/girlfriend.. I make a last minutes as relax as possible cause I want to also be their friend..

4) REFLECT:

Taking time to think about what students are learning actually “means” to them and their lives is a good way to spend a few minutes, too.

Edna

One of the thinking routines from Project Zero http://tinyurl.com/dgr79f (highly recommended reading !)
eg Connect Extend Challenge. How does today’s learning connect to what you already knew? How did it extend your thinking further? What challenges/questions do you still have?

5) INTELLECTUALLY CHALLENGE:

Using short mysteries or “lateral thinking” puzzles was also mentioned (as well as a number of other ways to stimulate students’ minds). Here are two good sources for lateral thinking puzzles:

Realistic Lateral Thinking Puzzles

Lateral Thinking Problems

Here’s another source: The Ten Greatest Lateral Thinking Puzzles is from Paul Sloane.

Kelly Hines:

I have a book of 5 minute mysteries. We read aloud and students use their inductive and deductive reasoning skills to try to solve the mystery.
I also have all of the review games that I’ve developed over the year for our interactive whiteboard. They are always readily on hand to open up and use to go back over previous units of study.
There are also some fun vanity license plates to decipher here (http://www-chaos.umd.edu/misc/). The kids love the challenge!

Lianne:

I play critical thinking games or read out brain teasers. I also have a student submitted (pre read) joke/riddle box.

Derek Smith

The kids love it when we get out the Brain Quest, or Trivial Pursuit Cards. Another good time filler we do is math facts around the world style.

P.ALES

I can always capture their interest with a SCIENCE DEMO of the DAY (related to the topic presented). Occasionally with 5-10 minutes left we close our books and brainstorm new vocabulary or even play a quick game of vocabulary challenge. Whatever I choose it keeps them going to the very end.

Here’s a teacher with a lot of options that cross all categories, but I’m putting all her ideas here:

Barb

I teach fifth grade. Here are some of the things I do when I have five minutes of class time:

1) Pick sticks (random selection) for one minute speeches for table points. Some of the topics include such things as, tell all the uses you can think of for chewing gum. They aren’t allowed to say what the topic is, the class has to guess. Another might be, convince the class that you would be a good president. I have over 100 topics on laminated papers prepared, so they never have the same topic in a year.

2) Spelling sparkle to review spelling words.

3)Watch a segment from http://www.thefutureschannel.com (all clips are five minutes or less) professionals showing their job and relating how math and science help them in their profession. (Free)

4) Watch a clip from Brainpop.com. My school purchased a membership for me, but you can have a trial with an email account for one week without purchasing. Excellent learning tool.

6) TECHNOLOGICALLY ENGAGE:

Technology can be a useful tool — inside the classroom or in the computer lab.  Some specific resources for these area can be found in these lists:

For Online Learning Games That Can Be Played Or Created Quickly please go to my “The Best” list and look under “Games” or look at these:

The Best online Learning Games– 2007
The Best Online Video Games For Learning Language & Content Knowledge
The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too
The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games
The Best Online Learning Games — 2008
The Best Sites For Making Crossword Puzzles & Hangman Games
The Best Fun Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008
The Best Online Games Students Can Play In Private Virtual “Rooms”
The Best “Cause-Related” Online Learning Games
The Best “I Spy” (Hidden Object) Games For Vocabulary Development
The Best Collections Of Online Educational Games
The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories
The Best Places To Find Online Video Games For Language-Learning

For Examples Of Ways Students Can Create Online Content In Minutes:

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2008

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2009

Here are some other ways teachers use technology during “leftover” time:

deyenbergon:

If I’m working with computers I get the students to “post” a highlight, lesson learned, or question on http://www.wallwisher.com/ In the classroom I love bubble basic facts practice on the Smartboard, throwing the koush(that’s definitely spelled wrong) at the circles to reveal the fact, and then the answer.

kirish43

I teach project based differentiated instruction so there are always diverse projects going on-but an idea I love to try and work in is using the classroom blog site.

This next teacher also has several different ideas she uses, but since the one she listed first related to computers, I’m placing her whole comment in this section:

Beth Diaz

We work on a quick Renaissance program called Math Facts in a Flash to practice math facts on computer. I read aloud math brainteasers and make up my own. I challenge students to come up with long “incredible Equations” for the number of the school day-How many days have we been in school? I read aloud from whatever read aloud chapter book we have going at the moment.  Or since I teach second grade all boys, we may take a one minute organize your desk or locker break.

7) “CHILL”

Just giving students a few minutes of free time to chat is something I do very occasionally, and others do, too.

Hadass

I teach high school, so if it is only 5-10 minutes, I let them chill. Everybody needs some downtime, and many schools have eliminated breaks during the morning and afternoon.

But it doesn’t just have to be a few minutes to chat — singing is another alternative..

TeacherC

I love to bring out instruments (if I have any) and sing songs. Sometimes the songs are related to content, other times, they are fun songs that we sing as a class.

erik

I teach 7th grade go and most of students get done at varying times, so on most days I send them to my free time page. It has tons of quasi education fun stuff for them to do. It keeps the fast workers occupied and allows the slower ones time to finish up.

8)READ:

Karen McMillan

I have a few things I might do if I have some extra time at the end of a class. My favorite is to read to them. Even seventh graders love to hear a story. On Friday, while we were waiting for the parents to arrive for our field trip, I started reading “The Phantom Tollbooth” to them. Within thirty seconds of starting, you could hear a pin drop in my classroom!

Of course, the fact that it’s so much fun for me to read out loud and do the voices and put on a little performance, has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Jenny

As a first grade teacher I’ve always got a book or two ready to read. Other options include various ways to practice math facts, playing spelling sparkle, or telling a story that we each add on one by one.

Thanks to everybody who contributed! And feel free to leave more ideas in the comment section of this post…

July 26, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

July’s “The Best…” Lists

July 18, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2009

This is the first of many year-end “The Best…” lists I’m writing. There’s a reader’s poll at the bottom of this post which will close on November 1st.

You might also want to read The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2008.

This list brings together what I think are this year’s seventeen best ways to create online content easily and quickly. These web tools are excellent ways for English Language Learners, and others who might not be very tech-savvy, to have a good experience working with technology.

In order to make it on this list, web tools must be:

* accessible to English Language Learners.

* available at no-cost.

* able to be used to easily create engaging online content within minutes.

* willing to host user-created work indefinitely on the website itself.

* appropriate for classroom use.

* accessible without requiring registration.

You can read here how I have students easily display their work online.

A very small number of the applications that have made it on this list are viral marketing tools. You can read this article about how I use these in the classroom.

I’d like people voting in the poll to select no more than ten of the seventeen tools on the list. Please note that voters will only be able to participate in the poll one time, and (at least theoretically) will be prevented from voting more than once.

If you’re reading this post in an RSS Reader, you’ll have to come directly to my blog in order to vote. For some reason, the poll isn’t included feeds from this blog.

Here are my choices for The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly:

Number seventeen is: BECOME A TALKING STAR TREK CHARACTER: Using the text-to-speech feature, choose a Star Trek character and have him/her speak, then post it on a student/teacher website.

Number sixteen is: DESIGN A WEIRD BACKYARD: Create a decorative backyard, write a message using the text-to-speech feature, and post the link to your Eddiegram on website or send it to a friend.

Number fifteen is: MAKE A QUILT ONLINE: The International Quilt Study Center & Museum lets users create their own quilt. They can then email the link to a friend and/or post the link on a teacher or student website or blog

Number fourteen is:CREATE A “PHOTROPISM”: At Phototropism you “create sculptures that react like plants to weather conditions.” You can then email the link for posting. It’s cool – in a very weird sort of way.

Number thirteen is: SEND A TALKING MESSAGE FROM A CHEETAH: Type in a message, and then have Chester Cheetah use a text-to-voice feature to say what you’ve written. Next, email your message so the link can be posted on a website or blog. Better yet, try using Embedit.in so you can embed – in your webpage – any student-created work that only provides a url address

Number twelve is:CREATE A DATA VISUALIZATION:The New York Times Visualization Lab looks like it’s going to be a fascinating place to visit periodically. It provides data the newspaper gathers (it looks like they are adding new information regularly) and then users can choose from a variety of different options to “visualize” it. You’re then provided a link and an embed code for your creation. Students could then post it on their own website and describe it. Not only can this be a neat place for English Language Learners to gain a better understanding and analysis of current events through the use of visuals, but it can also offer them higher-order thinking opportunities to try and identify which form of visualization portrays a more accurate perspective

Number eleven is:MAKE A “BEAUTIFUL CONNECTON”: Nokia lets you choose an artistic creation, type a message that goes with it, and then make an audio recording. You can then email and post the url of the final result on a website.

Number ten is: PUT A CAPTION BUBBLE ON AN IMAGE: Caption Bubble lets you very easily find an image on the web and add a text caption bubble. The link can then be emailed and/or posted on a student or teacher blog. I’ve posted about this site before, but it appears to have gotten even better. You can find many other similar tools on my website at Student Photos.

Number nine is: WRITE A FORTUNE FOR A FORTUNE COOKIE: Unfortunate lets you do just that. There are other similar web applications out there, but those seemed to have example fortunes that were inappropriate for the classroom.

Number eight is: DRAW A PICTURE (& TYPE TEXT): Any Canvas lets you draw something, and includes a lot of “bells and whistles.” You can type in text as well, and post the link to your creation on a blog or website.

Number seven is: BECOME A TALKING POTATO: With Spud Yourself! you can turn your image into a talking potato (or use one of the site’s pictures). By using the text-to-speech feature, English Language Learners can develop their language skills in a fun way through writing and listening. You can post the link to your talking potato on a teacher or student blog/website.

Number six is: SEND A HEALTHY E-CARD: The Centers For Disease Control have a huge collection of E-Cards related to health.  You can add your own message, email it to a friend/teacher, and then post the url on a website or blog.

Number five is: CREATE A NEAT-LOOKING ESSAY OUTLINE: aMaps let you create a visualization of a basic essay form – state your position and provide reasons, along with examples. After completing a scaffolded outline, you’re provided with a pretty neat looking visual picture of what you’ve developed, along with the embed code. You can also email the link to a friend or teacher for posting on a blog or website, and then people can respond to what you wrote.

Number four: CREATE AN INFORMATIONAL MAP: Show/World & Show/USA (which are on The Best Map-Making Sites On The Web list ) lets you create visual representations of information using maps. Students can then embed their creations on their blog/website and describe what they’ve done.

Number three is: CREATE A TALKING ANIMAL: Talking Pets lets you do it.  You can choose a pet picture, or upload your own. Then, using the text-to-speech feature, you can have it say a short message, then email the link for posting on a blog or website.

Number two is: WRITE A PICTURE STORY: Five Card Flickr Story lets you pick five photos from a group of pre-selected images from Flickr and then write a story about them. It saves your selection and story, and provides you with a link to it. No registration is required.

And, now, the Number one tool to create online content easily and quickly is: POST ANYTHING ONLINE IN SECONDS: File2.ws lets you, without registering, quickly upload any document and turn it into a webpage.  This is an extraordinary tool.  You can see examples of how my students used it to create multilingual materials on swine-flu prevention. Students can create anything, for example, using Microsoft Word, and immediately turn it into a webpage. (unfortunately, it appears hat File2.ws has now gone out of business — Crocodoc is a new, and even better, substitute).

Below you’ll see the poll. Remember, people can only vote once.  The sites are listed in the reverse order that you’ll find within this post — my choice for number one is the first one listed in the poll widget.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore nearly 300 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.