Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

April 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

How Adam Grant Just Made Teaching More Complicated

I’m a big fan of Professor Adam Grant’s work (see my interview with him at Education Week, Teachers As “Givers, Takers & Matchers”: An Interview With Adam Grant).

And I was very excited to see his must-read guest column in The New York Times today, Raising a Moral Child.

It’s geared towards parents, but just about everything he says is also extraordinarily useful to teachers, too.

He discusses recent studies identifying effective ways to help children become “kind, compassionate and helpful.”

Developing these kinds of qualities are being identified more and more as an important part of our work as educators (see my Ed Week series, ‘Character Is Not Compliance Out Of Fear,‘ and The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources).

There’s so much substance in his short column that I’m not even going to try to summarize it — just read the whole thing.

I do, however, want to highlight one part of it where I think he just made our job more complicated (obviously, I’m talking tongue-in-cheek):


Many of us who are familiar with Carol Dweck’s work on praising action instead of intelligence might find a contradiction in this finding.

I know I was a bit confused.

So I sent an email to Adam asking about this apparent contradiction and he was kind enough to respond right away. Here’s what he said:

In “Mindset”, Carol Dweck describes her famous body of groundbreaking research demonstrating that when we praise children for their intelligence, they develop a fixed view of ability, which leads them to give up in the face of failure. Instead of telling them how smart they are, it’s wise to praise their effort, which encourages them to see their abilities as malleable and persist to overcome obstacles. Some parents and teachers have stretched this idea to its logical conclusion: always praise actions, not fixed qualities. In the domain of moral character, though, this might be the wrong approach. If we want children to become caring and generous, the evidence suggests that there’s value in helping them see these as stable dimensions of their identities.

That said, even in the moral domain, there may be some risks of praising character. Research on moral licensing suggests that when we see ourselves as good people, we sometimes feel greater freedom to engage in unethical behaviors. This is captured in chilling detail in Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, and in The Honest Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely. I’d love to see more research on how to instill a sense of moral character without leading people to say, “I’m a good person, so I can do a bad thing”—or worse yet, “I’m a good person, so this clearly isn’t a bad thing.”

So, now, based on this research, we might need to be aware of which character quality we want to teach and employ contradictory instructional strategies for some of them.

Teaching is complicated, ain’t it?

June 16, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: Communicate Vision By “Using Image Based Words”

I spend a lot of time working with my IB Theory of Knowledge students on the importance of illustrating each point they make, both in essays and in presentations, with stories. In fact, many highlight that fact in their end-of-year class evaluations as one of the most important things they have learned. You can see many of the resources I use to back-up my hammering on that concept at The Best Digital (& Non-Digital) Storytelling Resources (especially in the bottom-half).

Adam Grant shared an article this morning on Twitter that is a nice addition to that collection. It’s titled People Remember What You Say When You Paint a Picture.

Here’s an excerpt:


November 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Dan Pink’s New TV Series Airs Next Monday!


As I mentioned earlier this month, Dan Pink’s new television show, Crowd Control, airs next Monday on the National Geographic Channel (Monday, November 24th at 9PM ET).

Dan is best known among educators for his book, Drive, which delved into the key issue of developing intrinsic motivation. I’ve written a lot about his work.

Here’s how the National Geographic Channel describes it:

In the new series, Best-selling author and expert Daniel Pink will use behavioral science to lead a series of experiments that show how we can apply the power of persuasion in our daily lives to reduce stress, minimize annoyances, improve health and increase happiness. Using hidden cameras to record his results, Pink will tackle the seemingly impossible task of righting everyday wrongs — from convincing partygoers to clean up their streets to stopping the senseless rush at an airport baggage claim.

You can read more in-depth discussions of his new show at these two links:

Adam Grant, another one of my favorite authors, interviews Dan about the new show.

This New TV Show Experiments With Design to Deter Speeding, Jaywalking is the headline of a Slate article about it.

It really looks like a great show. You can see lots of short, advance clips on its website.

Not only am I sure that I’ll learn a lot from it, but I also plan on showing clips to my IB Theory of Knowledge class when we study human sciences. After seeing them, I plan on challenging students to use what they’ve learned in class and from the clips to create their own — appropriate, of course — human behavior experiments. I’ll share how it goes….

I was able to preview the first show, and was impressed. It’s fast moving, and Dan applies recognized behavioral science findings to real-life problems, including using cash rewards to reduce speeding; fear and game-playing to reduce jaywalking and an unusual effort to try and reduce bicycle thefts. And, if you’re wondering, his cash rewards experiment doesn’t disprove the idea that rewards discourage intrinsic motivation. In fact, it reinforces the research that extrinsic motivation can work to change mechanical habits that require little creativity or higher-order thinking. Remember, though, that extrinsic motivation doesn’t encourage — and, in fact, dampens — those higher order skills.

By the way, in my original post about the show, I mentioned that one of the episodes featured a musical staircase designed to encourage people to use it more. I commented on its similarity to a “Fun Theory” video I’ve also shared. Dan later emailed me to let me know that earlier in that particular episode he discusses that original experiment and builds on it to create a staircase that encourages people to collaborate to create music when climbing instead of the mismatched chords individuals had created on their own. A creative modification, indeed!

Fortunately, we get the National Geographic Channel, and I’m looking forward to watching the entire series!

June 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2014 – So Far


I write many posts about recent research studies and how they can relate practically to the classroom. In fact, I post a regular feature called Research Studies of the Week. In addition, I write individual posts about studies I feel are particularly relevant to my work as a teacher.

I’m continuing with my mid-year “Best” lists, and it makes sense now to publish one on recent studies. You can see all my 1,300 “Best” lists here.

You might also be interested in:

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 – Part Two

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 — So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2012 — So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2011

Hare are My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2014 – So Far:

The Best Posts On The Study Suggesting That Bare Classroom Walls Are Best For Learning

Another Big Surprise: Reflection Helps Learning

Another Shocker – NOT! Students Respond Better To Support Than Threats

Study: Gratitude Increases Self-Control

The Best Research On Listening To Music When Studying

How Adam Grant Just Made Teaching More Complicated

“Knowledge Motivates Preschoolers More Than Stickers, Study Says”

The Best Resources On The Dangers Of Multitasking

This Has Me Concerned: “Study Links Teacher ‘Grit’ with Effectiveness, Retention”

Another Study Demonstrates The Ineffectiveness Of Extrinsic Motivation, But Also Something More….

Quote Of The Day: Have You Ever Wondered How Many Decisions We Teachers Need To Make Each Day?

Some Very Interesting Info On Self-Control Research

New US Dept. of Ed Finds That “Less Effective Teaching” Responsible For 2-4 Percent Of Achievement Gap

Must-Read Article About A Must-Read Study: “Can Upward Mobility Cost You Your Health?”

Study: “How Stories Get Into Your Brain”

Quote Of The Day: “Fighting in Teenagers Lowers Their IQ”

The Best Posts On Study Finding That Standardized Tests Don’t Measure Cognitive Ability

Surprising Study — NOT: People Learn A Second Language Better By Physically Simulating Words

Another Study Shows That Self-Affirmation Activities Help People Think More Clearly

Study: Standardized Tests Don’t Measure “Fluid Intelligence”


April 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

April’s Best Posts From This Blog


I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see older Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month (more recent lists can be found here).

Here are some of the posts I personally think are the best, and most helpful, ones I’ve written during this past month (not in any order of preference):

Getty Museum Adds 77,000 Images To Public Domain

My New Radio Program: “How Can Administrators Help Support an Engaging Curriculum in the Classroom?”

Another Big Surprise: Reflection Helps Learning

Another Shocker – NOT! Students Respond Better To Support Than Threats

“Sentence Navigator” Is Jason Renshaw’s Gift To ESL/EFL/ELL Teachers Everywhere!

Differentiating Lessons By “Content, Process or Product”

British Pathé Makes 85,000 Historical Clips Available On YouTube

Ideas For Finishing The School Year Strong & Beginning The Summer Even Stronger

“Dissecting Grades: What Do They Mean, What Are They Worth?” Is My New BAM! Radio Program

Study: Gratitude Increases Self-Control

Who’s To Blame For The SAT’s Existence? Thanks A Lot, Tom Edison…

Amazing Video: “Watch as 1000 years of European borders change (timelapse map)”

Surprise, Surprise — Study Finds Shouting At Children “creates further discipline problems”

“Spacehopper” Is One Of The Best Geography Games I’ve Seen

ELL Teachers & Students Will Love MusiXmatch – It Provides Karaoke-Style Lyrics To Most YouTube Music Videos

‘Simply Putting Tech In Front Of Students Won’t Engage Them’

Grit, Failure & Stuff Like That

“One-To-One Technology ‘Is Really About Building Effective Relationships’”

How Adam Grant Just Made Teaching More Complicated

LBJ As A Teacher In Texas

“What Is This Animal Thinking or Saying (If It Could Talk)?” Is A Fun Language Development Exercise

Big News! Sacramento Withdraws From NCLB Waiver Granted CORE Districts

“Booktrack” Lets You Read Books With Soundtracks & Make Your Own

My New BAM! Podcast Is Tragically Timely: “How Can We Help Students Handle Loss and Grief?”

“Poverty-related Challenges Sap Instructional Time in High Schools”

Another Nail In VAM’s Coffin?

My New British Council Post: “Creating The Conditions For Self-Motivated Students”

My Latest NY Times Post Is On Lying As A Language-Learning Activity

“Scarlet Letter” Comes To The UK: Get Good Test Results & You Can Wear Your Own Clothes, While Bad Results Means You Wear School Uniform

Ways To Cultivate ‘Whole-Class Engagement’

Wow! The NY Times’ “Time Machine” Is One Wild “This Day In History” Site

One Of The Worst Tweets I Read This Week Came From The Gates Foundation

Here Is The Simple Outline I’m Having My TOK Students Use For Their Oral Presentation

Free Resources From All My Books

I Am Tired Of “School Reformers” Using The Civil Rights Movement Legacy To Support Their Agenda

My Latest NY Times Post For ELLs Is About Nouns, Soccer In China & More!




December 28, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Identifying Qualities Needed In Order To Be “Successful”

'Success' photo (c) 2007, Alosh Bennett - license:

I’m preparing a lesson to try out in class and for possible inclusion in the upcoming third volume in my student motivation “trilogy.”

It will be focusing on Social Emotional Learning skills, and will be a follow-up to exercises on goal-setting, grit, and self-control.

I also am figuring out if, and how, it might be valuable to somehow incorporate something on how developing all these life skills might still not be enough, but that’s going to be tricky — I want to “twin” that with strategies on how they can confront even those additional challenges.

Of course, part of a lesson on “success” will be encouraging students to make their own definition of what that means.

Here are the resources I’m using to help develop “success” lesson — additional suggestions are welcome:

What very successful people have in common is from The Week.

School engagement predicts success later in life is from The Conversation.

“Secret Ingredient for Success” is a short post I wrote about a NY Times article.

The Most Effective Strategies For Success is from The Harvard Business Review.

Teachers As “Givers, Takers & Matchers”: An Interview With Adam Grant is a conversation I had with professor and author Adam Grant about his research and book.

Students Need 8 Critical Conditions for Success is by John Wilson at Ed Week.

Warren Buffett: The three things I look for in a person is at Farnam Street.

The Five Paths To Being The Best At Anything is from Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

How Olympians Stay Motivated is an excellent article in The Atlantic, and here’s an excerpt that tells you about it:

We can’t all be Olympic athletes. (In fact some of us, including your humble narrator, should not be allowed anywhere near ice or blades.) But we all face times when we really don’t want to do something that we, nonetheless, really have to do. Drawing from interviews with top athletes and their coaches, along with psychological studies of athletes, here are seven ways Olympians stay motivated through the training slog.

The Good and Bad Habits of Smart People
by NowSourcing.
Explore more infographics like one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Daily Routines Of The World’s Most Creative People is a pretty interesting infographic. You can see it as a slideshow at Fast Company or as a full infographic.