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?

November 25, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Different Take On Gratitude

There is obviously a big emphasis around the concept of gratitude at this time of the year, and many of use teach lessons on it (see The Best Resources On “Gratitude”).

Adam Grant, one of my favorite writers (and educators!), wrote a piece today that offers a different “take.”

You’ll want to read his entire post, Instead of Just Being Grateful, Try This, but here’s an excerpt:


November 16, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

SEL Weekly Update

I’ve recently begun this weekly post where I’ll be sharing resources I’m adding to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources or other related “Best” lists:

Mindfulness in the Classroom: A How-To Guide is from Ed Week. I don’t yet have a “Best” list on mindfulness, but I’m sure I will be creating one soon. You might be interested in a previous post, Mindfulness Can Mean More Than Meditation – Can’t It?

On a related note, you might be interested in Can We End the Meditation Madness? by Adam Grant, which appeared in The New York Times.

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

I’m adding this next tweet to the same list:

And here’s one last addition to that list:

November 15, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: It’s Okay To Change Our Minds

The Virtue of Contradicting Ourselves is the headline of a column by Adam Grant in today’s New York Times.

It’s a great piece to use when discussing “knowledge” in IB Theory of Knowledge classes, and I’m going to use in one of the upcoming lessons for English Language Learners that I write for The New York Times Learning Network.

Plus, it offers wisdom that’s good for all of us to keep in mind.

Here’s an excerpt:


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!