Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

January 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

“Simon’s Cat” Videos Are Perfect For English Language Learners

'simon's cat' photo (c) 2009, frolleinbombus - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of using short video clips with English Language Learners as a language-development activity (you can read more at The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them) ).

One of my favorite instructional strategies is called “Back To The Screen,” which I adapted from Zero Prep: Ready To Go Activities For The Language Classroom by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess. I pick a clip from a movie (the highway chase scene from one of the Matrix movies, for example. I then divide the class into pairs with one group facing the TV and the other with their back to it. Then, after turning off the sound, I begin playing the movie. The person who can see the screen tells the other person what is happening. Then, after awhile, I switch the groups around. Afterwards, the pairs need to write a chronological sequence of what happened, which we share in class. Finally, everyone watches the clip, with sound, together. Students really enjoy this activity.

I’ve been a longtime fan of “Simon’s Cat” videos but, due to a brain freeze or something like that, I had never thought about how great they would be to use with ELLs — their short, funny, engaging, and don’t require knowing English to enjoy them.

If you’re one of the few people on earth who haven’t seen them :), here’s an example. The video I have embedded is also set to play all of them, if you’re so inclined (you can also go to its YouTube channel):

November 17, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Fun, Moving Video That ELL’s Could Watch & Describe

Here’s how the creators of this video describe it:

Even on the days when a patient gets a depressing diagnosis or things seem to be going wrong, people at Cincinnati Children’s have a way of believing in the power of a smile to help make things OK. This is what happened when doctors, nurses, patients and staff from Cincinnati Children’s got together to put our own spin on rapper Flo Rida’s hit “Good Feeling.”

This could be used in class using the “back to the screen” method. Singing the chorus could be fun, too!

June 19, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

How Students Evaluated Me This Year — Part Two (Intermediate English Class)

Yesterday, I shared how my mainstream ninth-grade English class evaluated me in their anonymous assessments. Today, it’s time to share what my Intermediate English students had to say.

Here’s a downloadable version of the form I have students complete. There’s also a version of it in my book on teaching English Language Learners.

Here’s what they said:

FAVORITE CLASS ACTIVITIES: Working in the computer lab, going on field trips, and playing learning games were all basically tied at the top, which is very similar to last year’s ratings.

LEAST FAVORITE CLASS ACTIVITIES: The three least-liked activities were reading at home, doing homework, and watching videos (we do it by using an activity called Back to the Screen that practices listening, speaking, and writing skills). Again, this is similar to last year — with one important exception. Writing essays was ranked low last year, but this year — while it wasn’t at the very top — it was near there. I think that speaks to a lot of the work my colleague, Katie Hull, and I put into crafting some very stimulating and engaging writing activities. She and I are also beginning to write a book together on teaching writing to English Language Learners.

ACTIVITIES WHERE STUDENTS FELT THEY LEARNED THE MOST: Students ranked practically all of the activities equally highly. As they did last year, it was interesting to note that the activities they ranked as liking least — reading at home, doing homework, and watching videos — were ranked at or near the top of ones where they felt they had learned the most. Writing essays was tied at the top, too.

ACTIVITIES WHERE STUDENTS FELT THEY LEARNED THE LEAST: For all practical purposes, students didn’t rank any activity low.

RATING MR. FERLAZZO AS A TEACHER:

I was ranked the highest for being friendly, getting to know students, being organized and prepared and working hard.

As they said last year, a small number said I should maintain better class discipline and that I talk too much.

All but three would be very happy if they had me as a teacher again.

PACE OF THE CLASS: Three-fourths of the students said the pace was “just right.” However, one-fourth said it was “too slow.” This was generally a higher-level Intermediate English class than I’ve had before, and this feedback suggests that I could have worked more on differentiating instruction for some of the more advanced students.

OTHER: Most of the class also added they had wished we had worked more on speaking English. Last year’s class said the same thing, and I had vowed to make that a higher priority. I had thought I had but, obviously, I need to rethink it again.

MY REFLECTIONS:

I feel pretty good about how this class went but, as I’ve mentioned already, I think I need to think more carefully about differentiating instruction for some of the more advanced learners (who might not be ready to move quite yet to our advanced ELL class) and about bringing in more speaking opportunities. I suspect my focus on refining how to teach writing distracted me from my vow to do more speaking. Now that Katie and I have a better handle on the craft of teaching writing, I think we’ll be able to be more intentional about incorporating speaking into our curriculum. Katie and I will be co-teaching the class next year.

Any feedback is welcome.

My third post in this series will be sharing how students in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class evaluated me. I used a little bit of a different process with them…

For more information on how I incorporate student evaluations in my teaching, you might be interested in reading “My Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers)”

May 20, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Sites For Ideas On Making Simple Musical Instruments

As regular readers know, I use music a lot in teaching English Language Learners. In addition to what I’ll share in this “The Best…” list, you can read about more ways in these other lists:

The Best Music Websites For Learning English
The Best Online Sites For Creating Music
The Best Online Karaoke Sites For English Language Learners
Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Music Sites
The Best Places To Get Royalty-Free Music & Sound Effects
The Best Places To Find Lyrics On The Web

The primary purpose of this list is to share resources and ideas on having students make simple musical instruments in class. They’re great opportunities for students to listen to instructions, speak with other students to create musical compositions with the instruments they make, and write and discuss the steps they took to make them. You can also easily fit in a little science if you want. Plus, it’s always a lot of fun!

In addition to actual instrument-making, I also usually include watching some video clips from the delightful Stomp musical. Watching these clips prior to making instruments functions as a great introduction, and I incorporate speaking, listening, and writing practice by watching them using the “Back To The Screen” process (you can learn how to use that video-viewing process by reading The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL).

I’ll be including a few links on this list to Stomp clips.

As part of his lesson, I also have students bring in traditional instruments from their culture — even if they don’t play them. In addition to doing that, I can also now show images from the Musical Instrument Museum that just opened in Phoenix earlier this month. It has the largest collection of musical instruments in the world, and I’ll be sharing links to multimedia presentations from the museum.

Even with these additions, just to keep it simple I’m still calling this post The Best Sites For Ideas On Making Simple Musical Instruments:

MAKING MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS:

Though I’m sharing links to instrument-making sites (and, by the way, I’m only interested in instruments that can be built during part of a class period), I primarily use a book that I would strongly recommend you purchase.

In 1980, my extraordinarily talented  mother-in-law, Marilyn Judson, co-wrote a neat book titled Simple Folk Instruments to Make and Play.

It’s filled with simple, step-by-step instructions to easily make musical instruments.

I’ve used it for lessons with English Language Learners. Making a musical instrument provides tons of language-development opportunities — both during and after the lessons. I figure music teachers might find it fun, too.

The book is long-out-of-print, but it’s available used on Amazon for peanuts.

No new wealth will accumulate to our family by your purchase since you can only buy it used, but I think it’s a good resource for teachers to have.

In addition to the book, here are a few good online resources:

9 Easy to Make Musical Instruments for Kids

Making Musical Instruments

How to Make Musical Instruments for Kids: Video Series

STOMP VIDEOS:

The STOMP website

YouTube has many clips.

MetaCafe has Stomp The Kitchen and Stomp Basketball.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM:

The World In Musical Instruments
is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

The Museum itself has a neat video.

An Arizona newspaper has another slideshow.

Museum of Musical Instruments is a New York Times slideshow.

The Art Is Instrumental is another Times slideshow.

Suggestions are welcome…

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

You might also want to explore the 450 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

February 1, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
12 Comments

The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development

'movie posters' photo (c) 2006, michell zappa - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

NOTE: Movie video clips come and go on the Web, so some of the scenes at these links are no longer available. However, I’m always updating this post, and all my lists. The links near the bottom are the most recent ones.

I’ve seen a lot of movies over the years, and know a lot of good scenes that will work with English Language Learners. However, I don’t have an infallible memory, and I haven’t seen all the movies ever made.  So I figured that there must quite a few other lists out there of movie scenes that would work well with ELL’s, and, after some “googling,” I discovered that I was right.

This “The Best…” list is a “sister list” to The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.  There, I share some good clips, as well as other resources, and tell how I use these kinds of movie scenes in the classroom (you also might be interested in The Best Pink Panther Fight Scenes For English Language Learners).

My favorite way of using them is a technique called “Back To The Screen” that I adapted from Zero Prep: Ready To Go Activities For The Language Classroom by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess. I pick a clip from a movie (the highway chase scene from one of the Matrix movies, for example). I then divide the class into pairs with one group facing the TV and the other with their back to it. Then, after turning off the sound, I begin playing the movie. The person who can see the screen tells the other person what is happening. Then, after awhile, I switch the groups around. Afterwards, the pairs need to write a chronological sequence of what happened, which we share in class. Finally, everyone watches the clip, with sound, together. Students really enjoy this activity.

The movie scenes I share here are ideal for this kind of activity.  Some of them include video clips of the actual scenes from YouTube.  If you want to use those videos, but YouTube is blocked at your school, you might want to read The Best Ways To Access Educational YouTube Videos At School.

Of course, there are many other ways to use a video clip as a language-development activity. James Keddie has created a great site called TEFL Clips that shares video clips and different English exercises that can be used with them. Many of his ideas can be adapted for these video scenes, too.

If the scenes on this list can’t be found on YouTube, I just rent a DVD and show the scene.

Some of the video clips on these sites are not appropriate for classroom use, though they are a very small percentage.  So this post is for teacher, not student, consumption.

Here are my picks for The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development:

The 50 Funniest Movies Scenes Ever (With Videos) is a good list that includes videos of the scenes, too.

Slapstick’s Greatest Hits shares several clips, including from “I Love Lucy” and the silent era’s Harold Lloyd.

 

What Is The Best Movie Scene You Can Find On YouTube? answers that question with a number of different clips — some inappropriate for classroom use.

Popular Mechanics has a great list of what they consider to be The Best Car Chases In Movie History, and include online video clips.

The Oregonian newspaper has a little different view of The Best Movie Chase Scenes, again including clips.

AMC’s Filmsite has an incredible list of different types of “The Best” scenes — best scary scenes, best disaster scenes, etc. It doesn’t include clips, but that’s what Netflix is for.

CNN has a list of The Best — And Worst — Movie Battle Scenes — without clips.

And here’s a list of The Best Martial Arts Movie Fight Scenes.

Movieclips has immediately become an indispensable website in my “teachers’ repertoire” of links. It has thousands of short video clips from movies and they’re not blocked by our content filter! And they’re available without registering — except for clips that have “mature” content. That in itself makes it a wonderful resource. But that’s only part of why I like this new site so much. What makes it a real winner is that that clips are categorized by theme, character, setting, mood, and more. They’re incredibly detailed.

This kind of organization makes it a gold mine for English Language Learners and their teachers. A ready-made video to teach vocabulary or an academic concept is at your finger-tips. Plus, they’re easily used for an activity like “Back To The Screen,” which I explain in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

In addition, users can create questions about the clip that the site will host. That’s a nice feature, and an opportunity for students to write for an authentic audience. The only tricky part is that in order to do so you have to register for the site, which is easy enough. However, that also gives you access to the mature content clips, so you’d only want to have students use it under supervision.

The 10 greatest car chases of all time is a great video slideshow from Salon.

Movie Segments For Warm-Ups and Follow-Ups is a blog that shares video clips and written activities for English Language Learners.

“The 15 Greatest Movie Car Chases of All Time” is a great slideshow of video clips from TIME Magazine.

10 Best Car Chases in Movie History comes from Popular Mechanics.

Greatest Movie Car Chases comes from Rotten Tomatoes.

10 Best Car Chase Scenes is from Best Oti.

10 Best Hollywood Movie Car Chases! is from What Culture!

20 Greatest Movie Car Chases is from Chris On Cars.

I love using Pink Panther scenes. Here are links to two of my favorites.

The blog Film English has lot of great clips and ideas on how to use them in class.

The Cinematic Chase is a video collection from The New York Times of great movie chase scenes.

The Golden Gate Bridge: Who destroyed it best? is from io9.

TIME Magazine periodically puts together slideshows that include thematically-based video clips:

Hot Pursuits: 10 Awesome Non-Car Chase Scenes

10 Memorable Movie Breakfast Scenes

Love Always: Top 10 Movie Moms We Wish Were Ours

The 10 Most Memorable Ads Featuring Celebrities And Their Kin

Apocalypse Wow: 10 Ways Hollywood Has Ended the World is a slideshow, with video clips, from TIME.

Great Video Clips For ELLs: “The 25 Most Suspenseful Movies Ever Made”

Action Movie Kid: DreamWorks dad Daniel Hashimoto turns toddler son into lightsaber-wielding CGI superhero is from The Independent, and shares several very short videos that would be good to show English Language Learners and then have them describe what they saw. Here’s an example:

These two compilation videos would be great for English Language Learners — they’re entertaining and in slow motion, so neither they or the teacher has to worry about it going to fast.

I think they’re all appropriate for classroom use though have to admit I didn’t get a chance to watch all of either of them:

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

December 22, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Places To Find The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators — 2009

I periodically post “most popular” lists of websites (and books) that I think educators might find useful. Of course, there are a number of ways to gauge “popularity.” I just view these lists as opportunities to check-out some new sites, and find it interesting to see which ones might be particularly “popular.”

I’ve made quite a few posts that fit into this category, and thought I’d highlight which ones I thought were the best and most useful for educators.

Here are my choices for The Best Places To Find The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators — 2009 (not listed in order of preference):

ANIMAL VIDEOS: I’ve found that short funny animal videos are great to show to English Language Learner students and then — together — we write about what we saw. In addition, I”ve used an exercise called “back to the screen” (see The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL for more information on how it works) with these types of videos.

Animal Planet is a great source for these kinds of videos. They have a page where you can see their most-watched videos of “all time.” You can see videos of “talking birds, water-skiing squirrels, and multi-talented dogs…”

NEWS: BBC News has a neat Live World Map that shows what news is popular in what part of the world at anytime. Here is a good explanation about how it works.

Richard Byrne has described the second resource in this category perfectly. So I’m going to quote from his post, and I would encourage you to go there to read his ideas on how to use it with students: “Ten by Ten is a unique program that links images with news stories. Every hour the top 100 news stories from around the world are linked to images on a ten by ten grid. The stories are ranked.”

EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS: Most Popular Educational Videos – All Time comes from a site called eduTube. It looks like there are some pretty interesting ones in the mix.

EDUCATION BLOGS: This category is a bit tricky. There is, of course, The Edublog Awards list. PostRank also has their own list of the “most engaged” blogs in the education category. There’s controversy about their rankings (see Sue Waters’ blog post Latest Statistics Say My Blogs Are……?), but I do think it’s a nice place to visit now and then to learn about new blogs, especially for people new to the education blogosphere.

EDUCATION WEBSITES: A site called eBizMBA compiles a monthly ranking of websites in various categories, including:

Top 55 Reference Websites

20 Most Popular Health Websites

Top 20 Science Websites

EDUCATION ARTICLES: ASCD SmartBrief is on The Best Ways To Keep-Up With Current Education Issues. This very widely-circulated daily newsletter is published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), a national organization of educators. It consistently provides thought-provoking articles from around the country. You can see a regularly updated list of its “most-clicked-on” stories here.

MUSEUM WEBSITES: Here’s a list of the two hundred most popular museum websites, including links to them.

ZOOS & THEIR WEBSITES: Check-out this list of USA Top Zoos & Favorite Parks.

Feedback is always welcome.

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

You might also want to explore the 400 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

December 3, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
6 Comments

“Movieclips” Is A Real Find!

(Update on where it’s available: As of March 1, 2010, Movieclips is available internationally”)

Movieclips has immediately become an indispensable website in my “teachers’ repertoire” of links.

It has thousands of short video clips from movies and they’re not blocked by our content filter! And they’re available without registering — except for clips that have “mature” content.

That in itself makes it a wonderful resource. But that’s only part of why I like this new site so much.

What makes it a real winner is that that clips are categorized by theme, character, setting, mood, and more. They’re incredibly detailed.

This kind of organization makes it a gold mine for English Language Learners and their teachers. A ready-made video to teach vocabulary or an academic concept is at your finger-tips. Plus, they’re easily used for an activity like “Back To The Screen,” which I explain in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

In addition, users can create questions about the clip that the site will host. That’s a nice feature, and an opportunity for students to write for an authentic audience. The only tricky part is that in order to do so you have to register for the site, which is easy enough. However, that also gives you access to the mature content clips, so you’d only want to have students use it under supervision.

I’m adding Movieclips to The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

August 6, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Most Popular Animal Videos

This is my usual introduction to one of these “most popular” posts:

As regular readers know, I’ve been posting “most popular” lists of websites that I think educators might find useful. Of course, there are a number of ways to gauge “popularity.” I just view these lists as opportunities to check-out some new sites, and find it interesting to see which ones might be particularly “popular.”

I’ve found that short funny animal videos are great to show to English Language Learner students and then — together — we write about what we saw.  In addition, I”ve used an exercise called “back to the screen” (see The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL for more information on how it works) with these types of videos.

Animal Planet is a great source for these kinds of videos.  They have a page where you can see their most-watched videos of “all time.”

You can see videos of “talking birds, water-skiing squirrels, and multi-talented dogs…”