Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

December 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: New TEDx Talk By Carol Dweck

Professor and researcher Carol Dweck recently gave a TEDx Talk shared by TED titled “The power of believing that you can improve.

I’ve embedded it below, but you can also see it on the TED site at the previous link. That site also has a written transcript of her comments.

Here’s an excerpt:


I was also struck by this passage:

“…we can actually change students’ mindsets. In one study, we taught them that every time they push out of their comfort zone to learn something new and difficult, the neurons in their brain can form new, stronger connections, and over time they can get smarter. Look what happened: in this study, students who were not taught this growth mindset continued to show declining grades over this difficult school transition, but those who were taught this lesson showed a sharp rebound in their grades.”

That’s certainly been our experience after teacher Dweck-inspired lessons you can find at The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning.

I’ll be adding this post to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

July 9, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two New Videos From RSA — Carol Dweck & Ken Robinson

RSA from The United Kingdom is particularly knows for their “graphic recording” of talks that take place there (the one they did of Dan Pink talking about “Drive” is my favorite).

They just released a short one of those animated videos, this one a short snippet of a talk by Ken Robinson. I’ve embedded it below — it’s nice, but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure there’s much “there there,” unlike in his other talks. Of course, it just two-and-a-half minutes long :)

Of more interest, though, is the non-animated video (also embedded below) that they put on the web of Carol Dweck’s talk there that took place….yesterday (they sure don’t waste time). It’s an hour-long, and it’s nice that they have close-ups of all her slides. I’ve just started watching it. So far, it sounds like a basic review of her work. Even if that is just the case, it’s still interesting!

I’m adding that video to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

June 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Interesting New Study By Carol Dweck


Readers of this blog are no strangers to the work of Carol Dweck, and you can find a collection of resources related to her work at The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

Professor Dweck and her colleagues have just published a new study that builds on her previous work and specifically relates it to reducing aggressive behavior by teenagers. Happily, the paper is not behind a paywall. It’s title is a long one — An Implicit Theories of Personality Intervention Reduces Adolescent Aggression in Response to Victimization and Exclusion.

You can also read a short summary of it by Art Markman.

Here is my brief summary (which I am very open to being critiqued and corrected) and my key “take-aways”:

Professor Dweck is known for, among other findings, developing the concepts of incremental mindset — that people’s traits can change over time — and an entity mindset — where traits are fixed. Many educators, including me, have used her research in the classroom in changing the kind of feedback we give students and in helping them see the physical changes caused in the brain by learning new things (my previously mentioned “The Best…” list give far more details).

In this new study (which focused on dealing with the effects of bullying), Professor Dweck and her colleagues taught six brief sessions to students elaborating on the incremental mindset, and found that they were less likely to react aggressively to bullying and, in general, behaved more appropriately in the classroom. They appeared to believe that neither the supposed reason behind their being targeted and the beliefs of the bullies themselves would be permanent, and tended to be less depressed. Here are some key excerpts:

…our results suggest that an incremental theory may predispose students to behave resiliently when situations of exclusion or victimization arise….

Our findings can inform theories of how social cognitive development can influence adolescent aggression. Past research has suggested that adolescents show an increased belief in the fixed nature of transgressors’ traits and behaviors (e.g., Killen et al., 2010). Relatedly, the early years of high school are a time of heighted social comparison, where one’s social label (especially if it is seen as a fixed label) can be a source of pride or shame, and therefore a powerful influence on how one copes with peer conflict (e.g., Brown, Mory, & Kinney, 1994; Crosnoe, 2011; Eccles & Barber, 1999). Overall, adolescence was predicted to be a special period during which beliefs about the potential for people to change their personal characteristics could play a particularly important role in aggressive retaliation….

Peer victimization or exclusion, as we have noted, can also lead to depression and other internalizing symptoms, and previous correlational research has suggested that this is especially likely when children hold more of an entity theory (Rudolph, 2010). Our experimental study showed that an incremental theory intervention could buffer adolescents from the effects of peer victimization. When adolescents who reported higher levels of victimization were taught to see themselves and others as capable of change, they reported fewer depressive symptoms compared with adolescents who received no treatment.

That’s what the study says about victims. I found what it says about the bullies themselves even more interesting:

One extension of this research is to test whether implicit theories might also be a cause of bullying itself. It may be the case that some students bully others to validate themselves and their status, a motivation that may well be fostered by an entity view of the self. Indeed, adolescents who believe that there are fixed “winners” and “losers” may well wish to place themselves among the “winners” and use bullying as a tool for doing so. Thus, it may be interesting in future investigations to determine whether the present study’s incremental theory intervention would reduce bullying.

One nice “bonus” is that the paper provides a fairly detailed description of the curriculum used to teach the incremental mindset.

For my work in the classroom, the bottom line of the study is that it reinforces the importance of teaching the lessons found on The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset” list, and exploring how I can expand them a bit by reflecting on the ideas in this paper.

I’m eager to hear the reactions of others….

November 9, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Study Finds That Specific Praise Improves Performance — Have They Ever Heard Of Carol Dweck?

A new study has been receiving some media attention for showing that praising someone’s athletic performance results in….their improving their performance. Interestingly, even though it’s clear in the study that the praise is very specific about what was being done, the researchers don’t seem to even highlight that point — they just say that praising someone is successful.

Of course, any research that reinforces what we teachers know is good practice is welcome, but, really, haven’t these folks ever heard of Carol Dweck?

It’s good to know about this new research, but I don’t think it’s even worth putting on The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students.

November 27, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Thoughts On Today’s NY Times Column By Carol Dweck

I’m a fan of much of Professor Carol Dweck’s work, and have often written in this blog (and in my book) about how I’ve applied her research in the classroom, especially around praising effort instead of intelligence.

A few months ago, though, I heard about one of her recent research projects that bothered me a bit, and, then, today, I saw a column she co-wrote about it in The New York Times. It’s titled “Willpower: It’s in Your Head.”

In it, she challenges the research findings of Professor Roy F. Baumeister, another researcher whose work has influenced my teaching practice. Professor Baumeister has written a great deal about self-control, and I wrote a piece in Education Week about how I apply his findings in the classroom — he also contributed a guest commentary.

Basically, Professor Baumeister (and many others) have concluded that self-control is a resource that can be depleted, and needs to be periodically replenished. Professor Dweck claims that it only is depleted if you believe it needs to be replenished.

That’s a very simplified summary, and I’d encourage you to read both her piece and Professor Baumeister’s commentary to get a more amplified view, as well as learning more how I interpret it for classroom use.

I’m all for having a “growth mindset,” which is another concept that Professor Dweck is known for and which I use with my students. However, especially with adolescents, it seems to me that we need to recognize that our students are not Supermen or Superwomen, and it’s unlikely that many — if any — have an unlimited level of self-control. My students and I have found Professor Baumeister’s research very useful and I have often seen it work effectively.  The key, of course, is that we need to help our students develop effective strategies to replenish their capacity for self-control.

Earlier this morning, I contacted Professor Baumeister to get his reactions to the critique. Here is his response (and he granted permission for me to share it here):

[Many] things can make a difference right at the beginning of depletion, when you’re only slightly depleted. we have replicated her finding that getting people to believe in unlimited willpower makes them do better when they are slightly depleted. but that same manipulation actually makes them do worse when they are severely depleted.

What do you think?

December 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Videos For Educators In 2014 – Part Two


Another day, another year-end annual “Best” list (you can find all 1,400 Best lists here).

You might also be interested in:

The Best Videos For Educators In 2014 – So Far

The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators

The Best Videos For Educators In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — Part One

The Best Videos For Educators In 2011

Part Two Of The Best Videos For Educators — 2010

The Ten Best Videos For Educators — 2010

And you might also want to see The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual — Part OneThe Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language LearnerThe Best Video Clips Demonstrating “Grit”; and The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading.

You might also want to check out The Best Video Collections For Educators ; The Best Video Clips On Goal-Setting — Help Me Find More ; The Best Movie Scenes, Stories, & Quotations About “Transfer Of Learning” – Help Me Find More! and The Best Funny Videos To Help Teach Grammar – Help Me Find More.

Here are my choices for The Best Videos For Educators In 2014 – Part Two:

Neil deGrasse Tyson responds to six-year-old – “How can first graders help the earth?”:

In The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom, which is — by far — the most popular post I’ve ever published, I include videos using Star Wars, Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other movies to teach Bloom’s.

Here’s another such video, and this one uses scenes from Harry Potter. Unfortunately, it has embedding disabled, so you’ll have to go to the link on YouTube.

Here’s a well-done video that provides an excellent short video of Carol Dweck’s research. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students. It’s also the only video on this list that I’m adding to The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators:

Thanks to Wendi Pillars for sharing this video on Twitter. I’m adding it to The Best Funny Videos To Help Teach Grammar.

Bill Ferriter, whose blog has been one of the few on my blog roll for many years (and it should be in your RSS Reader, too), recently shared this video. I suspect this video will be played far-and-wide among English (and other subject) classrooms (it sure received lots of retweets on Twitter). It’s about a star football player’s engagement with reading.

I’m adding it to The Best Videos & Articles Where Athletes Explain How Reading & Writing Well Has Helped Their Career.

Here’s a good one titled “What Is Literature For?”:

What is Literature for? from Marcus Armitage on Vimeo.

Here’s a fun video on reading:

This interactive video, a book trailer for “Does Santa Claus exist?” is an amazing one on many different levels. I’ll certainly be having my IB Theory of Knowledge students watch it:

Sesame Street released a video called “The Power Of Yet” — a message on the growth mindset idea that even if you haven’t succeeded now, it’s just a matter of “not yet.” I’m adding this video to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”:

Tavis Smiley has a new book out titled “Death of a King: The Real Story Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year.”

He did a terrific interview on the Daily Show, and I’m adding this video to The Best Resources To Remember Dr. Martin Luther King’s Death (& Life).

TED Talks released a new Hans Rosling video (done with his son) called “How not to be ignorant about the world.” You can see it on the TED Talk site with all its bells and whistles, including a transcript, but I’ve embedded the YouTube version below. I’m, of course, adding it to The Best Hans Rosling Videos:

I’m adding this great video segment to The Best Resources For Learning About The Children Refugee Crisis At The U.S. Southern Border:

Two film-making students:

created an animated simulation of life through the eyes of a non-verbal child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) “and her constant struggle to cope with the world around her,” as they write in their artist statement.

That description comes from an article in the New York Times headlined Look At Life Through Autistic Eyes. Here’s the video:

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Walking In Someone Else’s Shoes, which contains other similar resources.

Check out this Kid President video. I originally posted it with this title: “I Don’t Hear Students Thanking This Retiring Teacher For Helping Them Score Well On Standardized Tests”:

TED Talks now has an updated playlist of The 20 most popular talks of all time.

Donna Brazile announced the formation of Democrats For Public Education at the American Federation of Teachers Convention in Los Angeles. It’s designed to support effective and teacher-supported education efforts. You’ve got to watch this of her speech at the Convention:

We’ve all seen dogs barking at each other through fences.

But I doubt you’ve ever seen them do this….

If you feel like it, leave a comment completing this sentence:

“This is an allegory for…….”

November 30, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

November’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):

“Formative Assessments are ‘Powerful’”

The Power Of Having A “Purpose For Learning” In The Classroom

“Write About” May Be The Education Site Of The Year

I’ve Now Done Thirty BAM! Radio Shows On Education Issues

Here’s The Simple & Powerful Gratitude Lesson I’m Doing On Friday Before Thanksgiving Break

Food & “Flow” Is The Topic Of My Latest NY Times Post for English Language Learners

Here’s The Form I Have Students Complete When They’re Listening To Their Classmate’s Presentations

Oh, Boy, This Is Great! Researcher’s Scans Show Brain Connections Growing When Learning New Language

“Close Reading Can Be ‘Fun or Awful’”

Quote Of The Day: “When Will I Ever Use This?” (& How I’ll Use It In Class)

Interview With People Behind The Most Popular English Language Learning & Teaching Sites In The World

Did The Obama Administration Signal A Major Shift In Teacher Evaluation Policies Today?

Excellent Infographic On Growth Mindset

Here’s A New Reading Activity I Tried Out Today That Went Pretty Well…

Video: Here Is How I Used The Shadow Puppet App Today To Teach Verb Tenses

“” Looks Like An Excellent Place For Students To Save Links

Wow! Shadow Puppet Is A Great iPhone & iPad App For English Language Learners

The Onion Explains Perfectly The Difference Between “Mobilizing” & “Organizing” For Change

My Latest British Council Post: “What Does Enhanced Discovery Learning Look Like In The ELL Classroom?”

Advance Praise For My Upcoming Book On Student Motivation

Video: Bloom’s Taxonomy According To Harry Potter

“Teacher Evaluations Need to ‘Support, Not Sort’”

Trove Makes It Easier To Create Online Personalized “Newspapers”

Quote Of The Day: “Traditional grammar instruction isn’t effective. Period.”

“Oh, I Get It! If You Send Me Out, Then I’m Being Bad; If I Send Me Out, Then I’m Being Good!”

Video: Excellent Short Summary Of Carol Dweck’s Research

Quote Of The Day: On Metacognition

“Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling”

“Ways To Teach Math Besides ‘Drill The Skill’”

September 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Researchers See What A Growth Mindset Does To The Brain

Many of us teachers have seen the effect of helping our students develop a growth mindset — that their recognizing that effort trumps intelligence will result in success and better learning.

You can read more about this idea, coming out of the work of Carol Dweck, at The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

Now, researchers have announced results of a study where they’ve actually peered into the brains of some who believe that effort is more important, and into the minds of those who believe that native intelligence is number one.

You can read about their work at Brains Get a Performance Boost From Believing Effort Trumps Genetics in TIME.

Here’s an excerpt:

The-researchers-think (1)

August 20, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two Good Videos On How We Learn & How I Plan To Use Them In Class

The Khan Academy (you might want to see The Best Posts About The Khan Academy) recently unveiled three new videos that they have apparently developed with the help of Carol Dweck.

Their main new one is pretty decent and titled “You Can Learn Anything.” It’s the first video embedded below.

The one I really like, though is of John Legend. I don’t agree with his education politics, but he tells a great story of how and what he learned on his way to success. It’s called “Success Through Effort.” That’s the second video embedded below.

I’m not as thrilled with their third video, which has Sal Khan talking with Carol Dweck. You can find better videos of her explaining the growth mindset at The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

At some point during this school year, as a reinforcing activity for our lessons on how we learn and the growth mindset, I plan on showing these two short videos and have students respond to this prompt:

According to these videos, how do we learn? Do you agree with what the videos are saying? To support your opinion you may use examples from your own experiences, your observations of others, and any of your reading.

I’m adding this post to:

My Best Posts On Writing Instruction

The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”

The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures

You might also be interested in Here’s The “Growth Mindset” Article & Prompt We’re Using As Part Of Our Semester Final

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?

April 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Bunch Of Student Motivation Resources

'Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink' photo (c) 2010, cdorobek - license:

As regular readers know, I have a particular interest in the topic of student motivation, and my third book on the topic will be out next year.

I’ve been accumulating some related resources, and am putting them all together in this post:

Studies Offer Practical Ways to Bring ‘Growth Mindset’ Research to Schools is an Ed Week post about some recent studies. One of them featured having students read about the struggles experienced by famous scientists, as opposed by focusing solely on their achievements, and resulted in higher student motivation and academic achievement. Here’s an earlier study done by the same researchers with Taiwanese students (the most recent research was with classes in New York) that reached similar conclusions and has a lot of interesting background information. I’m adding this info to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

Teachers told: use ‘not yet’ in place of ‘fail’ when marking is from The Telegraph. It’s about a new guide for UK teachers on how to help students develop a growth mindset. I’m adding it to the same list.

Carol Dweck and others have developed an online program focused on helping students develop a growth mindset around math. They are invited teachers to participate for free. You can find more information about it here.

Here are links to two articles that don’t really provide any new information on motivational issues (at least, they’re not new if you’ve been following this blog). However, they do provide good short summaries on the topic. I’m adding them to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students:

Why Incentives Don’t Actually Motivate People To Do Better Work is from Business Insider.

How To Motivate People – 4 Steps Backed By Science is from Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

February 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators


I’ve been posting annual lists of the Best Videos For Educators for a number of years.

I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones.

I’ve begun creating a number of these “All-Time” Best list, with The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly being the first and The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education second.

Look for quite a few more “All-Time” Best lists over the next couple of months.

There are over 1,200 Best lists now that are categorized and updated regularly.  You can see them all here.

Here are my choices for The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators (let me know which ones I’m missing — I’ll also be adding to this list after I do a complete review of videos I’ve published on this blog):

Of course, the “graphic notetaking” video of Daniel Pink’s speech about his book, Drive, has got to be on this list:

Alfie Kohn has written several books, including “Punished By Rewards.”. Dwight Schrute is the well-known character in the television comedy, “The Office.” What might the connection be between the two of them? Watch this two minute video clip to find out:

Here’s Bloom’s Taxonomy According To The Pirates Of The Caribbean:

The PBS News Hour produced this segment on self control and young people. It uses financial literacy as an initial hook, but it’s mainly about the famous marshmallow test and a recent updated study:

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

This is a great video to get students to think more carefully about their writing:

Thanks to an excellent post by Jennifer Brokofsky, I learned about this short video of Sir Ken Robinson. He makes an excellent point about the importance of helping students motivate themselves (and I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students):

“Farmers and gardeners know you cannot make a plant grow….The plant grows itself. What you do is provide the conditions for growth. And great farmers know what the conditions are and bad ones don’t. Great teachers know what the conditions for growth are and bad ones don’t.”

In this video, some ducklings were able to get over the curb on their own. However, several found that it was just too high. Look at how someone provides assistance to those having trouble, and how he doesn’t tell them what to do. Instead, he offers it as an option, as a choice they can make. It’s an example of an old community organizing axiom, “If you don’t give people the opportunity to say no, you don’t give them the opportunity to say yes, either.”

Jason Flom shared this great video on the importance of making mistakes. I’m adding it to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures.

This TED Talk video from the late Rita Pierson on “Every Kid Needs A Champion” is a great one:

Perseverance (grit) is one of the key qualities researchers have found to be essential in a successful language learner, as well as other learners.

Here’s a video demonstrating that quality that I’m adding to The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner:

This is from Yahoo News and is a great illustration of “thinking outside the box”:

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

Here’s a well-done video that provides an excellent short video of Carol Dweck’s research.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students.

January 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2013


It’s that time of year again — time to share the choices from readers of this blog for the best education-related book they read in the this past year.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2012

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2011

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2010

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2009

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2008

Speaking of education-related books, you might also be interested in two other posts:

The Top 75 New York Times Best-Selling Education Books of 2013 comes from The New York Times Learning Network.

Education Books In One Sentence was a fun hashtag I started one day on Twitter.

I broke my own rules and chose four instead of one, and you can see them in the photo illustrating this post.

Now, here are the choices of over fifty readers to sent their comments and tweets (even if you didn’t send them in earlier, you can still leave your favorites in the comments):

Renee Boss:

Best book I read this year–Trusting Teachers with School Success by Kim Farris-Berg and Edward Dirkswager with Amy Junge. This book is encouraging because it promotes teachers as leaders and professionals who should make the decisions in our schools.

Mandy Vasek:

My fave 2013 read was Jim Collins’ Good to Great. Getting the RIGHT people on the bus is key to success. I also helped lead a book study with Dave Burgess’ Teach Like a Pirate. IMO, this should be a must do for all campuses no matter the level. It was very successful…and FUN.

Carrie Vartlett:

Teach Like a Pirate was my favorite this year. The PLN related to it is awesome, too!

Mike Pinto:

“Quiet” by Susan Cain. As an extrovert, it gave me a perspective on introversion and how many great leaders are introverts. Worth the read and the reflection.


Notice and Note by Kylene Beers.

Svetlana Sutic:

The Element by Sir Ken Robinson.How to find the point where natural talent meets personal passion.

John Young:

Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan Wiliam. Very insightful book with excellent research based strategies bought multiple copies for my staff and gifted one to each of my teaching daughters.

Lisa Gearman:

Two books I carry around in my backpack are Untangling the Web by Adam Bellow and Steve Dembo and The Classroom Teacher’s Technology Survival Guide by Doug Johnson. Both are great for practical advice you can use immediately, and I use them for PD training ideas.


Best book used in leadership team read this year…book study…The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes & Posner

Tim O’Connor:

I am just finishing up Dan Pink’s – To Sell is Human. This book gave me better insight into how to become more persuasive and thoughtful towards others. As a technology coach that promotes change in education it was very helpful, however all educators can benefit from such a book.


Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined

Matt Renwick:

World Class Learners by Yong Zhao takes a different perspective about standardized tests and international comparisons. Instead of simply questioning the validity of high stakes testing, he actually provides data that suggests these practices could actually harm creativity and innovation. Dr. Zhao also shares ideas for helping teachers and students become more engaged in important work.

bob dillon:

Open by David Price has reshaped my thinking around the acceleration needed to open our schools to change

R. Deutsch:

Energize Research Reading and Writing: Fresh Strategies to Spark Interest, Develop Independence, and Meet Key Common Core Standards, Grades 4-8 by Christopher Lehman (Heinemann, 2012). Great practical book that spells out what REAL research should look like . It would make a wonderful choice for English and content area teachers working together. Not only for grades 4-8; so much of what he describes would be perfect for high school students as well.

Jamaal A. Bowman:

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough. It provides very specific and promising strategies on how to counteract poverty, and attempts to explain why good standardized tests results do not lead to college and career success.

Renee Moore:

Ann Byrd and Barnett Berry, Teacherpreneurs [disclosure, yes, my students and I are featured in it] which makes it even more interesting! Seriously, a look at the possibilities for teaching to move out of its centuries old frame into a modern profession.

Diane Ravitch’s, Reign of Error for challenging the educational crisis myths.

Jonathan Kozol, Fire Among the Ashes:25 Years Among the Poorest Children in America — the culmination of his work that began with Savage Inequalities; looks at some of the children he has followed as they grown into adulthood.

Michelle cordy:

Net Smart by Horward Rheingold is essential reading for educators and anyone interested in doing a deep dive into the abundance of information and connectivity brought to us in the present day.

Joanne Fuchs:

Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. Inspiring, made me take a fresh look at the way I reach.

Diane Peterson:

Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess – gives energy, shares passion, offers encouragement and support, and gives usable ideas to highten students’ interest to learning.

Generation iY by Tim Elmore – amazing research for all involved with youth and how to reach and teach Gen Y for a productive, successful future adult generation.

Lesli Moylan:

Smart by Nature. Great book about different ways schools across country integrating sustainability into curriculum and culture of individual schools and districts.

The Teaching Factor:

There are so many great books:

Teach Like a Pirate reminds readers to make learning fun and relevant.

Falling in Love with Close Reading and Notice and Note both help all content area teachers get students to stop and pay attention while they are reading.

Not a teacher book but YA novel that brings thought, caring, and perspective on our daily life, The Obe and Only Ivan was a favorite read with my students.

Jon Konen:

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. Put away the text books and get “wild” about reading authentic literature! Donalyn gives you a learning structure to promote student independence and a love of reading!

A Stevens:

The two best educationally related books that I have read this year are mindset by Carol Dweck and Teaching Through Text by McKenna and Robinson.

Peggy Drolet:

Here are a few suggestions

Douglas W. Green, EdD:

As always, I find that some of the best books for education were not written strictly for educators. The best ideas generalize well across fields, and the the hot areas for research and innovation are where the disciplines collide. I summarize the best books I find here. My summaries will help with purchasing decisions and reviewing the book after you read it. If I had to pick one book this year it would be “Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries” by Peter Sims.

Jon Harper:

Cagebusting Leadership by Frederick Hess was a great read. It gets us to stop whining and start looking at what we have to get the job done.

Karen Linch:

Real Talk for Real Teachers by Rafe Esquith made me realize that teaching to high stakes tests will never lead to the kind of learning our students deserve.

Ms. Hunni:

Penny Kittle’s: Book Love and Write Beside Them


Ten Minute InService by Todd Whitaker and Annette Breaux

Brenda Giourmetakis:

Ten things a child with autism wishes you knew by Ellen Notbohm. Sensible, awesome suggestions

Colinda Clyne:

I have two: the motivational Teach like a Pirate by Dave Burgess, about keeping enthusiasm and passion in your practice, and as a history teacher, the invaluable guide to historical thinking concepts, The Big Six by Peter Seixas and Tom Morton.

Tracy Tarasiuk:

“Focus” be Mike Schmocker-the title really says it all

Kathryn Coffey:

“Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives”, by Peter H. Johnston

John Norton:

Full disclosure: I served as editor for both of these books. They come straight from real classrooms and represent visionary teaching practices.

Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades, by Kathy Cassidy.

Teaching In High Gear: My Shift Toward a Student-Driven, Inquiry-Based Science Classroom, by Marsha Ratzel.

Catherine Trinkle:

Focus by Mike Schmoker. I am committed to teaching the simplified, focus way and I know my students are working harder and learning more as the outcome.

Michael Doyle:

Ira Socol’s Drool Room blew me away, enough to make me feel unsteady in the classroom. It will change what I do, and possibly who I am.

Should be mandatory reading for anyone who works with less than perfect children.

Mrs. Rasmussen:

Book Love by Penny Kittle We have to get students reading, and Kittle’s book teaches how.


Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild or Penny Kittle’s Book Love


Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. Honest, challenging, thought-provoking!


Either reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller or Igniying a Passion for Reading by Steven Layne.

Some readers sent in their choices with a tweet, and I’ve collected them with Storify:

Thanks to everyone who contributed and, again, you can leave your choices in the comments!

November 10, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Highlights Of A Reddit Chat With Angela Duckworth & Roland Fryer


Reddit hosted a chat this week with MacArthur genius awardees Angela Duckworth & Roland Fryer.

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m no fan of Fryer’s work, and nothing he said in the chat made me elevate that opinion.

Angela Duckworth, though, is a different story, and I’ve been very impressed with her research on grit (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit”). And I think she share some important and useful info on Reddit.

I think the most important piece of research she shared, though she made it clear that it’s not solid and it’s an “informal” finding, was this:

I do think there are things we can do to improve grit and self-control. Most of my ideas (things I think) haven’t been tested, but in this informal setting, I will say that I think (but don’t know yet for sure) that just being around a lot of people of exemplify these qualities should help.

Even though, to a certain extent, this is common sense, this particular comment is going to be very helpful to me. Coincidentally, I’m doing my lesson on grit right now in class, and being able to share this quote (students have been reading about her research and watching her videos) can, I think, apply a little peer pressure — “if I show grit, then I’m helping my classmates and, if don’t show it, I’m hurting them.”

Here are some other things she shared that she believes could help people develop grit:

Another idea with some empirical evidence behind it is that certain beliefs should help with both self-control. Believing that self-control is a limited resource and should therefore be conserved tends not to encourage people to use self-control. Believing that self-control doesn’t run out after use has the opposite (and in this case, a positive, adaptive) effect. Our lab thinks that believing that effort and practice play a huge, not minor, role in success encourages grit. Also, believing that failure is part of learning and part of life should encourage grit. We are working on strategies and beliefs now…

I’m not convinced about her perspective on self-control — believing that it’s a limited resource doesn’t mean it has to be conserved. It means that you have to be strategic to make sure it gets replenished (see The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control). I don’t believe most research supports Prof. Duckworth’s position on self-control (which she shares with another person whom I admire, Carol Dweck) and have written about it specifically at Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen.

I was struck by her response to a question that, though not specifically, seemed to be touching on the 10,000 hour rule:

My view is that achievement = talent x effort. In particular, I think some people learn/improve faster than others, and we can call that talent. And some people work longer and harder than others, and we can call that effort. The real superstars, the outliers, are almost without exception high in talent and effort.

She also referred to a good “This I Believe” piece by Martha Graham.

Finally, there was this interchange:

Angela, You’re at UPenn, in Philadelphia, where it seems like schools are closing left and right and the whole system is in extreme turmoil. How can low-income kids be expected to show continued grit and fortitude in those kinds of settings, in the face of closings, mergers and such instability?

(Angela Duckworth) You bring up an important point. The situations in which people find themselves has a huge effect on outcomes. And, I don’t want attention to grit and other aspects of character to imply that we don’t need to work on improving the situations of kids – their neighborhoods, schools, opportunities, etc. But, it’s also true, that for kids in the schools (and by the way, my two kids are in the Philadelphia schools as of this year, since we moved from the ‘burbs), they have little choice other than to ask “How can I, without changing the whole system” do as well as I can? What can I do?” In other words, kids are not to blame for their situations, and situations are important, but kids also need to develop a sense of responsibility and agency about their lives. The road may be bumpy, and that’s not necessarily their fault, but they need to think of themselves as in the driver’s seat, not the passenger seat.

I do wish she had made a stronger point about how grit and SEL not being enough, especially since “school reformers” are using her research as part of the “No Excuses” mantra.

At the same time, I do agree that helping our students develop grit is one thing we can do in dealing with the world “as it is” instead of just operating in the world “as we’d like it to be.”

If you get a chance, read the Reddit transcript and let me know your thoughts on what you see.

September 21, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Guest Post: Teaching Fifth Graders About A “Growth Mindset” & “The Brain As A Muscle”

'Mindset + Mindstorms' photo (c) 2011, Benjamin Chun - license:

Matthew Becker is a fifth grade teacher in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He taught two of the lessons in my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves, and has written this short guest post about his experience.

You can also find more information about those topics at The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning and at The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”.

Teaching About A “Growth Mindset” & “The Brain As A Muscle” To Fifth Graders

by Matthew Becker

This summer I became aware of Larry Ferlazzo’s blog and the books he has authored on the subject of helping students to become self-driven and self-motivated learners. I was immediately intrigued, since they seemed to be related to my current reading interests and more importantly, directly tied to student learning. Upon contacting Larry through Twitter, I took his advice and purchased his book “Helping Students Motivate Themselves: Practical Answers to Classroom Challenges.”

During the first two weeks of school, I implemented two of the lessons detailed in his book. I first presented “The Brain is Like a Muscle,” and two days later I followed it up with the “Grit and Growth Mindset” lesson plan. I chose these lessons for two reasons. First, they supported the idea of developing a growth mindset, which I had read about earlier this summer in Dr. Carol Dweck’s book “Mindsets.” Second, I thought the lessons were set up to make learning concrete for my students with minimal effort to alter them to match the learning levels of a fifth grade classroom.

My students and I interacted with interesting articles, videos, charts, and quotes from notable people; they were fascinated by the information and the various materials. Students participated in paired readings, turn and talk discussions, summarized and drew visualizations of what they read, and shared their learning with the whole class. We worked on important reading skills and had great discussions.

I altered the lessons slightly and assisted in the reading of the articles by adding explanations to help their understanding and meet their reading levels. The article for the “Grit and Growth Mindset” lesson was very challenging, so I used to simplify the vocabulary and make the readability more appropriate. It worked well with a little editing, while maintaining the integrity of the article, and without diminishing any of the learning that took place.

As a result of implementing these lessons my students are now able to explain how their brains will grow new neurons and connections if they “exercise” it through learning. This excites them. They are also able to articulate the importance of persevering when learning gets messy and challenging, and by doing so, they would become better learners. They get it! I truly believe that the foundation for some great learning is being set for the school year.

August 13, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: “Your Thoughts Can Release Abilities Beyond Normal Limits”

Your Thoughts Can Release Abilities Beyond Normal Limits is a new article in Scientific American that ties in to a lot of what Carol Dweck writes about (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”).

The piece shares some nice examples, though, as I’ve said before, we need to remember that Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen.

Here’s an excerpt: