Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 20, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
4 Comments

Interview Of The Month — Bill Ferriter

As regular readers know, each month I interview people in the education world about whom I want to learn more. You can see read those past interviews here.

Today, I’m publishing August’s “Interview Of The Month” a few days early. Bill Ferriter, teacher, blogger, author, and a member of the Teacher Leaders Network has agreed to answer a few questions.

Why did you choose to be a teacher?

Choosing to be a teacher, I think, was easy.  I knew that I wanted to make a difference and no profession provides change agents with more opportunities to be influential than education.

I mean, we have the chance to change lives.

That’s powerful stuff, isn’t it?

Knowing that each morning brings new chances to have a positive impact on the students in my classroom is pretty awesome—and while I don’t always get things right, I’m doing my best to matter.

What has motivated you to do so much writing on education issues?

I’m a firm believer, Larry, that the closer one is to the classroom, the more they understand about what works in schools.

The sad reality, though, is that the closer one is to the classroom, the less influence they have over the policies that govern our buildings.

That’s a function of our traditional educational structures.  Teachers, in our thinking, are only working when they are in front of a room of students.

When you’re in front of students every day, though, there is little time to play any kind of role in important conversations about what should be happening in our classrooms.

We’re left with groups of people who know little about the reality of teaching and learning making the most important decisions about the direction our schools should take.

How sick is that?

Writing—particularly blogging—became a tool for me to elbow my way into those important conversations.

I don’t need anyone’s permission to share what I know about teaching and learning anymore.  More importantly, I don’t need any release time from the classroom to get involved.

Every time I sit down behind the keyboard, I can be influential.  I can shape thinking.  I can be heard—and as long as I can hook a few regular readers, I might just be making a difference.

Need proof?

I bumped into a member of our state board of education a few years back.  She sought me out at a function and said, “I’m reading your blog, Bill.  The name scares me, but I’m listening.”

How cool is that?

Can you give a brief overview of each of your three books?

My books are extensions of each of my personal passions—professional learning communities, teaching with technology, and using social media to communicate and connect.

Building a Professional Learning Community at Work is designed to be a practical guide that schools can use to structure their first steps with PLCs.

It includes dozens of handouts that can be used by learning teams to overcome the most common barriers to effective collaboration—and it was recognized as Learning Forward’s 2010 Staff Development Book of the Year.

Teaching the iGeneration is essentially my efforts to document everything I know about good teaching in the 21st Century.

I start by introducing readers to the changing nature of today’s learners.  Then, I try to show readers how to build bridges between what we know about good teaching and what our students know about new digital tools.

Each chapter focuses on an essential skill—managing information, collaborating, communicating, persuading—that teachers will be comfortable with already.  Then, I give practical examples of how I use digital tools to make those skills more effective and efficient for today’s learners.

It’s chock-a-block full of handouts too!

My third book—Communicating and Connecting with Social Media—is an attempt to show school leaders several positive ways that social media tools like Facebook and Twitter can be used to improve their work.

Specifically, we try to show principals how to use social media tools to reach out to their communities, to improve their own learning and to improve the learning of their faculties.

We intentionally avoid introducing strategies for teaching with social media simply because teaching with social media is still a controversial practice in most communities.

We believe, however, that as educators begin to embrace social media spaces as sources for personal learning, they’ll naturally look for safe ways to introduce those same spaces and practices into their classrooms.

What do you think are three key questions teachers should consider asking their principal and/or tech staff person to get them thinking about using ed tech more effectively?

Great question, Larry—and I love that there is an assumption that we should be asking questions about our ed tech choices at all!

Sadly, that lack of systematic thinking often ends up in schools that spend thousands of dollars on tools that do little to change learning in a meaningful way.

Need proof?  Check out this piece about a principal that dropped $18,000 on 6 Interactive Whiteboards.

#whatawaste

The most effective schools think about quality instruction first and then work to find the tools—and make the purchases—that advance quality instruction.

These three questions can help to keep an instruction-first perspective at the forefront of any school’s ed tech thinking:

1. What does our community value the most?  What role do creativity, collaboration, and collective inquiry play in our beliefs about learning?

2. What does an engaged classroom look like in action?  What is it that we most want to see happening in our classrooms?

3. How are our technology purchases helping us to move closer to both our mission and our vision of an engaged classroom?

What are three key things you think it would be helpful for many non-educators who are making decisions about education to hear?

Only three, huh?  This won’t be easy, but I’ll give it a try.

Given that current conversations in most edu-circles seem to be centered around canning crappy teachers, let’s focus on what accomplished individuals expect from a profession:

Accomplished individuals expect workplaces that are professionally flexible: Talented teachers are like any talented professional—they thrive in workplaces that allow them to experiment and to explore their practice.

Current policies that increasingly control the work of classroom teachers are simply not professionally satisfying for the best and the brightest.

If we are really serious about improving teacher quality by attracting the best and the brightest to our classrooms, we’ve got to create educational policies that encourage—rather than stifle—innovation.

Accomplished individuals are not afraid of accountability, but they expect to be evaluated fairly: Our education system is currently being broken to pieces by policymakers who are hell-bent on “holding teachers accountable” for performance.

The hitch is that “holding teachers accountable” means nothing more than measuring student performance on poorly structured end-of-grade exams that:

  1. Aren’t given in every class.
  2. Don’t cover the entire curriculum.
  3. Measure low-level skills.
  4. Fail to take into account the impact of out-of-school factors on students.

That’s why we push back when policymakers craft half-baked plans built around testing as a tool for accountability.

We’re not opposed to being held accountable for our performance, but we are smart enough to know when the accountability programs are unfair at best and irresponsible at worst.

Systematically demonizing teachers is driving accomplished people away from our profession: I’m exhausted, Larry, by the never-ending attacks on teachers that have become so common.

Hearing the same vitriol spewed over-and-over again—teachers are lazy, teachers are brainwashing children, teachers are overpaid, teachers are bankrupting states—is making it less and less likely that we’ll ever be able to attract enough accomplished individuals to our classrooms to be successful.

Who wants to be a punching bag for the public for their entire career?

You’ve made a switch this year to teaching Science.  Why did you make that change, how has it gone, and what have you learned?

Are you ready for this, Larry:  I made the switch to teaching science because it is currently an untested subject in my state.

Now, if people want to “hold me accountable,” they need to actually come into my classroom and watch me teach for a while.

They’ve got to see my kids in action and start asking questions.  The only evidence they have to judge me is what they can see with their own two eyes.

When I was teaching language arts, standardized test results became the only indicator that anyone ever used to determine whether or not I was an accomplished teacher.

It was like an evaluation cop-out.  Why bother doing the hard work of observing and evaluating teachers when you’re going to get a set of test scores back each spring, right?

Moving to science guarantees that I’ll be assessed on something more than a test—and I’ve loved it.

Is there anything you’d like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Sure—you never asked whether I thought I’d still be teaching in 5 years.

The answer is I’m just not sure anymore.

My goal has been to be a full-time practitioner for my entire career.  There’s just something noble about spending my whole life as a full-time classroom teacher.

And honestly, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.

But I really can’t justify a 10-month position that requires me to work about a dozen part time jobs just to pay my bills AND that subjects me to constant criticism and insult anymore.

I get paid really well as an educational consultant—and my writing has earned me a ton of opportunities to move into that work on a full-time basis.

I’ve fought to resist the temptation to leave the classroom for probably the past 5 years.

But I’m so hacked off by the way teachers are being treated—and so pessimistic about our chances of seeing sanity return to conversations about schools—that I’m probably closer to leaving than at any point in my professional career.

#sadbuttrue

Thanks, Bill….Hang in there….

October 7, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Special Edition Of “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t” — October (Part Two)

(Usually, I just post a weekly version of this regular feature. However, sometimes I post an extra “Special Edition” when I have more good links than usual)

'forged link chain (5)' photo (c) 2009, Kirsten Skiles - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I have a huge backlog of resources that I’ve been planning to post about in this blog but, just because of time constraints, have not gotten around to doing. Instead of letting that backlog grow bigger, I regularly grab a few and list them here with a minimal description. It forces me to look through these older links, and help me organize them for my own use. I hope others will find them helpful, too. These are resources that I didn’t include in my “Best Tweets” feature because I had planned to post about them, or because I didn’t even get around to sending a tweet sharing them.

Here is a Special Edition of “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”:

Ten Takeaway Tips for Teaching Critical Thinking is from Edutopia. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Teaching & Learning Critical Thinking In The Classroom.

Walk Free has a number of resources about human slavery today, including the video embedded below. I’m adding the link to The Best Resources For Learning About Human Trafficking Today.

I’ve previously posted about Bridge 8′s great critical thinking animations, which I’ve used in IB Theory of Knowledge classes. Now they’ve come out with another series of animations, this time on “This Thing Called Science.” Since we were just discussing empiricism in our class today, tomorrow I’ll be showing this video from this new collection:

I’m a proud public school teacher. Here’s a glimpse at what I do. is a must-read from TeacherBiz (thanks to Dan Willingham for the tip).

8 Condescending Things a Manager Should Avoid Saying to an Employee is from Great Leadership. Just substitute “student” for “employee” and you’ll find it to be a very helpful reminder.

Blogging Resources for Classroom Teachers is from Bill Ferriter. I’m adding it to The Best Sources For Advice On Student Blogging.

The New Yorker has a slideshow of student uniforms from around the world. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures.

Blobfish voted world’s ugliest animal is from The Guardian. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About Animals.

October 6, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

This Week In Web 2.0

'Web 2.0 paljastaa' photo (c) 2011, Janne Ansaharju - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

In yet another attempt to get at the enormous backlog I have of sites worth sharing, I’ve recently begin a regular feature called “The Week In Web 2.0.” It’ll be a short compilation of new decent sites that are worth noting, but maybe not necessarily worth a separate post and generally — though not always — not worthy of being on a “The Best…” list (let me know if you think I’m wrong in my assessment, though):

5 Instagram Faux Pas You Can Easily Avoid is a useful post from ReadWrite.

Interlude lets you create sort of a “Create Your Own Adventure” video. It’s a little too complicated for me, but you can read more about it at TechCrunch.

Tellagami is neat iPhone/iPad app that lets users quickly create virtual characters that can speak audio that’s been recorded or use text-to-speech. I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English and to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me.

Here’s an example:

Creative Commons Resources for Classroom Teachers is from Bill Ferriter. I’m adding it to The Best Online Sources For Images.

Editorially lets you collaboratively create documents. I’m adding it to The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration.

Huzzaz lets you create video collections that you can embed in your website. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Create Online Video Playlists.

August 14, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Several Useful Resources On Implementing Common Core

'Mapping Media to the Common Core' photo (c) 2013, Wesley Fryer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Here are several additions to The Most Useful Resources For Implementing Common Core:

The Core of the Common Core, Part 1: The Anchor Standards for Reading is from Burkins and Yaris. It provides metaphors and analogies in explaining Common Core.

The same site has a Periodic Table of Common Core Standards.

Thanks to Wendi Pillars for sharing those two resources on Twitter.

Achieve The Core shares Common Core writing samples from classrooms around the country.

Two Great FREE Apps from Mastery Connect is from Bill Ferriter.

July 14, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Advice On Using Education Technology

'LSE Media Suite' photo (c) 2010, The Liverpool  School of English - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

You might my piece at the British Council useful: “Four questions to ask before using an Ed Tech tool” Is My New British Council Post

During this past week, I’ve been lucky enough to see the two best posts I know of offering great advice on how to use educational technology.

I thought I’d bring them together in one post, along with links to some of my related “The Best” lists, and invite readers to contribute other resources, too.

You may have already seen Bill Ferriter’s image, Technology is a Tool, NOT a Learning Outcome. It’s been burning up social media for the past week.

Here’s another great graphic from Bill:

 

You may, however, not have seen Frank Noschese’s absolutely brilliant post on Edtech PR Tips. In it, he offers advice to ed tech businesses who are trying to push their products onto schools. They also serve as an effective criteria for teachers to use to determine if and how to use any type of ed tech with their students.

Digital Worksheets is by John Spencer.

In addition, here are a few of my previously-posted “The Best…” lists that are somewhat related to this topic:

The Best Sources For Ideas On How To Use Technology With English Language Learners

The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools

The Best Good, Inexpensive & Simple Classroom Technology Tools

The Best Places To Find Research On Technology & Language Teaching/Learning

The Best Sites For Learning About The History Of Technology

My Best Posts For Tech Novices (Plus A Few From Other People)

Q & A Collections: Using Tech In The Classroom is my new Ed Week Teacher posts, and brings all my past posts on ed tech together in one place.

Lessons from the Downfall of Interactive Whiteboards is from EdSurge.

Tablets Or Laptops?

Additional contributions 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 nearly 1200 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

June 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2013 – So Far

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I continue my mid-year “The Best…” lists…

The title of this “The Best…” list is pretty self-explanatory. What you’ll find here are blog posts and articles this year (some written by me, some by others) that were, in my opinion, the ones that offered the best practical advice and resources to teachers this year — suggestions that can help teachers become more effective in the classroom today or tomorrow. Some, however, might not appear on the surface to fit that criteria, but those, I think, might offer insights that could (should?) inform our teaching practice everyday.

For some, the headlines provide enough of an idea of the topic and I haven’t included any further description.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers In 2012 — Part One

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers In 2011

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers — 2010

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers — 2009

In addition, you might find these useful:

The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice In 2011

The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice — 2010

The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice — 2009

Here are my choices for The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2013- So Far:

How My Ninth-Grade English Class Evaluated Me This Year

Here are articles, including excerpts from my latest book, that I’ve written this year and that are very practical:

Q & A Collections: Student Motivation is the title of one of my posts at Education Week Teacher. It brings all my Ed Week posts on student motivation together in one place.

The Power Of Stories

The Importance Of Explaining “Why”

“Keep Calm & Carry On”

Emphasizing What Students Can Do, Instead Of What They “Can’t” — Part Two

I’ve published a list of the ten most popular posts from my Ed Week Teacher blog.

I’ve previously posted about LearnZillion and put it on The Best MATH Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress list. Since that time, they’ve added English Language Arts lessons, and are planning to also have ones related to Social Studies. So, now, I’m also adding it to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress list.

The Simple Things I Do To Promote Brain-Based Learning In My Classroom is by Judy Willis. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On “Brain-Based Learning” — Help Me Find More.

What to Do When You’ve Made Someone Angry is an excellent Harvard Business Review article, and very applicable to the classroom (as well as in other areas of life).

Here’s an excerpt:

When-youve-done

It’s a refinement on what I’ve written about the importance of saying “I’m sorry” to students. I tried out Bregman’s advice in class. A student was upset because I didn’t get over to him as quickly as he would have liked when he had a question (a chronic reaction from this particular student). We’ve talked before about how I have many other students who need my help, and, typically, I just quickly say “Sorry” when he expresses his impatience and move on to his question. This time, though, I said, “Sorry, I can see that you wanted to get this work done and were frustrated you had to wait to get my help before you were able to move on” and then got to his question. He clearly was able to “let go” of his anger quicker than usual and re-focus on the work. It’s just one more positive classroom strategy to have in one’s “back pocket.”

Classroom Management Strategy: “Sometimes The Only Thing Worse Than Losing A Fight Is Winning One”

My Best Posts On Writing Instruction

Social and emotional learning gaining new focus under Common Core is a very useful and interesting article published by Ed Source.

The Best Multilingual Resources For Parents is a new “The Best” list I posted over at my other blog, Engaging Parents In School.

The Best Sources Of Advice On How To Get A Teaching Job

Classroom Management Strategy: Here Are Three Things I Want. What Are Three Things You Want?

The Best Resources On “Close Reading” — Help Me FInd More

This is definitely one of the most interesting and useful TED videos I’ve seen (it’s actually a from a TEDx event). Marc Chun talks about Diving Into Deeper Learning. Unfortunately, since it’s a TEDx video, and not one from TED, they don’t have a transcript available. But it’s definitely worth watching. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer.”

The BAM Radio Network interviewed several guests, including Daniel Pink and me, for a program on student motivation. You can listen to it here.

Stop Telling Your Employees What to Do is a post at the Harvard Business Review that has a lot of applicability to the classroom. Here’s an excerpt:

I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students.

A Very, Very Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Bullying — Please Suggest More

A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Using Technology To Help Engage Parents is a post over at my other blog, Engaging Parents In School.

The Best Ideas On How To Finish The School Year Strong….

Famous Person Project

All Excerpts From My Book, “Self-Driven Learning,” In One Place

In addition to this blog, I regularly post at several other sites:

Engaging Parents In School:

Larry Ferlazzo's Engaging Parents in School Site
Weekly Posts At Classroom Q & A With Larry Ferlazzo:

Monthly Posts At The New York Times Learning Network on Teaching English Language Learners:

New York Times Learning Network
Periodic Posts at Edutopia:

Edutopia
All My Class Blogs:

I’ve written regularly in my blog and in my books about the advantages of helping develop intrinsic motivation.

Here’s some more evidence from a TIME Magazine report titled Pushing Teens to Change Their Eating Habits Could Backfire on a recent study regarding parents, their children, and diet:

Anyone see any classroom parallels?

This comic strip provides a perfect example of the wrong way to initiate a serious conversation with anyone, including a student:

Source: gocomics.com

Simple Writing Exercise Said To “Narrow Achievement Gap”

The Value Of “Mimic Writing”

Helping Students Make A Connection Between What They’re Learning In School To Their Goals In Life

How to Give Effective Feedback, Both Positive and Negative is useful column in The New York Times. Here’s an excerpt:

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

The Advantages Of Helping Students Feel Powerful

Here’s A Goal-Tracking Sheet I’m Giving To Students

Response: Best Homework Practices is one of my posts at Education Week Teacher.

This quote is from Marta Kagan in 7 Lessons From the World’s Most Captivating Presenters. I’m adding this info to The Best Sources Of Advice For Making Good Presentations:

“Descriptive Norms” In The New York Times & In The Classroom

Student Engagement “Requires A Conversation” is another post at my Education Week column.

Here’s a great story from Marvin Marshall, a great writer on positive classroom strategies:

Here’s The Latest Reflection/Goal-Setting Sheet I’m Using With Students

The Best Posts & Articles On Student Engagement

The Best Resources For Learning About Ability Grouping & Tracking — Help Me Find More

Many Ways To Help Students Develop Academic Vocabulary is one of  my posts over at Education Week Teacher.

The Best Resources For Doing A “One-Sentence Project”

Bill Ferriter has written a post, including samples, of one-page “unit overview sheets” that he gives to students at the beginning of a course of study and revisits each day.

Links To The Entire Six Week Twitter Chat On Helping Students Develop Intrinsic Motivation

“Ten Elements Of Effective Instruction” is the title of one of my posts at Education Week Teacher.

The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer” — Help Me Find More

Writing Letters To Students Redux

Eye On Education, the publisher of my new books on student motivation, Helping Students Motivate Themselves and Self-Driven Learning, have just posted a short video clip from a webinar I did for them.

In it, I share three strategies that can help students develop intrinsic motivation:

 

“Asking Good Questions Is Important Because…..”

Free Book Excerpts — Lesson Plans On Bloom’s Taxonomy & Metacognition

“7 Qualities to Maximize the Impact of Your Lesson Plans”

Several Ways to Balance Between District Mandates & Student Needs is a post at my Education Week Teacher blog.

The Best Ways To Deal With Rudeness In Class

Response: Do’s and Don’ts for Better Project-Based Learning is a good Education Week Teacher post.

I’ve written a lot about effective ways to give student feedback, and you can seem a collection of pieces about the topic at The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students.

An article entitled Choice Words by Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey has been published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and it’s an exceptional commentary with practical suggestions on giving effective feedback.

I especially like the framework they use — dividing helpful feedback into ones that emphasize student accomplishments, identity and agency.

Short, Sweet & Effective Advice On Helping Students Motivate Themselves

The Best Resources On Grading Practices

The Best Resources For Learning About Performance Assessment

A “Taxonomy For Understanding”

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

You might also want to explore the 1100 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

March 10, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Unit Overview Sheets” — Do You Do Anything Similar?

Bill Ferriter has written a post, including samples, of one-page “unit overview sheets” that he gives to students at the beginning of a course of study and revisits each day.

It looks intriguing, and helpful.

We provide a “Word Splash” sheet at the beginning of our ninth-grade units and periodically reflect on them and make additions, but it’s not the same as Bill’s sheets.

Do you have your own variations? And, if so, how do they work?

(by the way, Bill has also posted about another sheet he has students use for self-assessment)

December 23, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part Two)

The resources on this list were not designed with education in mind, but which can easily be used for learning purposes — particularly, though not exclusively, for English language development. I only hope that creators of “educational” content can learn from the qualities that make these sites so engaging.

You might also be interested in:

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part One)

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2011

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2010

Part Two Of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008

Here are my choices for The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part Two):

VIDEOS:

These would be fun clips to to use in any of the video activities I describe in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL and in my article Eight Ways to Use Video With English-Language Learners.

Bill Ferriter posted a link to this “Trunk Monkey Compilation.” This hilarious video is perfect for ELL’s to watch and then describe what happened, and even do Venn Diagram to identify differences and similarities:

Have students watch this amazing illusion (you can find similar videos here):

Check out this amazing performance by French magician Yann Frisch:

ONLINE VIDEO GAMES:

I’ve previously written about how I use online video games as a language-development activity for my ELL students.

Escape From The Entrance Hall (Be sure to change language to “English”) — here’s the Walkthrough

Kumakinoko (again, change the language to English) — here’s the Walkthrough

Bonus

Silk can be used by students to create pretty magical-looking (and sounding) artwork online without registering. They can then share a link to their creation (and have students describe it verbally and in writing).

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 1000 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

December 12, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2012 — Part Two

Another day, another  “The Best…” list…..

You might also be interested in:

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2012 — Part One

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2011 — Part Two

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2011 — Part One

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s — 2010

The Best Sites For Teachers Of English Language Learners — 2009

Here are my choices for The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2012 — Part Two:

I should start off with links to excerpts on our new book about teaching ELL’s that have been published since Part One of this list was posted at the beginning of September:

Interview With Co-Author Of “ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide”

Using Games in the ELL Classroom, Part I

Using Games in the ELL Classroom, Part II

Using Photos With English Language Learners

Eight Ways to Use Video With English Language Learners

Another Excerpt From Our Book On Teaching ELL’s!

Here’s the longest name for a report that you’ll see today: Practical Guidelines for the Education of English Language Learners: Research-based Recommendations for the Use of Accommodations in Large-scale Assessments/2012 Update.  It provides some very useful research data that I hope schools and test-makers are aware of — it’s helpful for when ELL’s have to take the less than useful state standardized tests and for when they have to take tests of any kind in regular content classes.

Grading is always a tricky issue for teachers — and students. I’ve written about it, as well as guests, in one of my Education Week columns, Several Kinds Of Grading Systems.  The primary guide I use is whatever “will move students forward.”  As a teacher said in our school’s staff meeting last night, I don’t want to be a “gate-keeper.”  Instead, I want to be a coach/encourager.  Katie Hull Sypnieski and I also wrote about it in our book, The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide.  Katie adapted it for use in most of our ESL and mainstream classes, and I thought I’d share it here. You can download the hand-out we give students.

Breaking News English, the long-time invaluable resource to ESL/EFL/ELL teachers around the world, has just undergone a major “revamp.”  Sean Banville, the site’s creator, describes many of the changes here, and you can see the first new style lesson here. There are many improvements, including tons more online interactive exercises.

Ideas for English Language Learners: ‘Gangnam Style,’ ‘Emotion Words’ and More is the title of one of my posts at The New York Times Learning Network. You can see all my NY Times posts here.

The British Council reorganized their website awhile back, and now that have all their songs for English Language Learners (including closed-captioning) all in one place. It’s an excellent resource.

Kate Kinsella is well-known for her research on helping students learn and use academic vocabulary. The California Department of Education has put a series of her videos and materials on their website.  The videos don’t at all capture her dynamism that you see in person, but downloadable “apply the concepts” materials are worth their weight in gold! And, they’re free.

In Pursuit of the Excellent Game is an excellent piece from TESOL on using games with ELL’s.

Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice is an excellent twelve lesson resource from Teaching Tolerance.  The series is particularly suited to United States History classes, and would be accessible to mainstream and English Language Learners. I would have definitely used them last year when I was teaching United States History to ELL’s, and will adapt a couple this year for my ELL Geography class.  Though I am completely supportive of the intent and message of the lessons, I’ll probably be making some minor adjustments to them to make some of the questions a bit more subtle.

As an introductory activity, I have students in all of my classes create “Who Am I?” posters which they then share “speed-dating” style (linking up in rows, show and share, and then one row moves to the right — or left — and does it again and so on). It seems to go well, and I thought readers might find it useful to see the model I use for them (as you can see, I hold few artistic aspirations :) ):

Bill Ferriter posted a link to this “Trunk Monkey Compilation.” This hilarious video is perfect for ELL’s to watch and then describe what happened, and even do Venn Diagram to identify differences and similarities:

I’ve previously posted about research discussing the value of students sharing what is happening in their lives (see The Value Of Sharing Positive Events) and have written on this blog and in my books how I apply this finding in my teaching, primarily in my English Language Learner classes. I have students write about two positive events in the week and why they felt they were positive, and one not-so-positive event and what they could have done to make it better. They share it with a partner verbally, and each has to ask a question of the other. Then I invite a few people to share with the entire class, and afterwards collect them. Not only does it help build a positive classroom atmosphere, it provides an opportunity to write for an authentic audience and it helps me learn what’s going on in students’ lives.

I can’t really say why I haven’t done it with mainstream students in the past, but I’m starting to do so this year. We always do a short reflection on Fridays and, though I might not ask them to do it every week, I’ll include it regularly.

I thought readers might find it useful to see the model I use. I’ll print it in the body of this post, and you can also download it as a student handout here that you can modify. Here’s the content:

Mr. Ferlazzo’s Journal, Sept. 7, 2012

Here are two good things that happened to me this week:

I really enjoyed school starting this week. I love my classes and all my students because they are all hard-working and smart.

I had a great time playing basketball on Tuesday night. I scored the game-winning shot, and everybody on the team wanted to pass the ball to me.

Here is one not-so-good thing that happened to me this week:

A student dropped gum on the rug in my room, and I was not happy that I had to scrape it off. I could have reminded students to throw gum in the garbage.

Feedback is welcome, including additional suggestions.

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

You might also want to explore the 1000 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

September 28, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”

I have a huge backlog of resources that I’ve been planning to post about in this blog but, just because of time constraints, have not gotten around to doing. Instead of letting that backlog grow bigger, I regularly grab a few and list them here with a minimal description. It forces me to look through these older links, and help me organize them for my own use. I hope others will find them helpful, too. These are resources that I didn’t include in my “Best Tweets” feature because I had planned to post about them, or because I didn’t even get around to sending a tweet sharing them.

Here are This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”:

I’m adding this infographic to The Best Sites For Learning About Mount Everest:

Everest Routes

Browse more data visualizations.

15 technologies of today we’ll still be using in 2030 comes from NBC. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The History Of Technology.

Drought and Deluge in the Lower 48 is an interactive from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Drought Of 2012 (& Beyond).

My Account Has Been Compromised is good advice from Twitter. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Beginning To Learn What Twitter Is All About.

Teaching Teachers to Tweet is from Education Week. I’m adding it to the same same list.

Five Killer Tips for a Confident Presentation is from The Glass Hammer. I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Advice For Making Good Presentations.

How to Make Your Lost Phone Findable is from David Pogue. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me.

How do comics reflect the countries they were created in? is from The BBC. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures.

Lucky and Unlucky Numbers Around the World is an infographic I’m adding to the same list:

Here’s an interview with Bill Ferriter that appeared in Middleweb. The whole piece is worth reading, but I especially like his advice to teachers on writing a book that’s near the end. I’m adding it to So, You Want To Write A Book? Here’s The Best Advice…

Five Practices for Building Positive Relationships With Students is from Ed Week Teacher. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On The Importance Of Building Positive Relationships With Students.

Here is a list of 25 tough interview questions from The Huffington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Students Exploring Jobs and Careers. Thanks to Eric Roth for the tip.

Here are some other regular features I post in this blog:

“The Best…” series (which now number 950)

Best Tweets of The Month

The most popular posts on this blog each month

My monthly choices for the best posts on this blog each month

Each month I do an “Interview Of The Month” with a leader in education

Periodically, I post “A Look Back” highlighting older posts that I think are particularly useful

The ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival

Resources that share various “most popular” lists useful to teachers

Interviews with ESL/EFL teachers in “hot spots” around the world.

Articles I’ve written for other publications.

Photo Galleries Of The Week

Research Studies Of The Week

Regular “round-ups” of good posts and articles about school reform

This Week In Web 2.0

Around the Web In ESL/EFL/ELL

August 24, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Interview With John Norton From The “New” Middleweb

John (Croft) Norton is the founder and co-editor of MiddleWeb.com. John also co-founded the national Teacher Leaders Network and works as an education writer, editor and virtual community developer. See his LinkedIn page for more background.

There are very few people who rival John’s connections in the education world, his editing ability, and his willingness to help.  Middleweb was my first introduction to the education tech world nine years ago…..

What’s the MiddleWeb backstory?

Thanks for giving me this opportunity, Larry. I love to talk about MiddleWeb.

Middleweb.com first appeared on the Web in 1996. The project was supported by the NYC-based E.M. Clark Foundation, which was investing heavily in middle grades reform efforts during the 1990s. MiddleWeb served both as a place to publish stories about reform efforts in districts where Clark was active and as a website where middle level educators could find resources to improve classroom and school practice. Over about six years of Clark support, MiddleWeb evolved to become more of an “all things middle grades” site, with thousands of pages of content. Like you, I’m a bit compulsive!

We also began a listserv discussion community during the 1998-99 school year, which grew to over 600 very lively and loyal educator-members. We had amazing conversations, some of the best of which were captured and published as website content. For 3-4 years in the early 2000s, we actually had F2F gatherings at locations in the US and Canada. The Clark funding ended in 2002.

What happened after that?

I kept the email chat community going and worked on the site whenever I could find the time. In 2006, the listserv group moved to the National Middle School Association (now the Association for Middle Level Education) as “MiddleTalk,” where it continues today. As the years passed, I was less and less able to keep the large website current (you know about that) but I did continue to publish a biweekly Gr 4-8 newsletter that grew to a circulation of more than 15,000.

I might say that the content of the newsletter was heavily influenced by my Clark experiences. For about 8 years I led small teams made up of journalists and educators on district visits where we observed in thousands of 4-8 classrooms and interviewed in-depth hundreds of teachers, principals and central office people. We wrote about what we learned in a district-specific newspaper of our own creation, circulated in the community and published on our website. (One of the districts was Long Beach Unified in California, which is widely recognized today as a high performing, high poverty, high minority system.) I think we learned a lot about what matters in the middle grades.

Back to the 21st century: The decade I spent trying to keep the big idea of  MiddleWeb alive while also earning a living was made possible thanks to the sponsorship of Stenhouse Publishers — a company with a strong focus on literacy and some notable middle grades teacher/authors (like Rick Wormeli, who’s been a steadfast MiddleWeb supporter since the beginning). Stenhouse bought an ad in every newsletter, which defrayed the overhead. Anyone who has loved MiddleWeb over those years has Stenhouse and marketing director Chuck Lerch to thank.

What’s going on with MiddleWeb today?

We’ve literally been reborn! Two years ago I was able to recruit Susan B. Curtis, who’s been both a middle grades teacher and a reference librarian, to partner with me. With her help we moved the newsletter to a modern mailing platform that supported graphics. We generally upgraded the looks and the content. Stenhouse agreed to expand their advertising support so we could go weekly.

Then a very good thing happened — the SmartBrief company, which publishes over 200 industry and professional newsletters in partnership with associations and special-interest groups like ourselves, invited us to partner on a new newsletter for grades 4-8: MiddleWeb SmartBrief. Stenhouse sent them to us and agreed to be the first advertiser. (What a great company – they really are committed to the work of teachers.)

We receive a small share of any advertising revenue as part of the arrangement, and that gave us the impetus to create a new MiddleWeb and devote more time to site development. We were really lucky to coax Jose Vilson, a notorious teacher/blogger/geek into helping us “mod” a new site. He picked the cool WordPress template we’re using and helped us customize it.

We launched the new WordPress-based site in mid-June, just a week before MiddleWeb SmartBrief began to appear on Tuesdays and Fridays. The response to both has been excellent. Many of our MiddleWeb community friends from the 2000s showed up to promote the new site, to urge colleagues to subscribe to the MW-SB and to contribute content and good advice.

3. What’s new about the new MiddleWeb?

Our slogan is All about the middle grades. We’re trying to keep a sharp focus on teaching & learning in grades 4-8. Of course there are many matters that concern all K12 educators and we do touch on some of those, especially in our Quick Links feature, where we feature (in short form) some of the most interesting things we come across each day.

On the new site we’ve decided to emphasize original content. We have four main threads:

Resource Roundups: We’ve always specialized in finding and sharing resources you can use. Now we’re featuring “resource roundups” — our tag for short, link-laden essays built around a theme. Here are two recent ones: New Teacher 911 and Back to School. My partner Susan puts together most of these, calling on her teaching background and library science skills. She does a great job.

Guest Articles: These are first-person posts, typically featuring the voices of teachers and school leaders, including folks on the front lines, who have stories to tell and good practice to share. We love to get queries from writers. We can’t pay right now (no revenue coming in yet) but we can offer fame. Anyone who’d like to write for us can check out our user-friendly editorial guidelines. Couple of samples: Nancy Flanagan’s The Teaching Essentials; and Marsha Ratzel’s No-Bunk Letter to Parents at the start of school. You may have detected that we’re putting a lot of emphasis right now on advice for new teachers and prep for a new school year.

We’re also launching several blogs between now and the end of the year. One is underway: STEM Imagineering with Anne Jolly, a middle grades science teacher and Alabama TOY who now writes STEM curriculum for an NSF-sponsored project (and helps school teams become action researchers). Our next serial blog will focus on special education and co-teaching and will be co-written by two excellent SpEd teachers and NBCTs – Elizabeth Stein (Long Island) and Laurie Wasserman (Boston). We’re still looking for a literacy-oriented blogger. If any of your readers has an interesting proposal, they can write us.

Book Reviews: We’ve made arrangements with education publishers to share review copies with us, and our call for reviewers was well-timed for summer break (okay, luckily timed). We have over 100 books out for review at the moment, and quite a few reviews in the queue for posting. You can see what we have so far at this page. Anyone who likes book reviewing can find out more about how to get involved here.

Interviews: We’re also talking with interesting people who have expertise around middle grades education — or just do great things for middle grades kids and schools. Visitors can peruse our Five Q Interviews for ideas, insights, and good chat. Here’s an interview with teacher/writer Cossondra George who we described as the Goddess of Good Advice for newbies. And another with Tempered Radical Bill Ferriter about writing professional books. (And thanks for letting us interview you, as well!)

We want MiddleWeb to have a community feel and one way to accomplish that is to invite readers and visitors to become participants in content creation. Here are some ideas we’ve posted about getting involved. Writing for us is just one way – but an important way! You know that I’m an editor-for-hire in one of my personas, and we offer that editorial support gratis, for what it’s worth.

4. How is the MiddleWeb SmartBrief different from your long-time biweekly newsletter “MiddleWeb’s Of Particular Interest”?

Well, as many people know, SmartBrief is an information-sharing company with lots of newsletters, including some popular education editions: ASCD SmartBrief, Accomplished Teacher, SmartBrief on Ed Tech and quite a few more. But they had nothing specifically aimed at the middle, and that’s where we came into the picture.

Our MiddleWeb SmartBrief really has two components. First there’s the content gathered by the SmartBrief editorial team, who focus on news and resource articles from the social media stream that (1) have a middle grades focus, and (2) carry a byline and are less than two weeks old. The SB editors are professional information gatherers and it’s great to have them scouring the Web for useful stuff. We worked with them to come up with the section themes for each issue: Teaching in the Middle, Tweens & Young Teens, Classroom Innovation, Technology & Connected Learning, and Middle Grades Leadership.

Then Susan and I also provide several content items in each issue — in a section labeled MiddleWeb Recommends. Most often we write about new content we’ve posted on the MiddleWeb site, but we may mention other items of interest.

Here’s the best part about the SmartBrief partnership. The SB editors work very closely with us to make sure we think what they are providing is in sync with the needs and interests of the grade 4-8 audience. We may be asked at the last minute whether some new “find” is a good fit. If not, they find something else. We also send along things we’ve spotted that we feel would be good to include, and they’re very responsive to our suggestions.

My background is in journalism and I’ve been really impressed with the quality job these folks do and the level of collaboration we’ve achieved. If a subscriber writes in and says “I’d like to see more about innovative teaching,” we all pay attention to that and try to be responsive. Our MW-SB subscriber list is growing rapidly, so I’m pretty sure we’re on the right track. It’s free and folks can subscribe here.

5. What other projects are you involved in?

I turned 64 this summer, and you’d think MiddleWeb would be enough! But I’m actually working as a consultant for two great organizations — the Alabama Best Practices Center (three states away from my NC mountain home) — and Powerful Learning Practice LLC, where I wear several hats, including editor for the Voices from the Learning Revolution group blog. We’ve published nearly 200 essays there in the last 18 months, written by educators who are making the “shift” to more digitally infused, inquiry/PBL learning. Both ABPC and PLP support significant online communities of educators and have been recognized by USDOE for their leadership in that arena. As a founder of two highly engaged online communities myself, I love staying involved in what I think is the most exciting dimension of professional learning these days.

Thanks for the interview, Larry. You really are the Web Impresario of Education.

 

 

 

August 20, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — So Far

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m doing mid-year lists to make it easier for me to do my end-of-year final lists.

You might also be interested in:

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 Learner and The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading.

Here are my choices for The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — So Far:

Here’s a short video demonstrating Bloom’s Taxonomy through scenes from the movie, “Finding Nemo.” It only has still scenes for each level with a description, but it would be easy enough to show the scenes from a DVD or via Netflix and use this video as a guide:

And here’s Bloom’s Taxonomy (Revised) According to Homer Simpson. I’ve embedded the video below, though if it doesn’t show up on an RSS Readers you might have to click through to see it. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom, where it joins similar videos using clips from Star Wars, Seinfield and Pirates of the Caribbean to provide a similar light-hearted, but educational, perspective.

I’ve written a lot about the work of Harvard Professor Michael Sandel. Here’s short video where he’s considering the question “Should we pay children to read?” He gets to the crux of the matter in the final couple of minutes:

I titled this video “Sometimes You Just Have To Take The Risk, Jump In, & Grab An Opportunity Because It May Not Be There For Long…”:

First, congratulations to LeBron James on his first NBA Championship.

Second, thanks to LeBron for spending so much reading and making it so public.

Here’s a video on why and what he’s reading, and an ESPN article about it — LeBron James, open book.

Justin Reich posted Don’t Use Khan Academy without Watching this First, and it’s a very important post where he shared this video two teachers (and an important commentary about it), Dave Coffey and John Golden, created:

Bill Ferriter found this video and wrote a must-read commentary about it — Learning about Grading from the Baljeatles.

Let’s not turn our students into this, please. This video make a great case for why we need to help our students develop intrinsic motivation.

This really is an extraordinary video, and is tailor-made to use in an ESL class — it’s extremely engaging and has lots of different activities that students can describe and discuss. In fact, it’s engaging for anyone…. Unfortunately, it’s also a commercial for Coke, but the advertising part is very small at the end:

PBS released this wonderful remix of Mister Rogers:

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.”

Diane Ravitch calls this video clip the “greatest single commentary on flaws of data-driven school reform today.” It is pretty darn good, I have to agree:

Perpetual Ocean is a NASA video showing ocean currents over a two year period. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Oceans.

Check-out the just-released Symphony of Science video about dinosaurs. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About Dinosaurs:

This is a very good short video on how our brain learns. It also reinforces the importance of deliberative practice. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning:

This is a hilarious video using the often-used Hitler video clip to comment on school testing. I’m adding it to A Collection Of The Best “Laugh While You Cry” Videos. Thanks to Bill Ferriter for finding it.

We Are All Connected is a great one minute film from The World Wildlife Fund.

You could have English Language Learners say/write what is happening in the film, compare the two screens, and explain how they are similar.

Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer, shared this video from Kathy Collins of Choice Literacy:

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 900 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

July 14, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
11 Comments

The Most Useful Resources For Implementing Common Core — I Hope You’ll Contribute More

'CCSS Professional Development 1' photo (c) 2012, Wesley Fryer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

(NOTE: Readers have begun to contribute some excellent ideas in the comments. I’ll get around to adding them to the body of this post but, until then, be sure to review the comments, too!)

I’m obviously not a real big fan of Common Core standards, and am a bit skeptical about its practical impact on what happens in the classroom. Nevertheless, they’re here, and I thought it would be useful to readers and to me to begin to collect some practical and helpful tools.

I’m starting off with a few , and hope readers will contribute a whole lot more — for all subjects and grade levels.

You might also be interested in these other lists:

The Best Resources For Learning About Common Core Standards & English Language Learners

The Best Articles Concerns About Common Core Standards


The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing

My Ed Week post, Best Ways to Prepare Our Students for CCSS in Language Arts.

The Best Places To Find Free (And Good) Lesson Plans On The Internet

Here are just a few to begin and, as I mentioned earlier, I hope many additional resources will be in the comments:

Resources for Understanding the Common Core State Standards comes from Edutopia.

The folks at Engaging Educators have really been on top of it. You can read Ben Curran’s review of the book, “Pathways To The Common Core.” Several of my colleagues read it at a week-long California Writing Project workshop in June, and they, too, spoke highly of it. Ben helped organize a Twitter chat with one of the authors, and its archived here. They’re going to continue the chat later in July, and you can read the details in Ben’s book review.Ben also keeps a diigo list on the Common Core.

Spotlight On Implementing The Common Core Standards comes from Education Week.

Four Myths About the ELA Common-Core Standards is by Dina Strasser and Cheryl Dobbertin at Education Week Teacher.

(my colleague Kara Synhorst just suggested an iPhone app for Common Core)

ASCD has a free newsletter called The Core Connection.

Project-Based Learning and Common Core Standards is also from ASCD.

Nine Ways the Common Core Will Change Classroom Practice is from The Harvard Education Letter.

The Common Core and Bloom’s Taxonomy is from Reach Common Ground.

ASCD recently launched a new free digital tool for Common Core planning. It’s called EduCore, and you can learn more about it here.

CCSS: Take a Deep Breath is from MiddleWeb.

Education Week Launches Common-Core Newsletter is from…Education Week.

Common Core Instruction, Like All Good Instruction, Is Not About Fish Tossing is by Chris Lehman.

5 Things Every Teacher Should be Doing to Meet the Common Core State Standards is by Lauren Davis at Eye On Education.

Common Core Implementation Center is from ePals. Thanks to Renee Moore for the tip.

ASCD has created a Pinterest Board for Common Core State Standards.

The International Reading Association Secondary Reading Interest Groups has an interesting newsletter on Common Core and reading.

The Common Core Ate My Baby and Other Urban Legends is a very useful article from ASCD Educational Leadership.


Why Read-Alouds Matter More in the Age of the Common Core Standards
is from ASCD Educational Leadership.

7 Actions that Teachers Can Take Right Now: Text Complexity is from The Text Project.


Fiction or Nonfiction? Considering the Common Core’s Emphasis on Informational Text
is from The New York Times Learning Network.

Achieve The Core seems to have some helpful resources on Common Core implementation, and it seems like it will only get better now that the two major teachers unions are working with them.

What A Great Post About The Common Core Debate…

“Idealism vs. the Probable and Possible”

Preparing Students for Common Core ELA is by Tom Hoffman and may be the best short and sweet advice you’re going to find. Thanks to Alice Mercer for the tip.

Text Project has a lot of useful resources.

The Common Core State Standards: Misconceptions about Informational and Literary Texts is from The University of Arizona.

Making the Common Core Practical

Social and emotional learning gaining new focus under Common Core is a very useful and interesting article published by Ed Source.

Q & A Collections: Implementing The Common Core is one of my posts over at Education Week Teacher. It brings together all my posts there on…the Common Core.

Common Core & Ed Tech looks like a useful blog.

The Institute For Learning also has some useful resources.

The Core of the Common Core, Part 1: The Anchor Standards for Reading is from Burkins and Yaris. It provides metaphors and analogies in explaining Common Core.

The same site has a Periodic Table of Common Core Standards.

Thanks to Wendi Pillars for those two resources on Twitter.

Achieve The Core Common Core writing samples from classrooms around the country.

Two Great FREE Apps from Mastery Connect is from Bill Ferriter.

I really like the chart you’ll find at the Hechinger report titled Six ways Common Core changes English and math classrooms.

What Everyone Needs to Know About the Common Core State Standards

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 

Tackling Informational Text is the theme of an issue of ASCD Educational Leadership, and it’s now online.

Here are the articles there I’d particularly recommend:

One to Grow On / Invitations to Read is by Carol Ann Tomlinson. Here’s how she ends it:

its-essential-to-avoid

You Want Me to Read What?! is by Timothy Shanahan.

Points of Entry is a typically excellent piece by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher.

‘We Can Do Better’ : An Interview With Jim Burke is one of my posts over at Education Week Teacher.

What Does It Mean to “Align” PBL with Common Core? is from The Buck Institute For Education.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. What else would you recommend?

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

You might also want to explore the 900 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

June 22, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
15 Comments

The Best Sites For Smartboard Resources (& For Other IWB’s)

Check out my Education Week Teacher post, The Best Ways To Use Interactive White Boards

(NOTE: This post originally was a request to readers for suggestions of Smartboard and IWB resources. Responses were so good that I’ve decided to convert this post into a “The Best…” list. However, instead of listing recommendations within the body of the post, as I’ve done with my 900 other “The Best…” lists, you should just go directly to the comments to see all the great resources people recommend)

I’ve never used a Smartboard, though I regularly use smaller versions of $2 interactive whiteboards.

And I have a lot of respect for Bill Ferriter’s judgment in most things (see Wasting Money on Whiteboards. . . and Why I Hate Interactive Whiteboards).

Given all that, though, I know a lot of teachers are in situations where they have these kinds of Smartboards in their classrooms.

Reader Jay Sugerman will soon have one, and he emailed this message to me:

please recommend both the best sites to learn how to incorporate this tool as well as any collections of good interactive sites and lessons.

So, as we said in my community organizing days, we are living in the world as it is as opposed to living it in the world as we’d like it to be — what are you suggestions for Smartboard sites and collections for teachers who have them?

TESiBoard has a nice selection of IWB resources. Thanks to Vicki Davis for the tip.

Interactive Whiteboards #101 : A short primer is from The Whiteboard Blog. Thanks to Richard Byrne for the tip.

Teacher Training Videos has a screencast
on how to use Smartboards with English Language Learners.

June 9, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Good Education Policy-Related Posts & Articles

Here are several recent good education policy-related posts and articles:

High School Reunion is by Mike Rose.

What Can Voucher Fans Learn from the Space X Mission? is by Bill Ferriter. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why School Vouchers Are A Bad Idea.

Do Our Public Schools Threaten National Security? is by Diane Ravitch. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On The Education & National Security Report.

Yong Zhao in Conversation: Education Should Liberate, Not Indoctrinate is from Education Week.

What Do NAEP Scores Mean? is by Diane Ravitch.

The worst eighth-grade math teacher in New York City is by Aaron Pallas. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The New York Court Decision Releasing Teacher Ratings.

Student surveys for children as young as 5 years old may help rate teachers is from The Washington Post. This ridiculous idea is just another example of how “school reformers” can take an idea that has great potential and warp it so everyone gets harmed. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers).

The fantasies driving school reform: A primer for education graduates is by Richard Rothstein. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher & Outside Factors Have On Student Achievement.

Teachers’ performance pay ‘does not raise standards’ is from The BBC. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

The Paradox Of Performance Pay is from Farnam Street. I’m adding it to the same list.

Where should we focus our efforts? is from Delta Scape.

May 8, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Special Edition Of “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”

(Usually, I just post a weekly version of this regular feature. However, sometimes I post an extra “Special Edition” when I have more good links than usual)

I have a huge backlog of resources that I’ve been planning to post about in this blog but, just because of time constraints, have not gotten around to doing. Instead of letting that backlog grow bigger, I regularly grab a few and list them here with a minimal description. It forces me to look through these older links, and help me organize them for my own use. I hope others will find them helpful, too. These are resources that I didn’t include in my “Best Tweets” feature because I had planned to post about them, or because I didn’t even get around to sending a tweet sharing them.

Here is a Special Edition of “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”:

How Americans spend money, compared with other countries is a chart from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures.

Cartoon: PowerPoint Fever is from The New Yorker via This Week in Education. I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Advice For Making Good Presentations.

The Gated Community Mentality is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Learn About Walls That Separate Us.

The Rich Get Even Richer is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Resources About Wealth & Income Inequality.

What Makes an Answer a Great Answer? is a pretty interesting post from the Atlantic.

Who Shouldn’t Go to College? is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Showing Students Why They Should Continue Their Academic Career.

iPad in Education Resources Worth Exploring is from Bill Ferriter. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users.