Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 19, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Study: Inductive Learning Promotes “Transfer Of Knowledge” Better Than Direct Instruction

I’ve written a lot in this blog and in my books about using inductive learning with students (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching). It’s one of my favorite instructional strategies.

And, I’ve written an equal amount about the importance of transfer of learning — in other words, facilitating student “transfer” of something they learned in one lesson to another situation (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer” — Help Me Find More).

Now Education Week has highlighted a study that used that inductive concept – though, surprisingly, they called it “sorting” instead of “inductive learning” – in teaching science. And they found that it was more effective in promoting transfer than direct instruction.

One common way to use the inductive method is through “text data sets,” which a short piece of text that students categorize. You can read more about this particular method and see links to examples in “Thinking Like A Scientist Can Help Overcome Allure Of Appearances.”

In the study covered by Ed Week, though, the scientists just used cards sharing different scientific concepts instead of a typical few sheets of paper with the examples.

One thing I found particularly intriguing and I hadn’t really read about in other studies of the inductive method was that it was its effect on transfer:

…the students who had sorted the cards were significantly better at applying the concept to new situations.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior.”

January 16, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching

In the inductive process, students seek patterns and use them to identify their broader meanings and significance. In the deductive process, meanings or rules are given, and students have to then apply them.

I’m a huge fan of using inductive learning, and plenty of research (which you’ll find in the resources on this list) document its effectiveness.

I’ve written many posts about it, and thought it would be useful to bring together a few of my best ones, along with resources developed by others, that explain the inductive process and how to apply it in mainstream and English Language Learner classrooms (feel free to make suggestions of ones I’ve missed):

The Best Ways To Modify The Picture Word Inductive Model For ELLs

The British Council has shared a short post that Paul Kaye wrote six years ago that does a great job explaining the difference between inductive and deductive, and he provides a number of practical examples from the language-learning classroom. Check out his article, Presenting New Language.

Here are two British Council posts where I wrote about it:

What Does Enhanced Discovery Learning Look Like In The ELL Classroom?

The picture word inductive model

I’ve written several posts at The New York Times explaining the concept:

Ideas for English Language Learners | Labeling Photos, Sequencing Passages and More

Learn About President Kennedy Using the Inductive Model

Learning About New Year’s Inductively

Get Organized Around Assets is an article I wrote for ASCD Educational Leadership. It includes a section on teaching inductively.

The Best Ways To Modify The Picture Word Inductive Model For ELLs

More Info On Why Inductive Learning Is So Effective

”How Google is teaching computers to see” — Inductively

More Research Showing Why Inductive Learning Works

The Picture Word Inductive Model In Science & Social Studies

How to Teach an Inductive Learning Lesson is by Jennifer Gonzalez.

Learning Inductively Works…

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Padlet”

Picture Word Inductive Model with High school Newcomers by Wendi Pillars is an exceptional step-by-step description of how to use one of my favorite ELL teaching strategies.

“Thinking Like A Scientist Can Help Overcome Allure Of Appearances”

Study Says Ability To Identify Patterns Key To Second Language Learning

“Szoter” Will Become A Key Tool For ELL Students & Teachers

“Thinglink” Could Be A Great Tool For ELL’s

What Can Teachers Learn From Target?

“We Should Celebrate Mistakes”

This Is The Best Lesson Plan On Punctuation I’ve Ever Read

Is This The Most Important Research Study Of The Year? Maybe

How to Help Our Learners Discover English is from Gallery Languages.

Inductive and deductive grammar teaching: what is it, and does it work? is from the English Language Teaching Global Blog.

Here Are Some Examples Of Using “Concept Attainment” In Writing Instruction

Study: Inductive Learning Promotes “Transfer Of Knowledge” Better Than Direct Instruction

Statistic Of The Day: Employers Want People Who Can “Recognize Patterns”

Surprise, Surprise – New Research Finds Lectures Aren’t The Best Way To Teach

How To Teach With The Concept Attainment Model is from Teach Thought.

Examples Of Student Work From My ELL History Classes

Here’s A New Phonics Activity I Did Today

Teachers Might Find My “Concept Attainment – Plus” Instructional Strategy Useful

September 22, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

More Info On Why Inductive Learning Is So Effective

I have written tons in my books and in this blog about the effectiveness of inductive learning.

It’s the idea of pushing students, and ourselves, to see patterns and concepts in a list of examples, as opposed to telling students the concepts and then giving the examples that fit in them.

TIME Magazine has just published Q&A with Consciousness Researcher Daniel Bor, and he talks about why our minds learn so much from this kind of pattern-seeking. Here’s an excerpt:

So what do you think the purpose of consciousness is?

I think the purpose of it is to draw all the relevant information together in a larger space. It’s almost as if we can’t spot it because we are doing it all the time. Why do we love crossword puzzles and why are people addicted to sudoku? That’s what a huge bit of the cortex is primed to do — to spot [patterns] — and once we spot them we can assimilate them into our pyramid of knowledge and build more layers of strategy, and knowing how to do that makes us incredibly successful at controlling the world.

And that’s why solving puzzles or finding a useful bit of information feels so good?

We get streams of pleasure when we find something that can really help us understand some deep pattern. Sudoku isn’t the most [fun activity], but it sure feels good when you put in that last number. It’s why scientists love doing research. The way I approach my job, it’s like trying to solve a really big fuzzy crossword puzzle and when you do put in that new clue and see the deeper pattern, that’s incredibly pleasurable.

If our brains are hungry for information, then why do we tend to see learning as a chore and fail to recognize it as a huge source of pleasure?

I don’t know. Obviously, more intelligent people get more pleasure from spotting these patterns, but I think almost every normal person does this. I think it’s a pretty pervasive thing but it’s almost as if we can’t notice it because it’s so pervasive.

October 24, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

More Research Showing Why Inductive Learning Works

The Mind Hacks blog revisits an older study that restates why inductive learning, student autonomy, and choice works in the classroom.

The blog also has a useful chart. It’s worth checking-out but, in summary, it discusses findings that students will remember things far better if they bring their own meaning to in a way they choose:

What this research suggests is that, merely in terms of remembering, it would be more effective for students to come up with their own organisation for course material…..You’ll remember better (and understand much better) if you try and re-organise the material you’ve been given in your own way.

If you are a teacher, like me, then this research raises some distrurbing questions. At a University the main form of teaching we do is the lecture, which puts the student in a passive role and, essentially, asks them to “remember this” – an instruction we know to be ineffective. Instead, we should be thinking hard, always, about how to create teaching experiences in which students are more active, and about creating courses in which students are permitted and encouraged to come up with their own organisation of material, rather than just forced to regurgitate ours.

It’s nothing particularly new, but any research that backs up that kind of perspective certainly can’t hurt….

February 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Teachers Might Find My “Concept Attainment – Plus” Instructional Strategy Useful


As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of using Concept Attainment as an instructional strategy for writing. You can see examples at Here Are Some Examples Of Using “Concept Attainment” In Writing Instruction.

As I explain in that post, teachers using this strategy place examples, typically (though not always) from unnamed student work, under the categories of “Yes” and “No.” The class then constructs their own understanding of why the examples are in their categories. It’s a great tool for many lessons, and I like it especially for grammar and other writing.

Last week, though, I had a brainstorm, and came up with a revised strategy that I’m calling “Concept Attainment – Plus,” and it has worked very well. I think teachers of English Language Learners and non-ELLs alike might find it useful and, I hope, offer suggestions on how to improve it further….

“Concept Attainment – Plus” has three steps:


I pick an example of student writing that especially illustrates one writing error and put it under the “No” column. In this case, I’m focusing on the tendency for many ELLs to have very long run-on sentences, along with the frequently made mistake of how to write “the United States.”

Parallel to that passage, under the “Yes” column, I re-write the paragraph correctly. Student have to compare the two passages, identify the errors in the student’s writing, and explain why they are mistakes.  After students have completed their review, I call them up to the overhead individually to identify one mistake at a time.

first step


The second sheet contains a short humorous passage in the “No” column that I write and which mimics the errors in the first student passage.

Students have to identify the errors and re-write it correctly on the left under the “Yes” column.  Again, I call students up to the overhead frequently.

step two


I then give students a simple and engaging prompt where they need to write a passage demonstrating their understanding of the writing feature we have learned in the first two sheets.

Step three

Students always like “regular” Concept Attainment, but they have loved this more intensive scaffolded process. It takes about one full class period to do from start-to-finish, and takes me about an hour to prepare it. It’s definitely worth the time.

Let me know what you think of the strategy and, importantly, how you think it can be improved….

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching and to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

January 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s A New Phonics Activity I Did Today

I have big concerns about how phonics is often taught in schools (see The Best Articles & Sites For Teachers & Students To Learn About Phonics), but I do think it certainly has a role in language teaching and learning.

As I’ve often written, I love the book Sounds Easy and it’s an essential component of how I teach English Language Learner Beginners.

I don’t really follow many of the guidelines in the book about how to use it, but the reproducible sheets are pure gold:


I typically use an inductive model with the worksheets (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching) – after doing a page together, students develop their own categories for the words; then they use a dictionary to add new words that fit into their categories.

Today, I tried a new “twist” that seemed to work well. After students categorized and added new words, I asked them to draw a picture using as many of the objects or actions they had put into their categories. Next, they wrote sentences and, and if they could, a story about the picture.

Here’s an unfinished product of that phonics extension:


Students will next present their drawing and sentences.

It’s by no means a brilliant addition to a phonics exercise, but students seemed to enjoy it and and it made phonics an even more communicative activity.

You can’t go wrong with that….

December 13, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Fifteen Tech Tools & Non-Tech Resources I Use Most Often With My Students


I share lots of tools and resources – in fact, I publish about five posts a day.

That’s a lot of stuff!

One way I try to help readers, and myself, hear through the “noise” of all those posts is through my 1,500 regularly updated “Best” lists.

I use many of them at various points throughout the year, but I thought that readers might find it useful/interesting to hear which ones I use most often with students.

So this list is sort of a classroom version of my needing-to-be-updated The Web 2.0/Social Media Tools I Use Everyday & How I Use Them list.

Here are the tech tools and resources I use most often with my students (not listed in any particular order):

I’ve called SAS Curriculum Pathways the best online ed site out there, and I continue to feel that way. It has free online interactive lessons for all subjects, and I particularly like their ones for Social Studies. Students complete the lesson and then email it the teacher. It’s super-easy for everybody to use, and very high-quality.

Lingohut is a free and accessible bi-and-multi-lingual language-learning site that my students like a lot.

Edublogs hosts all my class blogs, including ones for U.S. History, World History, Theory of Knowledge and a combination English For ELLs & Geography one (you can access all of them at the link). In some cases, they contain almost my entire curriculum, including downloadable hand-outs. Students use them regularly when we visit the computer lab. In light of the insane YouTube Safety Mode (see The Best Ways To Deal With YouTube’s Awful Safety Mode), blogs are particularly useful as hosting sites after downloading videos that would be blocked by the Safety Mode.

YouTube is a great source for videotaped student presentations and projects. Though I often don’t make the video links “public,” you can see most of them embedded at our class blog. Students watching themselves can be a great self-evaluating exercise, and the best TOK presentations function as models for future classes. I especially like using the Shadow Puppet app these days which lets students provide audio narration to a visual without the added pressure of having themselves appear on camera. I also do the same with Vine or Instagram videos and then upload them to YouTube (see The Best Resources For Learning To Use The Video Apps “Vine” & Instagram).

I’ve written a lot about the free language-learning app and site Duolingo, including their virtual classrooms. Students love it, though their English-learning levels seem to plateau fairly soon. I’d love it if they made it more useful to intermediate learners at some point.

EdHelper has two levels of annual subscription costs ($20 and $40 – the less expensive version works for me). It’s a great source of easily accessible texts that can easily be repurposed for classroom use in multiple ways: text data sets (You can see examples of these in my ASCD article, Get Organized Around Assets and in a couple of pieces I’ve written for The New York Times), clozes (The Best Tools For Creating Clozes (Gap-Fills)); sequencing activities (read about these in another NY Times post) to be completed by students.  They are also great for Read Alouds and Think Alouds.

Raz-Kids (annual cost of $100 for a 36 student classroom) provides an excellent selection of engaging books that students can see and hear, along with comprehension quizzes. They’re great for Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners.

Reading A-Z (annual cost of $100) is a sister site to Raz-Kids and provides hard-copy masters of the Raz-Kids books and more. They’re great for reproduction so you can have multiple copies of the same books for students. They’re leveled, and convenient for differentiation.

The WRITE Institute, as I’ve said many times, is the best resources out there for teaching writing to English Language Learners. You can purchase excellent unit plans for $20 a piece here here.

Sounds Easy! Phonics, Spelling, and Pronunciation Practice is a wonderful book for helping students learn phonics. Unfortunately, however, the book itself doesn’t discuss what I’ve found to be its most effective use through inductive learning (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching).  We discuss it in our ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide.  Simply put, after using the reproducible hand-outs from the book to teach the letter-sounds, I’ve found that then having students categorize and expand the number of words that fit into their categories is extraordinarily effective.

I really like the English In Action series as a “workbook” for students to use at the beginning of class for fifteen minutes and for homework. It covers the basics and is set-up for students to feel successful.

America’s Story is a very good “consumable” textbook for ELL U.S. History. My U.S. History class blog is organized along the books’ chapters.

ACCESS World History is a very accessible text that comes with a student workbook. My World History class blog is organized along the book’s chapters.

World View is a two volume consumable Geography textbook for English Language Learners. I like it a lot, but it appears that the publisher has gone out of business, and I’m not sure if another one is going to pick it up. I hope they do. But, just in case, I’d love to hear recommendations for other ELL-friendly Geography textbooks.

Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma
by Richard van de Lagemaat is the TOK textbook we use. I know there’s a newer edition, but our school can’t afford it yet, and I think this version still works well.

There is one more site that may join this list, but it’s relaunching this week and I’m sworn to secrecy until they go live.  If it’s as good as I hope it to be, it will certainly be the sixteenth resource on this list.

There you have it….I’ll work hard at keeping this updated.

Feel free to share your own similar list in the comments section.

October 20, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2015 – Part Two


It’s that time of year again – one that I look forward to and dread at that same time.

It’s time for my end-of-year “Best” lists!

You can see all my mid-year lists at All My 2015 Mid-Year “Best” Lists In One Place! and all my 1,500 “Best” lists here.

My first end-of-year list is on research studies that have come out over the past six months.

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

You might also be interested in:

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2015 – So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2014 – Part Two

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

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

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

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

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2011

Hare are My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2015 – Part Two:

“The Science Of Reading” Is A Must-Read (& An Accessible One) For Teachers

New Study: With Grit, You Need To “Know When To Fold ‘Em”

New Study Finds Interesting Twist: Repeating Words Helps, & Repeating Them To Someone Is Better

New Survey On High School Drop-Outs Is Depressing, If Accurate

This Is Interesting: “8 Strategies Robert Marzano & John Hattie Agree On”

Instead Of High School Exit Exams For Civics, Study Suggests SEL Programs Would Be Better Way To Go

An Interesting “Take” On Research “Reproducibility”

Surprise, Surprise – New Research Finds Lectures Aren’t The Best Way To Teach

Very Interesting Study: Students Seeing Teachers Drawing Diagrams Is Better Than Showing Pre-Made Ones

New Study Finds Value In Looking At Mistakes As Positive Learning Experiences

Research Study On Humility Perfect For Students (& Useful For All Of Us)

Surprise, Surprise – Punishment May Not Be The Best Parenting (Or Teaching) Strategy

Study: Remember A Couple of Past Instances Of Self-Control To Increase The Odds Of Repeating In Future

You Don’t Say! Researchers Find That It’s Easier To Learn Something New If You Can Connect It To Something Familiar

New Studies Show, Unsurprisingly, That Stress Reduces Self-Control & Metacognition

Statistic Of The Day: How Long Does It Take To Learn English?

Statistic Of The Day: The Benefits Of Reading

Do You Know Of Research Showing That Writing For An “Authentic Audience” Helps Students Feel Motivated?

This New Report May Provide The Best Overview Available On Social Emotional Learning

Does This Big New Study On The Importance Of Social Skills Become A New “Marshmallow Test”?

New Study Says Being Bilingual Equal More “Gray Matter”

New Study Shows Goal-Setting – With Some Twists – Can Have Big Impact On Student Achievement

Study: Inductive Learning Promotes “Transfer Of Knowledge” Better Than Direct Instruction

The Best Summaries/Reviews Of Research On Social Emotional Learning – Let Me Know What I’ve Missed

Quote Of The Day: Nicholas Kristof On “It’s Not Just About Bad Choices”

Study: “Authoritative,” Not “Authoritarian,” Classroom Management Works Best For Boys

You might also be interested in this Edutopia post: Education Research Highlights From 2015