Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 28, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Woolly Mammoths & Inductive Learning


As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of inductive learning (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching).

Today, I did a simple inductive lesson in my English Language Learner World History class that I thought readers might find useful – not necessarily for the particular lesson itself, but because it provides a pretty good example of how inductive learning can work.

We’re studying prehistoric times, and the chapter in our textbook briefly mentioned the woolly mammoths and showed an artist’s drawing of one.

We took a break from the book and I showed this video:


Then, I said that scientists are trying to bring a mammoth back to life.  I asked if anyone had seen a Jurassic Park movie (many had).  We talked about “genes” (as well as “jeans”), and how scientists could take some from a frozen mammoth like the one in the video and use them to create a new one.

I then showed this video:

Next, we read this cloze, also known as a gap-fill (see The Best Tools For Creating Clozes (Gap-Fills) ).  You can download the cloze here.

I first read it aloud, saying “ummmm” where the blanks were located, and then students completed it. We went over it, and then I asked students to work on their own to use the cloze to figure out the rule about when to use “they” and when to use “them.”

All of them came up with something like “they comes before the verb and them comes after the verb” or “they comes at the beginning of a sentence and them later.”

It went well, and is a textbook example of how to merge content knowledge with language instruction, and to have students “create” their own knowledge.

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

I Did A Short Presentation Today On The Concept Attainment Instructional Strategy – Here Are My Materials

Pattern learning key to children’s language development is the headline of a report on a new study. It just reinforces the value of inductive teaching with ELLs.

Here’s good background on the Concept Attainment Model.

More good info on concept attainment.

Two Quick Examples Of Concept Attainment

Why I Love This Strategy to Introduce Concepts is from Middleweb.

This page from Sacramento State University is a good resource on concept attainment.

Guided Discovery in Teaching Essay Writing is from Clare’s ELT Compendium.

How My ELL Students Used Padlet To Create A “Picture Data Set”

Woolly Mammoths & Inductive Learning

I’ve previously posted about the Smithsonian Learning Labs (see Smithsonian Learning Labs Now Lets You Create Free Virtual Classrooms & Assignments). They just shared a great blog post talking about how teachers can create neat online categorization activities for students, and included two different examples.

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….

May 17, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Highlights From First Two Weeks Of The Online Book Chat About Our New ELL Book


As regular readers know, an online book chat about our new book has been happening….

It’s still got a few weeks to go, but I thought I’d share a few highlights from Twitter so far:

April 9, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Ed Tech Digest

Four years ago, in another somewhat futile attempt to reduce the backlog of resources I want to share, I began this occasional “Ed Tech Digest” post where I share three or four links I think are particularly useful and related to…ed tech.

You might also be interested in The Best Ed Tech Resources Of 2017.

Here are this week’s choices:

Laptops, Chromebooks or tablets? Deciding what’s best for the nation’s schools is from The Hechinger Report. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Using Chromebooks In The Classroom – Help Me Find More.

I’ve previously posted about the Smithsonian Learning Labs (see Smithsonian Learning Labs Now Lets You Create Free Virtual Classrooms & Assignments). They just shared a great blog post talking about how teachers can create neat online categorization activities for students, and included two different examples. I’m adding this info to The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching.

Pixorize is a new site that is designed to use images to help students learn content knowledge. I’m all for using images and, though their idea is intriguing, I’m not sure how effective it’s going to be. Here’s a video example:

Knowhere is a new site that uses Artificial Intelligence to create three different versions of the same article – “right, left and impartial.” I’m not sure how useful it will be, but it’s probably worth a look. You can read more about it at TechCrunch.

ProfiConf is a new online video conferencing tool.  It looks pretty easy, and it’s free – for now.  Since it’s likely they will charge after they leave their beta period, I won’t be adding it to The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration.


November 21, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Collections Of Instructional Strategies

There are many lists of different instructional/teaching strategies online. However, I thought readers might find it useful if I compiled a sort of “list of list” – a post sharing the exceptional ones.

And there aren’t many of them (though feel free to let me know which ones I’ve missed).

I’m just putting links on this list to compilations that share multiple instructional strategies, including quite a few that are not the “typical” ones many teachers already know. In addition, the site must be well-designed and share enough information that the teacher can apply each strategy immediately.

I’m starting off with only three, though am happy to add to it. In addition, I’m including a few links to related “Best” lists.

Here they are:

Teaching Tolerance Teaching Strategies

Facing History Teaching Strategies

Connecticut State Department of Education Instructional Strategies That Facilitate Learning Across Content Areas

Here are some related “Best” lists:

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

The Best Posts On Reading Strategies & Comprehension – Help Me Find More!

The Best Resources For Learning About “Learning Strategies”

The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching

The Best Resources On Differentiating Instruction

The Best Advice To Content Teachers About Supporting English Language Learners

The Best Videos For Content Teachers With ELLs In Their Classes – Please Suggest More

Q&A Collections: Instructional Strategies shares related posts from my Ed Week Teacher advice column.

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