Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 4, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Sites For Learning About “Cool” Cars (& Designing Your Own!)

'Coolest car ever' photo (c) 2008, mapeye - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

To have a little fun, and to cultivate some interest  — especially from my young male students — I thought a “The Best…” list on “cool” cars might be engaging.

I’m planning on having my English Language Learner students look through these accessible sites, identify which ones they found particularly intriguing, and explain why — in writing and verbally.  In addition, they can design their own cars and describe them.  The sites are listed in two separate sections — the photos, and the design sites.

It’s just a light exercise to do some day, probably after a day of taking standardized tests…

Here are my picks for The Best Sites For Learning About “Cool” Cars (& Designing Your Own!):

IMAGES OF COOL CARS:

Here’s a Time Magazine slideshow about The Plane That Drives.

Discovery has both a slideshow and a video about a flying car.

MSNBC has a video about an underwater car.

Breaking News English has an activity about the same car, and provides audio support for the text.

Ten Things You Should Know About The World’s Cheapest Car is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

MSNBC has video about the Nano, the world’s cheapest car that sells for $2,000.

Not really a car, but I’m including a slideshow about motorcycles from Time Magazine — The Evolution of Harley-Davidson.

Here are three accessible resources on the new U.S. Presidential limousine:

You can see photos and a diagram of the new limousine created for Obama, and it’s pretty impressive, indeed.

Here’s another interactive graphic about the limousine.

Breaking News English has a good online lesson on the new Presidential limousine that will be unveiled on Inauguration Day.

The Shape Of Alternative Power is a slideshow from The New York Times featuring some pretty cool-looking cars not powered by gasoline.

Take a look at this slideshow of the all-electric Tesla Roadster.

Flash In The Pan is a New York Times slideshow of the recent New York Auto Show.

Here’s a CNBC slideshow of the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.

Here’s a CNN slideshow of the latest “concept cars” — cars the auto companies have on the drawing board for the far-future.

CNN also has a slideshow of cars that have been in science fiction movies. The site also lets you rank them and compare your choices with those of others.

Cars Of The Future is another engaging slideshow.

Here’s an online exhibit of Lowrider cars.

Forbes Magazine has a slideshow showing the world’s most expensive cars.

Which Cars Are Most Expensive? is another slideshow.

Here’s an audio slideshow from the San Jose Mercury News about the Tesla, the electric roadster.

I don’t know if I would call the cars in this next slideshow “cool,” but they are Very, Very, Very Small Cars.

The Boston Globe’s The Big Picture has a series of images of Formula One racing cars.

Take a look at 12 Of The World’s Strangest Vehicles.

Here are 15 of the World’s Strangest Limousines.

CNN has a video about flying cars.

Eye-Popping Car Designs is a slideshow from LIFE Magazine.

Here are some Insanely Decorated Cars.

Check-out 12 Cool and Unusual Limousines.

“40 Wild and Wicked Art Cars” has some pretty wild images.

Car Design As High Style, 1930 to 1965 is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

Word’s Smallest Cars has text, photos, and videos about…very small cars.

The Maverick Flying Car is one weird contraption.

The New York Times has a video of a convention of “tiny car” enthusiasts.

Concept cars in pictures is a slideshow from The Telegraph.

“Car That Runs On Thin Air” is a video from CNN about a care that runs on….air.

How cars of the future were perceived in 1948 is a fun video from…1948. It shows some pretty “interesting” looking cars.

The World’s 15 Ugliest Cars is a slideshow presentation from CBS News.

Amphibious vehicle made from a lawnmower and boat is a video from CBS News.

50 outrageous cars is a CBS News slideshow.

New record for world’s fastest toilet on wheels is from The BBC.

DESIGNING YOUR OWN COOL CARS:

Create A Ride lets you design your own race car.  Boys in particular will love it.  You can save your design with a special number, but it doesn’t provide you with a unique url address.  So to access it again you just have to go to the site and type in the the number.  Students can learn some vocabulary and write about their car.

It’s not a car, but Create the Honda lets you design the motorcycle of your dreams. Be sure to click on “Europe” to get to the English version of the site

In a related application, users can create their own Race-Car Driver and have him/her “say” a message using the site’s text-to-speech feature.

As always, feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at all the previous over 200 “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

January 10, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
5 Comments

The Best Sites To Learn About The Vancouver Winter Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics are coming-up next month, and I thought I’d begin a “The Best…” list related to them. It will certainly be growing as the date grows closer.

You might also be interested in a previous list I compiled for the Bejing Olympics, which also has resources that might be useful now.

Here are my choices for The Best Sites To Learn About The Vancouver Winter Olympics (and are accessible to English Language Learners — remember this list will be growing):

This is a nice interactive from the International Olympic Committee — click on the name of the sport, and it will show you a lot of multimedia related to it.

Olympic Torch Relay heads to Vancouver is a series of photos from The Big Picture.

Path of the Athlete is a very engaging online game.

This interactive will show you the different locations in Vancouver of the competitions, as well as a history of medal winners from previous Winter Olympics.

Students can complete this short Internet Scavenger Hunt on the Vancouver Olympics.

Though the official website for the games is pretty “busy-looking,” it sure has a ton of useful multimedia.

Here’s another interactive on “medal counts” from different countries.

Enchanted Learning has an accessible history of the Olympic games.

Edgate has quite a few lesson plans related to the upcoming Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Deconstructing The Games is an extraordinary collection of sixteen infographics on each of the Winter Olympics events in Vancouver.

They’re created by the Vancouver Sun newspaper, and here is how they describe them:

“Each page will provide a graphic illustration, athletes to watch, trivia, information about the venue and the schedule.”

NBC and the National Science Foundation have created free, short videos explaining the science behind many of the winter Olympic events. The language is probably accessible to high-intermediate ELL’s, especially because they have transcripts that you can view at the same time.

Weekly Reader has a nice interactive on the Winter Olympics. It can also provide audio support for the text.

Here’s an interactive quiz on the history of the Winter Olympics. I certainly didn’t score well on it, but it provides a lot of useful and accessible information.

“Winter Olympics: Sport By Sport” is a feature from ESPN. It provides a short, accessible slideshow and description for each sport played at the Olympic games.

Figure Skaters Through The Ages is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

The Origins of 10 Winter Olympic Sports is a pretty interesting post from Mental Floss.

A WEBQUEST ABOUT THE 2010 WINTER GAMES IN CANADA comes via Michelle Henry’s excellent website.

The Associated Press has an excellent site on the Olympics.

Winter Olympics For Kids is a nice site developed by teachers and students at Pocantico Hills School in New York.

‘Welcome to the Downtown Eastside’ is a slideshow from The New York Times that shows the “hidden” side of the Winter Olympics.

Tim Learns About The Olympics is a short story that provides audio support for the text.

Here’s an Interactive graphic showing the venues for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Here’s interactive showing the medals athletes will win.

Sean Banville has developed a listening exercise for English Language Learners.

See 39 Olympic Logos From 1924 to 2012.

Vancouver’s Olympic Venues is a neat interactive from The New York Times.

Passing the Torch: An Evolution of Form is an update of another great interactive from The New York Times.

The Torch’s Path
is a slideshow from the Times.

The Big Picture has a slideshow titled Olympic Torch Relay nearly complete.

Getting Physical: The Physics and Other Science Behind Winter Olympic Sports comes from The New York Times Learning Network.

A Brief History Of The Opening Ceremonies is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

The Los Angeles Times has a great collection of graphics they’ve created for the Olympics.

2010 Winter Olympics Teaching and Learning Extravaganza is a great resource from The New York Times Learning Network.

Winter Olympics Sports
is a downloadable worksheet from Foreign Language House.

Opening the 2010 Games
is slideshow from The New York Times.

The Opening Ceremony is a 360 panoramic photo of the event from The Times.

The Big Picture has a series of images from the opening ceremonies.

I’ve discovered two intriguing sites where people can create user-generated content related to next month’s Winter Olympics. To tell you the truth, I’m not convinced that either one will really enhance one’s understanding of the Olympics much. But, for English Language Learners, they both certainly provide lots of good listening and speaking opportunities. So, for that reason, I’m adding them to this list:

Become A Virtual Sportscaster lets you, after registration, be a…sportscaster calling the action for several different video clips of Olympic events. You can then share the video with others.

The Best Of Us Challenge lets you see “challenges” (strange and fun competitions like balancing a stick on your foot) that Olympic athletes have created for ordinary people to beat them at. You can record your attempt at their challenge and post it at the site. In addition, you can create your own video challenges.

You might also be interested in The Best Sites To Learn About Canada.

Here’s the link to CNN’s constantly updated Winter Olympics page.

The New York Times has an interactive on the accident that led to a luge athlete’s death.

Here’s MSNBC’s special page on the Winter Olympics.

USA Today has a similar website, as does the New York Times.

The Vancouver Winter Olympics
is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

A Map of Winter Olympic Medals
is a NY Times interactive

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics So Far… is a series of photos from The Denver Post. The Post also has Part Two.

The New York Times has created a video library of people performing snowboard tricks. They’re not to be missed.

Here’s an interesting slideshow from The Wall Street Journal on the Vancouver Olympics mascot, Inukshuk.

The Wall Street Journal also has a neat interactive showing the reactions of gold medal winners. Readers can vote on their favorites.

Check-out this TIME Magazine slideshow on the Top 10 Worst Figure-Skating Costumes.

Vancouver 2010, part 1 of 2 are great pictures from The Boston Globe’s Big Picture.

LIFE Magazine has a slideshow called Greatest Winter Olympic Stories.

Twisted: Ice Dancing Gone Wild is a neat slideshow from TIME.

Vectorial Elevation lets you design an enormous light show that actually appears in the sky over the Vancouver Olympics. On top of that, you get your own webpage that shows a picture of what it looked like.
You need the Google Earth plug-in, and it looks a little more complicated than the usual applications I write about, but it’s too cool to miss. You can read more about the project at the PBS News Hour. It ends on February 28th, so you better hurry-up. I’m sure students will love it, and it will create lots of writing and speaking opportunities.

The Olympics’ Fabulous Fans is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

A Brief History Of Olympic Sore Losers is another TIME slideshow.

Fractions of a Second: An Olympic Musical is a fascinating interactive from The New York Times. It illustrates — musically — how little difference there is between the first and tenth-place finisher in various Olympic events.

You can also see all the rest of the Olympic-related NY Times interactives here.

Vancouver Brings Down Curtain on Winter Games is a slideshow from the NY Times.

Games come to a dramatic finish is a San Francisco Chronicle slideshow.

Vancouver 2010, part 2 of 2 comes from the Boston Globe’s Big Picture.

Feedback is always welcome.

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

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

January 6, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Sites For Learning About Weird-Looking Creatures (And For Making Your Own!)

Weird-looking critters always generate high-interest from students — English Language Learners and mainstream alike. Reading, writing, and talking about them are excellent language-development activities, and I’ve listed some good accessible sites on this list.

In the second part of this post, I share some sites that — believe it or not — let students also easily create their own weird-looking animals. First designing, then describing (along with talking and listening) them also provide good language-learning opportunities.

Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Learning About Weird-Looking Creatures And For Making Your Own!):

LEARNING ABOUT THEM:

19 Insanely Weird Animals is a slideshow from LIFE Magazine.

The weirdest animals on Planet Earth comes from the British paper The Telegraph.

MSN has some of the World’s weirdest animals and Weird Animals That You Can Travel to See.

Weird New Animals From Antarctica’s Deep Seas is from National Geographic.

Nick Baker’s Weird Creatures is a show on the Smithsonian Channel, and you can see many clips on their site.

The Web Ecoist has several good resources, including:

The 9 Strangest Animals on Earth

Nine Outstanding Expanding Animals!

15 of the World’s Strangest Animals

20 Scary Animals

The Weird Animal Express is a student-created site.

Strange, odd and beautiful creatures is from a Florida newspaper.

Learn about Top 10 Fantastic and Surreal Creatures (and see pictures) at Listverse.

CREATING YOUR OWN:

With Animal Mix-Up you can create a bizarre creature, email the link and post it. English Language Learners can not only use it as an opportunity to describe their creation, but the design process itself provides an excellent opportunity for vocabulary development. There are a lot of choices for creature modifications, and their accompanied with visual and text descriptions.

Build Your WIldself is from the New York Zoos and Aquarium. Instead of explaining it here, I’m just going to suggest you read a post from Kevin Jarrett which explains it in detail.

The Switch Zoo is another similar site. However, you can only print-out creation, not save it online.

Feedback is always welcome.

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

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

December 15, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Year-End Collections Of Images — 2009

As I did last year (see The Best Year-End Collections Of Images — 2008), I’m putting together a “The Best…” list of “year in review photo” collections.

Most of these types of multimedia collections don’t come-out until the last week of December, which makes it too late to use in most classrooms (at least in 2009). So, this year, I’m posting the list a bit early with a few of the initial ones that have come out already, and will add new ones as December progresses. At least now, if teachers want, they can use them before the holiday break begins.

Keeping that in mind, here are my picks for The Best Year-End Collections of Images — 2009:

The Year In Pictures 2009 from TIME Magazine

2009 Pictures Of The Year from LIFE Magazine

The year in pictures 2009 from CCTV

Pictures of The Year 2009 from Reuters

The best photos of 2009 comes from the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture has begun a multi-part series on 2009 In Photos. Here’s the link to Part One; Part Two;Part Three.

The Denver Post has also begun a multi-part series — The Year In Photos 2009. Here’s Part One; Part Two:Part Three;Part Four.

The New York Times has just published an very well-designed feature: 2009 — The Year In Pictures.

“2009 In Photos” is a great collection from the Wall Street Journal.

USA Today has The Year In Pictures.

Feedback is always welcome.

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

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

December 9, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
5 Comments

The Best Social Studies Websites — 2009

It’s time for another year-end list, this time focusing on Social Studies sites. Previous related lists include:

The Best social studies websites 2007

The Best Social Studies Websites — 2008

And, of course, there are over 300 other “The Best…” lists, too.

As is the case in all my lists, some of these sites might have been around prior to 2009, but they were new to me this year.

Here are my choices for The Best Social Studies Websites — 2009 (that are accessible to English Language Learners):

Number nineteen: This is actually several links.  LIFE Magazine has unveiled newly discovered color photographs of Adolf Hitler. They’re pretty amazing. LIFE  has divided these color photos into several slideshows:

Adolf Hitler, Up Close

Adolf Hitler Among The Crowds

Adolf Hitler’s Private World

Hitler’s Humble Beginnings

Number eighteen:  The Watertown Public Schools have put together an exceptional overview of early American History at American History Central. It’s complete, accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners, good images, and is organized very well. Too bad it stops at the year 1800!

Number seventeen: Miniature Earth is a slideshow that uses statistics to reduce the world to 100 inhabitants, and shows how that plays out demographically, who uses what resources, etc. They periodically update the statistics.

Number sixteenRaising Walls is an intriguing feature from The Wall Street Journal highlighting famous….walls in history and around the world. The interactive graphic is supplemented by a slideshow, video, and article focused on walls being built around slums in Rio de Janeiro.

Number fifteen: Geographical Media is the newest addition to The Best Tools To Help Develop Global Media Literacy list. After you register (which is a free and easy process) you can see which topics are being covered in the news media in different parts of the world, and compare the differences. The site seems to have a number of other features — and it’s not particularly intuitive how to navigate through them — but the site has a lot of potential.

Number fourteenPhotos That Changed The World posts a new photo each day that had a major impact on….the world. In addition, there’s a short description of the image and the circumstances surrounding it.  Obviously, the photos are accessible to all English Lan guage Learners, and the texts can be read by Intermediates. (this site is not longer working. Instead, go to The Best Sites To See “Photos That Changed The World”)

Number thirteenThe Constitution For Kids has three “levels” of explanations about the U.S. Constitution. An English Language Learner — from high Beginning to Advanced — can choose which one he/she finds most accessible.

Number twelveCareer Aisle is from the South Carolina PBS Station, and has many short, and accessible, videos on different careers. There are a number of other activities and resources related to jobs there, too.

Number eleven: Project Label is a new site that I’m adding to The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”. The site provides “social nutrition” labels to corporations based on a number of criteria including safety, nutrition, values, etc. The labels in large part are determined by users on the site who vote on the usefulness and validity of articles on the corporations that other users upload. Students can write their own articles to add, or can leave comments on the articles that others contribute, in addition to voting.

Number ten: America In The Twentieth Century is a new series of online videos (the site will soon also be offering additional teacher support materials). It looks like an exceptional resource.

Number nine:  The Virginia Educational Wizard is a cool interactive guide to careers and colleges. It’s obviously geared towards students in Virginia, but their Interest Assessment is one of the most engaging ones I’ve seen and would be a useful tool for any students exploring potential careers.

Number eightTimelines is a neat tool that lets users contribute towards making “timelines” of historical events with text, photos, and videos. People can then vote on which ones they like best, though everyone’s contributions appear to remain displayed. It’s extremely easy to contribute — much, much easier than to something like Wikipedia.  Timelines is a great place for students to write for an authentic audience, which is why I’m adding it to The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”.

Number seven: Map Battle is a very easy-to-use tool to create geography games online. It’s like a less-fancy The Traveler IQ Challenge game.

Number sixNewsy is a site that — in short videos — compares how major news events are covered by media throughout the world. I’m adding it to The Best Tools To Help Develop Global Media Literacy list.  In some ways, it’s similar to Link TV, which is also on the list.  Newsy, though, isn’t quite as interactive, though you can leave comments if you’re registered.  For that reason, I’m also adding it to The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”. The speaking is pretty fast and relatively high-level, so it’s probably only accessible to advanced English Language Learners.

Number five:  In The Best Sites For Students To Create Budgets, I talk about the best site for students in California to get a grasp of what the real costs are of living on your own.  It’s the California Reality Check. If I had to design a site for English Language Learners, it would be close to how this tool looks. It has a step-by-step process for developing a basic budget, and it includes the different specific costs for living expenses in all the major California cities. The drawback, however, is that it only shows the income needed if you are in a California community.  Now there’s a site that will provide you with a localized budget of what you need to live in any city or town in the United States.  It’s called The Living Wage Calculator, and has been developed by people at Pennsylvania State University.  Note that the budget is shows is their calculation of the basic costs that a family will have, not necessarily one that will provide what is commonly called a “middle class lifestyle.”

Number fourCulture Crossing is a unique resource for information about different countries. It provides some basic demographics, but it also shares details about communication style, dress, gestures, etc. It’s unlike any other source of information about countries that’s on the web. I’ll certainly be having my students use it now when they develop reports about countries.

Number threeHypercities is a neat “mashup” of what various cities have looked like over the past several hundred years. By using a “slider,” you can choose a year, and then various images of that city from that time are shown. It’s pretty ingenious, and certainly the basics are accessible to English Language Learners.

Number two: Tony Cassidy has compiled a great list of online Social Studies games.  There are too many to list here but, trust me, you want to check them out!

Number one: The BBC has  unveiled an exceptional new History site. It’s targeting primary learners, and, to quote their description:

“It covers 6 primary history topics – Ancient Greeks, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Children in Victorian Britain and Children of WW2 – with a photo and video library and an interactive timeline, plus quizzes, activities and games.”

It’s very accessible to English Language Learners, and the games have audio support for the text.  The only disappointment is that the videos aren’t available to watch if you’re in the United States.

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 nearly 300 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

August 17, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

The Best News/Current Events Websites For English Language Learners

(NOTE: This is now my regularly updated “regular” list of current events sites. I no longer publish an annual list)

One way to encourage our ESL/EFL students and others to become active citizens in the world is to help them become aware of important news events. Current news can also be a source of high-interest reading, speaking, listening, and writing material, and provide opportunities to stimulate higher-order thinking.

A first step in this process is to provide them with accessible information. This list offers my choices for the top ten News/Current Events Websites for English Language Learners in 2009.  It updates The Best News/Current Events Websites For English Language Learners — 2007. There are a lot of similarities between the two editions, but also a few important changes.

This list is different in one way from all my other “The Best…” lists. The first group of sites highlight my choices in order of preference. Then, later in the post, I list the choices made by my students. I was surprised to find that they liked some of the sites I list in The Best Visually Engaging News Sites, which are ones I thought were fun to look at but were not really that informative or accessible.  One of the other issues was that a few of my choices were blocked by our school district’s content filter, so students weren’t able to try-out all of them, including my top-ranked pick.

Here are my choices:

Number twelve  is the English Club. It provides a monthly text and audio summary of four news stories, including online cloze (fill-in-the-gap) exercises.

Number eleven is Voice of America’s Special English TV. The vocabulary used is great, the speed is perfect, the information is often (though not always) interesting. But can’t they liven it up a little bit and not just have a “talking head?” How about a few pictures related to the subject?

Number ten is Voice of America’s Special English TV. The vocabulary used is great, the speed is perfect, the information is often (though not always) interesting. But can’t they liven it up a little bit and not just have a “talking head?” How about a few pictures related to the subject?

Breaking News English is number nine. It’s been providing text and audio of the top news stories a few times each week for quite awhile. In addition, it has excellent lesson plans and follow-up activities that can be printed-out.

Number eight is News English Lessons,  a sister site of of Breaking News English that appears to have even more accessible resources for ELL’s.

Number seven is off-line now.

Number six is the CBBC Newsround. This is sort of a version of BBC News designed for younger people. The lay-out, writing, and choice of stories is very inviting. They now have a separate Accessible Newsreader for much of their content that is attractively designed and provides audio support for the text.

Number five is off-line.

Number four is off-line.

Number three is the LIFE site sharing millions of photos from the LIFE Magazine archives and Getty Images.  What’s great about this new site is that, unlike Google’s previous hosting of many of the same photos (which are just listed by decades), LIFE’s site shows them in thematic slideshows with accessible captions. Plus, they include daily updates of slideshows about current events.  You can also subscribe to a weekly email newsletter that gives you updates on new content. Both the historical and current slideshows are fabulous.

Number two is the Voice of America Special English News. These short articles, with audio, are accessible, timely, and numerous.

And now, for the number one News/Current Events Website For English Language Learners, I’m picking… :

The BBC Learning English site is attractively designed and has images and audio support for text.

Here are my students’ choices:

Number seven — LIFE

Number six — Discovery Earth Live

Number five — News Map

Number four — Voice of America’s Special English TV

Number three — World News Map

Number two — World News Today

Number one — Audio Slideshow Gallery at Reuters (Now Discontinued)

Mapeas provides news videos from around the world. Of course, lots of sites do this. Mapeas is different, though, because the video links are located on a Google Map — you go to the geographical area of the world you want, and you click on the links located there.

The Voice of America has a new Articles section, which has lots of interactive exercises related to engaging news articles.

The Daily What: News For Schools In Scotland provides very well-written and accessible articles about world-wide events, and, in addition, provides interactives (such as quizzes) for each one (look for the red question mark on the right column to find the interactives). The articles have both shorter and longer versions available. The site has a lot of other features, but those are only accessible to Scottish teachers and students.

Teaching Kids The News

Youngzine

Tween Tribune

Easy English

News in Levels provides several different “levels” of the same news article and provides audio support for the text. The site is clearly focused on ELLs, with the “lowest” level an image annotated with vocabulary words, which also has audio support. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t have interactive activities that students can do, but I guess you can’t have everything…

The New York Times has begun a new feature called the Times Minute. It’s a one minute video regularly updated during the day highlighting news stories. You can find its archive here. Happily, unlike other similar videos, they don’t try to speak very fast so it can be accessible to ELLs. I’m adding it to The Best News/Current Events Websites For English Language Learners. Here’s a sample:

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

July 17, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Additions To A Few “The Best…” Lists

July 11, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Sites To Learn About The Apollo 11 Moon Landing

July 20th is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 space mission when the first humans walked on the moon.  I still remember watching it as a boy on our black-and-white TV set in the living room.

I thought I’d put together a short “The Best…” list highlighting a few resources people might find useful — if you happen to be teaching summer school.

You might also be interested in these other “The Best…” lists:

The Best Sites For Learning About Planets & Space

The Best Sites To Learn About The Hubble Telescope

The Best Images Taken In Space

Here are my picks for “The Best Sites To Learn About The Apollo 11 Moon Landing” (and, of course, are accessible to English Language Learners):

Space: 40 years since man walked on the Moon
is the title of a nice interactive from Agence France Presse.

NASA has one central site including links to a ton of neat interactive features, including a panorama.

The Smithsonian has a neat multimedia interactive timeline on the mission.

We Choose The Moon has been set-up by the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library & Museum. Starting on July 16th, you can “experience a real-time audio and visual re-creation of the historic mission” on the website.

You can watch a seven-minute video about the mission here.

National Geographic has a video of the moon walk.

How Stuff Works also has a number of short videos on the mission.

Remembering Apollo 11 is a collection of photos from the Boston Globe’s Big Picture photo blog.

Here’s a quote from The New York Times: “On Thursday, 40 years to the day after the Apollo 11 spacecraft began its journey to the moon, NASA released what it called, “newly restored video from the July 20, 1969, live television broadcast of the Apollo 11 moonwalk.” You can view it here.

LIFE Magazine has just published a slideshow titled Apollo 11 – Scenes From The Moon.

40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing is a series of photos from the Denver Post.

The Times of London has a good slideshow on the mission.

The Wall Street Journal has an interactive called “Mission: Moon” and a slideshow titled With Their Steps Came Great Relief on Earth.

ESOL Courses has a very nice reading, along with comprehension questions, on the lunar landing.

Celebrating Apollo 11′s Return To Earth is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

The Associated Press has an impressive interactive.

Here are several additions to this list.  All of them are from The New York Times:

Slideshow of photos taken by the astronauts themselves

Slideshow on what happened to each astronaut after the lunar landing

A narrated slideshow titled Mission To The Moon.

The History Channel has some good videos.

The Incredible Things NASA Did to Train Apollo Astronauts is a photo gallery from Wired.

Here’s a thank you letter from Neil Armstrong to the makers of his space suit.

45 Years Ago We Landed Men on the Moon is a photo gallery from The Atlantic.

Feel free to share additional suggestions.

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

June 5, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“New” Color Photos Of Hitler

LIFE Magazine has just unveiled newly discovered color photographs of Adolf Hitler. They’re pretty amazing.

LIFE actually has divided these color photos into several slideshows:

Adolf Hitler, Up Close

Adolf Hitler Among The Crowds

Adolf Hitler’s Private World

Hitler’s Humble Beginnings

You can learn the story behind them by watching this online CNN video.

I’ve added the photos to my United States History Class blog.  You can find an entire year’s curriculum there.

April 25, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
8 Comments

The Best Sites For Learning About The Swine Flu Outbreak

I certainly don’t want to sound alarmist and, in all truth, I don’t feel particularly alarmed about the Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico City (perhaps I’m wrong?).  However, there’s no question that there’s a lot of coverage about it in the media. And since many of our students are from Mexico and have lots of family there, I thought I’d quickly put together a short list of sites where they and other English Language Learners could find-out more information about what’s going on.

I’ll probably add to it if the story continues…

Here are my picks for The Best Sites For Learning About The Swine Flue Outbreak (and are accessible to English Language Learners):

The Wall Street Journal has a slideshow titled Mexico Takes Precautions Against Flu.

The Journal also has a video titled Mexico Races To Stop Deadly Flu.

Swine Flu is a slideshow from Yahoo News.

Mexico City Gripped In Swine Flu Fear is a video from MSNBC.

Flu: how the latest strain spread around the world is an excellent interactive just published by the Guardian newspaper.

Here’s a story, slideshow, and video about Sacramento’s first case of the swine flu.

Questions About Swine Flu is a good video from the New York Times.

Experts Worried By Flu In Mexico is a very accessible summary of events by CBBC Newsround.

Swine Flu Outbreak In Mexico is a slideshow from The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain.

The Houston Chronicle has a slideshow called Swine Flu Scare.

The BBC has a simple question and answer page on the swine flu. So does the Wall Street Journal.

MSNBC has an even better question/answer page — it’s a slideshow.

A Race To Contain Swine Flu is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

The Associated Press has a similar question/answer page.

Fighting The Flu is an interactive from CBS News.

CBS News has a short video report on the outbreak.

ABC News has a video report called Swine Flu Outbreak.

Understanding Swine Flu is a graphic and map from The New York TImes.

Global Response To Swine Flu is a slideshow from The New York Times.

CNN has several good resources, including an Explainer that give a short overview of the disease; asimple map showing its spread; and a slideshow.

Swine Flu Hits Mexico is a TIME Magazine slideshow.

Deadly Flu Outbreak in Mexico is a slideshow from The San Jose Mercury News.

Swine Flu Around the Globe in an interactive from the Associated Press.

Here’s a good, simple image that explains the disease and is from The Orange County Register.

CBS has an updated interactive on the swine flu.

Agence France Presse has an interactive graphic on the swine flu.

The Wall Street Journal has developed their own map showing the spread of the disease.

Swine Flu Infections Spread is a series of photos from The Sacramento Bee.

There’s a Google Maps “mashup” showing the geographical locations of disease reports. (Thanks to Google Maps Mania)

National Public Radio also has a map of the outbreak.

NPR has a slideshow, too, called Bracing Against The Flu Worldwide.

The Swine Epidemic Grows is a series of photos from The Sacramento Bee.

Breaking News English has a resource that provides audio support for the text. It’s called Swine Flu Deaths Expected To Rise.

Swine Flu: The Affected Nations is from The Guardian.

Flowing Data has a good graphic showing how Viruses Can Transform Into Swine Flu.

There’s been a lot of talk about the worldwide Influenza Pandemic in 1918. Here are some accessible resources related to that time:

The Baltimore Sun has a multimedia page on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.

Lessons From A Past Pandemic is an audio slideshow from The New York Times.

The Guardian has an interactive showing how the pandemic affected London.

Here’s a map and timeline of the 1918 Pandemic from PBS.

A History Of The Flu is a slideshow from Newsweek.

LIFE Magazine has a great slideshow on the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

Major Outbreaks and Pandemics is a pretty impressive multimedia historical timeline from The Wall Street Journal.

More Cases of Swine Flu Emerge is a slideshow from the Wall Street Journal.

“Centre Of The Cell” is a very engaging and accessible interactive simulation about the outbreak of a flu epidemic in London. Users have to make decisions about what actions should be taken to get the outbreak under control. It’s like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game — with potential “deadly” consequences.

Containment Efforts is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

The BBC has a good and regularly updated map of the outbreak (thanks to The English Blog for the tip).

The CBBC Newsround has added quite a few very accessible materials on the swine flu. You can see a commercial/public service announcement about the flu that is being played in the UK at the same site.

A Guide To Understanding Germs is a great graphic on hand-washing. It comes from the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in south Florida.

On The Front Lines Of Swine Flu is a new slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

Pandemic Panic is a new lesson plan from the New York Times. It would require modification to make it accessible to ELL’s, but it also comes with a companion lesson plan for younger students that might be more accessible.

MSNBC has an article titled Amid swine flu outbreak, racism goes viral
Anti-immigrant hatred spreads on talk radio, Web sites
. Excerpts would be good for classroom discussion.

Education World has a good printable and some lesson plans titled Kids Can Lower Their Flu Risk.

The Centers For Disease Control has some nice multilingual printables called Stop the Spread of Germs that Make You and Others Sick!. (Thanks to ESL Teachers’ Blog of Substance for the tip).

Killer Flu is an online video game that is not accessible to ELL’s (it doesn’t even seem accessible to me!), but it is interesting. You can read more about it at Water Cooler Games.

Battening Down is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

Thermal Scanners Hunt For Swine Flu is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

Brainpop has a new animated movie on the Swine Flu — it appears to be available without a paid subscription (thanks to Sara Crawford for the tip).

The Los Angeles Times has an animated map illustrating the outbreak.

Scholastic News has a short and accessible article about the disease.

Here’s an Animated Swine Flu Map.

Immigration foes link flu to Mexican threat claims is an Associated Press story that can be modified for classroom discussion.

Another good interactive graphic on the flu from Agence Presse France.

United States and Mexico Battle Swine Flu is a Voice of America Special English report that provides audio support for the text.

A Visual Guide to Flu Pandemics is a good visual historical representation of pandemics through the years. Thanks to Alec Couros for the tip.

Flu Fears Dissipating In Mexico City is an online video from MSNBC.

The BBC has a slideshow called Public Health Campaigns: A Fine Line Between Informing And Alarming.

Here’s a nice infographic from the Telegraph called Interactive graphic of how swine flu works, how you can help to protect yourself and the six stages of a pandemic. (Thanks to the English Blog for the tip)

Flu Virus Continues Spread is a new slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

Soccer In The Time of Swine Flu is a slideshow from TIME Magazine.

Even as Fears of Flu Ebb, Mexicans Feel Stigma is an article from The New York Times. Excerpts could be modified for ELL’s.

The Scrub Club is, to quote The School Library Journal, a Web site that offers an effective and fun way for kids to learn about the importance of hand washing to protect them against influenza.  Some games are included.  It would probably be appropriate for younger ELL’s only.

Prevention Precautions
is a slideshow from The Wall Street Journal.

Should Schools Close Over Swine Flu? is a video from MSNBC.

USA Today has several really good interactive graphics about the flu.

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture has a series of photos on the 2009 Swine Flu Outbreak.

Mexico Prepares To Reawaken is a Wall Street Journal slideshow.

In Pictures: Public Health Campaigns is a slideshow from the BBC. It talks about the “fine line between informing and alarming people” according to The English Blog.

The Swine Flu AKA The Pig Flu is a simple interactive quiz created by teacher Created by Amélie Silvert. Thanks to Ressources Pour Le College for the tip.

Swine Flu In Sacramento
is s slideshow from The Sacramento Bee.

Here’s another swine flu map.

Swine flu: the worst affected nations is an interactive from the Guardian.

Measures To Combat A Pandemic is an interactive from Agence France Presse.

Swine Flu: Fighting A Global Pandemic is an interactive from Agence France Presse. It’s an “Interactive graphic comparing swine flu to other global pandemics, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, in terms of the number of victims and the amount spent on prevention and treatment of the diseases.”

The Financial Times has developed a fascinating interactive which demonstrates how fast a disease can spread around the world because of air travel.

The Wall Street Journal just posted a new week-by-week Flu Tracker.

Here’s an interactive health assessment to check if you might have the H1N1 flu (swine flu).

Obama Declares H1N1 National Emergency is the title of a very accessible lesson from Breaking New English.

Here’s a video report from MSNBC one the flu vaccine.

Brainpop has an updated movie on the swine flu that appears to be free — at least for now.

Brainpop Jr. also has one on washing hands.

“Watching the H1N1 flu pandemic” is a series of images from the Boston Globe’s Big Picture.

Swine flu vaccination is a series of photos from the Sacramento Bee showing…swine flu vaccinations.

Here are links to some multilingual student-created resources:

Hmong/English by Hlee

Hmong/English by Tong

Hmong/English by Tae

English/Hmong by Ying

English/Hmong by Joua

English/Hmong by Pov yaj

English/Hmong by Pao

English/Hmong by Zang

Hmong/English by Kia

Hmong/English by Steve

Hmong/English by Mai Yia

Spanish/English by Daniel

English by Richard

English by Myriam

Spanish by Ericka

Hmong/English by Kao

English/Spanish by Edgar

English/Spanish by Esteban

English/Marshallese by Calynda

We really didn’t have much time, and will be making more later in the week. Students will be sharing them with their families and other students.

As always, feedback is welcome.

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

April 2, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Extraordinary Photos

The Free Tech 4 Teachers blog is on a roll this week. This is going to be the third excellent site I’ve learned from Richard Byrne that I’ve posted about this week…

Today, it’s the new LIFE site sharing millions of photos from the LIFE Magazine archives and Getty Images.

What’s great about this new site is that, unlike Google’s previous hosting of many of the same photos (which are just listed by decades), LIFE’s site shows them in thematic slideshows with accessible captions. Plus, they include daily updates of slideshows about current events.  You can also subscribe to a weekly email newsletter that gives you updates on new content.

Both the historical and current slideshows are fabulous. I’m adding the site to The Best Online Slideshows About Current Events, The Best news/current events websites for English Language Learners , and probably to a bunch of other “The Best..” lists, too.

March 4, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
5 Comments

The Best Online Slideshows About Current Events

There are a ton of resources for online slideshows about current events, most of which are listed on my website under Multimedia Resources From News Outlets.

There are many online news video resources, including many on different sections of these same links. However, most don’t have closed-captioning, and the English that’s spoken is very fast — usually too fast for English Language Learners. Also, many school districts, like mine, block streaming media, so the videos aren’t even accessible at our school sites.

Slideshows, on the other, work much better — the captions are usually short, and the user can control the speed of the show.

I thought I’d create another “The Best…” list and highlight a few of what I think are the best sites in this category. I’ve also tried to include sites from around the world. It’s always interesting for my students to see how the same news event is covered in different countries.

I’m not going to rank them in any order of preference and nor am I going to describe each one. They’re all very similar, and the links will take you directly to the section of the website where slideshows are located.

Here are my picks for The Best Online Slideshows About Current Events (by the way, you might also be interested in The Best News/Current Events Websites For English Language Learners, too):

* MSNBC

* TIME Magazine

* The New York Times

* The Washington Post

* Reuters

* Associated Press

* The Times Of London

* Mail and Guardian (South Africa)

* China Daily

* Times Of India

* Pixcetra

* The Big Picture

* BBC

* Sidney Morning Herald

* We Say (You might want to read my post about this site before you use it with students)

* The Wall Street Journal

* CBC News (thanks to Nathan Hall for the tip)

The newest addition to this list is the LIFE site sharing millions of photos from the LIFE Magazine archives and Getty Images.

What’s great about this new site is that, unlike Google’s previous hosting of many of the same photos (which are just listed by decades), LIFE’s site shows them in thematic slideshows with accessible captions. Plus, they include daily updates of slideshows about current events.  You can also subscribe to a weekly email newsletter that gives you updates on new content.Both the historical and current slideshows are fabulous.

As always, feedback is welcome.

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

November 19, 2008
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

LIFE Photographs

The blogosphere was alive with posts yesterday about Google getting together with the old LIFE Magazine to put millions of older photos online.

I didn’t really pay it much attention since I figured there were so many images available online from the past seventy years already.

However, I just took a look, and was surprised to find that the archives were divided into decades — dating all the way to the Civil War. It’s organized in a way that’s very accessible to English Language Learners, and I’m placing it on my U.S. History page.

December 26, 2007
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best News/Current Events Websites For English Language Learners — 2007

One way to encourage our ESL/EFL students and others to become active citizens in the world is to help them become aware of important news events. Current news can also be a source of high-interest reading, speaking, listening, and writing material, and provide opportunities to stimulate higher-order thinking.

A first step in this process is to provide them with accessible information. This list, one of the last I’ll be developing this year, offers my choices for the top ten News/Current Events Websites for English Language Learners in 2007.

As in all of my lists, many of these sites existed prior to 2007. I didn’t blog about them until this year, though, so I’m including them in this year’s list.

Number ten is the English Club. It provides a monthly text and audio summary of four news stories, including online cloze (fill-in-the-gap) exercises.

I’m ranking CNN News Videos With Closed Captioning as number nine. You’ll see a series of “snapshots” streaming across the screen. Clicking on one will lead you to its video. Unfortunately, a short advertisement precedes the actual news clip. Be sure to click on the “CC” box.(It looks like this service has gone off-line)

Number eight is Voice of America’s Special English TV. The vocabulary used is great, the speed is perfect, the information is often (though not always) interesting. But can’t they liven it up a little bit and not just have a “talking head?” How about a few pictures related to the subject?

Number seven is a new site called ESL World News. It provides excellent weekly news summaries designed to be printed-out and distributed to students, along with follow-up activities. (Note: This site doesn’t appear to be in operation any longer).

Breaking News English is number six. It’s been providing text and audio of the top news stories a few times each week for quite awhile. In addition, it has excellent lesson plans and follow-up activities that can be printed-out.

Number five is the CBBC News Around. This is sort of a version of BBC News designed for younger people. The lay-out, writing, and choice of stories is very inviting. They used to provide audio to a lot of their stories, too, but they seem to have, unfortunately, discontinued that practice.

I’ve put the Audio Slideshow Gallery at Reuters at number four. The photos are excellent, they have very short captions, and the narration, though it isn’t an exact recitation of the text, is accessible. They do an audio slideshow each week summarizing key news events.

Number three is the International Herald Tribune. You click on a story, click on “Listen To Article,” and then you hear it. It works great, and you don’t have to listen to any ads. (Unfortunately, it appears they have revamped their web site and have eliminated this feature)

Number two is the Voice of America Special English News. These short articles, with audio, are accessible, timely, and numerous.

And now, for the number one News/Current Events Website For English Language Learners, I’m picking… the BBC Learning English. It was a tough choice between this and the VOA, but the BBC won out because its design is much more attractive and has images.

(Editor’s Note: I’m also adding the Play The News Game and iCue to this list)

A News Challenge game is also a new addition to this list. Two different short news clips (with different perspectives) about the same event are shown, and then questions are asked about them.

The newest addition to this list is the LIFE site sharing millions of photos from the LIFE Magazine archives and Getty Images.

What’s great about this new site is that, unlike Google’s previous hosting of many of the same photos (which are just listed by decades), LIFE’s site shows them in thematic slideshows with accessible captions. Plus, they include daily updates of slideshows about current events.  You can also subscribe to a weekly email newsletter that gives you updates on new content.Both the historical and current slideshows are fabulous.

English Raven has jnew feature called World News For Kids. Several stories with images and accessible audio are shown each week, and students can participate in an audio forum, too. All that is free. If you are an English Raven member (and it’s one of only a very few sites on The Best Educational Web Resources Worth Paying For… list — it only costs $20 per year, but also has a ton of materials that are available without paying), additional great materials are provided.

You can find these news sites, and many others, on my English Themes For Beginners page under News, and on my Teacher’s Page under Multimedia Resources From News Outlets.

You can also find my other lists at Websites of the Year.