Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 2, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “Secret Life Of Pets” Trailer Has Great Scene For Teaching Self-Control

Removing yourself from temptations is one of the best recommended self-control strategies.

This hilarious trailer for the upcoming “Secret Life Of Pets” movie has a great scene that could be used to demonstrate the importance of doing just that…

Watch the whole clip, if you haven’t seen it before, but pay particular attention at about 1:05 into it.

I’m adding this info to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

September 23, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: Poverty & Self-Control

I’ve written a lot about the benefits of teaching Social Emotional Learning (see The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources), as well as the pitfalls of a “Let Them Eat Character!” strategy (see The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning and The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough).

Thanks to my colleague Katie Hull, I just learned that The New Republic has republished a good article giving an overview of research reinforcing the dangers of viewing SEL as a magic pill. It’s titled Poor People Don’t Have Less Self-Control. Poverty Forces Them to Think Short-Term.

Here’s how it concludes:


August 14, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

Scientists have found a new trick for completing your goals is an article in Quartz discussing a new study on self-control.

The research found having people just remember a couple of prior times they were successful at exhibiting self-control increased the chances of them being able to do so in the future. They found that people would get frustrated if they asked them to remember more than two, and they’d get discouraged if they were asked to remember their past self-control failures.

In the self-control lessons I’ve discussed in my books and here in my blog (see The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control), I always have students share on prior example of success. I also ask them to share one example of failure. I think the benefit of the laughter that comes from students sharing those stories outweighs any potential negative consequences that this study found.

But it is a good reinforcement to periodically invite students to remember a past instance when they were successful.

Here’s an excerpt from the study:


August 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

In an unsurprising development, on recent study has found that experiencing stress reduces self-control and another research report found that stress has the same effect on metacognition.

These findings reinforce why it’s important to help our students develop strategies to cope with stress (see The Best Resources For Learning About Teens & Stress).

I’m adding this info to:

The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control

The Best Posts On Metacognition

May 21, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Update On My “Practical Example Of Trust, Self-Control & Choice In The Classroom” & What I’m Doing Next

Earlier this week, I published A Practical Example Of Trust, Self-Control & Choice In The Classroom. It described a process I used in my Theory of Knowledge classes where students volunteered if they would or would not have the self-control needed to just use their phones to work on an essay while I was gone for a couple of days. Fifteen students from the two classes said they would not and asked to be put on a list for the sub saying they could not use their phone and had to watch a movie. The rest said they could be trusted.

Well, I came back today and had students who said they had enough self-control to use their phone only on their essay respond anonymously if they were able to keep to their word.

The results: 70% said yes in one class; 90% said yes in the other one.

Now, it’s time for the really interesting part of the experiment. I’m going on another field trip next Thursday and, again, taking the following day to recover. I’m going to use the same process, and this time ask students to first reflect on their experience from this week. Will those who were not able to stick to their word learn from what happened this week and realize they should be put on the “no phone list” next week?

I’ll let you know….

May 18, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Practical Example Of Trust, Self-Control & Choice In The Classroom

Tomorrow is our annual insane twenty-hour field trip to San Francisco with eighty students. Actually, this year we’re taking thirty fewer students, so perhaps it will be slightly less insane.

I obviously won’t be in the classroom that whole day, and I’m old enough to need the following day off to recover.

About a third of my IB Theory of Knowledge students will be going to San Francisco, and they’ll be back in class on Wednesday.

The sub will be showing the movie, “A Thousand Words” (with Eddie Murphy), which is a fun film for making TOK connections. At the same time, however, students know that the first draft of their TOK practice essay is due next Tuesday. Many wanted the option of working on the essay instead of watching the movie. I was fine with that, but explained that the school has a reasonable rule that substitutes can’t take classes to the computer lab or to the library. A few said that it wasn’t a problem — they could take notes from their book. Others, however, wanted to know if they could use their cellphones.

I reminded students about The Marshmallow Test we had studied as part of our unit on Human Sciences, and how cellphones have become the new marshmallows.

Then, I said that I would be okay with their using cellphones — if they could commit to just using them for working on their essay. I told students I wanted them to think for a moment if they felt like having their cellphone out would just be too tempting for them to use for other purposes and, if they did, I wanted them to raise their hand and I would make a list for the sub so he/she would know who could not use it. I further explained that I would have a great deal of respect for those who were honest and self-aware enough to know their temptations, and we had learned from The Marshmallow Test that a mature and effective way to strengthen self-control was to not put ourselves in positions that would weaken it.

Eight students raised their hand in one class and seven in the other.

In the first class, one student first raised his hand and, after I praised him for his honesty, the others quickly followed. In the second class, I was able to say that eight had put their name on the list in the previous period, and then seven quickly raised their hands.

I told the other students that, if they were going to use their phones when I wasn’t here, I really wouldn’t have any way of knowing if they were following through. However, they had given me their word (during the class I spoke personally with each of them for a moment), and they would know if they were people of their word.

We also talked about what students would do if they were using their phone and gave into temptation — the class response was that individuals should then put away their phones.

I’m quite confident that most, if not all, will keep to their commitments. Their use of cellphones inappropriately in my class is a minimal issue, and it’s been a bigger problem in my ELL Beginners/Intermediate class (where students are younger and some have been out-of-school for years).

I’ve got to say, though, that I think I’d have the same level of confidence with my sophomore/junior ELL U.S. History/World History class, so I don’t think this kind of trust needs to be limited to “advanced” students.

When I return on Thursday I plan on having students respond anonymously about if they kept to their commitments or not (of course, I might also receive an inkling in a report from the sub – if she/she actually leaves me a note). I don’t expect to receive an unpleasant surprise, but who knows? I’ll let you know what I learn.

April 14, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: Study Finds Childhood Self-Control Leads To Better Adult Job Prospects

Childhood self-control linked to enhanced job prospects throughout life is the headline of a Science Daily story on an ambitious study that tracked 15,000 people from age seven to adulthood.

The study itself is behind a paywall, but I do plan on purchasing it to review it further. It carries particular credibility since Roy F. Baumeister is one of the co-authors. I’ve written several posts about his work (and have applied his findings in my own classroom), and interviewed him for my Education Week Teacher column.

Here’s an excerpt from the Science Daily report:


I’m adding this post to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

January 9, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: PBS News Hour Shows A Second Excellent Segment On Self-Control

Marshmallows from Flickr via Wylio

© 2007 rjp, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Three years ago, the PBS News Hour did an excellent segment on self-control (I originally posted about it at Here’s A Video On Self-Control I’m Showing My Students First Thing Next Week and it’s also the second video embedded in this post).

Last night, the did another very good one, focusing on the Marshmallow Test. It’s the first video embedded in this post, and you can see the transcript here.

My only critique of it is a line that is always infuriating to me when people talk about charter schools. The segment mentions that the KIPP school students are selected by lottery and suggests that makes them comparable to students in other public schools. However, it doesn’t mention the fact that families who are particularly invested in their children’s education are ones who would go through the effort of registering and participating in a lottery, which makes blanket comparisons to students in other schools invalid. Of course, I also have other concerns about KIPP’s “character education” program.

Nevertheless, it’s a very good segment that I’ll be showing in class. I’m adding this post to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.