Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

December 21, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Check Out Roxanna Elden’s New Children’s Book: “Rudy’s New Human”

roxanna elden

Roxanna Elden, one of the best education writers on the planet (and whom I’ve written about a lot), has just published a children’s book titled Rudy’s New Human.

Here’s a guest post from her where she introduces the book, shares an exciting and unique opportunity to let readers see a previous draft, and provides suggestions to all of us who want to write our own children’s book in the future:

Roxanna Elden is a National Board Certified Teacher and the author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. Her first children’s book, Rudy’s New Human, comes out this week.

In teaching, there is no such thing as a final draft. Teaching requires a non-stop series of judgment calls in real time; even with good material, there will always be places the plot slows down, clumsy descriptions, lines of dialogue we wish we’d been able to edit out. 

Authors, on the other hand, always write multiple drafts of their work. In fact, if you go to bookstore events, chances are you’ll hear authors express embarrassment about their first drafts. That’s because they’ve had the opportunity to ask themselves, as many times as necessary, “Is this what I want to say? Is this how I want to say it?” 

I got a big reminder of this contrast over the past year, while working on my first children’s book: RUDY’S NEW HUMAN. The book is narrated by a canine-narrator named Rudy and inspired by the real-life experience of my real dog Rudy as he adjusted to having a baby in the house. The pictures are by supremely talented illustrator Ginger Seehafer, who is also a mom to two humans and two cats.

Here’s where the contrast kicks in: It took more than a year for this 30-page book to go through all the stages of editing, proofreading, and other quality control that led to publication. By publishing industry standards, this was a pretty quick turnaround.

For teachers used to living in permanent rough draft mode, this may be one of the most surprising aspects of the publishing process.

But there’s another thing about the publishing world that’s an adjustment from teaching: The silence.

The flip side of permanent rough draft mode is that teachers are used to getting immediate feedback. A class full of students will let you know right away when the plot slows down or a line of dialogue lands wrong. As a hopeful author, there’s no one to let you know how you’re doing. You write the best draft you can, revise endlessly, research possible agents, email your material out with a personal note, and then…. Wait.

No one puts their head down or checks their phone or starts a side conversation in an outdoor voice to let you know your material isn’t clicking for them, but the sense of rejection can be just as deafening. For more about the publishing process, here is my post entitled, Three Answers to the Question, “So, How Do I Get Published?”

As a nod to the rough-draft nature of teaching, Ginger and I are also offering a secret look at some rough draft pages of RUDY’S NEW HUMAN to anyone who pre-orders the book before the official release date, January 5. 

To get the bonus material, pre-order the book from any retailer before January 5, then email a copy of your receipt to You’ll get an email back with our first-draft of the text, notes, and early sketches, all of which you’re welcome to share with your colleagues and students. Plus, you’ll get a whole new understanding of why most authors hide their first drafts from the world. 

I’m adding this post to So, You Want To Write A Book? Here’s The Best Advice…


November 20, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

My “All-Time” Favorite BAM! Radio Episodes


I’ve been doing weekly eight-to-ten minute BAM! Radio shows for a few years now to accompany my Education Week Teacher advice column.

You can see all of them at All My BAM Radio Shows – Linked With Descriptions (and there are many episodes!), but I thought I’d make a list of my “All-Time Favorite” ones to add to All Of My “All-Time” Best Lists In One Place!

Here are my choices (not in order of preference), and I’ll add to them on an on-going basis:

What Are the Habits of Lifelong Readers, How Do We Instill Them? with Donalyn Miller

How Can We Get All Students in Our Classes Thinking and Learning All the Time? with Bill and Pérsida Himmele, Jim Peterson

How Can We Differentiate Instruction More Effectively? with Carol Tomlinson

Dissecting Grades: What Do They Mean, What Are They Worth? with Rick Wormeli

Second Thoughts: Teacher Attire, Does it Really Matter? with Roxanna Elden, Renee Moore

What Is the Best Way to Train Student Teachers? with Emily Geltz, Linda Rief

What Are the Myths and Misconceptions Around Formative Assessment? with Nancy Frey

Can We Effectively Evaluate Teachers Based on Factors Teachers Completely Control? with Ben Spielberg and Ted Appel

How Can We Increase the Ranks of Teachers of Color? with Gloria Ladson-Billings

What Are the Differences Between Project-Based, Problem-Based and Inquiry Learning? with Jeff Wilhelm, Suzie Boss

Exploring the Difference Between Student Participation and Student Engagement with Jennifer Gonzalez, Bill and Pérsida Himmele

Encouraging Other Teachers Who Work with English Language Learners with Sonia Nieto, Alicia Lopez

Closing the Teacher Diversity Gap: What It Takes with Dr. Travis Bristol

What Is Grit? Can Grit Be Taught? Who Is Responsible for Grit? with Ebony McGee, Kristi Mraz, Christine Hertz

My Biggest Teaching Mistake and What I Learned from It with Ekuwah Moses, Julia Thompson, Roxanna Elden

Bridging the Cultural Barrier with Immigrant Parents with Rusul Alrubail, Anna Bartosik and Jordan Lanfair.

I Want My Kids to Feel Comfortable Making Mistakes, but… with Doug Lemov, Danny Woo and Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski.

Handling “Controversial” Issues In The Classroom with Lorena German, Stephen Lazar and Adeyemi Stembridge, Ph.D.

Using the First Language of English Language Learners with Melissa Eddington, Wendi Pillars, and Tracey Flores.

Teaching Student to Transfer Learning to New Problems with Nancy Frey, PhD and Adeyemi Stembridge, PhD.

How Can Teachers Approach Race and Bias in the Classroom? with Dr. Sanée Bell, Raquel Ríos, Ph.D., Adeyemi Stembridge, Ph.D., and Ruchi Agarwal-Rangnath

November 16, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Guest Post: “The Worst Moments In Teaching Aren’t Always Dramatic”

(Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Roxanna Elden)

Roxanna Elden is the author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. She is also the author of the Disillusionment Power Pack, a free, thirty-day email series that helps new teachers through their toughest days.

The following piece is an adapted excerpt from The Disillusionment Power Pack, a free, thirty-day email series that helps new teachers through their toughest days. Often, these days fall in the period between mid-October and Thanksgiving break, a time frame so hard on new teachers that the New Teacher Center calls it “The Disillusionment Phase.”

One of the many lessons I learned the hard way as a new teacher was this.

Sometimes moments that are objectively bad – like a fight in your classroom – are not the ones that make you feel the worst. In fact, if you feel you’ve handled a crisis correctly, it can even boost your confidence.

Other times, an event that would seem like no big deal to anyone else drags your faith through the mud in such an unexplainably horrible way that all you can do is stand there, blinking.

A lot depends on context.

Here is an example of a moment from my first year of teaching that was not dramatic but was still quite horrible.

The big, important state test was coming up. The students in my fourth-grade, English Language Learner class were nowhere near ready. We were doing test prep. So… much… test prep…

I knew that doing non-stop practice tests wasn’t good teaching. But I also wasn’t sure what else to do. The whole school was doing test prep, and if my kids didn’t pass the test they wouldn’t pass fourth grade. So I did it, too. But even with the soul-crushing repetition of test-taking strategies, and even after using every bribe and threat I could think of, it seemed like I just couldn’t get my students to pass the practice tests. Couldn’t get them to start essay paragraphs with anything besides firstlysecondly, and thirdly. Couldn’t tighten any of our screws any tighter.

At some point in the middle of one of these days, we took a bathroom break. This meant lining the class up and heading into the hallway, where we’d collectively wait for each kid to go into the bathroom, come out, use the hand sanitizer from the supply baskets, line up in the other direction, and then go back to class. I couldn’t stop pacing back and forth. Maybe because I was so nervous about the test. Maybe because I was on my second or third Red Bull of the day.

When got back into the classroom, there was suddenly a huge commotion. It turned out to be about whether one the boys had – get this – used the hand sanitizer from the girls’ bathroom supply basket.

I couldn’t believe the kids were getting hung up on this little detail. The test was so close. The test! So I said, in a voice that communicated my sense of urgency (also referred to as yelling): “IS THIS REAAAALLLLYYY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT RIGHT NOW?!?!?!?!” 

Every single one of the kids turned toward me and yelled back, with an equal sense of urgency: “YESSSSSS!!!!”

A quick side note here: I have told this story to other people they usually think it’s funny. At this point, I think it’s kind of funny, too. But at the time, this moment felt like proof that I had used up every single idea I could think of to motivate my students and they still didn’t care. What had ever made me think I would be good at this? It wasn’t the first time I had wondered.

Then, I looked over at the hand sanitizer bottles in bathroom supply baskets. The bottle in the boys’ basket was empty.

Which made me realize I hadn’t bought any new hand sanitizer for a very long time.

Which made me realize that both bottles should have been empty.

Which made me realize the only reason the girls’ hand sanitizer was full was because the girl in charge of carrying supplies had been refilling it with water from the bathroom sink.

In other words, on top of all my other failures as a teacher, every kid in my classroom had toilet germs all over their hands. They had been “sanitizing” with bathroom sink water for weeks.

The worst moments as a teacher aren’t always the most dramatic.

The good news?

The best moments aren’t, either.

September 16, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Mistakes new Teachers Make & How to Avoid Them”

Mistakes new Teachers Make & How to Avoid Them is the headline of my latest Education Week Teacher column.

In it, Michael Janatovich, Sarah Thomas, Roxanna Elden, Kristi Mraz, Christine Hertz, and Julia Thompson explore….common mistakes made by new teachers and how to avoid them.

Here are some excerpts:

May 29, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Ten Best BAM! Radio Shows In 2017 – So Far


As regular readers know, I do a ten-minute weekly BAM! Radio show to accompany my Education Week Teacher columns. They’ve become quite popular, with over 65,000 downloads each month.

I thought readers might be interested in my choices for the best shows I’ve done in 2017 – So Far (from the last six months).

I’m adding this post to All Mid-Year 2017 “Best” Lists In One Place.

You can see all my shows at All My BAM Radio Shows – Linked With Descriptions.

You might also be interested in:

My Twelve Best BAM! Radio Shows In 2015

My Ten Best BAM! Radio Shows In 2016 – So Far.

My Ten Best BAM! Radio Shows In 2016 – Part Two

Here are My Ten Best BAM! Radio Shows In 2017 – So Far (they are not in any particular order):

Teaching Student to Transfer Learning to New Problems with Nancy Frey, PhD and Adeyemi Stembridge, PhD.

Five Ways to End the School Year Well with Pernille Ripp, Jeremy Adams and Al Gonzalez.

The Most Practical Ways to Get Students to Lead Their Learning with Yvette Jackson, Veronica McDermott, Rebecca Mieliwocki, and Gallit Zvi.

How I Handle the Toughest Teaching Moments with Cindi Rigsbee, Roxanna Elden and Robert Ward.

Great Uses and Misuses of Taxonomies in the Classroom with Meghan Everette, Dr. Rebecca Stobaugh, and Michael Fisher.

Using the First Language of English Language Learners with Melissa Eddington, Wendi Pillars, and Tracey Flores.

Encouraging Students to Set Their Own Goals with Dr. Sanée Bell, Rita Platt, and Kevin Parr.

What I Learned from My Most Difficult Teaching Moments with Lorena German and Tom Rademacher.

Protecting Good Education Ideas from Bad Implementation with Cathy Beck, Kathleen Neagle, and Dan Rothstein.

Four Ways Teachers Can Encourage Student Creativity with Lorena German, John Spencer, and Laura Gibbs.

BONUS NUMBER ELEVEN: Is Extending the School Day or Year Really a Good Idea? with Christine Brandt, Matthew A. Kraft and Barry Saide.

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