Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 2, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Message From A Houston Teacher


Carol Salva, a Houston area ELL teacher and the author of Boosting Achievement: Reaching Students With Interrupted Or Minimal Education (read an excerpt published earlier in the year here) has written an inspiring post titled Community & Hope: Teaching Refugees and Immigrants after Hurricane Harvey.

Carol has struck an amazingly positive tone over this whole week despite being forced to evacuate her home and being separated from family members because of the flood.

You can read more about her experiences in yesterday’s Education Week article, In Harvey’s Wake, a Rough Road Ahead for Schools.

And if you want to learn more about Carol, you can see the many times I’ve previously shared her work.

I list specific ways you can support Houston-area educators at the top of The Best Ways To Help Victims Of Hurricane Harvey list.

I know that I echo the the thoughts of millions of educators by saying our thoughts and/or prayers are with our Texas colleagues and their students.

August 10, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Around The Web In ESL/EFL/ELL

Four years ago I began this regular feature where I share a few posts and resources from around the Web related to ESL/EFL or to language in general that have caught my attention.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2016 – Part Two and The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2017 – So Far.

Here are this week’s choices:

Advocating For ELLs is a relatively new Facebook Group you might be interested in exploring and/or joining (I’m a member!). Here’s how Valentina Gonzalez describes it:

This group serves as a resource for educators who work with English Language Learners. It is a place for the members to collaborate and share information.

The Case for Comprehensible Input is by Stephen Krashen and appeared in Language Magazine.

Kieran Donaghy has a nice lesson plan for ELLs using the viral short “In A Heartbeat.”

Scaffolding the Reading of Seventh-Grade English Learners: How Much is too Much? is another important post from Timothy Shanahan. It has a lot of useful information, though I think it minimizes how difficult it is to help move adolescent ELLs with minimal reading skills to grade-level.

Academic Vocabulary Instruction II: Learning 1 Word in 5 Hours Shouldn’t Count as a Success is from The Backseat Linguist. I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary.

Is a New English-Proficiency Test Too Hard? Educators and Experts Debate. is from Education Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

This is a useful video from Karen Lewis:

This next tweet is helpful if you have read Carol Salva’s great book, Boosting Achievement:

August 1, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Guest Post From An English Language Learner Student

Introduction from teacher Carol Salva:

When Wendhy Rodriguez Maldonado was added to my Newcomer English Language Development (NELD) class I could tell that she had native language literacy and significant receptive comprehension. I worried that the Newcomer class would be too low for her.

On the contrary, Wendhy is an impressive scholar who thrived in the class. At the end of the year, she asked to write a reflection. Our newcomers don’t always possess the language to express themselves. I offer Wendhy’s words to all Newcomer teachers. She speaks for your students.

On October of 2016, I started eleventh grade in a new High School, it was the second one since I had moved, I was very happy, I realized change was something I should get used to. Sometimes it is common to perceive it in a negative way, but on the contrary, I think it is not precisely a bad thing, if we open our mind to the possibilities, there are lots of elements we can enjoy if we take the opportunity to expand our horizons.

When I was in my country, I learned basic English, a knowledge that I did not know would help me so much during the process of being a newcomer, or ESL student. Although I could not start a conversation yet, or even understand one, I could recognize several written words and orient myself in a context, and that represented an advantage, nevertheless, there was still much to learn. Initially, the classes did not make too much sense to me, and it resulted frustrating the fact of not understanding, but just like when I was a kid, the senses started to guide me to the comprehension and learning, directed undoubtedly with the help of teachers. I heard and caught some words until I could get an idea. In my first school my English improved a bit, I already had listening comprehension, but I was still struggled with what was perhaps the biggest problem; the speaking, to me, it was incredibly difficult to communicate verbally, I was thinking too much in the order, the words, and something barely coherent was what came out of me, this was a problem, I later understood that in real-world dialogues, no one waits for you. I believed that this could get better with time, but, time passed and I did not seem to progress, so there was something wrong, and I craved to overcome it.

Later I began the next year in another school, and again, my nerves were present in the new environment, I was assigned a schedule with the respective classes, and on my first day, I started with one in particular; NELD. When the door opened, the first thing to greet me was a gentle smile from my teacher who holding a wand in her hands, gave me a “Welcome” and then “Say hi to our new student” whilst the rest of the students greeted me and joined in the class. In that moment, I was aware of what was happening in my mind; after of all the difficulties that had been presented for so long, that my eyes were appreciating that colorful and cheerful classroom, full of friendly and enthusiastic people was very welcoming, it was a breath of fresh air, I felt as if a big weight fell from my shoulders. As the days passed, that room began to feel like home, and I am sure that as I had perceived it, so had the rest of my classmates.


During the lessons, a word was always present in my mind; dynamic, yes, because if I could choose a word to describe the class it is definitely that one. I perfectly remember that on that first day, I made a little poster with my name and country written on it, in that way, the others could identify me, and I also to them; we read aloud, wrote in a sheet, and got up to read that writing to another partner that had “Similar shoes to ours”. There were students from many countries; Siria, Cuba, Japan, Congo, Bolivia, Sudan, Mexico… I had never shared with so many cultures in one place, it was fascinating. Our English was not perfect, some of us were just beginning, and others had a little more experience, but in that instant, it was English what united us, the desire for learning, and no matter how much or little we could say, we had a teacher that exhorted us to learn and that through her amusing methods of teaching helped us to improve every day, and even to teach others; when we least expected it, we were already talking to our classmates and participating in the lessons.

From the first moment, we did a lot of activities in just a few minutes of learning a day, some of them were, for instance: silent and aloud readings, writings, News in Levels, Kahoot! games (Pure adrenaline, everyone’s favorite), watched some videos and even made crafts on special dates. We made letters, posters, and also analyzed a written work and met its author, traveled to a plantation, a historical evidence, and met an archaeologist. Because all these activities were according to our age and context, they were engaging, motivated us and allowed us to know each other as a group, and to understand what was around us; our school, community, state, country and, in general, the world, and what I personally appreciated, was learning all this but preserving our identity and culture. I must mention that a very important part at this stage was undoubtedly doing a presentation, they were free will, therefore, each student had the freedom to choose one of the two topics given, or any other they wanted to explain. I always believed that our room was a good example of cultural diversity and integration and that as each person is a world, it was composed of stories. At this point, I felt the reality as never before, I witnessed vivid and profound stories and experiences, I reflected, I learned, and I admired all the young people who, in front of me, spent a few minutes explaining a little of their lives, or that of some mode is part of them. They took my tears and smiles too because it was a source of inspiration. The values of our base and the knowledge of our best instrument to reach our goals. Sitting there at my desk, I was very fortunate.

When I started at NELD, my teachers and counselor, thought that perhaps taking the class would not be meaningful to me because I had previous knowledge and an intermediate level of English, however, I took the class for a lapse, and I finished it along with the school year. I would like to say that it is not easy being a newcomer, it is not easy to leave a life and start again, adapt to changes, learn a language … but it is not impossible, with tenacity, commitment and effort everything can be; hope and determination keep us on our feet and drive us to achieve what we set out to do. Words are not enough to thank all the participants of our learning, before and now, who with love and benevolence spend time in teaching, a beautiful work. Teachers and people like you make it simpler, and for us, it means a lot to have your support.

I’m glad I could take NELD, it was and will always be one of the best experiences, regardless of the level of knowledge that is owned, opportunities to learn something new are inexhaustible, classes are a place to which all contribute and receive mutually, where minds grow, as well as people. Thank you, thank you very much for allowing me to be part of it, I will always appreciate it.

July 30, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Guest Post: “PD in your Pjs: How to navigate #EllChat_BkClub on Twitter”


Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Dr. Katie Toppel.

Dr. Katie Toppel is a K-5 English Language Development Specialist in Oregon. She also works as an Adjunct Professor for Portland State University, teaching classes in the ESOL Endorsement series. Katie has 12 years of educational experience which includes teaching Head Start, Kindergarten and First Grade as well as working as a K-12 Support Services Teacher at the Franconian International School.

Currently, #EllChat_BkClub is in its 6th round with a book study on Boosting Achievement by Carol Salva (@MsSalva) and Anna Matis (@AnnaTeachesELLs). Participation is at an all-time high thanks to Carol’s fabulous skillset in both writing and sparking interest in her book and also the power of our community to sustain interest via new pathways for participants to share ideas and reflections about the book’s content. Whether you’re a veteran participant to our book chat, a new member, or you’ve never heard of us, here’s all you need to know about navigating #EllChat_BkClub on Twitter, including “how to” links and ideas for anyone interested in creating their own online book chat.

1. Who to Follow: #EllChat_BkClub was the brainchild of myself, Katie Toppel, a K-5 ELD Teacher/ESOL Adjunct Professor and Tan Huynh, an ELL teacher in Laos/author of  It began with the idea that it would be fun to read Collaboration and Co-teaching by Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria Dove and then discuss via Twitter. Tan came up with a hashtag so that we could tag tweets with our own unique hashtag and also locate what other participants had tweeted by searching #EllChat_BkClub. We never expected how big our community would grow, but it has blossomed into an outstanding group of educators who are passionate about ELLs. We continuously engage in book chats based on books the participants have voted on and we think we’ve started a pretty exciting movement that capitalizes on engaging, convenient, and personalized professional development. Unlike many of the #educhats on Twitter, our book club operates as a slow chat, meaning participants can read, reflect, and tweet at their own pace. We do have a suggested reading schedule, but it is not necessary to stay on schedule as we are all familiar with the fact that life happens. Some key players to follow on Twitter are:

        • Katie Toppel, @Toppel_ELD
        • Tan Huynh, @TanELLClassroom
        • Carlota Holder, @Carlota_Holder
        • Valentina Gonzalez, @ValentinaESL
        • Emily Francis, @emilyfranESL
        • Shaeley Santiago, @HSESLTeacher

      Some authors who we’ve read/plan to read:

    • Carol Salva, Boosting Achievement, @MsSalva
    • Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld, Collaboaration and Co-teaching/ELL Frontiers, @AndreaHonigsfel
    • Dr. Jana Echevarria, No More Low Expectations for English Learners @jechev
    • Cathy Beck, Leading Learning for ELL Students, @Cathypetreebeck
    • Nancy Motley, Talk Read Talk Write, @NancyMotleyTRTW

2. How to “join”: First and foremost we want to emphasize that anyone is welcome to participate in #EllChat_BkClub. People in a variety of different educational realms have come together in the interest of improving instruction for ELLs. There is absolutely no exclusivity about our group and we welcome everyone! There is not an official way to “join” #EllChat_BkClub. If you’re interested in participating, search #EllChat_BkClub and take it from there. You can click on “recent” and you will see the most recent tweets that have included the hashtag.

3. How to Participate: We now have quite a variety of ways to engage and the beauty of #EllChat_BkClub is that participants can engage to whatever extent they wish! Here is a breakdown of the different ways to comment/reflect on the book:

    • Weekly Questions: I post a reading schedule prior to each round as well as weekly questions from my Twitter account (Toppel_ELD). The questions are listed such as 1Q2. The first number indicates which week of the chat the question is for (chats typically last between 4-6 weeks depending on the length of the book). The Q stands for Question. The second number indicates the number of the question (we typically have between 3 and 9 questions each week). 1Q2 would be week 1, question 2. Participants can respond to any/all questions if they wish. We ask that responses identify which question is being answered by using the numbers listed and changing the Q to an A to indicate Answer. For example if a participant is answering 1Q2 they would include 1A2 in their tweet.  Make sure to include our hashtag so other participants can find your tweets!
    • Photo Tweets: Tweet a pic of your highlighted text, your notes/takeaways, or yourself reading the book. We kicked off round 6 with book selfies, which was really fun! Make sure to include our hashtag so other participants can find your tweets! 
    • Regular Tweets: Nothing fancy here, just tweet anything about the book that fits within 140 characters. Maybe there’s a quote you liked or an idea that came to mind when reading….anything goes. Make sure to include our hashtag so other participants can find your tweets! 
    • BookSnaps: Some participants use #BookSnaps to capture interesting quotes and passages from the text. Essentially a book snap is a photo of text (possibly highlighted text) that allows the reader to annotate and reflect on the content. Many booksnappers add Bitmojis as well. A Bitmoji is your own personal emoji that you can design to look like you. You can create booksnaps using a variety of methods, however common ones are Snapchat, Seesaw, and Buncee. 
  • To learn how to create your own book snaps, see a tutorial here:


  To learn how to create your personalize Bitmoji, see a tutorial here: 


  • Padlet: Sometimes we use Padlet (a virtual bulletin board) to create a shared spot to brainstorm ideas around a particular concept or question. For Boosting Achievement, we asked participants to post ideas relating to how teachers can go about getting to know and building relationships/trust with SIFE. The link to the padlet will be tweeted and then any participants can contribute.

  Take a look at our Boosting Achievement padlet here:

Made with Padlet


Learn how to use Padlet:


  • Flipgrid: We use Flipgrid to add a video component to our discussions. The link to the flipgrid is tweeted and then participants can record videos up to one minute and thirty seconds in length, responding to the questions that were posed or just sharing their thoughts about what they’ve been reading. More than one response can be added when 1:30 just isn’t enough time!

  Check out our Boosting Achievement Flipgrid created by @carlota_holder here.

  Learn how to use Flipgrid: 


  • Storify: At the end of each week, all of the tweets from the current week are compiled using Storify so that participants have everything captured in one easy-to-view place.

  Check out the Storify @HSeslTeacher created for week 3 of #BoostingAchievement: 

  Learn how to use Storify: 


  • Hangouts on Air with Youtube LIVE: During this round, we started doing weekly LIVE Hangouts to discuss the readings. A request for Hangout participants is tweeted and you can choose to either participate in the Hangout (in which case you will be sent a link to join via Direct Message and you are part of the live discussion being broadcast to YouTube) or you can choose to just watch the discussion (in which case you access the video via a link that is tweeted out).

  Check out one of our Hangouts here: 


  Learn how to set up a Hangout on air from youtube LIVE  here: 


  • Share Resources: Another amazing outcome of #EllChat_BkClub is the sharing of resources that has taken place. Participants have created resources and infographics specifically based on the content of books we’ve discussed, which they’ve shared with links and images. Participants have also shared lesson ideas, photos, and articles they’ve found useful and effective for working with English Learners specifically related to the content of the books we’ve read. Why reinvent the wheel when we can share stellar resources within our PLN!

  Take a look at some amazing resources created and shared by @carlota_holder:

  Printable Co-Teaching Models Descriptions

  Free Academic Conversation Cards

As our community of passionate, enthusiastic educators grows, we will likely continue to add additional ways to participate, discuss, and reflect on the amazing books that we are reading. To date we have read the following books:

  • Collaboration and Co-Teaching by Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria Dove
  • ELL Frontiers by Heather Parris, Lisa Estrada, and Andrea Honigsfeld
  • Writers are Readers by Lester Laminack and Reba Wadsworth
  • Academic Conversations by Jeff Zwiers & Marie Crawford
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond
  • Boosting Achievement by Carol Salva and Anna Matis

We look forward to growing our community and providing stellar PD for interested educators!


July 29, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Around The Web In ESL/EFL/ELL

Four years ago I began this regular feature where I share a few posts and resources from around the Web related to ESL/EFL or to language in general that have caught my attention.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2016 – Part Two and The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2017 – So Far.

Here are this week’s choices:

Gianfranco Conti, one of the sharpest minds around in the language teaching world (I’ve previously shared many of his posts) has just begun a Facebook group called Global Innovative Language Teachers that includes teachers of all languages, including ELL/ESL/ELT educators. He was kind enough to write this description:

Global Innovative Language Teachers is a support group whose mission is to bring together language teachers from all over the world in the hope to go beyong insular views of language teaching pedagogy created by national curricula, imposed methods and theories and individual school policies and micro-cultures. Modern language, EAL, ELT and classical language teachers are all equally welcome. It is a place where we hope you will share your knowledge and opinions, celebrate your successes, vent your daily frustrations and seek advice from the many innovative and experienced language educators that have joined our ranks. G.I.L.T. is a safe space where criticism of others’ views and products is not merely tolerated but actually encouraged, although members are urged to stay constructive and conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner. You or your posts shall not be removed unless they are totally irrelevant or offensive. Even so, you will receive several gentle reminders of the group’s guidelines before any action is taken and whilst you may be banned from posting (temporarily or indefinitely) you will still be welcome to stay. Do not be intimidated by some of the ‘big names’ on this forum or by the several decades of teaching experience of some of our jurassic veterans (e.g. Steve Smith). Share what you know or think it works, from the most elaborate theoretical SLA construct to the little daily classroom trick that can change the day. Welcome to our group.

Speaking of Gianfranco, check out his post, Eight narrow reading techniques that will enhance your students’ vocabulary and reading skills.

Tune Into English has a lot of resources about teaching English through music. I’m adding it to The Best Music Websites For Learning English.

Virginia high school gets a boost for some of its neediest immigrant students is from The Washington Post.

Closing the Books on Open Court Reading is from The Backseat Linguist.   I’m adding it to The Best Articles & Sites For Teachers & Students To Learn About Phonics.

Another Round of Summer Reading for English-Language-Learner Educators is from Learning The Language at Ed Week.

TechCrunch had a story about Duolingo raising a ton of money (see my past posts on Duolingo, which is one of the best online tools, if not the best, for language-learning). This part of the article caught my eye:

Gotthilf specifically noted plans for launching new products that target intermediary users. The first of this is currently called Duolingo Stories and is meant to provide these more advanced users with more of a challenge than the current Duolingo experience, which is geared more toward beginners. As the name implies, Stories will focus on longer narratives, though the exact details of the product remain under wraps.

That sounds interesting!

I’ve written about using photo collages in lessons, and you can find those resources at The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons.  Here’s a new collage from The New York Times – it’s on goats!

Ana Cristina wrote a post about an intriguing site called Word Booster. Paste in the url address of any online article and it will immediately provide you with several free PDFs of the article that has been displayed in a reader-friendly way, a word list, and a vocabulary test. I’m generally skeptical of sites that automatically create learner materials. I’ve got to say, though, that my experiments with Word Booster have resulted in some decent sheets. I still wouldn’t generally use them in my lessons. However, I think I will try it out next year by having students pick any article of their choice online and create their own sheets to complete. It might be interesting to see how it goes. I’m adding this info to The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn Vocabulary.

Very Early Exposure to English Can Help ELLs Flourish, Study Finds is from Ed Week.

I’ve previously sung the praises of CommonLit (see “CommonLit” Now Lets Teachers Create Free Virtual Classrooms). They’ve now made their site even more accessible to English Language Learners. Read about it at their article that has a somewhat over-reaching headline: Transformative Tools for ELLs and Struggling Readers

Unlocking The Potential of ELLs is a blog post by Valentina Gonzalez.

This Arkansas Radio Station Became a Hub for People From the Marshall Islands is from NBC News. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The Marshall Islands.

Literacy Centers for Multilingual Students is a new video from The Teaching Channel:

July 22, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Excellent NY Times Column Today On Teaching English Language Learners

Thanks to Carol Salva, I learned about today’s NY Times column headlined What Is America to Me?

In it, writer Margaret Renkl tells about her experience working in an ELL classroom in Nashville, and the challenges facing students – especially after the election of President Trump.

Here’s how it ends:


My students have some of the same fears  those Nashville students have, which they wrote about in The Washington Post: ‘Dear President-elect Trump’: Immigrant students write letters asking for ‘the opportunity to demonstrate we are good people.’

July 14, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

Many mainstream content teachers have English Language Learner students in their classrooms. And they often are not sure of the best ways to support them.

I thought it could be useful to bring together a collection of short videos that they might find useful. I hope readers will suggest others.

You might also be interested in The Best Sites For Learning Strategies To Teach ELL’s In Content Classes.

Here are my video picks:

I’ve got to start with this great one from Valentina Gonzalez:

Next up is this one from Carol Salva. It’s designed for volunteers in an ESL classroom, but they’re good ideas for all teachers with ELLs to keep in mind:

There are so many good things to say about it and how it provides a glimpse into the challenges facing our English Language Learners. It’s a little longer than most other videos on this list, but it’s well worth the extra few minutes:

Here are some words of wisdom from Dr. Jim Cummins on scaffolding for ELLs:

Lastly, here’s a short excerpt from a longer interview the the Time of Remembrance Project did with me:

Here’s a video suggested by Carol Salva where a science teacher is offering her thoughts and examples:

Here’s another one from Carol where one of her students shares what has helped him in the classroom:

Again, I hope readers will suggest more short videos, especially ones that show scaffolding in action…

July 13, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Around The Web In ESL/EFL/ELL

Four years ago I began this regular feature where I share a few posts and resources from around the Web related to ESL/EFL or to language in general that have caught my attention.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2016 – Part Two and The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2017 – So Far.

Here are this week’s choices:

I’ve previously posted an excerpt from Carol Salva’s great new book (see New Book Excerpt: Supporting ELL Students With Interrupted Formal Education) and now you can participate in an online book discussion about it. Learn about the easy process at Book Study on Boosting Achievement.

What Modern Language teachers like and dislike about professional development events is from Gianfranco Conti. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Professional Development For Teachers — Help Me Find More.

This website has an incredible collection of short narrated slideshows where immigrants share their stories. You can also view and/or download transcripts. They would be great models for students to use to create their own. Thanks to Damaris Gutierrez for sharing it on Twitter.

Beyond the Gap Fill: Dynamic Activities for Song in the EFL Classroom is from American English. I’m adding it to The Best Music Websites For Learning English.

Contours of the Field: Engaging Parents of English Learners is from New America.

Here’s a nice example of phonics instruction for high school ELLs. You can download materials here. I’m adding it to The Best Articles & Sites For Teachers & Students To Learn About Phonics:

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