Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 13, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Guest Post: Quick tips for making ELL students comfortable in the Math Classroom


Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of guest posts that will be appearing on this blog about teaching math to English Language Learners.  I’ll be posting them over the next few weeks, and adding each one to The Best Resources For Teaching Common Core Math To English Language Learners.

The first in the series was “Speaking of Math: It’s time to talk in class” by Alycia Owen.

The second was “Support Reading, Support Mathematics Understanding” by Cindy Garcia.

The third was  Teaching Math To English Language Learners by Hannah Davis.

The fourth was Supporting ELLs in Math Instruction by Nicholas Pesola

Today’s post is by Sarah Peterson

Sarah Peterson is a mathematics teacher for 10 years in the New York City Public Schools.  She has taught Algebra 1 and Geometry to the ELL and SPed population throughout her career.  Sarah can be reached via email,


When I tell someone outside of Teacher World that I teach math to English Language Learners I continuously hear the same two responses. The first is “You must speak Spanish ” Well the truth is, I don’t. Not even after six years of taking it in school, and teaching math to ELL’s for ten years. Even if I did, it wouldn’t help me too much because I have students from Ghana, Yemen, Albania and Bangladesh in the room. The second is  “Well isn’t math just numbers, the universal language?” I wish this was true. But numbers in Arabic look different, many countries use a comma as a decimal separator, and most math problems these days are contextual. Word problems full of non content specific vocabulary words. What’s an ELL math teacher to do?

Have compassion

Put yourself in their shoes. To keep me humble I will have students explain a math problem to the class and in their native language. Woah, to hear the slope formula explained in French is a real eye opener. Their brains are overloaded all day with all the new content and learning the language. Give them more time to think and formulate an answer.

Get them talking

Data shows that ELL talk much less in class than their non ELL peers. I break the ice in the beginning of the year by reading a math problem that I put into Google Translate to one of the languages a student in the class speaks. By the time I am done they are laughing so hard, and teasing me about my pronunciation and accent. It shows them we are all learning a new language together and it’s okay if it doesn’t sound perfect every time we speak.

I create a list of sentence starters that the students can use when answering or posing a question. The sentence starters are posted in the classroom and are written in the students notebooks for reference. Some examples are: I agree with you because…., another strategy that can be used is ……, I can connect this to when we learned about…. Until they have the confidence to speak on their own this is very helpful to them.

Modify your speech

When I was in my Masters program in Secondary Math Education, there were no ELL math classes offered. So I had to find my own way. I speak slowly and use more wait time than I would with a native English speaking class. I repeat and paraphrase throughout the lesson. Often having the students paraphrase what I just taught.  But I do not shy away from using the same math vocabulary as I would for native English speakers, I have the students use the vocabulary when answering questions, and they have a vocabulary section in their notebook to reference. I gesture throughout the lesson and reference pictures, graphs, examples whenever possible.


It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the seemingly endless hurdles your students face. But by taking the time to put them at ease in your classroom, you will see great gains in their understanding of the English language and mathematics.


July 21, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Collections Of Academic Sentence Starters

Here are some nice collections of printable academic sentence-starters that I’m adding to The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary:

26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Conversation In The Classroom is from Teach Thought.


Sentence Frames is from Miss Hultenius.


Another school district’s downloadable list.

Let me know what I’m missing!

June 22, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Special Edition Of Classroom Instruction Resources Of The Week

(NOTE: Usually, I just publish on edition of “Instruction Resources” each week. However, I’m making exception this weekend because of all the great resources that have recently been published)

Each week, I publish a post containing three or four particularly useful resources on classroom instruction, and you can see them all here.

You might also be interested in The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2015 – So Far and The Best Resources On Class Instruction of 2016 – So Far.

Here are this week’s picks:

This crowdsourced collection of Doug Lemov-inspired “Confident Letters of Intent” (basically, academic sentence frames and starters) is fantastic. It comes to me via James Theobald on Twitter. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

Remember To Model is by by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On “Close Reading” — Help Me Find More.

The Art Of Peer Teaching is from 3 Star Learning Experience. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates — Help Me Find More.

Beyond The Bullet: Do Rubrics Corrupt Thinking? is by Heather Wolpert-Gawron. I’m adding it to The Best Rubric Sites (And A Beginning Discussion About Their Use).

July 26, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Classroom Instruction Resources Of The Week

Each week, I publish a post containing three or four particularly useful resources on classroom instruction, and you can see them all here.

You might also be interested in The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2015 – So Far.

Here are this week’s picks:

Kappan’s Common Core Writing Project is “a forum for ideas about implementing the Common Core standards. We invite educators to share stories about what works (and what doesn’t) in realizing the best 21st-century education for all children.” I’m adding it to The Most Useful Resources For Implementing Common Core — I Hope You’ll Contribute More.

Reforming the Teaching of History Then and Now (Part 1) and Then and Now in Reforming the Teaching of History (Part 2) are both by Larry Cuban.

100% Upgrades offers some useful classroom management advice from Doug Lemov. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Classroom Management. You might also be interested in The Best Commentaries On “Teach Like A Champion” – Help Me Find More.

Books My Reluctant Readers Love To Read is from Kelly Gallagher.

Teachers’ New Homework: a ‘Watchman’ Plan is from The Wall Street Journal.

Educator Cornelius Minor has graciously shared some helpful sheets for teaching reading comprehension. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Reading Strategies & Comprehension – Help Me Find More!.

Motivation and instruction is from Pragmatic Education. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students.

I’m adding this next tweet to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction:

Interesting info from John Hattie:

May 25, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom

'Bloom's Taxonomy as a wheel' photo (c) 2009, Doug Belshaw - license:

Bloom’s & SOLO ‘are not Just Colorful Posters we Hang on the Wall’ is my two-part series at Education Week Teacher.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is talked about a lot in educational circles.  However, if you believe a recent survey of visits to 23,000 U.S. classrooms, the higher-order thinking skills it’s ideally designed to promote doesn’t get much use.

And I can understand why.

It’s easy to get caught-up in the day-to-day work involved in teaching a class or multiple classes, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing the “usual stuff” and not “think out of the box.”

I thought it might be useful to share in a  “The Best…” list the resources that help me try to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in my classroom.

There may very well be resources out there that do a far better job of explaining the Taxonomy and how to use it. However, a lot of them are caught up in academic jargon or are just not offered in a way that I find particularly usable.

I personally try to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in two ways. One, I have a big wall chart in the front of my classroom with a summary of each level of the Taxonomy and “question starters” for each of them. Since I spend a lot of time helping my students practice reading strategies, and one of them is asking questions, they can take advantage of the accessibility of this poster. After reviewing what the whole thing means, we discuss how — by practicing asking themselves the higher-level questions while they read a text — they can gain a deeper understand of its meaning.

In addition, I try to use Bloom’s to help me formulate my own lessons. In order to do that, I just need simple, accessible, and practical reminders that I can use. That’s what you’ll primarily find on this list.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom (most, though not all, are materials prepared by different school districts):

Here’s a Bloom’s Taxonomy chart that’s organized very simply, with many question-starters, and that I can keep on my desk or with my papers to help me remember the levels, questions, and practical activities that could go with them.

This short article has an even smaller Verb Chart that can serve as a reminder when planning lessons.

A blog called ESL School ran a series of posts last year on applying Bloom’s specifically to English Language Learners. Here are individual links to each of their posts:

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy



Applying and Analyzing

More On Analyzing and Evaluating

Educational Origami has a wiki that is THE place to get ideas on how to relate technology to Bloom’s.

Here’s an interesting Bloom’s Activity Analysis Tool.

The New Jersey World Languages Curriculum Framework is a PDF document with a lot of interesting stuff. The most interesting item in it — by far — is a Bloom’s Taxonomy framework for language learners. It’s Figure 47. It lays-out teaching and learning strategies — specifically for language learners — for each level of the taxonomy.

Harry Tuttle has come-up with an intriguing way to evaluate student projects using Web 2.0 application.  I’d encourage you to read his post (and the comments section where he answers a question I left for him). He basically assigns each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy a number — the higher the level, the higher the number. He identifies the level the student achieved in his/her project, and then multiplies it by the number of days they worked on it.  It seems to me that this could be a useful formula.

The Differentiator is a cool online application designed to use Bloom’s Taxonomy and other similar thinking/planning “charts” to come-up with appropriate high-level student assignments (I’m sorry, I couldn’t think of any better way to describe it). Though I’m not that sure if it brings much more value than other sites on this list, it still belongs here just because it’s a cool-looking tool. Check it out and you’ll understand what I mean.

Developing Questions For Critical Thinking is an interactive site using a revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy that was developing in the 1990’s. It seems like it has some very useful resources.

A Three Story Intellect! is a nice lesson plan teaching Bloom’s Taxonomy. It’s a PDF file.

Educational Origami has created Six Quick Sheets For Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.

I’ve just read an excellent post by George Couros titled Bloom’s Taxonomy and a Pen, which uses a pen as an analogy for explaining the different Taxonomy levels. It’s an excellent idea, and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of using an analogy before when we teach the Taxonomy in our ninth-grade English classes.

A Taxonomy of Reflection: Critical Thinking For Students, Teachers, and Principals is a post by Peter Pappas where he tries to use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a frame to create reflective questions. It’s an interesting and useful idea.

This page has good info on Bloom’s Taxonomy, especially a nice animation you can see if you scroll down a little bit.

You might want to read my post, “Bloom’s Taxonomy Book Review Questions.”

The ASCD In Service blog has republished two twenty-five year old interviews with Benjamin Bloom, creator of Bloom’s Taxonomy. They’re not specifically related to the Taxonomy, but they focus on two other very interesting topics — automaticity and talent development. Even thought they’re aren’t on the Taxonomy, I still think they’re worth being on this list.

Joshua Coupal has created a very useful slideshow on the changes in Bloom’s Taxonomy and how it can be applied through digital tools. He used Prezi, and I know it looks cool and everything, but just have to say that I find Prezi distracting and disorienting. But, perhaps I’m just an old fuddy duddy.

Developing Thinking Skills Through Higher-Level Questioning is an online presentation from the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Here’s a nice new (to me, at least) Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy — slightly different from the one that most are familiar with.

A picture is worth a thousand thoughts: inquiry with Bloom’s taxonomy is the title of a very useful resource from Learn NC. It shows a photo, along with the original Bloom’s Taxonomy pyramid. By clicking on each thinking level, you are shown questions about the photo reflecting the level. It’s a very simple and visual way to teach Bloom’s Taxonomy, and can easily be replicated as a student assignment in any classroom. I like this interactive A LOT.

Bloomin’ Mathematics is a great post sharing ways to incorporate Bloom’s Taxonomy into teaching math.

Teaching with the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy from Northern Illinois University has some very nice hand-outs.

Why Is It Important For Students To Learn About Bloom’s Taxonomy?

Do Students Think Learning About Bloom’s Taxonomy Is Useful?

BloomsApps is an intriguing, regularly changing collection of iPhone applications correlated to each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Thanks to Andrew P. Marcinek for the tip.

“Many great innovators asked better questions than everyone else…”

Near the end of the extensive Bloom’s Taxonomy lesson I describe in my book, I show some fun videos demonstrating the thinking levels through scenes from Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean:

I’ve previously posted about the Bloom’s Taxonomy of Reflection that Peter Pappas developed. I just discovered that he developed this excellent Prezi about it. I’d also strongly encourage you to read his post that explains it further, as well as one by Langwitches giving an example of how to apply it in the classroom.

26 Critical Thinking Tools Aligned With Bloom’s Taxonomy is from Global Digital Citizen.

November 1, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Sites For Teachers Of English Language Learners — 2009

This is a new annual “The Best…” list. In the past, I’ve posted:

The Best Internet sites for English Language Learners 2007

The Best Web 2.0 Applications for ESL/EFL Learners — 2007

The Best Internet Sites For English Language Learners — 2008

This year, though, I’m going to be posting two separate lists specifically related to English Language Learners. The first is this one, which shares my choices for the best resources made available this year for teaching ELL’s. In a month or so, I’ll be posting a second list that will share sites specifically for students.

That second list will be ranked, and will include a readers’ poll. This one is not ranked, and I have not included a way to vote.

However, if you feel like voting, the polls are still open in two other lists:

The Best Online Learning Games — 2009

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2009

Here are my picks for The Best Sites For Teachers of English Language Learners — 2009 (not in order of preference):

Complete United States History Curriculum Available Online: As regular readers know, during the last school year I taught two U.S. History classes to English Language Learners — one in a regular classroom and the other in the computer lab. You can read more about the results of this research experiment at Results From My Year-Long U.S. History Tech Experiment.  I used a blog during the computer lab class. You can access the United States History Class blog and see an entire year’s of lessons designed for student self-access. You can also see links to the students blogs used during the course. The lessons include quite a bit of original material I developed for use in both of the classes, and they are available for download (during the year students would open up the documents and cut-and-paste the exercises into their own blogs).  You’re obviously welcome to use the resources there with your students. I just ask that you not publish or reprint any of my original materials for use other than by your students.

The “Wizard English Grid”: Jason Renshaw was generous enough to share on his blog about a nifty tool he’s come-up with called The Wizard English Grid.That link will take you to the direct PDF download. You’ll see it’s a simple sheet laid out in a grid. You might be thinking, “Big deal!”  Don’t stop there, though. Go to Jason’s blog post Wizard English Grids for “Finding Out” to learn how he uses it. After reading it, I immediately printed out the Wizard English Grid for use in my own English Language Learner classroom.  Jason also continues to write about more ways he uses the grid and keeps all of his “Wizard” ideas in one place on his blog.

Help For Lesson Planning: Tools For ESL Lesson Planning: A Book of Techniques, Lesson Plans, Activities and Resources For Teaching ESL is the name of a free downloadable book in PDF form. It was compiled by the ESL and Citizenship Programs of the Los Angeles Unified School District. It looks pretty good.

Listening Activities: David Deubelbeiss has posted a very good document for ESL/EFL teachers sharing ideas for listening activities to do in the classroom.

Teaching Recipes: EFL Teaching Recipes is a brand new site that immediately joins The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers.  It’s an extremely accessible site where ESL/EFL teachers can share their lessons, including video and images.  It’s just beginning, and I’m sure it’ll be filled-up with with ideas quickly. Go over and contribute some, as well as read the excellent ones that are already there!  Of course, it’s not unexpected that EFL Teaching Recipes would be so good after you learn who’s behind it — David Deubelbeiss, who’s blog is on The Best ESL/EFL Blogs list and who began and continues to guide EFL Classroom 2.0, which is on a ton of “The Best…” lists.

Teaching About The Environment: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a free 133 page downloadable curriculum that connects English language-learning with environmental issues.  It’s called Teach English, Teach About The Environment, and looks pretty good to me.

Classroom Starters: A  nice short PDF called “Fifty Stimulating Classroom Starters” shares ideas specifically for ESL/EFL classes. It was put together by Jack Bailey and Marit ter Mate-Martinsen.

News Lessons: Sean Banville is the creator of several excellent websites for English Language Learners and their teachers. Most of them are on various “The Best…” lists, including Famous People (which is on The Best Resources For Researching & Writing Biographies), ESL Holiday (lessons from that site are on many of my holiday lists), and Breaking New English (which is on The Best news/current events websites for English Language Learners).Sean has begun another site called News English Lessons. He describes it this way: “FREE Handouts, Listening & Quizzes in Simple English – Read About the Latest News and Learn English – It’s Easy.” It appears to me that it has current news materials that are even more accessible to English Language Learners than on his Breaking News site.

Two hours before I was going to post this list, Sean let me know that he has just started yet another excellent site called Listen A Minute. It has short audio pieces with supporting materials and online quizzes. It looks like another great resource.

Ideas For Student Activities: Pilgrims is a UK-based EFL/ESL teacher-training organization that — among other things — publishes one of my favorite online journals, “Humanising Language Teaching.”   Their main site, where you can access past (as well as current) issues, is on The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers list. Ozge Karaoglu, whose blog is on The Best ESL/EFL Blogs list, attended a Pilgrims training and wrote two great posts sharing lots of ideas she learned about student activities.  You probably already know many of them, but there certainly were some new ones to me.

Blogging Advice For ESL/EFL Teachers: Karenne Sylvester put together an incredible collection of ESL/EFL bloggers responding to the question What advice would you give to another TEFL teacher interested in becoming a blogger? Thirty-one teachers of English Language Learners responded. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this post.  For what it’s worth, you can read my contribution here.

ESL/EFL Teachers On Twitter: Burcu Akyol has put together an excellent list of ESL/EFL teachers you can follow on Twitter and Shelly Terrell has done the same.

ESL/EFL Blogs: I posted my choices for The Best ESL/EFL Blogs.

Teaching English With Music: I did an interview about this topic with a music education site that people might find helpful.

Writing Activities: David Deubelbeiss has written a nice post sharing quite a few good writing activities to use in class.

Finding New Websites: I’ve written many times about the great site Ressources Pour Le College. It has a ton of great resources for English Language Learners. Michelle Henry, who has been the primary person responsible for locating and organizing all of these resources, is no longer updating that site. Instead, she has created a new site that should be bookmarked by all ESL/EFL teachers.

Getting A Laugh: If you teach English, and if you have a sense of humor, you must go to David Deubelbeiss’ post Funniest videos about teaching / learning English and watch the videos.

You might also be particularly interested in two other lists I posted this year:

The Best Sites For K-12 Beginning English Language Learners

The Best Sites For K-12 Intermediate English Language Learners

Feel free to contribute additional suggestions in the comments section.

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

You might also want to explore over 300 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

August 31, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo

August’s Most Popular Posts

This post contains a listing of the most popular posts in this blog during the month of August.  These are the ones that have been most “clicked-on,” and are different from my Websites Of The Month. Those are the posts that I personally think are the best and most helpful.

Because of the popularity of my “The Best…” lists, it should be pointed out that often the most clicked-on posts are not necessarily ones that I wrote that month. Instead, they might have been written earlier, but then one of these older ones has just been highlighted elsewhere and all of a sudden become popular.

You can see previous reports on my Most Popular Posts here.


1. The Best Twitterers For Sharing Resource Links

2. The Best Teacher Resources For “Foldables”

3. The Best Collections Of Online Educational Games

4. The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”

5. The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom

6. The Best Collections Of Web 2.0 Tools For Education

7. The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2008

8. The Best Websites To Help Beginning Readers

9. The Best Sources For Advice On Using Flip Video Cameras

10. The Best Resources To Learn About Copyright Issues


1. Answers To “What Do You Do On The First Day Of School?”

2. What Do You Do On The First Day Of School?

3. What Do You Do When You Have A Few Minutes Left In Class?

4. “Fifty Stimulating Classroom Starters”

5. What Do You To Make Sure Small Groups Work Well In Class?

6. Have You Ever Taught A Class That “Got Out Of Control”?

7. The Differentiator

8. “Top 15 Most Popular Web 2.0 Websites”

9. Storytlr Is Fantastic!

10. Good Intro & Overview Of New Web 2.0 Tools

TOP TRAFFIC SOURCES TO THIS BLOG (not including sources like Stumbleupon, Delicious, Twitter, etc):

1. Teacher Magazine

2. Free Technology For Teachers

3. Lexiophiles



6. Middleweb

7. Classroom 2.0

8. TechCrunch

9. EFL Classroom 2.0

10. The Edublogger

Skip to toolbar