Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 9, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Malcolm Gladwell’s New Story On The Importance Of Being A Good Listener

Photo Credit: James Vaughan via Compfight

In my books, I have useful classroom lessons on helping students become better listeners, and I also have The Best Ideas To Help Students Become Better Listeners here on this blog.

The newest addition to that list is the transcript of a talk journalist Malcolm Gladwell gave on BBC radio. The BBC just published it, and its title is Viewpoint: Could one man have shortened the Vietnam War?

The story is about Konrad Kellen, who, among other things, did interviews with captured Viet Cong guerrillas for the United States to try to figure out what the “enemy” was thinking. It’s a short enough piece that students could read.

Here’s an excerpt:

he would say that his rethinking began with one memorable interview with a senior Vietcong captain. He was asked very early in the interview if he thought the Vietcong could win the war, and he said no.

But pages later, he was asked if he thought that the US could win the war, and he said no.

The second answer profoundly changes the meaning of the first. He didn’t think in terms of winning or losing at all, which is a very different proposition. An enemy who is indifferent to the outcome of a battle is the most dangerous enemy of all.

Now why did Kellen see this and Goure did not? Because Goure didn’t have the gift [of being a good listener].

Goure was someone who filtered what he heard through his own biases.

September 12, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Book By Malcolm Gladwell

I always enjoy reading articles in The New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, as well as his books. He shares great stories, though sometimes I think he stretches his conclusions a bit. I think quite a few of his writings are useful in education, as I’ve shared in previous posts.

He has a new book coming out, and it’s a collection of articles he’s written for The New Yorker. This post at not only shares what will be included, but also includes links to each of those articles so that you can read them all online for free.

December 11, 2008
by Larry Ferlazzo

Malcolm Gladwell’s Article on Teachers

Malcolm Gladwell has an intriguing article on what makes a good teacher in this week’s issue of The New Yorker Magazine. It’s called Most Likely to Succeed: How do we hire when we can’t tell who’s right for the job?

I’d be interested in hearing people’s reactions.  I’m still thinking about it myself…

June 20, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Conversation With Texas Teachers About Self-Motivated Learners



I had the pleasure of having a half-hour Skyped conversation with a group of Texas teachers earlier this month, and invited Dan Perez to write about it:

Dan Perez comes from the Lamar Consolidated ISD in Rosenberg, TX.  Dan was a 6th grade Science teacher for eight years prior to transitioning to his new adventure this year as an Instructional Technology Specialist.  

Connecting Texas to California

Two weeks ago our district hosted a week long mini technology PD conference for our teachers called INTERACT (Integrating Technology Realistically Among Classroom Teachers).  This year we included a time frame for teachers to discuss various topics of interests. Prior to the conference, teachers read snippets of an assigned book relating to their selected topic in order to prep for our conversation with various educational experts. Enter the topic of meaningful student motivation, Larry Ferlazzo, and his book, Helping Student Motivate Themselves.

Our group met for about an hour and a half, part of which would include a live conversation with Larry via Skype.  Prior to our conversation with him, we reflected on our reading assignments and came up with questions to ask.  We had questions relating to student ownership, intrinsic rewards, goal setting, dealing with disruptive students, and reassessments.

When we connected with Larry, we discussed the importance of getting to know your students’ hopes and dreams.  He mentioned we need to “lead with our ears, instead of our mouths.”  It’s difficult for students to “buy in” if we’re not listening.  We also need to be flexible with our assignments relating to their dreams. This allows their work to be more meaningful and thus keeping the students’ interests. Dreams, meaningful work, and conversations regarding second chances can also help students who are often apathetic towards school work.

Acknowledging improvements in student work is essential. Students need to see individual progress, and they need to be conversed with it as well. One teacher shared how she’s changed the way she grades assignments by pointing out what the student got correct versus what they got wrong.  Some teachers also mentioned how they don’t grade with red pens either.

In relation to goal setting, our teachers loved the concept of Daniel Pink’s One Sentence Project mentioned by Larry.  Teacher’s want to invoke this where students will write one sentence on what they hope people will say about them in the future. Our group also discussed Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, where it will take 10,000 hours of practice in order to achieve mastery.  All of this was to reinforce the topic of creating measureable realistic goals. Our teachers discussed how they respect students’ dreams, but they want them to come up with a “Plan B”.

For other questions, conversations with students seem to be the answer.  Whether it’s with the class as whole relating to classroom discipline issues or a one on one conversation with a student regarding behavior or academic concerns, heartfelt conversations are key.

Our conversation with Larry was exciting and participants enjoyed hearing his input as these opportunities don’t happen often.  Larry input was truly humble and honest. He mentioned how he was there to share, but also to learn.  He never tried to “fake” an answer and would mention if he didn’t know an answer to a question.


May 21, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license:

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature.

By the way, you might also be interested in My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013.

Here are some new useful studies (and related resources):

Here’s how much your high school grades predict your future salary is an article in The Washington Post about a recent study. It’s gotten quite a bit of media attention.

How Well Do Teen Test Scores Predict Adult Income? is an article in the Pacific Standard that provides some cautions about reading too much into the study. It makes important points that are relevant to the interpretation of any kind of research. For that reason, I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

Visible Learning Conference with John Hattie … Know Thy Impact seems like a good review of the most up-to-date research from John Hattie.

You Had Me At Hello: The Science Behind First Impressions is from NPR, and reinforces the importance of what happens on the first day of school.

To Get Help From A Little Kid, Ask The Right Way is a piece from NPR on a recent study. Here’s how it begins:

Motivating children to stop playing and help out with chores isn’t exactly an easy sell, as most parents and teachers will attest. But how you ask can make all the difference, psychologists say.

If you say something like, “Please help me,” the kids are more likely to keep playing with their Legos. But ask them, “Please be a helper,” and they’ll be more responsive, researchers report Wednesday in the journal Child Development.

OECD has published a short post with links titled Why policy makers should care about motivating students. I’ve got a lot of issues with the PISA test (see The Best Posts & Articles On 2012 PISA Test Results). However, the report the post links to contains a lot of important information on motivation. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On 2012 PISA Test Results.

Two Things Experts Do Differently Than Non-Experts When Practicing is from The Creativity Post. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The 10,000 Hour Rule & Deliberate Practice.

While I’m at it, I’m adding Are Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours of Practice Really All You Need? from National Geographic to the same list.

In findings not surprising to teachers everywhere, Duke researchers found that learners were both more engaged, and and more self-control, when they participating in a learning activity they were enjoying and found relevant.

Take notes by hand for better long-term comprehension is a report from Science Daily on a recent study that has received lots of media attention. Here’s an article from The Pacific Standard on the same research. I’m adding them to The Best Resources For Learning About Handwriting & Learning.

March 20, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Is The Best Piece I’ve Seen On The Role Of Social Media In Making Social Change


Three years ago, Malcolm Gladwell’s article in The New Yorker, Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted, created a fair amount of controversy. He poked some holes in what was, at the time, a celebration of the role of Twitter and other social media tools in Arab Spring.

Now, the New York Times has published an even better, and more succinct, column on the same topic which hits the nail on the head. It’s headlined After The Protests, and is written by Professor Zeynep Tufekci.

Here’s an excerpt:

And whether these take place in Turkey, Egypt or Ukraine, pundits often speculate that the days of a ruling party or government, or at least its unpopular policies, must be numbered. Yet often these huge mobilizations of citizens inexplicably wither away without the impact on policy you might expect from their scale.

This muted effect is not because social media isn’t good at what it does, but, in a way, because it’s very good at what it does. Digital tools make it much easier to build up movements quickly, and they greatly lower coordination costs. This seems like a good thing at first, but it often results in an unanticipated weakness: Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.

I’m adding this info to The Best Posts & Articles On Building Influence & Creating Change.

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