Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 8, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Video: Multiple Optical Illusions In One Short Video

I’ve written in my New York Times column about how I use optical illusions with English Language Learners, and I certainly use them when teaching perception in my Theory of Knowledge class. You can many that I’ve previously posted here.

Here’s a new neat one created by Honda and puts many different illusions into one short video:

January 13, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Illusions Game

Super Sneaky Spy Guy Illusions is the latest in a lengthy series of games by the same creator. They’re excellent adventure games with simple text and, best of all, none of them are blocked by our School District’s content filter. Here’s a Walkthrough for the game.

You can find twenty of these games, along with their walkthroughs, on my website under Word and Video Games.

December 9, 2008
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

More Optical Illusions

I’ve written in the past about how I’ve used optical illusions to help my English Language Learner students develop academic vocabulary.

The English Blog recently posted about a UK newspaper that has created a gallery of what they believe are the 20 best optical illusions.

I think I’ll be able to use some of them in class.

May 27, 2008
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Optical Illusions

This year I’ve been helping my my students learn academic vocabulary.  One new word has been “interpretation” and its various forms.

I’ve shown students several optical illusions that can be found at this site or at this one.  Then, they have short conversations with other students about what they see:

“What is your interpretation of what’s in the picture?”

“It seems to me that there’s a ……”

I’ve placed the link on my Teacher’s Page under ESL Hand-Outs and Lesson Plans.

September 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

September’s Infographics & Interactives Galore – Part Two

There are just so many good infographics and interactives out there that I’ve begun a new semi-regular feature called “Infographics & Interactives Galore.”

You can see others at A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Infographics and by searching “infographics” on this blog.

I’ll still be publishing separate posts to individually highlight especially useful infographics and interactives, but you’ll find others in this regular feature.

Here goes:

38 maps that explain Europe is from Vox.

Dizzying optical illusions by Akiyoshi Kitaoka – in pictures is from The Guardian.

Jawbone compares the number of steps people take each day and the amount they sleep in cities from around the world. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures.

I’m adding this infographic to The Best Online Resources For Drivers Education & Car Information:

Keep Your Eyes On The Road

I’m adding this next infographic to The Best Infographics About Teaching & Learning English As A Second (or Third!) Language:

December 2, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2013 – Part Two

'Watching Youtube' photo (c) 2009, Robert S. Digby - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I use short, funny video clips a lot when I’m teaching ELLs, and you can read in detail about how I use them in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them).

I’ve posted quite a few of them during the year, and I thought it would be useful to readers — and to me — if I brought them together in one post.

The videos on this list have appeared since I published The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2013 — So Far six months ago.

I’ve also published quite a few during the previous six years of this blog. You can find those in these lists:

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part Two)

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part One)

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2011

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2010

Part Two Of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008

The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development

The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual Or Multilingual — Part One

The Best Pink Panther Fight Scenes For English Language Learners

The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner

The Best Sports Videos To Use With English Language Learners

The Best Video Clips Of Sneaky Critters

The Best Videos Showing “Thinking Outside The Box” — Help Me Find More

Okay, now here are my choices for The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2013 — Part Two:

This Thanksgiving Google Doodle would be a great video to show English Language Learners and have them describe what happens in it:

Flavorwire has posted The 25 Most Suspenseful Movies Ever Made – with video clips!

Some wouldn’t be appropriate for classroom use, but many would be great to show English Language Learners and use the various instructional strategies that I talk about in The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development.

Here’s one:

I’ve previously written how I use illusions and magic as language learning activities. Here’s another great illusion that can be used in the same way, and that students will love:

This would be a good video (of a shopper who tangled with the wrong dog in a parking lot) to show English Language Learners and have them describe (verbally and in writing) what happened:

The 21 Luckiest People In The Entire World is a pretty amazing GIF collection from BuzzFeed.

Show these to English Language Learners and have them describe what they are watching, perhaps alternating with the Back-To-The-Screen exercise I use with videos (read about it here).

I think this video of animals squeezing into small places would be entertaining and useful in ESL classes — students could describe what they are seeing in writing and verbally:

I think this would be a good video (titled “Giving”) to show to English Language Learners and have them describe what is happening. Thanks to Michelle Henry for the tip:

Floating In My Mind is a short animated video about making memories and losing them.

I think it could be an interesting movie to show to my English Language Learners to see how they would describe what they saw — I wonder if all would describe it literally or if some, unprompted, would see the deeper story it’s trying to tell..

Sharknado, the movie that appeared on the Syfy Channel over the summer, I think qualifies for the most ridiculous movie of the year — a tornado filled with sharks terrorizes people.

Since it’s so ridiculous, I think I’m putting it trailer on my list of video clips that that English Language Learners can watch and describe.  I think they’d find it hilarious.

You might also be interested in my other 1,200 “The Best..” lists….

December 1, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Videos For Educators In 2013 – Part Two

554951644490537_a-feefae6d_r7-aUg_pm

Here’s the latest in annual The Best…” posts….

This post includes my choices for videos since I posted The Best Videos For Educators In 2013 – So Far six months ago.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — Part One

The Best Videos For Educators In 2011

Part Two Of The Best Videos For Educators — 2010

The Ten Best Videos For Educators — 2010

And you might also want to see The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual — Part OneThe Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language LearnerThe Best Video Clips Demonstrating “Grit”; and The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading.

You might also want to check out The Best Video Collections For Educators and The Best Video Clips On Goal-Setting — Help Me Find More.

Here are my choices for The Best Videos For Educators In 2013 – Part Two:

Perseverance (grit) is one of the key qualities researchers have found to be essential in a successful language learner, as well as other learners.

Here’s a video demonstrating that quality that I’m adding to The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner:

As I constantly tell my students, the ability to identify patterns is a key to higher-order thinking and to language-learning.

This would be a great video to play — at first, without sound — and have students try to identify the pattern in the images they see…

This is from Yahoo News and is a great illustration of “thinking outside the box”:

Here’s another “thinking outside the box video:

I’ve written in my New York Times column about how I use optical illusions with English Language Learners, and I certainly use them when teaching perception in my Theory of Knowledge class. You can many that I’ve previously posted here.

Here’s a new neat one created by Honda and puts many different illusions into one short video:

Here’s the newest Hans Rosling video:

I’ve written extensively in my books and in this blog about the lessons I use with students to help them want to develop more self-control.

And I’ve also shared new videos from Sesame Street highlighting their emphasis on teaching self-control, grit, and respect this season.

My high school students love the Sesame Street videos, which I use as a short “refresher” during the year after we do our initial lesson on self-control.

This one on “The Waiting Game,” though, is the best one yet. In it, Cookie Monster demonstrates each of the strategies that Dr. Walter Mischel recommends that people use (and that he saw children apply in the marshmallow test) to enhance their self-control.

I’ll be showing the video to students and having them identify each of those strategies:

I’m adding this great video from The Center For Teaching Quality to The Best Resources On Being A Teacherpreneur:

I Wonder How Many Of Our Students Hear This When We Go Over Classroom Rules?:

I’ve previously shared a thirteen minute version of Bloom’s Taxonomy According to Andy Griffith, which you can find at The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom.

The video’s creator has now edited its length down considerably. Here’s the new version:

Last year, John T. Spencer began a great Twitter hashtag called #saidnoteacherever.

I brought together a collection of them at A Sampling Of The Best Tweets With The #SaidNoTeacherEver Hashtag.

Now, some teachers have done a short video person — unfortunately, without giving credit to John and the original source. But it is pretty funny. And if you go to watch it on YouTube, people have made some pretty nice additions in the comments.

This next video is the best one I’ve Seen On Perseverance & Resilience.

This video is part of a new TED-Ed Lesson titled There’s no dishonor in having a disability. You can see the entire lesson here.

All I can say is…Wow.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit.”

Tom Whitford was kind enough to share this fun video on Twitter. It’s the first in a series (you can see the rest by going directly to YouTube).

Everybody will enjoy it, but especially ESL teachers:

I’m adding this next video to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”:

I’ve previously posted about George Saunders’ recent commencement speech. Here’s a video of his address:

I’m adding this video to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Infographics:

You can read more about NASA’s latest video on climate change showing what happens to the United States.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Learn About Climate Change.

This is a short video on scaffolding from Beyond The Bubble, a history site about which I’ve previously posted.

Thought it talks about history, its scaffolding recommendations can be helpful in any subject.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Differentiating Instruction.

“I shall either find a way or make one” has been attributed to Hannibal, though he probably didn’t say it.

This goat seems to exemplify that expression — no matter who said it.

I’m adding it to The Best Video Clips On Goal-Setting.

Edublogs has created this video on “What Is A Blog?”

I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Advice For Teachers (And Others!) On How To Be Better Bloggers and to My Best Posts For Tech Novices (Plus A Few From Other People).

You might also be interested in the other 1,200 “The Best…” lists I’ve posted.

November 1, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Videos For Educators In 2013 – Part Two

554951644490537_a-feefae6d_r7-aUg_pm

Here’s the latest in annual The Best…” posts….

This post includes my choices for videos since I posted The Best Videos For Educators In 2013 – So Far six months ago.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — Part One

The Best Videos For Educators In 2011

Part Two Of The Best Videos For Educators — 2010

The Ten Best Videos For Educators — 2010

And you might also want to see The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual — Part OneThe Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language LearnerThe Best Video Clips Demonstrating “Grit”; and The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading.

You might also want to check out The Best Video Collections For Educators and The Best Video Clips On Goal-Setting — Help Me Find More.

Here are my choices for The Best Videos For Educators In 2013 – Part Two:

Perseverance (grit) is one of the key qualities researchers have found to be essential in a successful language learner, as well as other learners.

Here’s a video demonstrating that quality that I’m adding to The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner:

As I constantly tell my students, the ability to identify patterns is a key to higher-order thinking and to language-learning.

This would be a great video to play — at first, without sound — and have students try to identify the pattern in the images they see…

This is from Yahoo News and is a great illustration of “thinking outside the box”:

Here’s another “thinking outside the box video:

I’ve written in my New York Times column about how I use optical illusions with English Language Learners, and I certainly use them when teaching perception in my Theory of Knowledge class. You can many that I’ve previously posted here.

Here’s a new neat one created by Honda and puts many different illusions into one short video:

Here’s the newest Hans Rosling video:

I’ve written extensively in my books and in this blog about the lessons I use with students to help them want to develop more self-control.

And I’ve also shared new videos from Sesame Street highlighting their emphasis on teaching self-control, grit, and respect this season.

My high school students love the Sesame Street videos, which I use as a short “refresher” during the year after we do our initial lesson on self-control.

This one on “The Waiting Game,” though, is the best one yet. In it, Cookie Monster demonstrates each of the strategies that Dr. Walter Mischel recommends that people use (and that he saw children apply in the marshmallow test) to enhance their self-control.

I’ll be showing the video to students and having them identify each of those strategies:

I’m adding this great video from The Center For Teaching Quality to The Best Resources On Being A Teacherpreneur:

I Wonder How Many Of Our Students Hear This When We Go Over Classroom Rules?:

I’ve previously shared a thirteen minute version of Bloom’s Taxonomy According to Andy Griffith, which you can find at The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom.

The video’s creator has now edited its length down considerably. Here’s the new version:

Last year, John T. Spencer began a great Twitter hashtag called #saidnoteacherever.

I brought together a collection of them at A Sampling Of The Best Tweets With The #SaidNoTeacherEver Hashtag.

Now, some teachers have done a short video person — unfortunately, without giving credit to John and the original source. But it is pretty funny. And if you go to watch it on YouTube, people have made some pretty nice additions in the comments.

This next video is the best one I’ve Seen On Perseverance & Resilience.

This video is part of a new TED-Ed Lesson titled There’s no dishonor in having a disability. You can see the entire lesson here.

All I can say is…Wow.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit.”

Tom Whitford was kind enough to share this fun video on Twitter. It’s the first in a series (you can see the rest by going directly to YouTube).

Everybody will enjoy it, but especially ESL teachers:

I’m adding this next video to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”:

I’ve previously posted about George Saunders’ recent commencement speech. Here’s a video of his address:

I’m adding this video to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Infographics:

You can read more about NASA’s latest video on climate change showing what happens to the United States.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Learn About Climate Change.

This is a short video on scaffolding from Beyond The Bubble, a history site about which I’ve previously posted.

Thought it talks about history, its scaffolding recommendations can be helpful in any subject.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Differentiating Instruction.

“I shall either find a way or make one” has been attributed to Hannibal, though he probably didn’t say it.

This goat seems to exemplify that expression — no matter who said it.

I’m adding it to The Best Video Clips On Goal-Setting.

Edublogs has created this video on “What Is A Blog?”

I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Advice For Teachers (And Others!) On How To Be Better Bloggers and to My Best Posts For Tech Novices (Plus A Few From Other People).

This is a wonderful video, and great, engaging English practice!

Here’s a very good video I’m adding to The Best Resources On Differentiating Instruction:

I’ve written in my books and here on my blog how I use the concept of “gratitude” in class (see The Best Resources On “Gratitude”).

My colleague Katie Hull did a simple and powerful lesson using one of the resources on that “Best” list and I thought I’d share it here.

It’s based on an experiment and video that “Soul Pancake’ did (the video is on that list, but I’ve also embedded again in this post).

Katie gave her students this writing prompt (which is very similar to the question used in the video):

Close your eyes and think of somebody who is really influential in your life and/or who matters to you. Why is this person so important?

She also shared what she had written about her father as a model. After students wrote it, and shared in partners, she showed the video. Then, she encouraged people to to share what they wrote with the person they wrote about — in fact, some students felt they wanted to share it right then by calling.

Tears were shed.

You might also be interested in the other 1,200 “The Best…” lists I’ve posted.

February 24, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Good School Reform Posts & Articles

December 16, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2011

The websites on this list were not designed with education in mind, but which can easily be used for learning purposes — particularly, though not exclusively, for English language development. I only hope that creators of “educational” content can learn from the qualities that make these sites so engaging.

You might also be interested in:

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2010

Part Two Of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008

Here are my choices for The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2011:

VIDEOS:

These would be fun clips to to use in any of the video activities I describe in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

This is video is from a “talent” show in India. You would only want to show it to a class that you would be sure were mature enough not to be inspired to go out and try some of the stunts:

Here’s an amazing video of birds that moonwalk. It’s from PBS. I’ve “tube-chopped” the best minute-and-half here, but you can see the entire longer video here. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About Animals.

Five thousand people from Grand Rapids, Michigan came together to create what Roger Ebert has called “the greatest music video ever made.” And it is, indeed, pretty amazing. It was shot in one take. Even though the song’s lyrics are probably not the best for English Language Learners, the video itself would be a lot of fun.

Here’s a video of The Great Escape — Panda style:

This is a video of Remi Gaillard, known as France’s greatest prankster:

Luke Burrage juggles around the world in this clip:

Check out this Stop-motion animation and drumstick music video:

How about this surfing bulldog:

Show this next video, but only if you don’t think your students will be inspired to try some of the stunts themselves!

“Bridge” is a short and delightful animation that is perfect to show English Language Learners (in fact, to any students) and then have them write and discuss it. It’s a great opportunity for them to literally describe what they see, plus incorporating the messages of the film. As its creator says:

Bridge is a story about four animal characters trying to cross a bridge, but ending up as obstacles to one another in the process. The moral behind this story revolves around how there are often disagreements or competing paths in life, and the possible results of pride, obstinance, and compromise.

I’ve embedded it below:

Bridge from Ting on Vimeo.

ONLINE VIDEO GAMES:

“Dr. Stanley’s House 2″ is what is known as a “point-and-click” adventure game. Its “Walkthrough,” or instructions on how to win, can be found here. You can my article, Free Online Games Develop ESL Students’ Language Skills, to learn how I use these kinds of games as a great language-development exercise.

Inspector Kloo 4 is another fun online video game that offers a great opportunity for English language learning. You can find its walkthrough (instructions on how to win) here.

Inspector Kloo 5 is a fun online video game that offers a great opportunity for English language learning. You can find its walkthrough (instructions on how to win) here.

The Ballad of Ketinetto 8 is an online video game that provides lots of language-learning opportunities. Here is its “walkthrough.”

Mild Escape is an “escape the room” game with a walkthrough.

OPTICAL ILLUSIONS:

These are excellent tools for students to write about and discuss:

25 Brilliant Optical Illusions For Kids

Best Illusions of 2011

Check out the illusion in this video. And if you like it, you can find more here.

Here’s an amazing magic show:

BONUS:

Smurf Yourself lets you choose and dress a Smurf, record it saying something, and then send or post it on blog or website. No registration is required. It’s a fun and simple way for students to practice their English.

Draw a Stickman is an amazing adventure where you…draw a stick and he comes to life. You’re given instructions about what to draw and when, and then the stickman uses what you have drawn. It’s an excellent language learning opportunity for ELL’s and fun for everybody. You can also write your own message that shows at the end of the activity.

Feedback is always welcome.

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

You might also want to explore the 700 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

August 25, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2011 (So Far)

I usually just do year-end lists many topics, but it gets a little crazy having to review all of my zillion posts at once. So, to make it easier for me — and perhaps, to make it a little more useful to readers — I’m going to start publishing mid-year lists, too. These won’t be ranked, unlike my year-end “The Best…” lists, and just because a site appears on a mid-year list doesn’t guarantee it will be included in an end-of-the-year one. But, at least, I won’t have to review all my year’s posts in December…

The websites on this list were not designed with education in mind, but which can easily be used for learning purposes — particularly, though not exclusively, for English language development. I only hope that creators of “educational” content can learn from the qualities that make these sites so engaging.

You might also be interested in:

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2010

Part Two Of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008

Here are my choices for The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2011 (So Far):

VIDEOS:

These would be fun clips to to use in any of the video activities I describe in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

Five thousand people from Grand Rapids, Michigan came together to create what Roger Ebert has called “the greatest music video ever made.” And it is, indeed, pretty amazing. It was shot in one take. Even though the song’s lyrics are probably not the best for English Language Learners, the video itself would be a lot of fun.

Here’s a video of The Great Escape — Panda style:

This is a video of Remi Gaillard, known as France’s greatest prankster:

Here’s one of “Botaoshi: The wacky Japanese sport of pole pull-down”:

Luke Burrage juggles around the world in this clip:

Check out this Stop-motion animation and drumstick music video:

This is an interesting sport called Sepak takraw:

How about this surfing bulldog:

Show this next video, but only if you don’t think your students will be inspired to try some of the stunts themselves!

“Bridge” is a short and delightful animation that is perfect to show English Language Learners (in fact, to any students) and then have them write and discuss it. It’s a great opportunity for them to literally describe what they see, plus incorporating the messages of the film. As its creator says:

Bridge is a story about four animal characters trying to cross a bridge, but ending up as obstacles to one another in the process. The moral behind this story revolves around how there are often disagreements or competing paths in life, and the possible results of pride, obstinance, and compromise.

I’ve embedded it below:

Bridge from Ting on Vimeo.

ONLINE VIDEO GAMES:

“Dr. Stanley’s House 2″ is what is known as a “point-and-click” adventure game. Its “Walkthrough,” or instructions on how to win, can be found here. You can my article, Free Online Games Develop ESL Students’ Language Skills, to learn how I use these kinds of games as a great language-development exercise.

Inspector Kloo 4 is another fun online video game that offers a great opportunity for English language learning. You can find its walkthrough (instructions on how to win) here.

Inspector Kloo 5 is a fun online video game that offers a great opportunity for English language learning. You can find its walkthrough (instructions on how to win) here.

The Ballad of Ketinetto 8 is an online video game that provides lots of language-learning opportunities. Here is its “walkthrough.”

Mild Escape is an “escape the room” game with a walkthrough.

OPTICAL ILLUSIONS:

These are excellent tools for students to write about and discuss:

25 Brilliant Optical Illusions For Kids

Best Illusions of 2011

Check out the illusion in this video. And if you like it, you can find more here.

BONUS:

Smurf Yourself lets you choose and dress a Smurf, record it saying something, and then send or post it on blog or website. No registration is required. It’s a fun and simple way for students to practice their English.

Feedback is always welcome.

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

You might also want to explore the 700 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

February 21, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best Resources For Learning Why School Vouchers Are A Bad Idea

School vouchers that would allow parents pay private school tuition with public money has been in the news over the past week — both in Washington, D.C. and in Colorado.

Given these events, I thought it would be useful to readers and to me to bring together some resources on the issue. I’ve also included more general articles on the idea of school “choice.”

I hope others will provide additional suggestions.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning Why School Vouchers Are A Bad Idea:

Rethinking Schools has an impressive collection of articles titled Struggle Against Vouchers Continues in Milwaukee and Across Nation.

Walt Gardner at Ed Week has two good posts. One it titled Eternal Vouchers and the other is When School Reformers Disagree.

Grasping At Straws was written by Liam Goldrick.

Lessons—Better Than a Voucher, a Ticket to Suburbia is by Richard Rothstein.

Choice schools not outperforming MPS is the headline of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.

Vouchers making a comeback, but why? is by Diane Ravitch, and it appeared in The Washington Post.

Report: How voucher landscape is widening comes from Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

The ugly truth about “school choice” is from Salon.

The Illusions of School Choice is by Renee Moore.

What Can Voucher Fans Learn from the Space X Mission? is by Bill Ferriter.

Key questions for Democrats on ‘school choice’ is from The Washington Post.

With Vouchers, States Shift Aid for Schools to Families is from The New York Times.

Quote Of The Day: Instead Of Vouchers…..

The doubts of a school choice supporter is by Sam Chaltain.

The hype and reality of ‘school choice’ is by Valerie Strauss.

8 Reasons Why School Vouchers Are A Very Bad Idea is from The AFT.

Obama smacks Bill O’Reilly on school vouchers is from Valerie Strauss.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

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

You might also want to explore the over 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

December 31, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
5 Comments

Education-Related Predictions For 2011

Earlier this week, I asked readers to contribute their education-related predictions for 2011. I received some great responses, and I’ll share them all in this post.

If you didn’t get a chance to contribute earlier, though, I’d encourage you to leave one-to-three of them in the comments section. At the end of the year, I’ll revisit them and we’ll all see who among us has good powers of prognostication.

And, if some of you wonder what the point is in making predictions, you can go to The New York Times which recently published a piece on Why Do We Need Predictions? Here are a few of the reasons commentators there gave: it’s fun, we need “positive illusions,” it helps us gain a “sense of control,” the human identity is based in story and predictions enhance them, it’s a way to express hope, it demonstrates a “search for simplicity.”

I’d like to first share some of my own predictions (since it’s my blog, I get to make more than three predictions :) ) I wonder how many are genuine predictions based in reality, and how many will fall under the category of “wishful thinking”?

1. As the 2012 election comes closer (and politicos are reminded about the importance of teacher “ground troops”) , the Obama Administration will dramatically reduce its rhetoric in support of “school reformers” and make changes in its proposed revamping of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It will not push for reauthorization, however, and just make the changes in the proposal — it will put off getting Congressional approval until after the 2012 elections. The changes they’ll propose will include adding multiple measurements (not just test scores) to assess schools and districts, and eliminate their ideas to change many funding streams from formulas based on student numbers to using some kind of competition.

2. The push by mayors to gain control of school districts will come to a screeching halt. Mayors will look at its impact in cities where mayoral control has been implemented and conclude that — patronage aside — the political benefits are a net negative.

3. The fiasco of appointing magazine publisher Cathie Black to be head of New York City schools will halt the momentum of placing people with no education experience as School District Superintendents. Notwithstanding last month’s appointment of a general to be superintendent in Wake County, North Carolina, no non-educator will become a Superintendent of a major school district in 2011.

4. Efforts to implement the so-called “parent-trigger” will fail miserably, and the idea will fade from memory…

5. Somebody will develop an effective online program that will help English Language Learners improve their writing skills. Many sites have already figured out how to do just that with reading, listening and speaking skills, but an accessible writing support site eludes the Web. In 2011, this will finally change.

6. Michelle Rhee’s new StudentsFirst organization will turn into a “talk show radio” kind of site — people will sign-up there to feel like they’re doing something, but it won’t really accomplish anything other than helping get Ms. Rhee on television as a commentator. She’ll raise a few million dollars, but it will mostly be from the usual funders who support her kind of “school reform” ideas.

7. One of the two state groups that are preparing the “next generation” of assessments will make a strong effort to get teachers involved in their development.

8. Newly-elected California Governor Jerry Brown will make major cuts to the state’s education budget. At the same time, in an effort to save money and to make the cuts more palatable to educators, he will propose scrapping state tests for second graders and/or the California High School Exit Exam.

9. The number of document cameras sold will take a huge leap upward as more and more schools see it as an extremely cost-effective way to use technology so that it benefits students. Teachers will love it because even those who are most resistant to tech can see its benefits and learn how to use it in less than a minute.

10. Teaching 2030, the new book from The Center For Teaching Quality, will become the most discussed and useful education-related book this year.

Now, for the predictions from readers:

Vytheeshwaran Vedagiri

1. M-learning will make significant inroads into academics.
2. Rise of ebook readers over traditional textbooks.
3. A user-friendly, open source whiteboard from Google (?!?!?)

Mary Ann Zehr

–More states will require all teachers to have some training to work with English-language learners.
–More charter schools and regular public schools will cooperate on issues such as sharing buildings and professional development.
–More states or school districts will provide bonuses for teachers who have proven to be effective to work in low-performing schools.

Ric Murry

It is a non-election year – Test scores will decline throughout the country.
More schools (not enough for critical mass) will allow student-owned technology on their networks. Issues of student privacy on school networks will become a talking point.

Dorothy Fox

Excellence in global practices will be explored and the conversation will begin about implementing them in the United States. (just sayin!)

Audrey Watters

1. open educational resources — more schools will embrace open content
2. mobile learning — folks are predicting 2011 will be the year of the tablet (errrr, iPad). i would add to this, an increasing acceptance of cellphones in the classroom
3. data analysis — “big data” will be huge in technology in the coming year, and I predict there will be an explosion in companies that offer education-related analytics.

Sheryl

1. More initiatives for Career Technical Education (CTE).
2. California’s High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) will be suspended due to budget constrains.
3. Funding shifts from hardcopy to digital instructional materials & textbooks.

Bill Ivey

1. The “Save our Schools and Call to Action” event that Anthony Cody and others are organizing for Washington, DC on July 28-31 will come off successfully.
2. ESEA will be redone, giving cause both for optimism and pessimism whatever any given person hopes will happen.
3. Each and every school day will bring tens of thousands of reasons to celebrate in schools across the country.

I can’t think of a better way to end this post than with Bill Ivey’s last prediction.  Share your own in the comments section!

July 19, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

July’s Best Tweets — Part One

Every month I make a short list highlighting my choices of the best resources I shared through (and learned from) Twitter, but didn’t necessarily include them in posts here on my blog. Now and then, in order to make it a bit easier for me, I may try to break it up into mid-month and end-of-month lists.

I’ve already shared in earlier posts several new resources I found on Twitter — and where I gave credit to those from whom I learned about them. Those are not included again in this post.

If you don’t use Twitter, you can also check-out all of my “tweets” on Twitter profile page or subscribe to their RSS feed.

Here are my picks for July’s Best Tweets — Part One (not listed in any order):

Who Are The Millennials? infographic

Unlikely Tutor Giving Military Afghan Advice, NY Times

Create your own font through your handwriting

The Champion Within

Bill Gates’ School Crusade

Wall St Journal reviews new biography of Saul Alinsky;I worked for many years as community organizer for organization he founded

Supporting Kids: A Conversation with School Counselor of the Year Barbara Micucci

“12 Writing Tips from Mark Twain”

The links between bloggers’ personalities and their use of words

“Sac City Unified gets corporate look” Sacramento Bee

“Matisse’s ‘Bathers by the River’ amazing NY Times interactive showing development of Matisse painting over 8 yrs

What the class size research REALLY says

Wikipedia Explained By Common Craft

“The Medium Is the Medium”, NY Times, David Brooks on books & Internet

Creating Edible Illusions–and Great Art [Slide Show]

World’s Strangest Festivals slideshow

You might also be interested in seeing a list of favorite tweets at Shelly Terrell’s blog.

April 13, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

My Choices For The Best Webby Award Nominees (That I Haven’t Already Written About)

I’ve just gotten a chance to look through all the Webby Award nominees announced today.

I’ve already written about a few of them. Here are some new ones I discovered that I think can be used effectively with students:

Explore The Sum Of All Thrills is a fun, interactive math game.

Love Letters To The Future lets your write a short letter to the future generation about your hopes for the future in the face of climate change. I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Learn About Climate Change.

TckTckTck is another neat site related to climate change. I’m also adding this link to The Best list.

Mind Lab is an ideal site for my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class. This is how it describes itself:

How is our consciousness connected to the world?
Explore the unconscious functions of the brain with visual illusions
and mysterious perceptual phenomena.

March 26, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“10 Of The Greatest Magic Tricks Ever”

10 Of The Greatest Magic Tricks Ever is a great compilation. The videos are hosted by YouTube, but there are ways to show them in the classroom (see The Best Ways To Access Educational YouTube Videos At School).

I’ve written several times in the past about how I use optical illusions for language-development activities with English Language Learners.

The magic tricks would also be good for learning about Perception with my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge students.

December 24, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Part Two Of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

I’ve already posted The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009, but I’ve collected enough new sites to warrant posting a Part Two.

These are websites that were not designed with education in mind, but which can easily be used for learning purposes — particularly, though not exclusively, for English language development. I only hope that creators of “educational” content can learn from the qualities that make these sites so engaging.

I’m not listing these sites in any order of preference.

Here are my picks for Part Two Of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009:

OPTICAL ILLUSIONS

In my classes I help students learn academic vocabulary. One new word has been “interpretation” and its various forms. I usually show students several optical illusions that can be found at various sites. Then, they have short conversations with other students about what they see:

“What is your interpretation of what’s in the picture?”

“It seems to me that there’s a ……”

Here is a new resource for illusions that can be used in this way:

The British newspaper The Telegraph has fifteen video and audio illusions.

PHOTOS:

Students can pick some of these photos to write about or describe, or they can be used in class as part of the  Picture Word Inductive Model teaching strategy:

See 15 Of The World’s Strangest Animals.

VIDEOS:

Fun videos are always useful. If you have a computer projector, students can watch them using the “Back-To-The-Screen” activity (read how to do it at The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL). Or, if you don’t have a projector, you can do a similar activity if you’re at a computer lab. Or you can just have everybody watch the same video and write about it as a class.

Most of these videos are from YouTube (which is likely blocked by school content filters), but some of them are worth using a converter to download into your laptop or a service like EdublogsTV or Watch Now to show to students. They’re great for English Language Learners – short, engaging videos that students can then write about and discuss.

Here are my video suggestions:

This chainsaw (it’s not bloody) illusion is the most amazing illusion I’ve ever seen.

This is an amazing video of 3D Projections on buildings.

You probably want to turn-off the music on this video of people using the trampoline. I had never imagined this sort of stuff could be done.

Here are videos of some amazing basketball shots.

Speaking of sports, here are videos of incredible “shots” from ones other than baseketball.

In addition to the ideas I’ve mentioned on how to use videos, I had my Theory of Knowledge students watch the Ted Talk “The Raspyni Brothers juggle and jest” and have them first identify how the jugglers made what they did and the objects they used look “new” to viewers  and, secondly, discuss how mathematicians, historians, artists and scientists use those same techniques to study the world. Students shared some brilliant stuff!

VIRAL MARKETING:

I’ve written how I use viral marketing tools with my English Language Learner students. Here are some new ones that students have enjoyed:

With Animal Mix-Up you can create a bizarre creature, email the link and post it. English Language Learners can not only use it as an opportunity to describe their creation, but the design process itself provides an excellent opportunity for vocabulary development. There are a lot of choices for creature modifications, and their accompanied with visual and text descriptions.

You can choreograph a dance for a piece of chocolate, choose the accompanying music, and write a message using this piece of viral marketing. The link can be posted a student/teacher blog or website.

You can send a Critter Carol — dogs singing a Christmas song, with a message you write included. Students can create on, and then post the url of their card on a website or blog.

ONLINE VIDEO GAMES:

I’ve written about how I use online video games as language-development activities with my students.

Here are some of particularly good ones that came out recently:

The Ballad of Ketinetto is an online video game series excellent for English Language development. Here are the most recent games in the series, along with links to their “walkthroughs” (instructions on how students can win — see my article for how to use them):

The Ballad of Ketinetto 3 (Walkthrough)

The Ballad of Ketinetto 4 (Walkthrough)

The Ballad of Ketinetto 5 (Walkthrough)

The Ballad of Ketinetto 6 (Walkthrough)

Finwick is another useful game, even without a Walkthrough.

The Company of Myself (Walkthrough)

The Water Well (Walkthrough)

Feedback is always welcome.

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

You might also want to explore the 400 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

December 23, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
13 Comments

The “Best” TED Talks (Well, Really, The Ones I Use With My Classes)

I’ve written several posts about TED Talks, the series of talks given by “big thinkers” that are available online. In fact, I’ve created The Best Teacher Resources For “TED Talks.”

Yesterday, I saw that Richard Byrne posted an excellent piece, 15 TED Talks for Teachers to Watch Before 2010. I’d strongly encourage you to visit that post and, in addition, subscribe to his blog if you haven’t done so already.

Richard’s post inspired me to make a post sharing the TED Talks that I use with my classes (though I may not necessarily show the entire talk in class) and how I use them. Some TED Talks are great for teachers, but not so helpful for students. And, though most of them are very stimulating, I think some of them can also be a bit boring.

Please share in the comments section which TED videos you actually use in the classroom.

Here are my choices for The “Best” TED Talks (Well, Really, The Ones I Use With My Classes):

I’ve had my Theory of Knowledge (TOK) students watch the Ted Talks  “The Raspyni Brothers juggle and jest” and Lennart Green does close-up card magic. I have them first identify how the jugglers and the card “magician” made what they did and the objects they used look “new” to viewers  and, secondly, discuss how mathematicians, historians, artists and scientists use those same techniques to study the world. Students share some brilliant stuff.

I’ve used Joachim de Posada says, Don’t eat the marshmallow yet with all my classes. It’s been a key part of the lessons on self-control I do with my mainstream ninth-grade English class and my Intermediate English class. You can read more about that lesson at “I Like This Lesson Because It Make Me Have a Longer Temper” (Part One). I use it with my Theory of Knowledge class as an example of the Human Sciences — how experiments are done to learn about human behavior.

Jay Walker on the world’s English mania is a short talk, but I only use small parts of it. He has portions showing how some people in China are learning it — huge classes repeating what the instructor says. I ask my students if that’s the way they would like to learn English, and, obviously, they all say no. I use it as a way to get them thinking and sharing about what strategies help them learn best (and why), and which ones help least (and why).

Mallika Sarabhai: Dance to change the world uses dance and art for social change. It’s a neat way to introduce a discussion with my TOK class on the different roles art can have in society.

Evelyn Glennie shows how to listen is a deaf percussionist. Her presentation and performance challenges my TOK students to reflect on how the different senses contribute to our appreciation and understanding of music.

Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives has some good pieces that I’m using in my TOK class when we discuss morals and ethics.

Peter Donnelly shows how stats fool juries is useful to demonstrate how statistics and data can be manipulated. I use it in my TOK class when we discuss experiments in the Natural and Human sciences.

Ron Eglash on African fractals
is one I use with TOK when we are discussing…fractals.

I showed parts of “On The Surprising Science of Motivation,” Daniel Pink’s talk, to my mainstream ninth-grade English class after I eliminated the “points” system in our class.  I was able to do it within one week of the beginning of this school year after they showed me they had good self-control (you can read about how it used that classroom management plan last year in (Have You Ever Taught A Class That Got “Out Of Control”?). Pink basically says that extrinsic rewards do work — for mechanical work that doesn’t require much higher-order thinking. But he says research says that it will not work for anything that requires higher-order thinking skills and creativity. It helped students understand why we were moving off the points system and, I believe, helped them feel more positive about their learning. I’ll write a future post that describes this lesson in more detail.

Beau Lotto: Optical illusions show how we see and Al Seckel on TED.com are good ones to use when teaching that we can’t always believe what our eyes are “telling us.” These are good for our exploration of Perception in my TOK class.

Kary Mullis celebrates the experiment is, I think, not one of the better TED Talks, but he tells a couple of short stories that are useful in helping students understand the scientific method.

When we study the Natural Sciences in my TOK class, I do a unit on the science of love. Helen Fisher studies the brain in love is a good video for students to watch as part of that study.

David Hanson: Robots that “show emotion” is useful in our TOK units on emotions and on science.

Feedback is always welcome.

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

You might also want to explore the 400 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

September 15, 2009
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

This is the third edition in this particular series of “The Best…” lists.  The first two were:

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too

The Best Fun Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008

To introduce this list, I’m just going to quote from the first one:

These are websites that were not designed with education in mind, but which can easily be used for learning purposes — particularly, though not exclusively, for English language development. I only hope that creators of “educational” content can learn from the qualities that make these sites so engaging.

I’m not listing these sites in any order of preference.

Here are my picks for The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009:

DANCING:

Eternal Moonwalk is a Michael Jackson tribute site where people upload short videos of them doing a moonwalk…that connects to all the other moonwalks people have uploaded. It’s almost impossible to stop watching.  You could certainly have students use English to plan their dance and then describe it. I know it’s a stretch but, as I said earlier, it’s so much fun!

OPTICAL ILLUSIONS:

In my classes I help students learn academic vocabulary. One new word has been “interpretation” and its various forms. I usually show students several optical illusions that can be found at various sites. Then, they have short conversations with other students about what they see:

“What is your interpretation of what’s in the picture?”

“It seems to me that there’s a ……”

Here are two new resources for illusions that can be used in this way:

83 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena

Incredible Illusions

PHOTOS:

Students can pick some of these photos to write about or describe, or they can be used in class as part of the  Picture Word Inductive Model teaching strategy:

Off the wall: The astonishing 3D murals painted on the sides of buildings by a trompe l’oeil artist

20 Awesome 3D Pavement Illusions

The World’s Ugliest Dog Show

Extreme Ironing: shirt-ironing the hard way

Here’s a TIME Magazine slideshow on wild human-powered flying machines.

There, I Fixed It

VIDEOS:

Fun videos are always useful.  If you have a computer projector, students can watch them using the “Back-To-The-Screen” activity (read how to do it at The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL).  Or, if you don’t have a projector, you can do a similar activity if you’re at a computer lab.  Or you can just have everybody watch the same video and write about it as a class.

Most of these videos are from YouTube (which is likely blocked by school content filters), but some of them are worth using a converter to download into your laptop or a service like EdublogsTV or Watch Now to show to students. They’re great for English Language Learners – short, engaging videos that students can then write about and discuss.

Here are my video suggestions:

Inspired Bicycles – Danny MacAskill April 2009 shows some amazing bicycle acrobatics, though one hopes it wouldn’t give students any ideas…

The PEN Story is an incredible “stop motion” movie using thousands of photos to show a man’s life story — in three minutes.

You can also pick from 21 Stunning Examples Of Creatively Done Stop Motion Animations.

The Top Ten Odd-Looking Pets from Animal Planet are always winners with students.

Here’s a video of the most fun wedding entrance — ever!

Here are two videos — one of two “talking” cats making their actual sounds, and another of them with dubbed-in conversation. After showing students both, a fun lesson would to have ELL’s develop their own version of the dialogue.

The Flawless – Dance Act – Britains Got Talent 2009 is pretty amazing to watch.

This video of a surprise musical performance in a train station is a fun one.

This next one wouldn’t work for ELL’s because of the fast dialogue, but it would be good for advanced or native speakers. It’s called The Figurative Language Bomb, and it would be a fun introduction to…figurative language.

ART:

This strange tool lets you create a painting with your voice.  Your mouse is the brush and your voice the ink when you create an online painting.  Then send it to the site’s gallery to get a unique url address to post on a student or teacher website/blog,  and then give a description.

Just click and start making a drawing with virtual sand, then save your creation to the gallery.  Again, students can post it and then provide an oral or text description.

Create a star constellation that moves with Rule The Stars.  Then email and post the url to your creation, along with a description.

Make a snowflake, describe it, and post the link on a student/teacher blog or website.

At Connect The Dots, you can upload any photo and easily turn it into a “connect the dot” puzzle that can be shared and solved by others.  It seems to me it has extremely limited educational value — I guess Beginning English Language Learners could use it as a fun vocabulary-building activity since you have to type in the category your photo fits in.  But — educational or not — it’s a pretty neat web tool!

VIRAL MARKETING:

I’ve written how I use viral marketing tools with my English Language Learner students. Here are some of the ones that students have enjoyed the most:

You can become a talking Star Trek character.  Using the text-to-speech feature, choose a Star Trek character and have him/her speak, then post it on a student/teacher website.

You can turn into a talking potato With Spud Yourself! Take your own image or use one of the site’s pictures. By using the text-to-speech feature, English Language Learners can develop their language skills in a fun way through writing and listening. You can post the link to your talking potato on a teacher or student blog/website.

Made For Each Other is yet another weird example of viral marketing that can be used as a fun and useful language-learning tool (you can read about how I use these applications here).  I guess it’s connected to advertising to Frito-Lay in some way (though it’s hard to tell how). It’s too strange to explain, other than to say you connect two creatures to one another and then write a love note for one of them to give to the other. You are then given the link to that note that can be posted on a student or teacher website.  If you have a few minutes left to kill in the computer lab, and you want to give your ELL students a short and engaging writing task, this would certainly be an option.

Purina has created a fun little online tool where users can learn to speak…dog.  You type in words to finish the sentence “Learn how to say ‘I’m _________________’ in dog.” Then, a dog does an action showing how they communicate that feeling.  It would be a fun way for English Language Learners to practice some vocabulary if you have a few minutes left to “kill” in the computer lab.

ONLINE VIDEO GAMES:

I’ve written about how I use online video games as language-development activities with my students.

Here are a couple of particularly good ones that came out this year:

Griswold The Goblin includes audio supported text and a lot of fun. Here’s the Walkthrough.

The Ballad of Ketinetto is an online video game excellent for English Language development. Here’s the Walkthrough.

The same creators of the last game also have an excellent seventeen part series of games called Esklavos, several which have come out in the past year.   You can find the Walkthroughs to the series here.  That same Walkthrough page also has links to all the games, but because I think it’s more likely that the site featuring the walkthroughs will be blocked by school content filters, I’m going to list direct links to all the games here (except for the first one, which is in Spanish only):

Feedback, of course, is always welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.