Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 23, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s How We Modified The Picture Word Inductive Model Today

As regular readers know, the Picture Word Inductive Model is one of my favorite instructional strategies for Beginning English Language Learners.

I’ve written a lot about it at The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons.

Good as it is, however, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

In other words, applying the step-by-step process all the time can grow tiresome for teachers and students alike.

That’s why I’ve posted The Best Ways To Modify The Picture Word Inductive Model For ELLs.

Today, Mary Stokke, an exceptionally talented student teacher who is working with me this year, used a strategy that I realized I hadn’t included on that “Best” list. It’s a modification of some strategies, however, that you will find on The Best Resources On Close Reading Paintings, Photos & Videos.

Mary projected a photo from our U.S. History book of Christopher Columbus that she had used in the typical PWIM process and then drew “quadrants” where students worked in pairs to expand the image to what they might imagine would be there if the picture was bigger.  Student then applied the usual PWIM process to those new additions by identifying words and writing sentences about them.

Here’s the image (in retrospect, it probably would have been better to tape white paper on the text surrounding the picture so that students drawings were more clear.  But, as Mary said, it was, nevertheless, “crazy and fun.”



June 19, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Study: Inductive Learning Promotes “Transfer Of Knowledge” Better Than Direct Instruction

I’ve written a lot in this blog and in my books about using inductive learning with students (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching). It’s one of my favorite instructional strategies.

And, I’ve written an equal amount about the importance of transfer of learning — in other words, facilitating student “transfer” of something they learned in one lesson to another situation (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer” — Help Me Find More).

Now Education Week has highlighted a study that used that inductive concept – though, surprisingly, they called it “sorting” instead of “inductive learning” – in teaching science. And they found that it was more effective in promoting transfer than direct instruction.

One common way to use the inductive method is through “text data sets,” which a short piece of text that students categorize. You can read more about this particular method and see links to examples in “Thinking Like A Scientist Can Help Overcome Allure Of Appearances.”

In the study covered by Ed Week, though, the scientists just used cards sharing different scientific concepts instead of a typical few sheets of paper with the examples.

One thing I found particularly intriguing and I hadn’t really read about in other studies of the inductive method was that it was its effect on transfer:

…the students who had sorted the cards were significantly better at applying the concept to new situations.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior.”

January 16, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching

In the inductive process, students seek patterns and use them to identify their broader meanings and significance. In the deductive process, meanings or rules are given, and students have to then apply them.

I’m a huge fan of using inductive learning, and plenty of research (which you’ll find in the resources on this list) document its effectiveness.

I’ve written many posts about it, and thought it would be useful to bring together a few of my best ones, along with resources developed by others, that explain the inductive process and how to apply it in mainstream and English Language Learner classrooms (feel free to make suggestions of ones I’ve missed):

The Best Ways To Modify The Picture Word Inductive Model For ELLs

The British Council has shared a short post that Paul Kaye wrote six years ago that does a great job explaining the difference between inductive and deductive, and he provides a number of practical examples from the language-learning classroom. Check out his article, Presenting New Language.

Here are two British Council posts where I wrote about it:

What Does Enhanced Discovery Learning Look Like In The ELL Classroom?

The picture word inductive model

I’ve written several posts at The New York Times explaining the concept:

Ideas for English Language Learners | Labeling Photos, Sequencing Passages and More

Learn About President Kennedy Using the Inductive Model

Learning About New Year’s Inductively

Get Organized Around Assets is an article I wrote for ASCD Educational Leadership. It includes a section on teaching inductively.

The Best Ways To Modify The Picture Word Inductive Model For ELLs

More Info On Why Inductive Learning Is So Effective

”How Google is teaching computers to see” — Inductively

More Research Showing Why Inductive Learning Works

The Picture Word Inductive Model In Science & Social Studies

How to Teach an Inductive Learning Lesson is by Jennifer Gonzalez.

Learning Inductively Works…

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Padlet”

Picture Word Inductive Model with High school Newcomers by Wendi Pillars is an exceptional step-by-step description of how to use one of my favorite ELL teaching strategies.

“Thinking Like A Scientist Can Help Overcome Allure Of Appearances”

Study Says Ability To Identify Patterns Key To Second Language Learning

“Szoter” Will Become A Key Tool For ELL Students & Teachers

“Thinglink” Could Be A Great Tool For ELL’s

What Can Teachers Learn From Target?

“We Should Celebrate Mistakes”

This Is The Best Lesson Plan On Punctuation I’ve Ever Read

Is This The Most Important Research Study Of The Year? Maybe

How to Help Our Learners Discover English is from Gallery Languages.

Inductive and deductive grammar teaching: what is it, and does it work? is from the English Language Teaching Global Blog.

Here Are Some Examples Of Using “Concept Attainment” In Writing Instruction

Study: Inductive Learning Promotes “Transfer Of Knowledge” Better Than Direct Instruction

Statistic Of The Day: Employers Want People Who Can “Recognize Patterns”

Surprise, Surprise – New Research Finds Lectures Aren’t The Best Way To Teach

How To Teach With The Concept Attainment Model is from Teach Thought.

Examples Of Student Work From My ELL History Classes

Here’s A New Phonics Activity I Did Today

Teachers Might Find My “Concept Attainment – Plus” Instructional Strategy Useful

I Did A Short Presentation Today On The Concept Attainment Instructional Strategy – Here Are My Materials

Pattern learning key to children’s language development is the headline of a report on a new study. It just reinforces the value of inductive teaching with ELLs.

Here’s good background on the Concept Attainment Model.

More good info on concept attainment.

Two Quick Examples Of Concept Attainment

October 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Great Explanation Of The Difference Between Inductive & Deductive Teaching & Learning

I’ve written A LOT about the advantages of inductive over deductive learning, and how I also use both in my classroom (You can see many posts here).

The British Council just shared a short post that Paul Kaye wrote six years ago that does a great job explaining the difference between inductive and deductive, and he provides a number of practical examples from the language-learning classroom.

Check out his article, Presenting New Language.

June 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

I Explain The Picture Word Inductive Model In My Latest British Council Post

I’ve often written about the Picture Word Inductive Model, my favorite teaching strategy for Beginning English Language Learners.

I’ve just published a post at The British Council with a more detailed explanation on how to use it in the classroom.

You might be interested in all my previous posts there, which you can find here.

I’m going to add this particular post to The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons.

Here’s an excerpt:


November 7, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Ways To Modify The Picture Word Inductive Model For ELLs


As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of using the Picture Word Inductive Model (PWIM) as a primary instructional strategy for Beginning English Language Learners.

I’ve described it in my books as an:

“inductive learning process where students first brainstorm twenty words related to a picture, then put those words into categories and add new ones that fit those categories. Next they complete a “cloze” (or fill-in-the-blank) activity with sentences about the picture which are then put into categories of their own. They convert those sentence categories into paragraphs, and, finally, arrange the paragraphs into essays.”

The image illustrating this post is an example of what one might look like using the PWIM.

I’ve also written more extensively about it at The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons.

Even though it’s a great strategy, it’s also possible to have too much of a good thing. In other words, if you use the same strategy week-in-week-out, with no variation, it’s eventually going to feel stale to teacher and students alike.

I think it’s important, however, to follow the process I laid-out earlier in this post pretty religiously for a couple of months so that students really “get” it. After that time — in fact, just about at this time of the school year — it’s time to change it up a bit while still sticking to the general outline.

I thought it would be useful to share some of the modifications I’ve made in the past and also invite readers to contribute their own.

Here goes (though they are numbered, these modifications are not listed in any order of preference):

1. After the first stage of labeling the image (which is always tied to a theme — home, food, etc.), ask students to find a similar thematic image online and use one of the numerous new online tools that let you mark-up images so that they look just like a PWIM photo. Students can use the same words and identify new ones, too. My favorite tool for this purpose is Szoter Online because no registration is required, but Thinglink is another viable option. Students can post and share their images on a class blog like ours.

2. Have students come up with questions they have about the image — both literal and interpretative (the teacher should provide some question “stems” like the ones on page two and four in this document). Students could share all their questions and then categorize them — perhaps into “literal” and “interpretative” — and develop more questions that would fit into them. As a follow-up speaking activity, students could take turns asking each other some of those questions and coming up with potential answers.

The teacher could also use slightly different version of this modification by creating a series of questions with sentence stem answers (like this one) that students could complete for one image and then use as a model for future ones.

3. Instead of providing students with a series of one sentence “clozes” about the image that students have to complete and then categorize, have students use the words to create their own one sentence clozes that they share with their classmates. Then students categorize those sentences.

4. Instead of just having students add new words to categories, have them create a picture data set — either online or with images from old magazines. In Picture Data Sets, students add new words, along with words that describe them. One way to do this online is with the many virtual corkboard tools available, with Padlet being the most well-known.

I have to say, though, that I’ve been finding all them rather clunky these days, and think the easiest way for students to create them is to copy and paste images onto a Word document and then create a webpage out of them using Txtbear — it really doesn’t get much more simple than that… Students can then post the link on a class blog and share them.

5. For newcomers, I just have them string together the sentences they write about each category into a paragraph — I want them to begin to gain an understand of basic writing structures and the fact that a paragraph focuses on one main idea. As they began to gain more language fluency, instead of individual sentence clozes, students can be given teacher-created whole paragraph clozes (Wendi Pillars has a good example on her blog. Her same post includes other good ideas for modifying PWIM lessons).

Along with that idea, teachers can make similar clozes for introductions and conclusions as models that students can eventually write entirely on their own.

6. As an “add-on” step, teachers can find a comparable photo to the main one, have students label those words, and then create Venn Diagram and ultimately a compare/contrast essay. I’ve given an example here. Also, read Finding Similar Images To Use For Compare/Contrast Prompts.

7. An idea that one of my student teachers tried out and seemed to work well was having students develop a conversation that people in the picture might have — using the vocabulary words they were learning from the picture.

8. A bilingual aide in my classroom came up with the idea of showing two pictures on the same topic (inside a grocery story and at a fruit and vegetable market); have students create a Venn Diagram comparing the two, and then have them categorize words and sentences based on the Venn Diagram.

Here’s How We Modified The Picture Word Inductive Model Today

I’m sure there are a zillion other potential modifications, so I’m all ears!

September 22, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

More Info On Why Inductive Learning Is So Effective

I have written tons in my books and in this blog about the effectiveness of inductive learning.

It’s the idea of pushing students, and ourselves, to see patterns and concepts in a list of examples, as opposed to telling students the concepts and then giving the examples that fit in them.

TIME Magazine has just published Q&A with Consciousness Researcher Daniel Bor, and he talks about why our minds learn so much from this kind of pattern-seeking. Here’s an excerpt:

So what do you think the purpose of consciousness is?

I think the purpose of it is to draw all the relevant information together in a larger space. It’s almost as if we can’t spot it because we are doing it all the time. Why do we love crossword puzzles and why are people addicted to sudoku? That’s what a huge bit of the cortex is primed to do — to spot [patterns] — and once we spot them we can assimilate them into our pyramid of knowledge and build more layers of strategy, and knowing how to do that makes us incredibly successful at controlling the world.

And that’s why solving puzzles or finding a useful bit of information feels so good?

We get streams of pleasure when we find something that can really help us understand some deep pattern. Sudoku isn’t the most [fun activity], but it sure feels good when you put in that last number. It’s why scientists love doing research. The way I approach my job, it’s like trying to solve a really big fuzzy crossword puzzle and when you do put in that new clue and see the deeper pattern, that’s incredibly pleasurable.

If our brains are hungry for information, then why do we tend to see learning as a chore and fail to recognize it as a huge source of pleasure?

I don’t know. Obviously, more intelligent people get more pleasure from spotting these patterns, but I think almost every normal person does this. I think it’s a pretty pervasive thing but it’s almost as if we can’t notice it because it’s so pervasive.

July 1, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

” How Google is teaching computers to see” — Inductively

How Google is teaching computers to see is an article from Gigaom about Google’s effort to get computers to “see”:

Google is attempting to teach computers to recognize human faces without telling the computing algorithms which faces are human.

It’s using zillions of still images from Google to have computers learn through categorizing what they “see.”  Here’s an excerpt from a Google research paper on what they’re doing, followed by an observation about it in Gigaom article:

this would suggest that it is at least in principle possible that a baby learns to group faces into one class because it has seen many of them and not because it is guided by supervision or rewards.

Understanding the origins of language and how people learn to classify objects is something people are still trying to work out, so Google may be onto something…

It appears that Google using “inductive learning” in this process, a process which I use extensively in my classes and which I’ve written about a lot in my books. Teaching “inductively” generally means providing students with a number of examples from which they can create a pattern and form a concept or rule. Teaching “deductively” is first providing the rule or concept and then having students practice applying it.

In a recent article I wrote for ASCD Educational Leadership, you can read about one example, including how I use a “data set” (an example of one in that article, too).

Google has also shown in a video how Google Translate also uses inductive learning — see The Best Sites For Learning About Google Translate.

This kind of learning has also received a great deal of support from researchers.

You can read more about inductive learning and teaching from past posts in this blog and my books are full of inductive lesson plans.

(Coincidentally, minutes after I published this post I found another new article about inductive learning and language.)

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