Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 16, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Dan Willingham Writes The Best Piece On “Grit” That I’ve Seen

“Grit” is all over the news lately, and I’ve previously shared a number of related resources (see The Best Resources For Learning About “Grit”).

In fact, there’s been so much written about it, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start or who to believe.

But that won’t be a problem anymore because Dan Willingham has clearly written the best (and most accessible) analysis of grit that I have seen – and, believe me, I’ve seen a lot of them! (and this is one day after he gave the best advice you’ll see on students listening to music in the classroom!).

It’s in this summer’s issue of the American Educator under the title of “Grit” Is Trendy, but Can It Be Taught? and it’s freely available online.

He provides an excellent analysis of the research, along with reviewing common critiques.

Here’s one short excerpt:

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You’ll definitely want to the the whole piece, but I also wanted to share another excerpt that provided an angle on grit that I don’t think you’ll find elsewhere:

Another perspective is that we might want to measure grit not for evaluation but as a way of communicating to students that this characteristic matters. If the ethos of a school includes the ideal of intellectual passion, that individuals ought to find an idea or project or skill they want to pursue for years, despite difficulties or setbacks, because it fascinates them—well, isn’t that grit? And if that’s an intellectual ideal at the school, doesn’t it make sense to check in with students periodically to see if they have found their passion? Note that this is a different role for grit. Now, grit is not a means to an end (such as academic achievement or success in the military) but an end in itself; the hope is that students will find something they love enough to be gritty about.

So go read it — it’s not short, but it’s not going to take you that long to read it, either.

June 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Excellent Advice From Dan Willingham On Students Listening To Music In Class

I’ve written in the past about students listening to music in the past (see The Best Research On Listening To Music When Studying).

I’ve generally found that playing any kind of music to an entire class ends up being distracting – at least to some. However, I’ve also seen that letting particular individual students listen to music on their phones can help them concentrate, and is worth the work of helping other students understand why I don’t let everybody do it (see “Fair Isn’t Always Equal” by Rick Wormeli).

Recently, Dr. Dan Willingham wrote a useful post on the research around multi-tasking.

What really caught my eye, though, was a response to a question in wrote in the comments section about listening to music. It offered great common sense, and I wish other education researchers were as plain-spoken as he:


May 28, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

References For Dan Willingham’s Ed Week Post


Ackerman, R., & Lauterman, T. (2012). Taking reading comprehension exams on screen or on paper? A metacognitive analysis of learning texts under time pressure. Computers in human behavior28(5), 1816-1828.

Chen, G., Cheng, W., Chang, T. W., Zheng, X., & Huang, R. (2014). A comparison of reading comprehension across paper, computer screens, and tablets: Does tablet familiarity matter?. Journal of Computers in Education1(2-3), 213-225.

Connell, C., Bayliss, L., & Farmer, W. (2012). Effects of eBook Readers and Tablet Computers on Reading Comprehension. International Journal of Instructional Media39(2). 131-140.

Daniel, D. B., & Willingham, D. T. (2012). Electronic textbooks: why the rush?.Science335, 1569.

Daniel, D. B., & Woody, W. D. (2013). E-textbooks at what cost? Performance and use of electronic v. print texts. Computers & Education62, 18-23.

Foasberg, N. M. (2014). Student reading practices in print and electronic media.College & Research Libraries75(5), 705-723.

Hasher, L., & Zacks, R. T. (1979). Automatic and effortful processes in memory. Journal of experimental psychology: General108(3), 356-388

Kim, H., & Kim, J. (2013). Reading from an LCD monitor versus paper: Teenagers’ reading performance. International Journal of Research Studies in Educational Technology2(1), 1-10.

Mangen, A., & Kuiken, D. (2014) Lost in an iPad: Narrative engagement on paper and tablet. Scientific Study of Literature, 4, 150-177. They report readers are less likely to say they are “transported”when reading narrative on a screen.

Mizrachi, D. (2015). Undergraduates’ Academic Reading Format Preferences and Behaviors. The Journal of Academic Librarianship41(3), 301-311.

Olsen, A. N., Kleivset, B., & Langseth, H. (2013). E-Book Readers in Higher Education. SAGE Open3(2), DOI: 10.1177/2158244013486493

Rasmusson, M. (2015) Reading paper-reading screen. A comparison of reading literacy in two different modes. Nordic Studies in Education, 34, 3-19.

Scholastic Publishers (2014). Kids & Family Reading Report, 5th ed. Downloaded August 5, 2015

Shepperd, J. A., Grace, J. L., & Koch, E. J. (2008). Evaluating the electronic textbook: is it time to dispense with the paper text?. Teaching of Psychology,35(1), 2-5.

Woody, W. D., Daniel, D. B., & Baker, C. A. (2010). E-books or textbooks: Students prefer textbooks. Computers & Education55(3), 945-948.

Zucker, T. A., Moody, A. K., & McKenna, M. C. (2009). The effects of electronic books on pre-kindergarten-to-grade 5 students’ literacy and language outcomes: A research synthesis. Journal of Educational Computing Research,40(1), 47-87.

March 18, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Excellent Article By Dan Willingham On Reading

American Educator, the quarterly magazine of the American Federation of Teachers, always has interesting and useful articles in it, and this Spring edition is no different.

The most useful one to teachers, though, is clearly the one by Daniel Willingham. For The Love Of Reading: Engaging Students in a Lifelong Pursuit is a must-read article for every educator. It’s adapted from his new book, Raising Kids Who Read: What Parents and Teachers Can Do.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources Documenting The Effectiveness of Free Voluntary Reading.

February 12, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Interesting Study On “Transfer” Reinforces Effectiveness Of “Learning By Doing”


I’ve written about about “transfer of learning” and how I’ve tried to apply it in class (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer” — Help Me Find More).

And I’ve shared a lot about the importance of assisting students to follow the idea of “learning by doing” (see The Best Research Demonstrating That Lectures Are Not The Best Instructional Strategy and The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior”).

Today, a post by Daniel Willingham (A New Idea to Promote Transfer) about a study on transfer of learning brings those two ideas together.

The study itself is pretty incomprehensible to a non-academic like me, but, as usual, Dan does a great job putting it into layperson’s terms.

Analogies are great ways to promote transfer (see my Ed Week video at the bottom of this post for more info). But even they don’t always work.

The study found that if teachers first introduce the analogy/story and then ask students to write a similar story before they challenge students to apply the analogy to a solving a problem, they’ll do a much better job of transfer than if they are asked to apply only the analogy given by the teacher.

It seems to me this, once again, reinforces the importance of learning by doing. It’s similar to research that shows students find lessons more relevant if they are challenged to write about how they will apply it in real life instead of teachers telling them the connection (see The Best Ideas For Helping Students Connect Lessons To Their Interests & The World).

However, it’s hard for me to see how this study has other practical implications in helping students understand transfer of learning outside of incorporating it in the context of a specific lesson on transfer (like the ones I’ve done and written about).  Let me know if you have other ideas.

January 18, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Classroom Instruction Resources Of The Week

Each week, I publish a post or two 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 (& Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2016 – Part Two and The Best Resources On Class Instruction In 2017 – Part Two.

Here are this week’s picks:

Everyday Equity in the Classroom: A Start is by Josh Parker and appears in Ed Week. I’m adding it to New & Revised: Resources To Help Us Predominantly White Teachers To Reflect On How Race Influences Our Work.

Social Justice: Poems for Kids is from I’m adding it to The Best World Poetry Day Resources – Help Me Find More.

Inviting Controversy Into Our Classrooms appeared in Cult of Pedagogy. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On How To Teach “Controversial” Topics.

Treating Your Classroom Like “Prime Real Estate” is by Regie Routman and appeared in Middleweb.

Fast Talkers: Are Kids Getting the Right Message About Good Reading? is from Teach Learn Grow. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Reading Fluency (Including How To Measure It).

I’m adding this tweet to the same list. It’s importance evidence backing up the value of fluency:

Seven Characteristics (and Six Tools) That Support Meaningful Feedback is from ASCD. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students.

Here are some excellent resources on One-Word New Year’s Resolutions. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Help Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Succeed.

December 23, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Parent Engagement Resources – 2017


You may or may not know that I have another blog focusing on parent engagement resources. And I have scores of related “Best” lists here.

Over the past few years, though, I’ve just been sharing links to related resources there, and have used Storify to collect them.

Storify, however, announced this past week that they are closing down next May. So, I’m beginning to sort through those collections and move key resources to other platforms.

This list is my first attempt at this review. For now, I’m just collecting the most key links here and at some later date will add them to the appropriate “Best” lists.

I’ll continue to collect parent engagement resources at my other blog. However, I’ll be using the TweetDeck “collections” feature for those future posts.

I’m adding this post to All 2017 “Best” Lists In One Place.

Here are my choices:

Analysis: 4 Steps Schools Can Take to Boost Family Engagement and Make Parents Partners in Their Kids’ Success is from The 74.

Why Behavioral Approaches to Fighting Poverty Are So Controversial

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