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.

June 26, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Around The Web In ESL/EFL/ELL

Five years ago I began this regular feature where I share a few posts and resources from around the Web related to ESL/EFL or to language in general that have caught my attention.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2017 – So Far. and The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2017 – Part Two. Also, check out A Collection Of My Best Resources On Teaching English Language Learners.

In addition, look for our new book on teaching ELLs, which was published in the Spring of 2018.

Here are this week’s choices:

Lawsuit Over a Student’s Deportation Sparks Furor in Boston Schools is from Ed Week.

Facebook Messenger now provides automatic English/Spanish translation, and will be adding other languages. I know there are divergent views of whether teachers should be “friends” on Facebook with students (see The Best Resources On Teacher/Student Use Of Social Media).  However,  I’ve been “friends” for years with my ELL students.  They often have questions about basic issues (for example, on holidays wondering if school is open) and Facebook messages have been a key tool for communication.  This new feature will make this even easier for teachers who don’t speak Spanish.

How refugee children make American education stronger is from The Conversation. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Looking At Our Students Through The Lens Of Assets & Not Deficits.

Study shows approach can help English learners improve at math word problems is from The University of Kansas. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Teaching Common Core Math To English Language Learners.

Teachers view immigrant, minority parents as less involved in their children’s education is from Eureka Alert. Teachers View Immigrant Parents as Less Involved. That Mindset May Be Hurting Students is from Ed Week and is about the same study. I’m adding both to The Best Parent Engagement Resources For Immigrant Families.

Meet the contestants of this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog competition would be great to show to ELLs and have them use adjective to describe the images. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons.

Family Separations at the Border: What Educators Need to Know is from Colorin Colorado. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Terrible Practice Of Separating Immigrant Parents From Their Children.

A 17-Year-Old Was Told He Couldn’t Attend High School, Even Though He’s A US Citizen is from BuzzFeed.

June 17, 2018
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 2018 – So Far

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

Living with Neighborhood Violence May Shape Teens’ Brains is from Scientific American.

Research finds fair classroom practices disarm threat of evaluation retaliation is from Eureka Alert. I’m adding it to Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers)

It’s time to move beyond the word gap is from Brookings. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap”

The “Debunking” of Hart & Risley and How We Use Science is by Daniel Willingham. I’m adding it to the same list.

What doctors wear really does matter, study finds is from Science Daily. I’m adding it to The Best (Or, At Least, The Most Interesting) Posts On Teacher Attire.

Breaking Down the Myths That Lead Young Students to Miss School is from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Student Absenteeism.

This is your brain detecting patterns is from Science Daily. I’m adding it to The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching.

The Problem with “Learning Styles” is from Scientific American. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Issue Of “Learning Styles”

American Kids Keep Getting Better and Better at Reading is from Mother Jones. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Pointing Out That Our Schools Are Not Failing — Please Suggest More.

Students’ Healthy Habits Can Boost Their Chances for College is from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On How Exercise Helps Learning — Please Contribute Other Resources.

The New York Times published Where Boys Outperform Girls in Math: Rich, White and Suburban Districts. Here’s additional info on that study.

Here’s a good commentary on that study:

May 12, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Ed Policy Issues


Here are some recent useful posts and articles on educational policy issues (You might also be interested in The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2017 – Part Two):

A Quick Centennial State Guide To Questions About Teacher Pay is from Colorado Public Radio. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Teacher Compensation Crisis.

What you don’t know about the schools at the top of U.S. News’ 2018 high school rankings appeared in The Washington Post.

Effect Sizes and the 10-Foot Man is by Robert Slavin. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

Making Teachers’ Strikes Illegal Won’t Stop Them appeared in The New York Times.

Political veteran vs. political outsiders in race for California schools superintendent is from The San Francisco Chronicle.

Insider vs. Outsider Superintendents is by Larry Cuban.

How to Use Metrics Instead of Being Used by Them is from Bloomberg. I’m adding it to The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven”

How teacher strikes in other states help California unions make their case is from Ed Source.

Gates, Zuckerberg team up on new education initiative is from ABC News. Gates Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Team Up to Seek ‘State of the Art’ Ideas for Schools is from Ed Week. I’m adding both to The Best Resources For Learning About The Role Of Private Foundations In Education Policy.

April 28, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Impact Of Asking “Could” Instead Of “Should” In The Classroom

When Solving Problems, Think About What You Could Do, Not What You Should Do is an interesting new article at the Harvard Business Review.

Here’s an excerpt:

There are a lot of ways to apply this in the classroom.

Classroom management is one obvious area. I have asked students countless times “What should you do?” or “What should you have done?” after they have exhibited inappropriate classroom behavior. Using the word “should” carries the clear message that I am judging them. Obviously, I am. However, using the word “could” instead communicates the message that there is not just one answer, and there isn’t one. “Could” clearly would promote a less adversarial tone.

It reminds me of a piece from Doug Lemov on “formative writing.”  He points out how a teacher used this prompt:

“How might Alice Walker’s experiences sharecropping have influenced her writing?”

The use of the word “might” helped students feel more comfortable about writing and less worried about being wrong.

I was also struck by another part of the HBR article:

some tension is a positive thing, because it can help get people to move past should to could. When we experience conflict, research finds, we generate more original solutions than when we are in a more cooperative mood. 

I agree with this on a number of levels.  You can read more about my perspective at Why school reform (and other) debates get nasty, which is by Daniel Willingham, and The Washington Post published my response near the bottom.

I’m adding this post to:

The Best Posts & Articles About Providing Students With Choices

Best Posts On Classroom Management

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