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.

October 10, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “Writing Is a Recent Technology”

Daniel Willingham is publishing a series of short videos on literacy this week, and his first one is titled “Writing Is A Recent Technology.”

In it, he talks about a number of things, including the brain and reading and writing. I was particularly struck by what he says about the role of listening on learning to read.

I’ve previously shared other research by Dan.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning.

July 31, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Ways To Encourage Our Students To Get Through “The Last Mile”

I was reading an interesting article today headlined How Do We Solve the Last Mile? It discussed “the stubborn and persistent problems that trip us up so close to the finish line.” It offered suggestions like having college financial aid forms already pre-populated with a fair amount of student info as a way to encourage college entrance. In some way, the suggestions were similar to the idea of “nudges.”

Right after reading that piece, I saw a short excerpt from Dan Willingham’s new book on reading. MindShift published it as What Works For Getting Kids to Enjoy Reading?

In it, he shares a story a teacher told him about the book Guns, Germs, and Steel:

[The teacher] enthusiastically recommended it, and mentioned that he knew the school library had two copies. There were a few murmurs of interest. The next day he checked the library and found both copies still on the shelves. He checked them out, brought them to class, and asked if anyone was interested in reading this book he had mentioned. Five students raised their hands, and he gave the copies to the two most enthusiastic students. So five students were ready to give the book a try if someone put it in their hands, but going to the school library to find it seemed like too much trouble. The library, the teacher told me, was a 30-second walk from his classroom.

Both these articles got me wondering:

What are other “Last Miles” facing our students, and what can we do to help them get to the finish line?

May 21, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On Class Instruction In 2017 – So Far


Here’s another mid-year “Best” list…

I’m adding this list to All Mid-Year 2017 “Best” Lists In One Place.

Three years ago I began publishing a regular Classroom Instruction Resources Of The Week post and have so far published:

The Best Resources On Class Instruction – 2015

The Best Resources On Class Instruction In 2016 – So Far

The Best Resources On Class Instruction In 2016 – Part Two

Here are this year’s choices:

Ten teaching techniques to practise – deliberately. by Tom Sherrington is a great post and well-worth reading it and the links within the post, too!

Here’s a simple way to boost your learning from videos: “Prequestion” is from BPS Digest. Daniel Willingham writes about the same study. I’m adding both links to The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL, where you’ll find other resources related to effective student video viewing.

What makes expert teachers? is by Harry Fletcher-Wood. I’m adding it to The “Best” Lists Of Recommendations About What “Effective” Teachers Do.

Recommended Educational Research Papers for Teachers to Read is a treasure trove of links to many useful studies for teachers to review. It was compiled by Mr. Barton Maths, and recommended on Twitter by Carl Hendrick.

Learning To Learn is an excellent new article at the Harvard Business Review. It highlights four key qualities of an effective learner – aspiration, self-awareness, curiosity, and vulnerability. I’m thinking of dividing the article into four very short sections on each of those qualities and then have students respond to this same prompt for each:

What quality does the writer say is important in order to be an effective learner, and what is her justification? To what extent do you agree or disagree with what she believes? Write an essay responding to these questions; to develop your essay, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observation of others, or any of your reading — including “Learning To Learn” itself.

I’m adding this info to The Best Posts on Writing Instruction, where I collect links to all my writing prompts.

Culturally Responsive Classrooms is from Scholastic. I’m adding it to The Best Resources About “Culturally Responsive Teaching” & “Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy” – Please Share More!

20 Things for Students to Do with Informational Text is from Julie Conlon. It includes a very nice infographic. I’m adding it to Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

Educating Students to “Think Intensively and Critically” is from The Teaching Channel.It’s written by Lisa Rothbard, who also links to a series of excellent lesson plans.

Teaching in the Trump Years (Part 1) is by Larry Cuban. I’m adding it The Best Posts & Articles On How To Teach “Controversial” Topics.

The Power of a Do Now is from Amy Louise Haywood. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For “Do Now” Activities To Begin A Class.

11 Alternatives to “Round Robin” (and “Popcorn”) Reading is by Todd Finley. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Students Reading Aloud Individually In ESL Class — But I Need Your Help Finding Research On The Topic.

15 Reasons Why You Should Read was created by Lauren Zucker’s students. I’m adding it to Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.  Thanks to Kelly Gallagher for the tip.

Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News is from The New York Times Learning Network, and is just about the most exhaustive list of teaching ideas and resources you’re going to find on the topic. I’m adding it to The Best Tools & Lessons For Teaching Information Literacy – Help Me Find More.

Responding to Defiance in the Moment is from Responsive Classroom. I’m adding it to Best Posts On Classroom Management. Thanks to Chris Wejr for the tip.

5 Ways To Respond To Wrong Answers is from Smart Classroom Management. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On The Idea Of “Wait Time.”

Four Ways Teachers Can Support Students of Color is by Jennifer Gonzalez. I’m adding it to The Best Resources About “Culturally Responsive Teaching” & “Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy” – Please Share More!



May 16, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

All My BAM! Radio Shows About Ed Tech

Regular readers know that I do a weekly eight-minute online radio show with BAM! that accompanies my Education Week Teacher columns. They’ve become quite popular and will probably hit 60,000 downloads in this month alone…

I’ve done a lot of them! And, like my column, they cover many different topics (see All My BAM Radio Shows – Linked With Descriptions).

So, to make it a little easier for readers/listeners, I’ve started making thematic lists with links to the shows covering a general topic.

So far, I’ve compiled these lists:

All My BAM! Radio Shows About English Language Learners

All My BAM! Radio Shows About Social Emotional Learning

All My BAM! Radio Shows About Classroom Management

Now, it’s time for the ones I’ve done on ed tech related issues, and I’ll be adding links here to new related shows:

I Am Considering Flipped Learning, and… with Kristina Doubet and Rita Platt.

Successful One-to-One Programs: Do This, Avoid Doing That with Heather Staker and Anne Jenks.

Using Tech To Achieve Common Core Standards with Michele Haiken, Ed.D. and Julie D. Ramsay.

11 Smart Tips for Navigating the Ed Tech Jungle with Anna Bartosik, Jared Covili, Sam Patterson.

Why the Death of Paper Books May Be Greatly Exaggerated with Dan Willingham and Kristin Ziemke.

Ed Tech Problems: Avoiding Those You Can, Managing Those You Can’t with Anne Jenks, Larissa Pahomov, and Jared Covili.

Personalized Learning: Another Buzzword or a “Must-Know” Teaching Strategy? with Allison Zmuda, Diana Laufenberg, Pernille Ripp.

Teaching Strategies 2.0: What Is a Digital Portfolio? Why It Matters with Rusul Alrubail, Michael Fisher

Maker Movement, DYI, 3D Printers: New Fad or Real Path to 21st Century Skills? with Laura Blankenship

What Are the Real Benefits of a 1:1 Program? What Are the Biggest Challenges? with Alice Barr, Dr. Troy Hicks

What Are the Basics Every Teacher Should Know About the Maker Movement? with Sylvia Martinez, Tanya Baker

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