Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Race To The Top Has Been A ‘Fiasco’”

Race To The Top Has Been A ‘Fiasco’ is Part Two in my series on the Race To The Top program, which has just had its fifth anniversary.

Today, Barnett Berry, Ariel Sacks, John Thompson, Alice Mercer and David B. Cohen weigh in with their thoughts, and I include comments from readers, too.

Here are some excerpts:






July 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Amazing Video: 1980 Bush & Reagan Comments On If Undocumented Children Should Be Able To Attend Schools

This is amazing.

What has happened to the Republicans?

I’m adding this to The Best Resources About The New Push For Immigration Reform.

July 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On Why Breakfast Is Important For Teenagers

I’m preparing some new lessons for this year, and one will be on the importance of breakfast.

I’m adding this list to The Best Resources To Help Promote A Physically Healthy Lifestyle For Our Students.

Let me know if you have other suggestions:

Breakfast ‘keeps teenagers lean’ is from the BBC.

A Better Breakfast Can Boost a Child’s Brainpower is from NPR.

Good Health: Breakfast, exercise boost brain activity is a report from a Detroit news show.

My teenage students still get a kick out of Sesame Street:

July 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Breaking News” Is An Engaging Tool For Reading…News


Breaking News is a current events news-reader designed in an intriguing way. You can type in whatever topic you want to read about — soccer, major news, refugees — and you’re provided with a list of headlines to stories about it. Clicking on the headlines will take you to the story. But the real interesting part of the site is that if you click on a globe icon on the upper right of the page, you’ll go to a world map showing you the location of the where the stories are originating. Clicking on the dots will also take you to the story.

I’m adding it to The Best Visually Engaging News Sites, which I just completely updated and revised.

Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

July 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources To Help Promote A Physically Healthy Lifestyle For Our Students

I’ve published a fair amount number of posts about lessons and tools I use to help promote a physically healthy lifestyle for my students, including research that shows how essential it is for learning.

I thought it would be useful to me, and to readers, if I tried to bring them all together in one post.

First, I’ll start off with what I think are the best resources for giving a good overview of research and resources about the importance of schools taking a role in this kind of health promotion:

Health and Academic Achievement is from The Centers For Disease Control.

Health and Academics is also from The CDC.

Healthier Students Are Better Learners is from Teachers College at Columbia University.

Ready to learn? The science behind the experiment – video is from The BBC and discusses a major study on health, teens and learning.

Health Education: Building Knowledge and Skills for a Healthy Life is from Learning First.

And now here are some of my other health-related “Best” lists:

The Best Resources On How Exercise Helps Learning — Please Contribute Other Resources

The Best Resources For Helping Teens Learn About The Importance Of Sleep

The Best Resources On Teens & Hearing Loss

The Best Sites For Learning About Nutrition & Food Safety

The Best Life Expectancy Calculators

The Best health sites for English language learners

The Best Sites For ELL’s To Learn About The Dangers Of Smoking

The Best Resources For Learning About World Malaria Day

The Best Sites For Learning About The Swine Flu Outbreak

The Best Web Resources For Learning About HIV & AIDS

The Best Online Health Assessments For ELL’s

The Best Online Resources For Learning About Health Care Reform

The Best Health Sites — 2010

The Best Resources For Learning About the Health Care Debate

The Best Interactives Showing How Obamacare Works

The Best Resources On Why Breakfast Is Important For Teenagers

Let me know what I’m missing!

July 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Still Looking For Student Project Ideas That Include Family Engagement

Earlier this year, I published The Best Student Projects That Need Family Engagement — Contribute Your Lessons! over at my parent engagement blog.

I heard from a number of teachers sharing projects they have their students do that include some kind of specific family involvement, ranging from interviews to collecting bugs. You can read about them over at that list.

I thought I’d put out another call to readers who might have missed it then, or who are new readers of this blog.

So if you do any kind of student project with a family component, please leave a comment on this post and I’ll add it to that list!

July 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

More Online “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories

July 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two Good Resources On Asking Good Questions

July 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Even More MacGyver Clips Showing “Transfer Of Learning”

I just discovered a MacGyver wiki that has a List of problems solved by MacGyver. It lists all the episodes, along with the problems he solved in each one and how he solved them. In addition, today I discovered that CBS has put all the MacGyver episodes on YouTube.

Based on quick review, here are a few more clips I’m adding to The Best Movie Scenes, Stories, & Quotations About “Transfer Of Learning.” I’m sure there are more if you want to take the time to look through the wiki. On some of them, I have included quotes from the wiki. I was originally going to use TubeChop to just share the clips themselves, but it didn’t seem to be working well today. So, I’ve embedded some of the entire episodes with instructions of when to start them:

On this one, the Pilot Episode, “”MacGyver plugs a sulfuric acid leak with chocolate. He states that chocolate contains sucrose and glucose. The acid reacts with the sugars to form elemental carbon and a thick gummy residue (proved to be correct on Mythbusters).” Start at 35:40 and end at 38:20

On this next one, Fire and Ice, “MacGyver opens a vault and steals back some diamonds first dusting the buttons for fingerprints with graphite from a pencil. The vault has a three-digit combination with unique digits and six buttons. The dusting narrows down the 120 combinations to 6 and the vault is easily opened. He then neatly gets the diamonds in a small bag using a paper as a funnel. (31.30) “Math and science do prove useful.” Start at 32:30 and end at 34:15.

Here, “MacGyver created a diversion and a surprise attack using an inner tube, pressured air, chloride, a catalyst, two glass jars and a gas mask. The inflatable boat was put in a truck and filled with air until the glass broke creating a loud noise. Meanwhile MacGyver filled the two gas bombs filling one glass jar with chloride and the other with a catalyst. Then he threw them at the bad guys resulting in a reaction producing toxic chlorine gas when the two liquids mixed. (36.00) When I was a kid my grandpa gave me two things I’ll never forget; a subscription of popular mechanics and a chemistry set. And this place was one BIG chemistry set! – MacGyver” Start at 36:00 and ends at 44:00

July 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Do You Know Of Movie/TV Scenes Showing The Value Of Taking Risks & Making Mistakes?

I’ve got a ton of resources at The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures, including the videos that everybody knows (Michael Jordan commercial, Famous Failures, etc.).

However, I don’t have any clips from movies or TV shows that illustrate the idea — in a funny or serious way.

Do you have any suggestions?

July 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Around The Web In ESL/EFL/ELL

I’ve started a somewhat 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:

Academic Language and ELLs: What Teachers Need to Know is from Colorin Colorado. I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary.

The Common Core in Poughkeepsie, NY includes many videos of ELL teachers at work. I’m adding it to The Best Online Videos Showing ESL/EFL Teachers In The Classroom.

7 Language-Learning Myths That Are Holding Us Back is from Forbes.

Katherine Bilsborough – Taking the stress out of homework: 5 tips and 5 tasks is from The British Council. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Homework Issues.

Games To Learn English is a nice collection of online games. I’m adding it to
The Best Collections Of Online Educational Games.

Group Collaboration- Crossword Puzzles is from Carissa Peck.

July 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

July’s Infographics & Interactives Galore – Part Four

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:

Map: The happiest places in America comes from Vox. I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Learn About…Happiness?

Mapping the Spread of Drought Across the U.S. is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On California’s Drought.

30 Graphics That Explain the Last 100 Years is from Made From History. I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About World History.

I’m adding this next interactive to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures: (strangely, it might now show up this post. If it doesn’t for you, click on it and you will go to “Edible Europe”)

Edible Europe

And I’m adding this one to the same “Best” list:

Driving � What�s the Norm Worldwide

I’m adding this last infographic to the same “drought” Best list I mentioned earlier:

The Most Water-Consuming States Are The Ones In Drought

July 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Are Researchers Who Helped Popularize VAM Having Second Thoughts?

Two-and-a-half years ago, economists Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff published an extremely influential and well-known study that popularized Value-Added Measurements as a teacher evaluation tool and has caused huge damage to teachers, students and their families. You can see a collection of commentaries on their study here. They have also been public advocates of policy solutions using their studies as evidence (that same link will lead you to examples).

Flashforward to now. Gene V. Glass (you will be able to see an interview I did with he and his co-author David Berliner next week in my Ed Week blog — their book is titled 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education)> just tweeted out a new report from those same three researchers that indicate they might be having second thoughts.

It seemed to me a bit odd — they seemed to be defending VAM for most of it, but then ended with this kicker:



I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation.

July 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

It Doesn’t Matter If It’s “Effective” If Students Won’t Do It

An article in District Administration Magazine raises issues about the effectiveness of Booktrack, a website and app that provides a “soundtrack” of music, street sounds, etc. to a book (students can also create their own sounds). Some question research (funded by Booktrack) that suggests it improves comprehension.

I’ve previously posted about Booktrack, and think highly of it. I’ve seen some of my least interested readers regularly get very engaged in a book they can read on their phone using Booktrack.

And that’s the key — engagement. I’m not sure if students using Booktrack would score better than a control group not using it on a comprehension test.

But I also don’t care.

What I do know is that students who wouldn’t read are going to score a lot less on a comprehension test than those who did (not that test scores are the be all and end all of assessments).

It gets to an issue of previously written about a few times.

Research might be able to identify the best ways to get things done, but it doesn’t really matter if people won’t do those things.

Research can’t exist in a vacuum, especially where our students are concerned.

You can read these past posts (and don’t miss the comments section with them) for further discussion on this issue:

How Reading Strategies Can Increase Student Engagement

The “Best Learning Techniques” Are Useless If Students Won’t Do Them — A Critical Take On A Well Done Study

July 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

July’s Best Tweets — Part Four

'Twitter' photo (c) 2010, West McGowan - license:

Every month I make a few short lists highlighting my choices of the best resources I through (and learned from) Twitter, but didn’t necessarily include them in posts here on my blog.

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 post.

If you don’t use Twitter, you can also check-out all of my “tweets” on Twitter profile page.

You might also be interested in The Best Tweets Of 2014 — So Far.

I use Storify to “curate” my best tweets:

July 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Almost Done With My Third Book On Helping Students Develop Intrinsic Motivation!


I’m about two-thirds down with the third book in my series on helping students develop intrinsic motivation, and I think it’s looking pretty good. I might be biased, though :)

Its tentative title is Building a Community of Self-Motivated Learners: Strategies for Teaching Resilience, Respect, and Responsibility , and Routledge should have it published by next Spring.

In the meantime, though, feel free to check out my six books that have been published already. You can find free resources related to each of them here.

After I get the completed manuscript done next month for this motivation book, my colleague Katie Hull Sypnieski and I have to begin work on a sequel to our surprisingly popular book, The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide, published by Jossey-Bass. The manuscript for that one is due next summer.

After that, who knows? I’m running out of space in this motivation book, so I might even end up doing a fourth title in that series….

July 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Race To The Top Was A ‘Wasted Opportunity’”

Race To The Top Was A ‘Wasted Opportunity’ is my latest Education Week Teacher post, and comes on the fifth anniversary of the unveiling of that program.

Today, educators John Kuhn and Gary Rubinstein provide response to this question. On Monday, I’ll be publishing guest responses from several more educators, as well as comments from readers.

Here are some excerpts:



July 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Videos: “Forward Thinking Transfer Of Learning” With James Bond

I promise – this will be my last Transfer of Learning post for the day!

Two kinds of transfers of learning are called “backward-reaching” and “forward-thinking.” In “backward-reaching,” you’re applying what you have previously learned to a new situation — that’s what was demonstrated in the Karate Kid and MacGyver videos I posted earlier today.

In a TEDx talk by Marc Chun about transfer, he talked about James Bond being a good example of “forward-thinking transfer.” In other words, when the scientist Q would give him his deadline gadgets prior to a mission, he would need to think about what situations he might use them in.

Here are some clips of Bond getting those gadgets from Q. The first one is probably the best one. The last two are compilations that include getting the gadgets prior to a mission and using gadgets. Unfortunately, they’re out of order so you might see a clip of him getting one followed by a clip of his using another. Too bad they’re not coordinated.

I’m adding these clips to The Best Movie Scenes, Stories, & Quotations About “Transfer Of Learning” – Help Me Find More!

July 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Videos: MacGyver & Transfer Of Learning

Here are some great MacGyver videos where he demonstrates transfer of learning — he has to remember what he learned in the past and apply that knowledge to entirely new situations in order to save his life. I’m adding these videos to The Best Movie Scenes, Stories, & Quotations About “Transfer Of Learning”:

July 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Videos: The Karate Kid & Transfer Of Learning


As regular readers know, I’ve been trying to find movie scenes demonstrating transfer of learning (see The Best Movie Scenes, Stories, & Quotations About “Transfer Of Learning” – Help Me Find More!).

I happened upon a comment in a paper about transfer saying the Karate Kid was a good example, and they sure were right.

Pat Morita having the kid do a variety of tasks like waxing a car and painting a fence helps him develop skills that he is then able to apply in a totally different situation. If you don’t remember the movie, here is the progression of scenes:

I’m still looking for more suggestions of movie scenes demonstrating transfer, so feel free to make them in the comments.