Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 5, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “The Endless Loop Of Negative Attention”

Later this month, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Last August, I re-started a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ve been posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

Here are some compilations from past years:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

This post originally appeared in 2016:

Negative attention from teachers can lead to more negative student behaviors is an article at Eureka Report (see Negative attention from teachers can lead to more negative student behaviors) about research finding what all teachers know already — often the more negative attention you focus on a student will result in more behavior problems, not fewer ones.

Of course, just because we know it works that way doesn’t mean that many of us stop ourselves from doing it!

If I find myself in that kind of endless loop, I generally try a first step of having a conversation with the student that starts this way:

“I think I’m calling your name out and getting on your case too much. I’m not feeling good about it, and I suspect that you aren’t, either. Sometimes what I’ve done in the past is, instead of calling out students names, we arrange a sign – like my tapping on the desk once, or saying a word – that reminds the student to get refocused. Could we try something like that? What would be a sign that you’d like me to give?”

That conversation, applying the sign, and combining it with a lot of praise for specific positive behaviors, usually – though, unfortunately, not always, succeeds in turning the corner.

Here’s an excerpt from the Eureka Report article:

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I’m adding this info to The Best Posts On Classroom Management.

February 4, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “KQED Interviews Me About Saul Alinsky & His Connection To Teaching”

Later this month, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Last August, I re-started a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ve been posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

Here are some compilations from past years:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

This post originally appeared in 2016:

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Two days after Ben Carson suggested that Saul Alinsky was, and Hillary Clinton is, a devil worshiper, the KQED Mindshift blog published an interview with me about how I apply his work in the classroom (regular readers might remember that I spent nineteen years as a community organizer with the group Alinsky founded eighty years ago).

Check out Books Teachers Share: Larry Ferlazzo and Rules for Radicals.

February 3, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “The Last Two World Series Champions Emphasized Social Emotional Learning Skills”

Later this month, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Last August, I re-started a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ve been posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

Here are some compilations from past years:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

This post originally appeared in 2016:

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The Cubs built the best team in baseball by scouting for soft skills is a new article from Quartz describing some of the methods the World Series champion Chicago Cubs used to evaluate potential players.

Here’s an excerpt:

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Is it just a coincidence that last year’s winners did the same thing? Check out my post from a year ago: Quotes Of The Day: The Kansas City Royals Manager Sounds Like An Excellent Teacher

And they’re not the only sport teams having success prioritizing SELS. Check out The Best Ways To Use Stephen Curry & The Warriors For Teaching Social Emotional Learning Skills.

I’m adding it this info to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources.

February 2, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “Ways A Mainstream Teacher Can Support An ELL Newcomer In Class”

Later this month, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Last August, I re-started a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ve been posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

Here are some compilations from past years:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

This post originally appeared in 2016:

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In addition to teaching full-time in high school during the day, I’m on the adjunct faculty in the teacher education programs at California State University, Sacramento and the University of California, Davis.  I’m finding an important question keeps on cropping up:

How do I teach a newcomer, with next-to-zero English proficiency, who is placed in my mainstream classroom without any additional outside support being provided?

Unfortunately, I suspect that this is a very common issue for teachers across the United States – a newcomer is “parachuted” into their classes and they’re just told to “integrate” the student into their instruction.

Here are some suggestions – from readers and from me:

MY NUMBER ONE PIECE OF ADVICE: Remember, your newcomer student is as intelligent as any native-English speaker you have in your classroom.  He/she is just new to the English language.  Start off by reading this piece that Katie Hull and I have written: Do’s & Don’ts for Teaching English-Language Learners.  And, please, don’t make the mistakes of speaking loudly in English to them or giving them a seat at the very back of the room.

 

PROVIDE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

* Learn their story – why their family came here, what their interests are, goals they might have for their life.  If you cannot speak their home language and/or can’t find another staffperson or student who can, using Google Translate is a very viable option.   Using the audio translation mode, it will automatically provide verbal interpretation.   It’s not perfect by any means, but you should be able to have a basic conversation. Just last month, Google announced a breakthrough in improving their Translate tool for some languages and expects to apply a similar tech upgrade to all of them.

 

PROVIDE ACADEMIC SUPPORT

* Provide access to a computer or tablet (I often will let a student use my “teacher” computer).  If a student has zero or next-to-zero English, the best help any teacher – no matter what subject they are teaching – can provide is support to students in developing basic English communication skills.  Duolingo, LingoHut, USA Learns and English Central are the four best online tools for that kind of support (here are other language-learning sites, too).  Doing this – for a short time, at least – can help them begin to develop self-confidence, get them familiar with online tools they can also use at home (if they have Internet access there) and give you some time to develop a longer-term plan on how you are going to teach them your content matter and pull together needed resources.

* If the newcomer is literate in his/her home language, you can also provide access to online materials in their language that are comparable to what you are teaching in English to the rest of your students.   Many such resources can be found at The Best Multilingual & Bilingual Sites For Math, Social Studies, & Science.

*If you are fortunate enough to speak your newcomer’s language, using the Preview, View and Review method is an option (preview the lesson in the home language, then the main lesson in English, and then review it in the home language).  I’ve also used the bilingual resources listed in the previous suggestion in the same way – previewing and reviewing with those materials.

*There are many sites that provide similar high-quality materials on multiple subjects using different “levels” of text.  For example, an article on the Electoral College might be edited for three or four different reading levels.   Using a high English level version of one for most of your students and a simplified version for your newcomer is a fairly easy way to make content accessible.  In fact, there are tools that let you do the same for any text you copy and paste into them.  You can find links to all these options at The Best Places To Get The “Same” Text Written For Different “Levels.”

*There are a number of content-specific books that are designed to be particularly accessible to ELLs – you can see a list of a few of them at The Best Books For Teaching & Learning ESL/EFL. I use some of the books listed in my history and English classes (note that, though the book titles are all accurate, the links where to purchase them might be out-of-date).  You can find other content-specific books at The Best Places To Buy ESL/EFL Books. Software & Multimedia.  Providing these textbook alternatives, which likely cover similar subjects to the ones you use with the majority of your students, could be a useful scaffold.

*At the very least, make sure you have a bilingual dictionary in your newcomer’s student language.

*At our high school, seniors often get a class period when they are T.A.’s (teaching assistants) or “Peer Tutors.”  With support and minimal training from me, a student who doesn’t even speak the newcomer’s home language can provide invaluable support to them.  In addition, having the title “peer tutor” can look better on a senior’s transcript when applying to college.

*Inductive teaching emphasizes pattern-seeking, which is a skill found to be particularly important to those learning a new language (and it’s important for everybody else, too!).  If you presently employ inductive methods in your instruction, creating more simple versions for your newcomer should be fairly easy, though would take a little extra time.  If you are not using them now, I’d encourage you to consider experimenting with it.  You can learn more at The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching.  In particular, you might want to read how I use it: Get Organized Around Assets and The Picture Word Inductive Model.

*If your newcomer does not have Internet access at home (or even if he/she does), providing him/her with accessible books they can read at home can be a big help – plenty of research documents the importance of home libraries.  Our local Friends of the Library has provided hundreds of free books for our newcomer students, and you can also print out many online (see The Best Sources For Free & Accessible Printable Books).

*If your school has a specialized class where the newcomer is learning English, regularly talk with their teacher to learn more about the student and to both listen to – and offer – ideas how you can both support the student in their classes.

Karen MacKenzie:

Prioritize – choose two or three concepts from the unit you are teacher and work hard to get those across to your newcomers. Trying to ensure the student understands every little last thing will be overwhelming for you both.

 

PROVIDE SOCIAL SUPPORT

*Provide a peer mentor to your newcomer – ideally, someone who speaks their home language.  At our school, peer mentors leave one of their classes for fifteen minutes each week and chats with their “mentee.”  You can read more about what we do at Here Are The Instructions I Give Mentors To Our ELLs – Help Me Make Them Better.

* Talk privately to individual students who have demonstrated empathy in the past about their reaching out to your newcomer.  Perhaps share with them this story:

 

What do you think is missing from this list?

ADDENDUM:

Since I originally published this post, I realized I forgot to include a few other strategies:

Though I discus Google Translate, I forgot to mention its relatively new ability to “read” text, including print textbooks and PowerPoint slides, by using its camera function (see Video: “How Google Translate Makes Signs Instantly Readable”).

In fact, Google just published this video that highlights that feature and the features I mentioned in the earlier post:

In addition, I neglected to mention the obvious strategy of showing English subtitled with any videos you show.

Finally, this was an idea suggested by one of the credential candidates at my California State University, Sacramento, course: if you are teaching whole novels in your class, why not get a version of it in your ELL’s home language, if available?

Also, see The Best Online Resources For Teachers of Pre-Literate ELL’s & Those Not Literate In Their Home Language.

February 1, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: Remembering “Breaking The Plane” Solved My Classroom Problems This Week

Later this month, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Last August, I re-started a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ve been posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

Here are some compilations from past years:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

This post originally appeared in 2016:

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On Monday and Tuesday of this week, my English Language Learner classes were going fine, but students in my Theory of Knowledge classes were restless and not very focused.

I initially attributed it to a combination of nervousness over the implications of the Presidential election and eagerness for our week-long Thanksgiving break to begin on Friday. Then, this morning on the way to work, I realized, as I said in the last paragraph, that there didn’t appear to be any issues in my ELL classes and that the problems were taking place in my  afternoon TOK classes. I then began reviewing in my mind if I was doing anything differently in the classes since, really, my instructional moves are generally similar — lots of small group work, movement, fast-pace.

All of sudden, Doug Lemov’s phrase, “Breaking The Plane,” came to me. It’s the catchy term he uses to describe the age-old teacher move of not staying in front of the class and, instead, moving around the room(you can read his piece, What is ‘Breaking the Plane’?, which is on The Best Posts On Classroom Management list).

I’ve been feeling tired this week (I guess I’m ready for the break, too!) and realized I had been lazy in my afternoon TOK classes and not been “breaking the plane” – I’d been hanging out on my stool in the front.

This afternoon, I shook-off my tiredness in the afternoon and went back to “breaking the plane.”

Everything went back to normal.

Even though moving around the room is a common classroom management strategy (and one constantly encouraged Jim Peterson, our principal), I’m not sure if I would have identified the problem and the “fix” so quickly if it wasn’t for Doug’s easily remembered catchy phrase.

Another example that words do matter!

January 31, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “The Elephant In The Room In The Talent vs. Practice Debate”

In February, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Leading up to it, I’m re-starting a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ll be re-posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

This post originally appeared in 2016:

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An article in last week’s New Yorker, Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, is the latest salvo in attempts to debunk the popularized mythology that people can become experts in any field through practice. Of course, as I’ve previously written several times, these attacks are on “straw men” since few people actually take that position. In fact, deliberate practice is not the major factor in developing expertise, but it is the most important element in developing expertise that is within a person’s individual control. (see Deliberate Practice & Red Herrings and Deliberate Practice, The Olympics & Red Herrings).

But all these recent studies pitting genetic talent versus practice are missing a huge elephant in the room — “natural” talent isn’t really that “natural.”

Plenty of research has shown that a person’s environment plays a massive role in determining if that natural genetic talent actually develops. For example, a child living in poverty is less likely to have their genetic benefits realized than a middle-class child with less stress and better nutrition. You can read about these studies at my previous posts:

This Is The Most Accessible Piece Out There On The “Nature/Nurture” Debate

Study Finds That Nurture Equals Nature In The United States

New Studies Highlight Blurry Line Between Nature & Nurture

So, instead of beating up on the position that few people are taking that practice is more important than talent, I wish these researchers would put their energies into supporting getting our students’ natural talent maximized through social and political policy changes.

Why dump on a proven practice (deliberate practice) that has been shown to be an effective individual improvement strategy, and then contrast it with the inaccurate image that you have talent or you don’t?

You might also be interested in:

The Best Resources For Learning About The 10,000 Hour Rule & Deliberate Practice

January 30, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: “Wash. Post Publishes Letters From My Students To Trump (ELL Sentence Frames Included)”

In February, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Leading up to it, I’m re-starting a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ll be re-posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

This post originally appeared in 2016, right after the Presidential election.  It seems particularly relevant based on events that have taken place over the past few days. Teachers might consider using it as a lesson this week:

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Yesterday was a rough day at school, and The Washington Post published a column I wrote about it, ‘Dear President-elect Trump’: Immigrant students write letters asking for ‘the opportunity to demonstrate we are good people.’

The writing exercise yesterday was incredibly helpful (you can download the sentence frames we used here). Then, seeing their letters in The Washington Post less than twenty-four hours later really helped them feel a lot better.

The Sacramento Bee will be sharing excerpts tomorrow, too.

Even though it useful, it hasn’t solved anything – here’s how I ended the piece:

school-is-a-safe-place

 

I’m adding this post to:

The Best Posts & Articles On How To Teach “Controversial” Topics

The Best Sites To Learn About The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections

January 29, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Look Back: No, Most Educators Are Not “Fueling Student Anxieties” – Trump Is Handling That On His Own

In February, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Leading up to it, I’m re-starting a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ll be re-posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

You might also be interested in:

 A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009 

 A Look Back: 2010’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2011’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2012’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2013’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2014’s Best Posts From This Blog

A Look Back: 2015’s Best Posts From This Blog

This post originally appeared in 2016.  It seems particularly relevant based on events that have taken place over the past few days:

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I have often shared Frederick Hess’ insights on schools here.

Unfortunately, for the first time, I feel moved to critique one of his pieces that just appeared in U.S. News, Stop Teaching Anti-Trump Bias (thanks to Alexander Russo for sharing it on Twitter). The piece says, among other things, that educator “histrionics” are causing student anxieties about the impact of a Trump Presidency.

I have to wonder if Rick or his co-author have been in a public school over the past week, or if they’ve seen these news reports over the past few days:

Donald Trump’s proposed “Muslim registry,” explained is from Vox.

How Painful Can Trump Make the Lives of Immigrants? is from Slate.

“What happens January 21?” How California’s Latino immigrants felt the week after the election. is from Vox.

Donald Trump promises to deport 3 million “illegal immigrant criminals.” That’s literally impossible. is from Vox.

Donald Trump is doing a great job on his own fueling those anxieties – no help is needed from teachers.

I’m sure some teachers — on both sides — have not handled this past week as well as they should have done. However, I’m equally sure that thousands have done a good job, using lessons like the ones found at The Best Posts & Articles On How To Teach “Controversial” Topics and at the bottom of The Best Sites To Learn About The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections, including the ones I did in my own classroom.

Educators get blamed for enough problems that we don’t cause – let’s not add another one to the list.

ADDENDUM: This post was picked up by The Washington Post, which reprinted a portion in an expanded critique of the article.  It’s headlined Educators get blamed for everything. Now, it’s for fanning fear of Trump.

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