Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The “All-Time” Best Places To Find The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators


I’ve been posting annual lists of The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators for a number of years. There are a number of ways to gauge “popularity.” I just view these lists as opportunities to check-out some new sites, and find it interesting to see which ones might be particularly “popular.”

I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones.

I’ve begun creating a number of these “All-Time” Best list, with The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly being the first ; The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education second;  The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators third;  The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games was the fourth one; The “All-Time” Best Social Studies Sides was fifth; and The “All-Time” Best Science Sites was sixth.

Look for quite a few more “All-Time” Best lists over the next couple of months.

There are nearly 1,300 Best lists now that are categorized and updated regularly.  You can see them all here.

Here are my choices for  The “All-Time” Best Places To Find The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators These are not listed in any order of preference):

What We Watch:a geographic exploration of popular YouTube videos is from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and lets you use a map to see and compare which YouTube videos are most popular in countries around the world.

Google hosts “Top Charts,” which show the top things that people are searching for in multiple categories on a monthly basis.

Here are a couple of examples:

USC Rossier Online, associated with the University of Southern California,  has a rating system for education blogs that they call The Teach 100.

The YouTube Trends Map shows which videos are popular in different regions of the United States and in many countries of the world, along with further filtering by the age of viewers.

The Internet Map shows you the most popular websites in the world, and in each country.

Amazon has a feature called “Most Highlighted Passages Of All Time.” Here’s how Amazon describes it:

The Amazon Kindle, Kindle for iPhone and Kindle for iPad each provide a very simple mechanism for adding highlights. Every month, Kindle customers highlight millions of book passages that are meaningful to them. We combine the highlights of all Kindle customers and identify the passages with the most highlights. The resulting Popular Highlights help readers to focus on passages that are meaningful to the greatest number of people. We show only passages where the highlights of at least three distinct customers overlap, and we do not show which customers made those highlights.

BBC News has a neat Live World Map that shows what news is popular in what part of the world at anytime. Here is a good explanation about how it works.

Richard Byrne has described “Ten By Ten” perfectly. So I’m going to quote from his post, and I would encourage you to go there to read his ideas on how to use it with students: “Ten by Ten is a unique program that links images with news stories. Every hour the top 100 news stories from around the world are linked to images on a ten by ten grid. The stories are ranked.”

Most Popular Educational Videos – All Time comes from a site called eduTube. It looks like there are some pretty interesting ones in the mix.

Again, please let me know what sites I’ve missed….

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March 9, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Sites For Learning About The 2014 World Cup In Brazil

'soccer ball' photo (c) 2013, Jordan Arenas - license:

I’ve published two posts at The New York Times for English Language Learners that focus on soccer: one on Lionel Messi and the other on a Mexican girls soccer team.

The 2014 World Cup begins on June 12th in Brazil.

I created a very long “Best” list for the 2010 World Cup, and have selected sites that would be useful this year and added them to this new list. Of course, I’ll be adding a lot more as time goes on, and I hope that readers will contribute many.

You might also be interested in The Best Sites For Learning About Brazil.

Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Learning About The 2014 World Cup In Brazil:

As Brazil Gears Up For Olympics, Some Poor Families Get Moved Out is from NPR.

Fox Sports has a special section on this year’s World Cup.

Of course, there’s the official World Cup site.

Brazil World Cup 2014 stadiums: Interactive Guide is from The Telegraph.

Interactive: World Cup 2014 draw
is from Al Jazeera.

ESL / EFL Lesson Activity on Brazil World Cup is from News English Lessons.

TES Connect has a collection of related lessons.

World Cup Tech: Fine-Tuning the Beautiful Game is from Gizmodo.

Best Soccer Documentaries is from EFL Classroom 2.0.

Learn about The Birth of The World Cup.

A Brief History Of The World Cup is a TIME Slideshow.

The Evolution of The World Cup Ball is a NY Times infographic.

The BBC has nice visual tutorials on playing soccer.

FIFA World Cup 14
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

You might also be interested in my other 1,300 “The Best…” lists.

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March 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts & Articles On The Florida Teacher Evaluation Fiasco

'Map of Florida' photo (c) 2011, Boston Public Library - license:

The state of Florida has just released the Value-Added Assessment scores of teachers to newspapers.

It’s a fiasco.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation.

Here are some posts on what’s going on — feel free to suggest others in the comments section:

The most meaningless teacher evaluation exercise ever? is a Washington Post piece on the public release of insane teacher evaluations to local newspapers in Florida.

Confused by Florida’s teacher scoring? So are top teachers
is from The Tampa Bay Times.

Gates Foundation opposes release of teachers’ VAM scores in Florida is good, but as this tweet says:

I’m One of the Worst Teachers in My State is a great post about the Florida fiasco.

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March 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

It’s Oscar Night! Here’s A Special Collection Of My Movie-Related “Best” Lists

March 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The “All-Time” Best Science Sites


I’ve been posting annual lists of The Best Science Sites for a number of years.

I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones.

I’ve begun creating a number of these “All-Time” Best list, with The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly being the first ; The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education second;  The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators third;  The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games was the fourth one; and The “All-Time” Best Social Studies Sides was fifth.

Look for quite a few more “All-Time” Best lists over the next couple of months.

There are nearly 1,300 Best lists now that are categorized and updated regularly.  You can see them all here.

Here are my choices for  The “All-Time” Best Science Sites (let me know which ones I’m missing — I’ll also be adding to this list after I do a complete review of Science sites I’ve published on this blog. Also, these are not listed in any order of preference):

The New York Times has begun producing one minute “Science Takes” videos on its website. You can see them all here.

Big Facts On Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security is an extremely impressive new interactive site on the effects of climate change. It shows its effect in a variety of ways on every region on the earth.

Here’s how it describes itself:

Big Facts is a resource of the most up-to-date and robust facts relevant to the nexus of climate change, agriculture and food security. It is intended to provide a credible and reliable platform for fact checking amid the range of claims that appear in reports, advocacy materials and other sources. Full sources are supplied for all facts and figures and all content has gone through a process of peer review.

The Guardian has  published an interactive infographic that lets you see the temperature change over the past one hundred years in most locations in the world. Just type in your city and country and, voila, you see it graphed for your location.

100,000 Stars is a new interactive from Google that is an amazing visualization of the universe.  I liked “taking a tour,” which you can click on in the upper left hand corner.

Science Friday, the popular NPR program, has an amazing amount of resources for teachers, and everybody else, online.

Planet Quest: The Search For Another Earth is an “out of this world” site from NASA.

CronoZoom is a wild browser-based history of the universe — about 14 billion years worth.

If you were as amazed as I was by the original Scale Of The Universe, you have to check out Scale Of The Universe 2. This interactive shows you — literally — the scale of the universe.

McDougal Littell’s Class Zone site is on many of my Social Studies related “The Best…” lists — their interactives are incredible (the links I have in this post may, or may not, bring you directly to the interactives. If you get sent to a map, just click the subject you’re interested in and click on California. That will lead you to different textbooks — then click on one of them. That will lead you to the interactives). However, I realize I’ve never written about their equally as impressive high school biology sites. It, too, has plenty of interactive, and most provide audio support for the text.

The Exploratorium has reorganized all their interactives into one Explore page.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has a site with a number of excellent science interactives which provide audio support for the text.

A Journey Through Climate History is a very, very impressive interactive from ABC in Australia. It highlights key events affecting climate change over the past one hundred ten years.

Curiosity is a website — and a television series — from the Discovery Channel. People send in their questions — and there are some fascinating questions — and get accessible multimedia answers in return. You can also apply to become an expert to help answer questions, too.

A couple of years ago, Richard Byrne posted about a neat BBC interactive on rocks. I was pretty impressed, because it had subtitles and was relatively accessible to English Language Learners. So I explored the site a little further and found that the BBC Schools Bitesize KS3 site had a whole series of similarly accessible activities.

First, go to their main Science page. Next, click on any of the four primary categories:

Organisms, behaviour and health

Chemical and material behaviour

Energy, electricity and forces

The environment, the Earth and the universe

Each of these four sections has multiple “activities,” which are animated exercises that have audio and subtitles.

Universcale compares various microscopic entities. That description does not do justice to the site — you need to go there to check it out. It can be a bit confusing, and much of the language will not be accessible to English Language Learners. However, the images can be used effectively by teachers of all students.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of National History has a website from their Human Origins program called “What Does It Mean To Be Human?” It’s an amazing multimedia site on human evolution.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History sponsors its “Ocean Portal.” You can find just about anything about our oceans there, including slideshows, videos, interactive timelines, etc.

Before and After Humans is an intriguing interactive with images from MSNBC that forecasts various paths human evolution might take in the next few million years.  The vocabulary is going to be challenging — even for advanced Intermediate English Language Learners — but the images and potential paths are going to be intriguing enough, I think, for students to “fight through” for understanding.

NASA At Home & City is a terrific interactive where NASA shows the practical implications of how space travel has affected out lives.  It’s very well done, and audio support is provided for the text. It’s quite accessible to English Language Learners.

Planet Quest is a pretty amazing multimedia timeline of space exploration that begins at 500 B.C. In addition, it provides audio support for the text.

Ology is from the American Museum of Natural History.  It has numerous excellent activities on topics like biodiversity, archeology, and astronomy.

Harcourt’s online activities to support its Science Up Close textbooks are available free online. These are great interactive activities on numerous topics.

BBC Science Clips  are numerous, and well-designed, virtual science experiments.

Houghton Mifflin Science’s Discover! Simulations are extraordinary interactives covering many areas.  It also has a good glossary with audio support.

Learning Science has a great collection online science activities.

FOSSweb is the online component of the exceptional curriculum created by the University of California. It has a series of science experiments students can explore online (click on “enter as a guest.”  The activities are based on grade levels – from kindergarten to middle school.

California Science from MacMillan/McGraw Hill has some great online activities.  However, what makes this site stand-out (and my ESL/EFL bias is clear here) is that it contains translations in many languages (including Hmong!) of the science concepts taught in the textbooks.

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February 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The “All-Time” Best Social Studies Sites


I’ve been posting annual lists of The Best Social Studies Sites for a number of years.

I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones.

I’ve begun creating a number of these “All-Time” Best list, with The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly being the first ; The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education second;  The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators third; and The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games was the fourth one.

Look for quite a few more “All-Time” Best lists over the next couple of months.

There are nearly 1,300 Best lists now that are categorized and updated regularly.  You can see them all here.

Here are my choices for  The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games  (let me know which ones I’m missing — I’ll also be adding to this list after I do a complete review of Social Studies sites I’ve published on this blog. Also, these are not listed in any order of preference):

I’ve previously posted about Trulia’s visualizations showing information (crime, home prices) for some cities in the United States. Now, they have dramatically expanded the information they share (flooding and earthquake hazards, schools, etc.) and the number of neighborhoods they cover. In fact, it seems they do it for just about everywhere in the U.S., but perhaps I’m overstating it.

The Great Divide: Global income inequality and its cost is a project by a group called The Global Post, done in partnership with The Pulitzer Center with support from The Ford Foundation.

Here’s how they introduce the project:

Income inequality is surging, and there are few countries where it is rising faster than the United States. The distance between rich and poor is greater in America than nearly all other developed countries, making the US a leader in a trend that economists warn has dire consequences. GlobalPost sets out on a reporting journey to get at the ‘ground truth’ of inequality through the lenses of education, race, immigration, health care, government, labor and natural resources. The hope is to hold a mirror up to the US to see how it compares to countries around the world.

TIME Magazine has an ongoing series of short TIME Explains videos on current events. Here’s a link to most of them.

Reading Like A Historian is an impressive collection of almost ninety U.S. and World History lessons from The Stanford History Education Group. Here’s how they describe the lessons:

The Reading Like a Historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry. Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features sets of primary documents designed for groups of students with diverse reading skills and abilities.

This curriculum teaches students how to investigate historical questions by employing reading strategies such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading. Instead of memorizing historical facts, students evaluate the trustworthiness of multiple perspectives on historical issues. They learn to make historical claims backed by documentary evidence.

They look good to me. You have to register to gain access to them (though you can get a “quick view” of them without registering), but registering is a pretty painless process. The same organization also sponsors Beyond The Bubble, a history assessment site that I have previously posted about

The Google Cultural Institute has multimedia online exhibits on a variety of historical topics, including apartheid in South Africa and the Holocaust.  It’s really quite an impressive site.

Manifest Destiny – The Story of The US Told in 141 Maps is an impressive interactive that does exactly what the title says….

The Victorians: Learn to work like a historian is a site from The National Archives of the United Kingdom. With a very accessible video guide, you….work like a historian investigating multiple artifacts and take notes in an online notebook. You can then save or print-out your notes.  I was particularly impress by its simple, yet sophisticated, instructional guidelines, which can be easily used away from the site on just about any photo or artifact — historical or not — as a tool for higher-order thinking.  The site uses the acronym “LACE”:





In other words, it goes something like this:

Look: Describe what you see

Ask: What questions do you need to ask, and answer to make sense of what you have seen?

Conclude: What do the things you have discovered from this source tell about what it was like to be…….

Expand: What more would you like to know? How can you find out?

Google hosts The World Wonders Project. Here’s how they describe it:

The World Wonders Project enables you to discover 132 historic sites from 18 countries, including Stonehenge, the archaeological areas of Pompeii and the ancient Kyoto temples. In addition to man-made sites, you can explore natural places: wander the sandy dunes of Australia’s Shark Bay or gaze up at the rock domes of Yosemite National Park in California.

The Smithsonian, in conjunction with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, created Preparing For The Oath. Not only is it now probably the best site out there for preparing people to take the U.S. Citizenship exam, it’s also just a great site to learn about U.S. History. Audio is available to support all the text, and it includes a practice exam.

Stanford has created what I suspect is one of the coolest things you’re going to see today — a Google Maps-like tool that lets you map the fastest and cheapest ways (by donkey is one option) and routes to travel (including how the time of the year affects it) in the ancient Roman World. You can read a very useful review of the tool, called Orbis, here.  They released a new version just this month.

Mapping America: Every City, Every Block is an amazing interactive from The New York Times that displays U.S. Census data from…everywhere. The New York Times Learning Network also has a simple lesson plan related to it. Connecting the Dots: Interpreting U.S. Census Data is a New York Times Learning Network lesson.

Google has created a gallery where you can visit historic areas around the world using its Street View feature.

A History of Poverty is an animated world map showing where poverty (and prosperity) have been most present over the past two hundred years. You can narrow it down by continent or county, too. It’s from the Christian Aid charity.

ViewChange.Org has some pretty amazing short videos from around the world. This is how it describes itself: Using the power of video to tell stories about real people and progress in global development. Believe me, that doesn’t even begin to tell you what’s there.

Pearson has relatively new U.S. History textbooks and one on Ancient Civilizations. Big deal, right? Well, I don’t really care about the paperbound versions, but they has made the book’s online companion sites freely available. They both have some nice interactives.

Go to the sites and then click on each chapter. There are good interactives for each one:

American: History of our Nation

Ancient Civilizations

I’ve previously highlighted Glencoe’s online videos for social studies, but have now discovered that offer many more free resources to support all their social studies textbooks. They’re useful even if you don’t use their books, though, and they’re freely available. You can start off at their main Social Studies site or at their main site for all their textbooks. From there, it’s easy to navigate to their U.S. History, World History and Geography books. They all have links to videos, “in-motion animations” like this one, interactive maps like this (I especially like these maps because they offer audio support for the text), and different games (I especially like their categorization activities).

“If It Were My Home” is a neat interactive that compares the standard of living in the United States to any other country of your choice. The site also has some other neat features.

SAS Curriculum Pathways has a huge amount of interactives in all subjects. In many of them, students complete the activity online, and then send their work electronically to their teacher (it can also be printed out).  And it’s free.

The teacher signs-up and is give a log-in name for all the students in a school. It doesn’t appear that students need their own individual log-in because they have to type in their name before beginning any activity. Let me tell you, that will make using this site immeasurably easy — students won’t have to remember — or forget — individual passwords!

Numbeo shows the cost-of-living in just about every country in the world, and many cities in the United States.

The Time Map Of World History is a super-cool interactive and accessible way to learn about…world history. Using a map and accessible text, it starts at 3500 BC.

Docs Teach from the U.S. National Archives lets you easily create online activities using primary sources. Plus, you can access the interactives that others have created, too. It’s super-easy to register. Creating the interactives is not as intuitive as I would like, but it’s still pretty easy.

“Timelines: Sources From History” is a nifty interactive from the British Library that lets you explore items from its collection using text, video and images. It’s very engaging. The only negative I see is that you can save favorites, but only to a PDF that you can then print-out. There doesn’t appear to be anyway to save it online. That seems a little strange, but maybe I’m missing something.

The BBC’s “A History Of The World.” is a neat interactive timeline display of historical objects with images and commentary. Not only is it an accessible and engaging way to learn more about world history, but after a quick site registration you can contribute your own historical object choice to the collection and write about it.

Zinn Education Project: Teaching a People’s History is  a collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change! It’s an excellent resource for social studies educators.

Newsy is a site that — in short videos — compares how major news events are covered by media throughout the world. I’m adding it to The Best Tools To Help Develop Global Media Literacy list.  In some ways, it’s similar to Link TV, which is also on the list.  Newsy, though, isn’t quite as interactive, though you can leave comments if you’re registered.  For that reason, I’m also adding it to The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”. The speaking is pretty fast and relatively high-level, so it’s probably only accessible to advanced English Language Learners.

The BBC hosts an exceptional new History site. It targets primary learners, and, to quote their description:

“It covers 6 primary history topics – Ancient Greeks, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Children in Victorian Britain and Children of WW2 – with a photo and video library and an interactive timeline, plus quizzes, activities and games.”

It’s very accessible to English Language Learners, and the games have audio support for the text.  The only disappointment is that the videos aren’t available to watch if you’re in the United States.

Culture Crossing is a unique resource for information about different countries. It provides some basic demographics, but it also shares details about communication style, dress, gestures, etc. It’s unlike any other source of information about countries that’s on the web.

Here’s a companion site to a textbook by Pearson titled World History: Connections To Today. If you go to each chapter, you’ll find what they call a History and Geography Interactive. Most of these short slideshows provide text support for the narration, as well as good graphics.

Here is another companion site to a textbook by Pearson called America: History of Our Nation. If you use the drop-down menu, each chapter has excellent multimedia related to that era. I particularly like the link to “exploring each chapter’s essential question.” When you click on it, you’re taken to a short slideshow that provides audio support for the text.

“History Snapshots”  is a series from Pearson. These short slideshows, which include accessible text, support the study of United States History.

“The Digital Vaults” is an entry into the vast resources of the National Archives, and allows you to use those resources to create your own movies, posters, and what it calls “Pathway Challenges” to… challenge others to find connections between a series of images, documents, and other resources you put together.

Here is an extraordinary collection of short online videos offered by the textbook publisher Glencoe.  I personally think their two U.S. History series are the best, but they also have quite a few accessible ones on Government (actually, two groups of them), World History, and Geography.

McDougal Littell’s Class Zone is one of my favorite sites. It has animated maps, online activities, animations — all with text support for audio. Just click on a subject and a state, and you’ll be amazed at what they offer online.

Holt, Rinehart Winston Social Studies Home Page has great free online activities to support their textbooks. Here are two examples. Click on any of the textbooks, then click on any of the chapters, and then go to “Interactive Features” to see the best online exercises. Many of their textbooks also have great multilingual features.

Awesome Stories is a favorite of many teachers, and provides accessible texts for countless topics.

HippoCampus  has great (and complete) online and accessible textbooks for many subjects, including History and Government. Their resources include extraordinary multimedia presentations.  You can read more about it here.

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February 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games


I’ve been posting annual lists of the The Best Online Learning Games for a number of years.

I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones.

I’ve begun creating a number of these “All-Time” Best list, with The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly being the first ; The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education second; and The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators third.

Look for quite a few more “All-Time” Best lists over the next couple of months.

There are over 1,200 Best lists now that are categorized and updated regularly.  You can see them all here.

Here are my choices for The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games (let me know which ones I’m missing — I’ll also be adding to this list after I do a complete review of games I’ve published on this blog. Also, these are not listed in any order of preference):

Mission US, which is funded by the Corporation For Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment For The Humanities, has three great U.S. History-related “Choose Your Own Adventure” games.

Zondle is a pretty darn impressive for online learning games. It has tons of content in different subjects, and, if you can’t find what you need, it’s easy to just add your own. The ingenious part is that once you pick the topic you study, you have the option of studying the info in forty different games! Plus, teachers can create their own virtual classroom and track student progress. And, it’s free.

VocabularySpelling City is already on several of my “The Best…” lists for learning games.  Its title speaks for itself.

Jeopardy Labs lets teachers and students create their own online games of Jeopardy. No registration is required, and each game has its own unique url address. Most other apps to create Jeopardy games require a software download, which makes Jeopardy Labs really stand-out since none is required.

Headline Clues from Michigan State University  is a great idea that can be adapted for using in the classroom with paper and pen. In the game, you’re shown the lead paragraph, but letters from two words in the headline are missing. Players have to use clues in the first paragraph to identify what the missing words should be. As you play the online version, you can ask for clues. One of the great things about using this game in the classroom is that students can create their own and have classmates trying to figure out the answers, as well as giving them clues if needed.

Mia Cadaver’s Tombstone Timeout is a BBC game that asks questions related to Math, Science and English, and you can choose which subject you want to use.  The Math and Science sections are divided into levels of difficulty.  That makes it more accessible to a larger number of students.   In “Mia Cadaver”  you can create a private “virtual room” where only your students compete against each other.  Everybody just types in the name you’ve given the room, and the questions begin.  After each question is answered the screen shows the overall ranking of everybody in the room.  Students love it!

Gut Instinct is very similar to Mia Cadaver’s game.

What 2 Learn  has a variety of templates, and a fairly easy process, that teachers and students can use to create and play learning games.

Questionaut is an online video game from the BBC where players have to answer questions related to English, Science and Math. As you answer the questions correctly, a little “questionaut” in a balloon gets to continue on his journey.

Two older music games by the same creator — Luke Whittaker are personal favorites.  One is called Sound Factory  and the other is A Break In The Road. I’m not going to even going to try to describe these wonderful games here.  You can read my post and try them yourself.

I think Wordmaster at the BBC Learning English site is the best “word game” out there.

Of course, I have to include the famous Free Rice game.  It’s great that they donate rice to the United Nations food program for every correct answer, but that’s not why it made my list.  It’s here because it’s a neat vocabulary-building exercise for anyone.  It stands-out becauses it only increases its difficulty level based on how well you’re doing in the game.

Philologus  uses recent television games shows as templates for teacher and student created exercises.

Launchball is from the British Science Musuem.  Students can create a sort of video game (and learn scientific concepts in the process), title it, and post the url.

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February 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators


I’ve been posting annual lists of the Best Videos For Educators for a number of years.

I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones.

I’ve begun creating a number of these “All-Time” Best list, with The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly being the first and The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education second.

Look for quite a few more “All-Time” Best lists over the next couple of months.

There are over 1,200 Best lists now that are categorized and updated regularly.  You can see them all here.

Here are my choices for The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators (let me know which ones I’m missing — I’ll also be adding to this list after I do a complete review of videos I’ve published on this blog):

Of course, the “graphic notetaking” video of Daniel Pink’s speech about his book, Drive, has got to be on this list:

Alfie Kohn has written several books, including “Punished By Rewards.”. Dwight Schrute is the well-known character in the television comedy, “The Office.” What might the connection be between the two of them? Watch this two minute video clip to find out:

Here’s Bloom’s Taxonomy According To The Pirates Of The Caribbean:

The PBS News Hour produced this segment on self control and young people. It uses financial literacy as an initial hook, but it’s mainly about the famous marshmallow test and a recent updated study:

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

This is a great video to get students to think more carefully about their writing:

Thanks to an excellent post by Jennifer Brokofsky, I learned about this short video of Sir Ken Robinson. He makes an excellent point about the importance of helping students motivate themselves (and I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students):

“Farmers and gardeners know you cannot make a plant grow….The plant grows itself. What you do is provide the conditions for growth. And great farmers know what the conditions are and bad ones don’t. Great teachers know what the conditions for growth are and bad ones don’t.”

In this video, some ducklings were able to get over the curb on their own. However, several found that it was just too high. Look at how someone provides assistance to those having trouble, and how he doesn’t tell them what to do. Instead, he offers it as an option, as a choice they can make. It’s an example of an old community organizing axiom, “If you don’t give people the opportunity to say no, you don’t give them the opportunity to say yes, either.”

Jason Flom shared this great video on the importance of making mistakes. I’m adding it to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures.

This TED Talk video from the late Rita Pierson on “Every Kid Needs A Champion” is a great one:

Perseverance (grit) is one of the key qualities researchers have found to be essential in a successful language learner, as well as other learners.

Here’s a video demonstrating that quality that I’m adding to The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner:

This is from Yahoo News and is a great illustration of “thinking outside the box”:

I’m adding this next video to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”:

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February 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education


I’ve been posting annual lists of the Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education for seven years.

I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones.

I’ve begun creating a number of these “All-Time” Best list, with The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly being the first one. Some of the sites there could easily be on this list, too. However, I’ve put all sites that don’t require registration over there.

Look for quite a few more “All-Time” Best lists over the next couple of months.  I think readers might find these lists helpful, but I’m primarily creating them for my students to experiment and help me decide if all these tools should stay on this list or not.

There are over 1,200 Best lists now that are categorized and updated regularly.  You can see them all here.

In order to make this “All-Time” list and, in fact, to make any of my annual Web 2.0 lists, a site has to be:

* accessible to English Language Learners and non-tech savvy users.

* free-of-charge.

* appropriate for classroom use.

* completely browser-based with no download required.

These sites are not listed any any order of preference.  These are also ones for students to use — I’m not necessarily including ones I that I use regularly — those are for another list.

Let me know if you think I’m missing some…I know I am. Even though I’ve reviewed many of my previous lists, I didn’t do an exhaustive search, so I’ll be adding more tools to this list in the coming weeks (and years!).

Here are my choices for The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education:

I use Pinterest daily. However, in the vast majority of schools, it is never going to make it past Internet content filters for students. eduClipper is basically a Pinterest for schools. It has the potential of sort of being an “all in one” tool for the classroom, serving the same purposes as sites on The Best Social Bookmarking Applications For English Language Learners & Other Students list and on The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”) list, as well as serving other functions.

Haiku Deck, an iPad app which now has a Web version, may very well be the best tool for creating online slideshows that are out there. It’s  on The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows list.  Richard Byrne has made a tutorial explaining how to use the web version.

I’m a big proponent of the Picture Word Inductive Model as a strategy for English Language Learners to develop reading and writing skills (I describe it in detail  in my article in ASCD Educational Leadership, Get Organized Around Assets). It begins with the teacher labeling items in thematic photos with the help of students. The webtool Thinglink could be a great deal to help ELL’s maximize the advantages of this instructional strategy. Thinglink lets you upload or grab an image or video off the web and annotate items with the image or video super-easily. It basically looks like a photo in the Picture Word Inductive Model, just online.  Thinglink recently unveiled the ability for teachers to create virtual classrooms.

MarQueed is like a Thinglink  on steroids and allows collaborative annotation.  You can read more about it here.

Meograph is a cool web tool that lets you create an audio-narrated digital story with an integrated map.  You can also grab images off the web.  is hands-down the easiest tool I’ve seen on the Web to create infographics. You just “drag-and-drop” a variety of themes, type in your data, and you’ve got a great infographic.

Lesson Paths (formerly MentorMob) lets you very easily create a slideshow. Webpages, videos and photos can be grabbed from the web and added, along with notes. It’s easy to use, very intuitively designed so just about anyone can figure it out, and attractive.

The free web tool Inklewriter is, without a doubt, the easiest way to write a choose your own adventure story. I’m tentatively putting it on this “All-Time” list, thought I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it here.  I’m going to have my students experiment with it a little more this year.

Magisto is an Animoto-like service that lets you upload several short videos and it then somehow “recognizes” the most important parts and turns it into a magically-produced one minute video.

Popplet is an app that is like Wallwisher on steroids. You can make an online “bulletin-board” with virtual “post-its” (called “popplets), just like in Wallwisher. And, except for the fact you have to register to use it, Popplet is just as easy and, in some ways, easier to use with a lot more functionality. With Popplet, you search for images and videos on the Web directly within the “popplet” instead of copying and pasting the url address (as you need to do in Wallwisher). You can draw within the “popplet” and it doesn’t appear to have an limit on the number of characters you can use. You can connect the “popplets.” You can also embed the whole thing.

educaplay is a great free tool where you can easily create a ton of different kinds of educational interactives that you can link to or embed in your site. These include Riddles, Crosswords, Wordsearch Puzzle, Fill in the texts, Dialogues, Dictations, Jumbled Word, Jumbled Sentence, Matching, Quizzes, and Maps. For at least some of the them, including dictation, it provides the ability to record audio. lets you “scoop it” into your own personalized newspaper (that’s what I’m calling it, not them) which you can then share. It’s an ongoing process.

Fotobabble, is a neat application where people can post photos along with an audio description.

Sitehoover is an application that lets you create a personal homepage showing thumbnail images of your favorite websites. You can also organize them into separate “folders. It can be very useful to students doing research, or identifying their favorite language-learning site.

Tripline is a great map-making application. You just list the various places you want to go in a journey, or a famous trip that has happened in history or literature, or a class field trip itinerary, and a embeddable map is created showing the trip where you can add written descriptions and photos. You can use your own photos or just through Flickr. Plus, you can pick a soundtrack to go with it as it automatically plays through the travels.

Quizlet is  on The Best Tools To Make Online Flashcards list.  In addition to letting you create and study flashcards, it also lets you study the words in “game” forms.  Plus, it allows voice recording for some features.

Zunal is an easy way for teachers (and students) to create webquests. I know there are some specific parameters involved in using the term “webquest,” so you can also use Zunal to create much simpler “online scavenger hunts.” At their most basic, it can be a series of questions students have to answer, along with links to websites where the information can be found. Zunal also acts as the host for the webquest or scavenger hunt after its been created.

“The Digital Vaults”  is an entry into the vast resources of the National Archives, and allows you to use those resources to create your own movies, posters, and what it calls “Pathway Challenges” to… challenge others to find connections between a series of images, documents, and other resources you put together.

ESL Video is a super-easy to take pretty much any video off-the-net and create a quiz to it. It’s designed for ESL/EFL students, but it can also be used by and for mainstream students.

VoiceThread lets you upload pictures and create an audio narrative to go along with them. In addition, audio comments can be left by visitors.

Animoto lets you easily create musical slideshows.

Screencast-o-Matic lets you easily upload PowerPoints and provide audio narration.

Stay is a great tool for students to plan virtual trips. I use it a lot in my Geography classes.

Since Slideshare is blocked for students in my District, I favor Authorstream as the preferred tool that students use to upload and then post PowerPoints on our class blogs.

And, speaking of class blogs, of course, Edublogs needs to be on this list!

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February 23, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly


I’ve been posting annual lists of the Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly for seven years.

I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones. These web tools are excellent ways for English Language Learners, and others who might not be very tech-savvy, to have a good experience working with technology.

In order to make it on this list, web tools must be:

* accessible to English Language Learners.

* able to provide a learning opportunity.

* available at no-cost.

* able to be used to easily create engaging online content within minutes.

* willing to host user-created work indefinitely on the website itself.

* appropriate for classroom use.

* accessible without requiring registration.

Here are my choices for The “All-Time” Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly:

Pinwords allows you to create attractive illustrated quotes and lets you grab images off the web to use. Quozio is a similar site. And you can find others at my recent post, The Best Tools For Creating Visually Attractive Quotations For Online Sharing. lets you easily add speech bubbles with your text to photos. You can upload your own, or choose a random image from the site. You’re then given a link to your creation.

Google’s Peanut Gallery  lets you create subtitles for a variety of old silent movies. The special twist, though, is that you create the subtitles by speaking into a computer microphone and they will then magically appear. You have to speak very clearly though, so it may, or may not, work well for English Language Learners.  One negative, however, is that it only works in the Chrome Browser.

I Wish You To lets you easily draw and create your own Ecards, which you can post, embed, and/or send to someone — and no registration is required.

Google has a tool called “Story Builder.” Without having to register, you can create a “dialogue” of sorts, add music, and end up with a link to a video-like presentation that you can share.

I Fake Siri lets you create a fake conversation — in text — with the new iPhone voice feature Siri. You can then link to, or embed, your creation. It’s just another fun opportunity for ELL’s to practice writing, reading, and speaking.

QikPad lets you write collaboratively with anyone you want, and you can then link to, or embed, whatever you come up with….

Our Mother Tongues is a very impressive site that’s designed to support and preserve Native American languages. It’s very engaging, and includes a “language map,” videos and more. One of its very neat features is that it allows you choose a virtual audio postcard with a Native American greeting that you can send to someone. You can also write a personalized message on it. You’re given a unique url address, and it can be posted on a student/teacher website or blog.

With News Jack, all you have to do is paste the url address of any website and you’re immediately given the tools to easily transform its homepage into looking however you want it to look. Without having to register, you can make the New York Times highlight photos and articles of your great basketball-playing ability; have CNN focus on covering what was happening in 1776, or The Huffington Post reporting on the first Thanksgiving dinner. You can easily grab images off the web or your computer to insert, as well as text. You can then click “publish” and you’re given the url address to your creation so it can be shared with the world. lets you easily record a thirty second message with a computer microphone. You then get a unique url address that you can share. No registration is necessary.

Try out Google Docs new demo that lets you write collaboratively with your favorite dead famous writers. Then you get to save and share your creation. As Next Web explains:

A “famous writer” will start typing and then it’s your turn. Once you’ve typed in the next line, the writer takes over
tildee lets you very easily create a simple step-by-step tutorial for just about anything. You can add text, maps, videos and photos.

Cardkarma is a neat eCard site for many occasions. Without registering, you can search Flickr for any photo and turn it into an eCard you can send and post.

Fakebook is a tool over at the excellent ClassTools site (Russel Tarr is the creative genius behind the site). Teachers and students can use it to:

- chart the career of a historical character
- create a timeline of important events
- outline the main plot of a book, play or film
and so on!

At Isle Of Tune, you create music by creating a city. Yes, that’s right, you “drag-and-drop” different parts of a city — homes, cars, trees, etc. — and each one has a musical tone. Then click “Go” and the car prompts the different elements to do their thing. No registration is required, and you’re given the url address of your creation to share. As a bonus to English Language Learners, the different parts of the city are labeled, so students can pick up vocabulary at the same time. Plus, they can describe their musical creations.

With Picture Book Maker, you can easily create a…picture book (including text). It can be saved online or printed out. It’s super-easy to use, plus no registration is required. The url of your creation can be posted on a student/teacher blog or website.

Bounce lets you virtually annotate webpages. Just type in the url address, make notes on it (perhaps students can demonstrate their use of reading strategies like making a connection or asking questions) and then post the link on a student/teacher blog or website.

Five Card Flickr Story lets you pick five photos from a group of pre-selected images from Flickr and then write a story about them. It saves your selection and story, and provides you with a link to it. No registration is required.

Phreetings lets you search for an image (it appears to use Flickr, but I can’t be sure), drag and drop it on a virtual card, and then write something below it (it looks like you can write a lot there). You’re then given the url to copy and paste. During our study of natural disasters, for example, I can see my students finding an image labeled “Katrina” and writing a short report on what they’ve learned so far about the hurricane.

You can use the Propaganda Film Maker to combine images and audio to try convincing the public to support World War II.

Many ESL Teachers are familiar with Bombay TV, Futebol TV and Classik TV, which let you create subtitles for various clips (you can guess what kind of clips by each of their names).

Szoter doesn’t require registration, you can upload or grab images off the web (just insert its url address), and the final product looks just like an image would look like using the Picture Word Inductive Model (learn more about the PWIM at The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons).

Bubblr is a super-easy tool to use for adding “speech bubbles” to online photos.

Create a slideshow with Bookr.

The Art of Storytelling is a site from the Delaware Art Museum that allows you pick a painting (they don’t use photos, but the site is so good I decided to include it in this list anyway), write a short story about it, record it with your computer microphone, and email the url address for posting on a student website or blog. It’s extraordinarily simple, and extraordinarily accessible to any level of English Language Learner. No registration is required.

PixiClip is a neat drawing tool that lets you make a drawing and record either audio-only or a video to go along with it. It also lets you upload an image from the web and “mark it up.” The audio-plus-drawing capability could really come in handy for English Language Learners. .

Here’s an example:

TxtBear is great — you can create a document using Word, for example, and upload it to the Web for free. TxtBear create a url address for it.

Testmoz is an app that lets you create an online, self-correcting quiz without having to register.

Jeopardy Labs lets you easily create an online Jeopardy game without having to register. Maybe I’m the only teacher who feels this way, but I’ve always found that playing Jeopardy the way they do on TV — giving players the answer and then they have to come-up with the question — to be overly confusing for students in the classroom. When I’ve played it in class, I’ve just given the questions and had students have to say the answers. Given my feelings about this, even though it’s super simple to use this tool to create the game, I tell my students to ignore the site’s instructions and just write the questions first and the answers second so that the board displays the question.

Padlet (formerly Wallwisher) lets you make a virtual wall of “sticky notes” where you can include images, text, and/or videos. Inductive learning is a key part of our teaching at Burbank, and we use what are called “data sets” as a major component of those lessons.  After students categorize the info in these data sets, they can summarize them and use them to create Padlets, as our students did in our Nelson Mandela unit. You can see many examples of their creations in our class blog.

My students have been completing Internet Scavenger Hunts, which are basically a series of questions along with links where they can find the answers. We’ve just been grabbing ones we find on the Web and putting them on our class blog for students to complete, but there’s no reason why students now can’t start making their own. Their classmates can then complete them. Even though there are relatively simple sites that are solely devoted to the creation of scavenger hunts and more sophisticated Webquests (see The Best Places To Create (And Find) Internet Scavenger Hunts & Webquests), I think, for our purposes, just having students come up with a few questions, then list a url address where they can find the answers, and then list a few more questions, etc. would be sufficient for what we want to do. For that purpose, I don’t there’s anything easier than a site like Copytaste ( Others include Loose Leaves, Dinky Page, Just Paste It, and Page O Rama ). Students just have to make the list of questions and websites and the page is automatically converted into a website whose url address can be pasted on our class blog.

Create an online poster with Tackk.

Use Dvolver Moviemaker to create short animations with text bubble dialogue. You can see many examples of these films on my Examples of Student Work page.

Create a cartoon at MakeBeliefsComix and the Toronto Public Library Tell-A-Story Builder.

Zee Maps lets you create maps, mark places, and add media.

Scribble Maps is a neat application that lets you create maps — with markers and images that can be grabbed off the Internet — and you can draw on it, too. Plus, no registration is required.

Let me know if you think I’m missing ones that should be on the list. I’ve posted about many more, but just included the ones that I thought were the very best….

You can see all 1,200 “The Best” lists here.

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February 20, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On The Protests (& Crisis) In Ukraine

'Protests in Kiev 27 November' photo (c) 2013, - license:

The latest updates on the Russian takeover of Crimea can be found at the bottom

Here’s the very latest updates: Video from NY Times; Ukraine’s Leader Flees Palace as Protesters Widen Control ; Growing Support, and Tea From Young Women, Embolden Kiev Street Fighters and Ukrainians Are Having a Delightful Day at the Abandoned Presidential Palace

Update from The New York Times: Ukraine Leader Says Tentative Accord Reached With Protesters and Kiev Has Deal, but Both Russia and Protesters Appear Wary

I’ve previously posted about the Ukraine protests, but the escalation of the violence is so tragic and on-going, I thought a “Best” lists would be useful.

You might also be interested in You might also be interested in The Best Sites For Learning About Protests In History.

Kiev Truce Shattered, Dozens Killed is a photo gallery from The Atlantic.

Ukraine’s deepening political crisis is an infographic from The Washington Post.

Here’s a video from The New York Times:

Here’s an updated Associated Press interactive.

12 most dramatic Kiev videos showing true scale of Ukraine mayhem

Ukraine protests: Before and after photos from Kiev’s battle zone is from ABC in Australia.

A divided Ukraine is a CNN interactive.

Here’s an updated page from The New York Times

Ukraine’s Path to Unrest is a two-month old NY Times interactive, but it’s still very useful.

Who’s who in Ukraine’s political crisis is a CBC interactive.

And here’s more from The NY Times.

Ukraine’s President Voted Out, Flees Kiev is a photo gallery from The Atlantic.

Here’s how the New York Times describes this video:

[It mixes] footage of the demonstrators with inspirational speeches on the importance of overcoming fear first spoken by Will Smith, in “After Earth,” and Sylvester Stallone, in “Rocky Balboa.” It was shared at the height of last week’s violence by Pavel Durov, the founder of the most prominent Russian social network, VKontakte.

Ukraine protests: the roots of the political division is an interactive from The Guardian.

Ukraine in Maps is an interactive from The New York Times.

Tensions escalate in Ukraine (2nd March, 2014) is a lesson from Breaking News English.

Here are a couple of NY Times videos:

Covering the Russian Army in Crimea is a photo gallery from The New York Times.

Ukraine crisis: the military imbalance is an interactive from The Guardian.

Military movements in Crimea is an infographic from The Washington Post.

Newsround Guide – What’s happening in Ukraine? is a very accessible summary from CBBC Newsround.

CNN has many multimedia resources.

Putin’s Playbook: The Strategy Behind Russia’s Takeover of Crimea is from The Atlantic.

Ukraine embroiled in East-West divide is an Associated Press interactive.

Ukrainian crisis: Situation maps is from The Washington Post.

What’s Going On in Ukraine? An Up-to-Date Guide is from ABC News.

Teaching with the News: Ukraine, Russia and Crimea is by Diana Laufenberg.

Breaking Away is a useful map from The Wall Street Journal.

News and teaching resources round up on the Ukraine crisis is from The Guardian.

Russia’s Goal In Ukraine: Three Scenarios is from NPR.

Crimea and the Hysteria of History is from The New Yorker.

‘Believed to Be Russian Soldiers’ is a photo gallery from The Atlantic.

Thousands March in Moscow to Protest Crimea Vote is from NBC News.

Crimea crisis: Explore the flashpoints is a CNN interactive.

Crisis in the Crimea: The Showdown Between Ukraine and Russia is a GREAT interactive from Smithsonian Magazine.

The U.S. has treated Russia like a loser since the end of the Cold War is a very interesting piece from the former ambassador to the USSR.

Former U.S. Ambassador to USSR: Let Russia Take Crimea is a shorter piece from the same diplomat, and appeared in TIME.

A Ukraine Without Crimea is an infographic from The Washington Post.

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February 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts, Articles & Lesson Plans On The Jordan Davis Tragedy & Verdict: Our “Classrooms Are Full Of Him”

''RACISM/THERE IS MORE TO LEARN' Dominic Jacques' photo (c) 2011, Dominic  Dominic Jacques-Bernard - license:

Another young African-American man is dead and another verdict is in…

Here are some useful articles and posts (I hope readers will contribute more):

The Best Resources For Lessons On Trayvon Martin could be helpful.

Fight With Us Too, Damnit (Educators and Jordan Davis) is by Jose Vilson. I took the quotation in the headline of this post from his post.

Jordan Davis in our Classrooms is by Diana Laufenberg, and includes a great lesson plan.

Black Boy Interrupted: On the unfinished life of Jordan Davis is by Ta-Nehisis Coates at The Atlantic.

White rage and white lies: How the right’s language about race created Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman is from Salon.

Sacramento educator Lori Jablonski has created Jordan_Davis_Case_Lesson”>this lesson outline.

Why we can’t see Jordan Davis and why it matters is from The Washington Post.

Teaching About the Jordan Davis Murder Trial is from Edutopia.

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February 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Resources On “One-To-One” Laptop/Tablet Programs — Please Suggest More!

'one to one' photo (c) 2008, David Sedlmayer - license:

Here’s a link to my two-part Ed Week series on successfully implementing one-to-one programs

I’ll soon be covering a question in my Education Week Teacher column about one-to-one laptop/tablet programs, and thought it would be useful to readers (and to me!) to create a “Best” lists on the topic (Check out my nine-minute BAM! Radio Podcast on What Are the Real Benefits of a 1:1 Program? What Are the Biggest Challenges? Educators Alice Barr and Troy Hicks share their thoughts, and they are also among contributors to one of my future Education Week columns on the topic).

This list will be fairly limited at the beginning, but I’m confident readers, particularly teachers who are actually doing a one-to-one program, will contribute great stuff in the comments. I’ll be regularly adding those contributions to the post itself, but be sure to check the comments, anyway.

Here’s a start:

Big Educational Laptop and Tablet Projects: Looking at Ten Countries is from Larry Cuban’s blog and provides an excellent overview.

I have a number of useful resources at previously published “The Best….” lists and other posts in this blog, including at:

The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools

Tablets Or Laptops?

The Best Advice On Using Education Technology

The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users

Another Study On Schools Providing Students Home Computers Finds The Obvious Results

A Very Beginning List Of The Best Articles On The iPad Debacle In Los Angeles Schools

Here are more resources from other places:

Maine’s Decade-Old School Laptop Program Wins Qualified Praise is from The Huffington Post.

Unfazed, Houston Pushes Ahead on 1-to-1 Computing is from Education Week.

Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing is from November Learning.

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February 9, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Help Me Make A List Of Student Projects That Require Parent Engagement

'Academies and Lies - Rhonda Evans' film about Downhills parents' campaign - shown at N.U.T. annual conference' photo (c) 2012, Alan Stanton - license:

I’ve just posted The Best Student Projects That Need Family Engagement — Contribute Your Lessons! over at my other blog, Engaging Parents In School.

I’ve love to compile a lengthy list of lessons teachers have used that have also required a high degree of parent engagement — where students have had to talk with family members and find out information from them; parents whom would not typically speak to a classroom come to share a particular expertise, etc. Of course, credit would be given.

You can leave a comment or send something to me via my contact form.

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January 31, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Mobile Apps For English Language Learners

'the htc hero android phone on trial, it ain't no iphone.' photo (c) 2010, Phil Campbell - license:

I’ve been putting some effort this year into thinking how to encourage my English Language Learner students, particularly Beginners, to make language-learning a part of their entire day — not just the time they are in school or doing homework.

I’ve written about one attempt at Having English Language Learners Use Cellphones To Identify High-Interest Vocabulary.

And I definitely encourage them to use various online tools at home — if they have an Internet connection.

I’ve also been paying some attention to mobile apps — most of my students now have some kind of smartphone (always Android — an iPhone is just too expensive for them). Just as many of us use apps when we have a little time to “kill,” I figure students are often in the same position.

The issue, though, is identifying apps that are engaging enough for them to want to use it.

Duolingo seems to fit the bill, and is on The Best Sites For Learning Spanish Online and to The Best Multilingual & Bilingual Sites For Learning English. It’s rapidly expanding its offerings, and has been praised in the media a lot recently.

My students have recently downloaded it, and seem to like it a lot.

The British Council, of course, has some nice apps.

And Android Authority put together a decent list over a year ago.

Mobile learning: How students can improve their English anytime, anywhere is from The British Council. Launches App ELLs Might Like

Duolingo Gets A Whole Lot Better…

Also, check out this older list:

The Best Tablet & Smartphone Apps For English Language Learners

What free mobile apps have you found ELLs to like, and be useful? I’ll add them to this list…. (I’m primarily looking for apps that students can download for their use outside of school, but would also love to hear about others, too).

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January 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Fun Sesame Street Songs — Contribute Your Own!

'Sesame Street characters delight children of all ages' photo (c) 2010, USAG- Humphreys - license:

I thought it would be fun to bring together the fun Sesame Street videos of songs I’ve sometimes posted here. I’m not including any of the ones designed to teach social emotional skills — just the ones I would more characterize as primarily pure fun (you can see the SEL message ones here).

Feel free to suggest your own!

next one was suggested by Travis True:

This next one was recommended by Bryan:

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January 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Sites For Learning About South Africa

'You are here' photo (c) 2008, Chris Eason - license:

As regular readers know, my ELL Geography class has been working with sister classes from throughout the world.

We’re studying Africa now, and will be exchanging videos with classes in that country. Though we’ll be doing other forms of study about that country, one of the simple projects will be having students use “inductive learning” to identify information from this “The Best…” list (probably five pieces of info for each category) that fits into these categories: climate, attractions, economy, culture, history and Nelson Mandela. They will then turn each category into a paragraph, add an introduction and conclusion, and have an essay. In addition, they will be identifying questions in each category that they will be asking our sister classes there. Depending on our time, students might also create online posters, either using Tackk or doing it in Word and uploading it to TxtBear.

I’m also adding this post to The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners.

Here is what I have so far — suggestions are welcome:

The Best Sites For Learning About Nelson Mandela (there is a ton of resources there that I won’t duplicate here, which is why you won’t find many specific apartheid resources on this list)

Around The World: South Africa from TIME for Kids.

The 11 Languages of South Africa (thanks to Michelle Henry for the tip)

South Africa under apartheid in the 1970s is an audio slideshow from the BBC with some excellent photos.

National Geographic For Kids: South Africa

Our Africa: South Africa

South Africa For Kids

Fact Monster South Africa

A Fighter With a Camera in Apartheid-Era South Africa is a New York Times slideshow.

Here’s a short, touching NY Times video on the life of a child going to school in South Africa:

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January 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On California Court Case Attacking Teacher’s Rights

'Timken Roller Bearing Co., calendar, September 1950, teacher at desk' photo (c) 2009, George Eastman House - license:

Vergara v. California is a carefully-watched court case that begins next week that attempts to eliminate fundamental teacher rights likes tenure and due process. It’s being financed by a multi-millionaire corporate reformer.

Here is what I wrote in the 2014 education predictions I published in The Washington Post:

The carefully watched court case in California against teacher tenure rules that is being bankrolled by corporate school reformers will result in an unequivocal victory for teachers unions, students and families — either by being dismissed or by a court-ruling against the plaintiffs. 

I thought readers might find it useful to learn more about the case, since it has national implications (you might also be interested in The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Both Why Teacher Tenure Is Important & The Reasons Behind Seniority-Based Layoffs). I’ll certainly be making additions in the future:

Education Policy via Litigation is by David B. Cohen.

Lawsuit challenging teacher tenure, seniority protections goes to court next week is from Ed Source.

Why a Nice Philanthropist Takes on “Bad” Teachers — and the Rest of Us is by John Thompson.

Declaring war on teachers’ rights won’t improve children’s access to a sound education is by Gary Ravani.

Lawsuit takes on California teachers’ job protections is from The Los Angeles Times.

Teacher tenure goes on trial in California courtroom is from The Washington Post.

California Lawsuit Attacks Teacher Rights is by Anthony Cody.

Teacher Job Protections Vs. Students’ Education In Calif.
is from NPR.

Eight Problems with the Vergara Lawsuit is by David B. Cohen.

California teacher tenure, dismissal challenged in lawsuit is from The San Jose Mercury News.



Notes on the Seniority Smokescreen is by Bruce Baker.

Trial over California teacher protection laws opens is from The LA Times.

In landmark trial, both sides debate whether teacher protection laws fail students is from Ed Source.

Contours of Calif. Teacher-Protection Suit Take Shape is from Ed Week.

What Is the Real Intent of Vergara v. California? is by John Thompson.

L.A. teacher firings spiked but still costly and lengthy, Deasy says is from The LA Times.

Vergara v. California: The Agendas, the Facts, and Recommendations for California Law is from 34Justice.

Few L.A. teachers get bad ratings, trial documents show is from The Los Angeles Times.

Vergara Suit: When Is A Teacher ‘Incapable of Remediation?’ is from Ed Week.

Fight Over Effective Teachers Shifts to Courtroom is from The New York Times.

Aggressive public relations campaign amplifies courtroom battle against teacher work rules
is from Ed Source, and is probably the “must-read” article on the trial so far.

Disappointment At Trial Attacking California Teachers

Teachers’ Job Protections Debated in California Trial is from Education Week.

Vergara Sisters Testify in Calif. Teacher-Protection Suit Bearing Their Name is from Education Week.

White students get better teachers in L.A., researcher testifies is from The LA Times.

Kane Unable is an excellent post by Gary Rubinstein that responds to the previous article.

The Two Faces of John Deasy is by Diane Ravitch.

Vergara Show Trial Highlights Gates Foundation Snake Oil is by John Thompson.

Teachers union president: Vergara lawsuit just an ‘AstroTurf’ attempt to dismantle teachers’ rights is from The San Jose Mercury News.

A deeply misguided lawsuit about teachers and students appeared in The Washington Post.

David Welch: The Man Behind Vergara v. California is from Capital and Main.

Analysis: Legal positions in Vergara trial a universe apart is from LA School Report.

Vergara Plaintiffs Shouldn’t Put Individual Teachers On Trial is by Paul Bruno.

Linda Darling-Hammond Testifies in Vergara Trial is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Commentary: Standing with Beatriz against Vergara is by LA School Board member Steve Zimmer.

Attorneys give final arguments in Vergara suit challenging laws for teacher hiring, firing is from Ed Source.

Fate of California Teacher-Protection Rules Now in Hands of Judge is from Ed Week.

The Vergara Lawsuit Fixes Nothing & Can Make Things Worse

If Economists Studied Education Research, Would They Still Promote Value-Added Evaluations? is by John Thompson.

Guest commentary: Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions is from The Contra Costa Times.

Kill tenure, cure schools? was published in the Los Angeles Times.

Competing Views of Teacher Tenure Are on Display in California Case is from The New York Times.

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