Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

December 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Fun Videos To Teach Language Conventions — Help Me Find More

I have already posted a few “Best” lists sharing fun videos to help teach some literacy concepts, including:

The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading

The Best Funny Videos To Help Teach Grammar

I thought I’d publish a very beginning list of fun videos to help teach language conventions. I hope readers will contribute many more.

Here’s a start:

If you skip through an off-color remark made by the celery near the beginning of this video, it could be a short and fun way to introduce the idea of personification to students. Check out “Meltdown: Where Last Night’s Leftovers Battle For Their Lives”:

MELTDOWN from Dave Green on Vimeo.

Here’s one on irony, though the final picture is a bit off-color:

Okay — your turn now! Please leave suggestions in the comments….

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December 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2014


As regular readers know, I’ve recently begun posting my end-of-the-year  “The Best….” lists. There are nearly 1,400 regularly updated lists now.  You can see them all here.

As usual, in order to make this list, a site had 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 (however, I’ve begun to make exceptions for special mobile apps).

It’s possible that a few of these sites began earlier than this year, but, if so, I’m including them in this list because they were “new to me” in 2014.

You might want to visit previous editions, as well as The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education and The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly:

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2013

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2012

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2011

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2010

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2009

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2008

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education — 2007

Usually, I rank each Web 2.0 on this list from bottom-to-top. This year, though, I had a lot of difficulty with the ratings, so I’m doing it differently. Three sites stand above all others (“The Best Of The Best”), and are the only two this year that I’m adding to The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education. You’ll find them at the bottom.

Just up from those three are nine others in the “Excellent” — they’re good, but not quite at the “all-time” level. They’re not ranked within those ten — I think they’re all equally useful.

The first sites I list are new ones that are good, but just not useful enough to make the “Excellent” category. I’m calling them “Very Good.” They also are not ranked within that category.

Here are my thirty-three choices for The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2014 (Feel free to let me know if you think I’m leaving any tools out):

The Very Good New Web 2.0 Applications For Education

* Zaption looks like a useful tool for creating interactive videos for students.

* Pixteller, is another tool that lets you easily create visually attractive quotations.

* Google has unveiled Google Classroom, which looks like a one-stop shop for teachers and students. It’s free, with no ads, and describes itself as providing the ability to

* seems like a super-simple video conferencing site for up to eight people that doesn’t even require any registration.

* Booktrack Classroom has books in the public domain online to which they’ve added “soundtracks” — music, street sounds, etc. In addition, students can create their own soundtracks to books that they write. Even better, teachers can create virtual classrooms with assigned readings and/or to share their own creations. And, best of all, it’s free.  You can read many of the books without having to register, but must do so in order to create them. It’s very, very easy to create your own books — the site has lots of sounds and music you can add to the text. Oddly, though, it doesn’t seem to provide the option of recording your own narration or sound effects. With those features, it would make it particularly useful to English Language Learners and also make it a more engaging creative activity for everyone.

* Sketch Toy is a simple and useful online drawing tool.

* Flip Quiz is an easy site that lets you create an online Jeopardy-like game board that students can play.

* ExamTime is sort of a flashcard site on steroids that provides a number of other tools, too.

* Learning Pod looks like a nice place to create online quizzes.

* Function Carnival is a new site that lets you set-up virtual classes, have students watch videos, and then have them create graphs based on what they see. I don’t really understand it, but it looks cool, Dan Meyer helped create it (which means it has to be good), and you can read more about it here.

* ClassFlow is a new tool that was unveiled by Promethean in January.  It looks pretty interesting, though I’ve got to wonder what it’s cost structure is going to end up being. I suspect that Promethean isn’t going to make it entirely free forever, but maybe I’m just being cynical. It seems like a pretty easy tool for teachers to use to create multimedia presentations for the classroom and, apparently, provides a way for students to respond to teacher questions (I didn’t explore that feature). I also think it would a useful tool for students to use to create lessons that they would teach to their classmates.

* Biteslide looks like a fairly easy tool to create slideshow-like presentations.

* Gibbon lets you easily create what they call “flows,” which are basically lists of web resources with instructions written by the flow’s creator. I think Gibbon has ambitious plans but, for teachers, it’s an easy tool for teachers to create Internet scavenger hunts for students and for students to create them for their classmates.

* Bookopolis lets teachers create virtual classrooms — for free — where students can identify the book they’re reading (they just have to type in the title and the site automatically “finds” it) and write a review. There are a number of other features, too. It seems like a very useful site, though I’m less-than-thrilled with the extrinsic points and badges students can earn.

* I have a fairly popular The Best Tools For Creating Fake “Stuff” For Learning list. The fake “stuff” I’m referring to includes newspaper articles, sports “trading cards,” iPhone conversations, Facebook pages etc. These can be used for conversation practice, to create reports on historical figures (or on natural disasters or on just about anything) and for numerous other learning activities. Simitator is another one I’m adding to the list. It lets you create “fake” Facebook pages, Twitter threads and more. Unfortunately, though, you have to download your creation — it won’t let you link to it (most of the other tools on my Best list let you save them as Web pages.

* I’m always on the look-out for tools that allow students — and teachers — to create online personalized “newspapers” to read and to share. In other words, sites that let you create topics that then provide daily attractive webpages to read, along with sending you daily email updates. I keep updating The Best Sites For Creating Personalized “Newspapers” Online because my favorite ones keep on going out of business. The previous owners of The Washington Post have created an excellent new one called Trove.

* Heganoo looks like a very nice and easy online map-making site. After a quick registration (though I never received a confirmation email, but was still able to use the site without it) you can identify any location or locations on a map and make it a point-of-interest where you can add text, links and, most importantly as far as I’m concerned, an image by just pasting its url address. That ability to add an image via web address is a bit unusual for map-making sites.I’m adding it to The Best Map-Making Sites On The Web.

* Comment Bubble lets you have a virtual discussion via comments on any video.

* One my most popular posts is about a tool called News Jack (see Easily Make Your Own Unique (& Fake) CNN, NY Times, Etc. Website With “News Jack”). Reader Uday Ogra tells me about a new similar site called Create News.Sites like these are engaging tools for students to write about historical and literary events, though I still wonder how they fit in with copyright laws….

* I’m a big fan of having students both read and write Choose Their Own Adventure stories (see The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories).One big problem I’ve found, though, is that there hasn’t really been a super-easy way for students to create their own. Thanks to reader “Grubie,” though, I think I might have found one. It’s called Rootbook. The site has lots of choose your own adventure stories you can read without registering or signing-in. In addition, if you register (which takes seconds), you’re also given the ability to create your own. And it seems to be pretty easy to do so — the only trick I found was that you have to make sure to upload a photo cover page first to your story or else it won’t let you continue.

* Liberio is a new tool that says it will let you turn any Google Drive document into an eBook. It also says it lets you upload and use a document from your computer.

The Excellent New Web 2.0 Applications For Education

* I’m always looking for great tools that students can use, especially my IB Theory of Knowledge students, to save links to articles and websites when they’re doing research. In addition, it’s a bonus when I can find one that’s especially accessible to English Language Learners — those stand-out by have the ability to show images of sites and not just text links. is a new one of these “home-page” creators that looks like it fits both those bills. It’s free, doesn’t require any kind of browser bookmarklet to use (in other words, you can just copy and paste url addresses). One of its features that I really like is that it seems to have the ability to let you embed any webpage just by pasting its url address.

* My Storybook lets students easily create simple virtual books with text and images/characters you can insert with a click. You can also draw your own.

* PixiClip is a neat drawing tool. It 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,”

* Curriculet lets teachers assign what appears to be books in the public domain (though I might be wrong on that) and embed quizzes and questions into them.

* TUZZit is a free online graphic organizer tool that provides lots of different options of organizers (you can also create your own); lets you paste online images videos, virtual post-it notes and more onto them; and then you can share your creation with online collaborators. In some ways it seems like an Exploratree on steriods (that site is on Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Mindmapping, Flow Chart Tools, & Graphic Organizers list). In other ways, it reminds me of tools on The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”) list.

* There are lots of sites out there that let you create virtual “corkboards” and you can see them at The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”). Padlet (formerly known as Wallwisher) is probably the most well-known tool of this kind. Richard Byrne  shared about a new site that might end up being the best of the bunch. It’s called Stoodle.

* Canva is a new tool for creating infographics.

* slidebean is a new free tool for creating online slideshows. It provides multiple formats and the ability to search the Web, within the application, for images. I’ve added it to The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows.

* Stupeflix, which is on Not The “Best,” But A List… Of Online Video Editors list, has launched a free iPhone app called Replay that — at least to me — looks very, very Animoto-like. It lets you easily turn your photos into music videos.  I’m assuming there are lots of differences between the two, but I could only find two in my admittedly quick try-out of Replay, and both came out in Replay’s favor: one, the process appeared a lot faster than in Animoto’s app and, two, Replay appears to provide a number of features that Animoto requires you to pay (admittedly, not a lot) for…

The Best Of The Best New Web 2.0 Applications For Education

* I learned about the free Shadow Puppet Edu (what appears to be a premium version of the more commercial Shadow Puppet app) through an article in  ASCD Educational Leadership, and am very, very impressed. It has a bunch of bells and whistles that I haven’t even explored yet but, at its core, it’s an iPhone/iPad app that lets you pick photos and super-easily (and I do mean easily) lets you add audio narration to each photo and create a slideshow.

* Scrawlar lets teachers create virtual classrooms, lets students write and use a “whiteboard,” doesn’t require student email registration (just a classroom password and a student-created sign-in code), and is free. It’s also usable on laptops, desktops, tablets and phones.

* Write About is a new site co-founded by educator John Spencer (his name may be familiar with readers since I’ve previously shared his work many times here). His co-founder is Brad Wilson. Write About provides many (and I mean many) images with writing prompts. Students can write their response and do an audio recording of it. Teachers can create virtual classrooms and provide individual written feedback to student writing. Student creations can be shared publicly or just with their classmates. Teachers can change prompts or upload their own photos. There’s a lot more, too. Plus, you can’t beat the cost (or non-cost):

Teachers can sign up and participate in the Write About community for free. Up to 40 free student accounts can be created with up to 3 posts each. Unlimited posts can be added with a Classroom account for $4.95/month. Teachers with multiple classes can add up to 250 students with unlimited posts for $7.95/month.

I think Write About is going to be an exceptional site, in particular for English Language Learners. It combines visual imagery, writing, speaking and listening – not to mention an authentic audience.


I’m looking forward to hearing readers’ reactions to this list!

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November 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best “Words Of The Year” Features For 2014

I do an annual “The Best…” list on the “words of the year” that various organizations name at about time of the year. Groups have begun their announcements, and I’ll add to list as more do the same.

You might also be interested in:

The Best “Words Of The Year” Features For 2013

The Best “Words Of The Year” Features For 2012

The Best “Words Of The Year” Features For 2011

The Best “Words Of The Year” Features For 2010

Here are The Best “Words Of The Year” Features For 2014:

‘Vape’ Joins Pot Lingo as Oxford’s Word of the Year is from The New York Times.

Take It In: ‘Vape’ Is The Oxford Dictionaries Word Of The Year is from NPR.

Vape: Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year is from Vox.

The Ant’s Pants? Oxford Dictionaries Adds 1,000 New Terms is from NPR.

The 11 best new words added to Oxford dictionaries is from The Week.

Merriam Webster Chooses Word of the Year is from TIME.

You might also be interested in my other 1,400 “The Best” lists.

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November 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2014 – Part Two


I write many posts about recent research studies and how they can relate practically to the classroom. In fact, I post a regular feature called Research Studies of the Week. In addition, I write individual posts about studies I feel are particularly relevant to my work as a teacher.

I’m continuing with end-of-year “Best” lists, and it makes sense now to publish one on recent studies. You can see all my 1,400 “Best” lists here.

You might also be interested in:

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2014 – So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 – Part Two

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 — So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2012 — So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2011

Hare are My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2014 – Part Two:

The Power Of Having A “Purpose For Learning” In The Classroom

Oh, Boy, This Is Great! Researcher’s Scans Show Brain Connections Growing When Learning New Language

“Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling”

“We’re hooked on easy answers and undervalue asking good questions”

What A Shock! Study Finds That Student Reflection Helps Learning

What A Surprise – NOT! British Study Finds That Cash Rewards Don’t Motivate Students

“Curiosity improves memory by tapping into the brain’s reward system”

Another Study Finds The Destructive Effects Of Grade Retention

“How Diversity Makes Us Smarter”

Researchers See What A Growth Mindset Does To The Brain

VERY Interesting Info On The Results Of KIPP’s “Character Education” Program

Study: “Asking for Advice Makes You Seem More Competent, Not Less”

Big Surprise — NOT!: Study Says Students Are More Successful With “Active Learning” Than With Lectures

“A shocking statistic about the quality of education research”

Important Study: “Expecting to teach enhances learning, recall”

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

Big New Study On Deliberate Practice

New Study Reinforces Previous Ones Showing SEL Lessons Need To Be Short & Simple

The Best Research Demonstrating That Lectures Are Not The Best Instructional Strategy

Effective teaching: 10 tips on what works and what doesn’t is from The Guardian. It’s a very interesting summary of a meta-analysis on research done over the years.

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November 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Resources On Ferguson For Use In The Classroom

I wanted to quickly pull together a few of what I think might be particularly useful resources to use in the classroom in talking with students about the grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who killed Michael Brown. Some of these are brand new. Many of us don’t have school tomorrow, but I know that many others do. I’ll be adding to this list and hope that readers will contribute, too…

First, here are three previously posted lists:

Teaching Ideas For #Ferguson #MichaelBrown

A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism and

How Many Of Our Students Feel This Way? (Resources On The Shooting Death Of Michael Brown)

And here are new ones from tonight:

Tracking the Events in the Wake of Michael Brown’s Shooting is an interactive from The New York Times.

What happened in Ferguson is a Washington Post interactive.

What Happened in Ferguson? is a NY Times interactive.

13 key questions-and-answers about the Ferguson grand jury decision is from The Washington Post.

5 Things About the Ferguson Decision is from The Wall Street Journal.

The Associated Press has published an interactive.

Protests After Ferguson Officer Is Not Indicted is from The NY Times.

Ferguson Police Officer Not Charged in Black Teen’s Shooting is from The Wall St. Journal.

Ferguson shooting & protests is CNN’s central page.

Witnesses Saw Michael Brown Attacking–and Others Saw Him Giving Up is from The Atlantic.

11 things we learned from Darren Wilson’s account in the Ferguson grand jury evidence is from Vox.

What Is Your Reaction to the Grand Jury’s Decision in the Ferguson Case? is from The NY Times Learning Network.

Gallery: Reaction in Ferguson and across the country

Chronicle of a Riot Foretold is from The New Yorker.

Law and Disorder in Ferguson is from The Marshall Project.

After Ferguson Announcement, a Racial Divide Remains Over Views of Justice
is from The NY Times.

Ferguson grand jury decision: between the lines of the St Louis County prosecutor’s announcement is an interactive from The Guardian.

From Cairo to Moscow: how the world reacted to Ferguson is from The Guardian.

Telling My Son About Ferguson is from The New York Times.

Talking About Racism With White Kids is from The New York Times.

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November 23, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Using Chromebooks In The Classroom – Help Me Find More

I’ve become increasingly disappointed with our District’s decision to not purchase Chromebooks and, instead, purchase far more expensive and far fewer MacBooks.

I did think, though, that readers might find a Chromebooks “Best” list useful and, perhaps, someday, so will I.

Before I share those links (and I hope readers will contribute more), here are a few other Best lists you might find useful:

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

The Best Advice On Using Education Technology

The Best Sources For Ideas On How To Use Technology With English Language Learners

The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools

The Best Good, Inexpensive & Simple Classroom Technology Tools

The Best Places To Find Research On Technology & Language Teaching/Learning

The Best Sites For Learning About The History Of Technology

My Best Posts For Tech Novices (Plus A Few From Other People)

The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users

The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me

Now, here are my choices for The Best Resources For Using Chromebooks In The Classroom:

Chromebooks beat iPads as top education device is from The San Francisco Chronicle.

30 Ways to Use Chromebooks in the Classroom is a useful slide presentation.

Using Chromebooks in the Classroom is from Reading Today.

Here’s a Live Binder created by Maureen Davis full of related resources.

10 Chromebook uses: How Google-powered laptops are enhancing classrooms is from Education Dive.

3 Reasons Why Chromebook Beats iPad in 1:1 Programs is from edSurge.

Six Reasons Educators Say They Are Choosing Chromebooks Over iPads, Netbooks And PCs is from Forbes.

Why Chromebooks Are Beating MacBooks is from Mashable.

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November 23, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning How To Use Google Docs/Google Drive

My knowledge of Google Docs has been more limited than it should be, and I’ve been getting up to speed.

I thought readers might find the resources I’ve been using helpful, too (let me know if you have suggestions of links to add to this list):

15 Effective Ways to Use Google Docs in Class is from Ed Tech and Mobile Learning.

10 Things Every Teacher Should Know How To Do With Google Docs is from Edudemic.

Teacher Training Videos has an excellent video tutorial on using Google Docs/Google Drive.

Google Drive Basics for the Complete Beginner and Some Recommended Apps is a very useful post.

An Updated 63 Page Guide to Google Drive and Docs is from Richard Byrne.

10 Things Every Teacher Should be able to do on Google Docs is from Indiana Jen.

Docs & Drive Level 1: The Basics is from Google.

Kaizena lets you provide audio feedback to students on their work. You can use it with Google Drive, though it also appears that you can use it outside of Google Docs (let me know if I’m wrong on that).

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November 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Teaching The Next Generation Science Standards To English Language Learners

I’ve just posted The Best Resources For Teaching Common Core Math To English Language Learners, and thought I’d publish this companion post, too.

Just as I’m interested in interviewing teachers who have had success teaching Common Core Math to ELLs, I’d like to talk with teachers who are effectively teaching the Next Generation Science Standards to them. Please leave a comment if you’re open to talking with me.

You might also be interested in The “All-Time” Best Science Sites . Of course, I also have a ton of other science-related “Best” lists, too.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Teaching The Next Generation Science Standards To English Language Learners (please suggest more):

Next Generation Science Standards and English-Learners is from Ed Week.

Teaching Science to English Language Learners: What do the NGSS Tell Us? is from Diane Staehr Fenner.

Language Demands and Opportunities in Relation to Next Generation Science Standards for English Language Learners: What Teachers Need to Know is from Understanding Language.

English Language Learners and the Next Generation Science Standards is from Next Generation Science.

Next Generation Science Standards and English Language Learners is from Project CORE.

Framework for English Language Proficiency Development Standards corresponding to the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards is from CCSSO.

New Science Standards Designed for Wide Range of Learners is from Education Week.

Cultivating Academic Language and Literacy in Science Instruction was the title of a recent Webinar, which I believe can be viewed for free.

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November 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best “Lists Of Lists” Of Influential People, Events & Ideas

I know the title of this list sounds a bit “meta,” but there are a number of useful articles out there sharing ranked lists of influential people and events. I use them as models for my student assignments where they have develop their own while providing evidence to back-up their positions. I’ve posted a few of these in the past, and thought it would be helpful to readers and to me to bring them together into one place.

So, here are my choices for The Best Lists Of Lists Of Influential People, Events & Ideas (feel free to contribute more):

The 10 greatest changes of the past 1,000 years is an excellent article in The Guardian. In it, a historian describes shares his opinion of the greatest change that occurred in each of the last ten centuries (note: please see an important critique of this list in the comments section).

It’s a fascinating article, I think, for anyone to read. The real reason I’m posting about it, though, is because I’ll be using the idea in my World History class for English Language Learners. We’re just finishing up a unit on the “First Civilizations,” and I think I’ll ask them to identify what they think is the greatest change that happened during that period and why they chose it. If it goes well, I might make it a regular assignment at the end of each unit.

TIME has published an accessible feature called The 20 Most Influential Americans of All Time.

The Discovery Channel published a similar project a few years back (that link is to its Wikipedia page that shows their list — they took the original neat website off-line).

Here’s the simple assignment I gave my students using it (and, the next time I teach U.S. History, I’ll add the TIME piece, too):

A television channel did a poll to find out who people thought were the Greatest Americans, and then ranked them from the most important to the one hundredth most important.

Think about all the Americans we have studied so far. Pick who you think are the top five Americans and rank them one-through-five. Find a picture of them, write about what you think was their major accomplishment, and explain why you ranked them where you did.

Meet the 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time is from Smithsonian Magazine.

80 Moments That Changed The World is from The British Council.

100 Years; 100 Thinkers: The New Republic Ranks The Minds Who’ve Defined Our Century.

The 100 Most Influential Figures in American History is from The Atlantic.

I’m sure I’ve posted other similar lists over the years, but just can’t find them right now. Again, feel free to share suggestions of others to include…

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November 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Teaching Common Core Math To English Language Learners

I’m hearing that many math teachers, at least in the secondary level, are finding it very challenging to teach Common Core math to English Language Learners.

I thought I’d start bringing together some potentially useful resources, and hope readers will contribute more.

In addition, I’d love to interview teachers who are having success teaching Common Core math to ELLs, so please leave a comment if you’d be open to talking with me. Please leave a comment if you’re open to talking.

Before I share resources specifically related to Common Core math, here are some math-related “Best” lists I’ve previously posted:

The Best Math Websites For English Language Learners
The Best Science & Math Sites — 2008

The Best Science & Math Sites — 2009
The Best MATH Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress

You might also be interested in this article: Is math a universal language or a foreign language for ELLs? from MultiBriefs.

And then there’s The Best Resources For Learning About Common Core Standards & English Language Learners.

Okay, now here are some Common Core-connected math resources:

Common-Core Math Standards Put New Focus on English-Learners is an important article from Education Week.

Diane Staehr Fenner has put together an excellent post, Resources for Teaching the CCSS in Mathematics to ELLs.

Laura Stevens has also compiled a very useful list.

Check out the resources at Understanding Language at Stanford.

Common Core Math for English Language Learners

Teaching English learners language of math is from Ed Source.

Again, I hope that readers will contribute more!

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November 20, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On President Obama’s Executive Order On Immigration

I’m writing this post a few hours prior to President Obama’s address where he will announce his Executive Order on immigration. There are a fair amount of articles and resources suggesting what will be contained in that order now, and I’ll include these at the top of this list. I’ll add new resources after his actual announcement.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Resources About The New Push For Immigration Reform

The Best Resources On The Obama Administration’s Plan To Partially Implement The DREAM Act

The Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship

The Best Sites For Learning About Immigration In The United States

The Best Sites To Learn About Arizona’s New Immigration Law

The Best Resources To Learn About Alabama’s Awful Immigration Law (& Its Impact On Schools)

Now, here are resources on the Executive Order:

Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Shield Four Million is from The New York Times.

Obama ready to announce sweeping plans on immigration is from Vox.

Obama Poised to Grant Deportation Relief to Millions of Undocumented Immigrants is from Education Week.

President Obama’s Long-Awaited Immigration Decree is from The Atlantic.

Is Obama giving new protections to 5 million immigrants? Probably not is from Vox and offers a useful chart.

4 times presidents unilaterally protected immigrants from deportations is from Vox.

Here is the President’s “pre-announcement”:

Obama to Announce Executive Action on Immigration Thursday is from NBC News.


Transcript: Obama’s immigration speech appeared in The Washington Post.

Illegal immigrants can start applying for delayed deportations this spring is from The Washington Post.

11 key facts about Obama’s immigration initiative is from Vox.

Obama Unveils Immigration Plan, Lifts Deportation Threat for Millions is from Education Week.

Parents, young immigrants favored in executive action is a Washington Post interactive.

What Is President Obama’s Immigration Plan? is from The NY Times.

‘Not Who We Are As Americans’ : Obama Announces Deportation Relief for Millions is from NBC News.

Barack Obama anuncia acción ejecutiva y ampara a 5 millones de indocumentados is from Univision.

Obama’s Immigration Plan Mostly Covers Parents is from Five Thirty Eight.

Obama Unveils Immigration Plan, Lifts Deportation Threat for Millions
is from Ed Week.

Illegal immigrants are 3.5 percent of the population. But they are parents to 7 percent of K-12 students. is from The Washington Post.

The best arguments for, and against, Obama’s executive action on immigration is from Vox.

Changes in undocumented immigrant populations is from The Washington Post.

Obama’s immigration overhaul could benefit many in California is from The Los Angeles Times.

Many of the major national organizations working with immigrants have created iAmerica as a “one-stop” bilingual site to get verified information on the executive order.

A Closer Look At Obama’s Immigration Plan: What’s In It, Who’s Affected is from NPR.

Flow chart: Who qualifies for Obama’s immigration offer? is from The Washington Post.

As Obama hands many immigrants a reprieve, hucksters wait to defraud them is from The Washington Post.

How many K-12 students are illegal immigrants? is from The Washington Post.

Undocumented Immigrants Aren’t Who You Think They Are is from Five Thirty Eight.

Maps: States Where Lots Of Students With Undocumented Parents Attend School is from Alexander Russo.

Obama’s huge new immigration plan, explained is from Vox.

Children key to deportation relief is from Ed Source.

What Is President Obama’s Immigration Plan? is from The NY Times.

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November 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Places To Get The “Same” Text Written For Different “Levels”

Having the “same” text written for different levels of English comprehension can be a life-saver for a multi-level class of English Language Learners or for a teacher with a mainstream class that includes some students that are facing other challenges. They can be an important tool for differentiation.

But where do you get these different versions other than creating them yourself?

Here are a few sources, and I hope that readers will suggest more:

Newsela provides several “levels” of the same newspaper articles, along with accompanying online quizzes, that students can read and take. For a small fee, Teachers can create a virtual classroom, assign articles and monitor student progress. However, students can read the articles for free without having to pay anything.

News In Levels offers similar resources, but without the ability to track student progress online. The site is free.

For The Teachers has similar leveled articles available for download. It, too, is free.

Breaking News English

Text Compactor lets you paste text into it and then automatically shares different versions with fewer words. It seemed to work pretty well when I tried it.

Rewordify is like a super-sophisticated Text Compactor on steroids. You can read my previous post about it: “Rewordify” Is One Of The Most Unique Sites Out There For English Language Learners & Others.

Reader Laurie suggests Embedded Reading, which has these kinds of similar “leveled” texts in English, as well as in other languages.

I learned about CommonLit from the amazing educator Suzie Boss at her recent Edutopia post. It’s a neat site that doesn’t actually provide the “same” text written for different “levels.” What it does do, however, is provide leveled readings – with prompts — on the same theme. It’s pretty neat.

Books That Grow has a library of texts that have each been edited to be made accessible to different reading levels. And it has some other unique features — teachers can create virtual classrooms to assign and/or monitor what students what are reading and students can click on words that are new to them to see definitions and hear how they are pronounced. They are also planning on adding comprehension questions. The texts can be read on any device.

Everything is free for now, though they plan on starting to charge for some “premium” features in the 2015/16 school year.

You can register now on their sign-up page, and then they’ll contact you by email in a few hours or the next day with registration information. They won’t have a super-easy system in place until January for registering students in virtual classes, but they’ll do it for you prior to that time.

I’m adding this list to The Best Resources On Differentiating Instruction.

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November 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2014 – Part Two”


I’ve just published My Best Posts on Parent Engagement in 2014 — Part Two over at my other blog, Engaging Parents In School (by the way, you can find all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here, including My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2014 – So Far).

That post is the first of about twenty of my annual “year-end” lists that I’ll be publishing over the next month-and-a-half….

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November 4, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On The Idea Of “Wait Time”

There is more to “Wait time,” typically described as the idea of giving students time to think prior to answering a teacher-asked question, than one might usually think.

I’ve previously posted about it, and this month’s ASCD Educational Leadership has two very good articles commenting on the topic.

I thought I’d bring those resources together in one “Best” list, and invite readers to contribute additional ones.

Here is what I have at this time:

My post is titled An Extremely Important “Take” On “Wait Time” — One That I Hadn’t Thought About Before….

Research Says / Get All Students to Speak Up
is by Bryan Goodwin at ASCD Educational Leadership.

All the Time They Need is by Ellin Oliver Keene at ASCD Educational Leadership.

You might also be interested in all 1,400 “The Best…” lists.

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October 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Movie Scenes For Halloween

I have lots of Halloween resources (see The Best Websites For Learning About Halloween) and lots of movie scenes useful for English language development (see The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development).

With us focusing on Halloween next week in class, I thought I’d put the two together and share some good movie scenes to show students.

The ones here are a combination of scary videos and ones that introduce Halloween-like monsters. Some are too scary for young children.

You can read about how I use these scenes in class at The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them).

I hope readers will contribute additional suggestions:

Lights Out – Who’s There Film Challenge (2013) from David F. Sandberg on Vimeo.

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October 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

All My NY Times Posts For English Language Learners – Linked With Descriptions


I’ve been writing posts for The New York Times Learning Network for three years on teaching English Language Learners, and that adds-up to a lot of posts! Many include online student interactives and all include multiple teaching ideas.

I thought readers would find it helpful if I put links to them all together, along with short descriptions.

And, as I post new ones, I’ll add them here, too…

Food is the topic of this New York Times Learning Network post for English Language Learners, and it’s chock full of some pretty unique lessons. In addition, it discusses how to apply Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “flow” to those lessons and, in fact, to just about any other lesson, too.

Teach academic writing through civics and citizenship lessons around the legal voting age.  In addition, use surveys and polls to provoke listening and speaking practice.

Students put “scrambled” sentences in order to correctly re-create a paragraph from a story about schools, and are encouraged to create their own sequencing activities.    Another teaching activity is having students identify their visions for their own school and write an argumentative essay about it, as well as meeting with their principal.

Students complete a cloze (fill-in-the-gap) activity in an article about the World Cup, and use the same passage and other teaching ideas to learn about synonyms.

Learn about “articles” in the English language through a cloze activity about Mexico City and additional exercises.   In addition, a teaching idea provides suggestions on how to have students create their own itineraries for trips around the world.

This Mother’s Day interactive and supplemental activities focus on conjunctions and having students do writing about their mothers or other key family members.

Students separate run-on sentences in this interactive about International Dance Day, and use it as a model for creating their own.  In addition, they can view a variety of dance videos and write a compare/contrast essay.

Learn about punctuation in this interactive on body language and supplemental exercises, and then have students do some fun listening activities with different videos to see if people are being truthful or not.

Have students learn about nouns in this interactive on the popularity of soccer in China.  Then, have students complete (and then create their own) “scrambled” exercise where they have to place answers with the correct questions in re-creating interviews.

Students learn to categorize words in this interactive on eating insects, and then broaden their categories further.  In addition, they can watch engaging insect videos and describe — verbally and in writing — what they see.

Fill-in-the-blanks in this story about “chewing gum art” and have students create their own artwork online, which they then describe both verbally and in writing.

Complete a cloze about how animals can impact children’s heath, and then students can draw, write or even create a video about pets that are or have been in their lives.

Use a passage about fossils and dinosaurs to learn new vocabulary, practice pronunciation with tongue twisters, and practice a simple paragraph-writing framework.

Learn about comparatives and superlatives while learning about skyscrapers, as well as having students building their own as part of the Language Experience Approach.  In addition, students can use “close reading” techniques as they watch a documentary about the history of tall buildings.

Practice prediction with students as they reading about Valentine’s Day and learn about idioms at the same time.  Plus, have students create Valentine’s cards and share about romantic traditions in their home countries.

Fill-in-the-blanks in this passage about preparation for the Sochi Olympic Games, and use the event as an opportunity to practice writing and listening with a Picture Dictation activity.

Students learn about the progressive tense in this passage about the changing nature of families, and use the article as a stepping-stone to a lesson of creating family trees — with a twist!

Use this fun activity to learn about prepositions through reading incorrectly translated passages and street signs.

Learn about holiday food traditions from different cultures though a fill-in-the-blank passage and different lesson ideas.

Have students watch videos about current events and craft higher-order thinking questions about them.

Students practice the reading strategy of summarization while, at the same time, practice using humor as a language-development activity.

Students watch a short video and have to list the scenes in the correct sequence.  They can then create their own similar “quiz” for classmates and even create their own videos.

Choose the most accurate description of a picture taken at a United Farmworkers Union demonstration  and have students reflect on protest movements in their home countries and in the United States.  Use the lesson to expand to other historical photos and use them for language-development activities.

Teach and learn the past tense through a passage about John F. Kennedy, and use a text data set for an inductive lesson about his life.

Watch a video about the Mexican wrestling style called “lucha libre” and use it in a sequencing lesson.  Then have students create their own wrestling personas.

Watch a clip from West Side Story and use it for a musical sequencing activity.  Then, have students research and write about gangs today.

Learn about The Day of The Dead and Halloween, and use it as a lesson in developing  literal and interpretative questions.

Learn pronouns and the importance of learning from failures and mistakes through this interactive on J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series.

Watch a video and read a passage about a girls soccer team in Mexico to learn about punctuation, and have students create punctuation games and practice reading strategies, too.

Teach the vocabulary of colors by a fill-in-the-blank passage, a discussion of their cultural significance, and the use of a Times’ “grid” of different photos that students have to describe in a game-like activity.

Learn about magic in a sequencing activity and develop academic vocabulary while exploring different illusions.

Study the use of “articles” and learn about the concept of “grit” (perseverance) through online interactive exercises.

Study the 9/11 terrorist attacks through a K-W-L chart and Venn Diagrams that lead to writing a compare and contrast essay.

Learn about mariachis and use them to kick-off an exploration of the different aspects of students’ home cultures.

Use a passage about soccer star Lionel Messi  to encourage students to create their own fill-in-the-blank exercises for classmates to complete.

Encourage students to reflect back on their class year, and provide them with suggestions on how to continue their study during the coming months.

Teaching and learning strategies about the environment and Earth Day.

Using videos, photographs and music for language-development activities, including ones to practice descriptive language and make a connection between art and activism.

Lessons that explore citizenship, including considering if there is a difference between “citizenship” and “active citizenship.”

Learn about the Picture Word Inductive Model as a teaching/learning strategy, as well as sequencing activities with videos and a fun language-learning game.

Multiple lessons focused on different holidays and holiday traditions.

Using video clips for language-development, learning about Malala Yousafsai, discussing the length of the school year and more!

Many lesson ideas about politics and elections.

A mixture of activities, including ones on idioms, recipes,  developing neighborhood tours and writing a compare/contrast essay.

Ideas on using students’ personal stories to maximize the effectiveness English-language development lessons.


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October 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For “The International Day Of The Girl”

From The United Nations:

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.

In recognition of the importance of investing in and empowering girls during adolescence and preventing and eliminating the various forms of violence they experience, the theme of International Day of the Girl Child for 2014 is Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.

Here are resources on the Day:


USAID has a number of accessible resources.

Presidential Proclamation — International Day of the Girl, 2014

Photographers Capture The Sorrow And Pain Of Global Girls is from NPR.

A Day For Global Girls Gets People Talking, But Then What? is from NPR.

Map: What Countries have the worst gender gap is from Slate.

Gender quotes GA67: Barack Obama on girls education

Investing in Girls
by ksanto.

How Would the World Change if Every Girl Was Educated?

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October 4, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts & Articles On How To Teach “Controversial” Topics – Suggest More!

There is no shortage of topics that need to be discussed in the classroom that many consider “controversial” (see A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism – Help Me Find More) and there is no shortage of people who don’t want many of these issues brought up in schools (see The Best Posts & Articles On The Teacher & Student Protests In Colorado).

Here are a few resources with additional suggestions on how teachers might effectively engage students on these kinds of important topics, and I hope readers will suggest more:

Wondering How To Handle A Controversial Topic In Class? What We Did This Week Worked Out Very Well is a post I wrote last month.

How to Teach Beyond Ferguson is by Jose Vilson and appeared in Edutopia.

Engaging With Class & Race In The Classroom is one of my Ed Week posts.

Teachers take on controversial subjects: Ferguson, same-sex marriage, immigration is from The Washington Post. It makes a number of good points, but one teacher who is interviewed is not one who I would suggest people emulate. Melinda Anderson points out why:

Chicago Public Schools students react to Obama’s immigration executive order: teaching controversial issues in the classroom is by Ray Salazar.

Chicago Public Schools students explain why Obama’s Ferguson speech failed is also by Ray Salazar.

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October 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts & Articles On The Teacher & Student Protests In Colorado

You may have heard about the protests in Colorado in the Jefferson County School District. The School Board wants to change the Advanced Placement history curriculum to make it more “patriotic.” And that’s just one of a number of ridiculous policy changes the Board is trying to make.

Here are a few recent articles:

In Colorado, a Student Counterprotest to an Anti-Protest Curriculum is from The New York Times.

Colorado: Sickouts Close Schools Again is from The New York Times.

Ben Carson: New AP U.S. history course will make kids want to ‘sign up for ISIS’ is from The Washington Post.

Colorado School Board Votes to Ban Students is from The Borowitz Report.

Colorado teachers stage mass sick-out to protest US history curriculum changes is from The Guardian.

Jeffco school board OKs compromise plan in curriculum review showdown is from The Denver Post.

Controversial Colorado history plan still alive is from The Associated Press.

College Board says it ‘revised’ controversial AP U.S. history framework (update) is from The Washington Post.

Colorado school board vote doesn’t appease critics is from The Associated Press.

After Protests Over History Curriculum, School Board Tries To Compromise is from NPR.

Colorado student protest leader: ‘I’m learning how people need to act to make a democracy function’ is from The Washington Post.

Here’s a great video from MSNBC:

Is the new AP U.S. History really anti-American? is from The Hechinger Report.

After Uproar, School Board in Colorado Scraps Anti-Protest Curriculum
is from The New York Times.

Quote Of The Day: “Changes in AP history trigger a culture clash in Colorado”

Local PTA Support Student Protests In Colorado

See the AP U.S. History course changes and take a sample exam is from The Washington Post.

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