Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

April 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Surprise, Surprise — Study Finds Shouting At Children “creates further discipline problems”

Mothers-substitute

To few teachers surprise, a new study has found that shouting at children is counter-productive. You can read all about it at Shouting at children ‘increases their behaviour problems’ in the British newspaper, The Telegraph.

There have been plenty of studies (and years of countless teachers experience) that have found the same thing (you can find out more at The Best Posts On Classroom Management).

Do I sometimes raise my voice at my class? Of course, we’re all human. But, fortunately, I seldom do so.

I just don’t understand why some continue to use shouting as a part of their classroom management strategy.

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January 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

How To Turn A Negative Consequence Into A Positive Classroom Management Strategy

'Let's talk about classroom management #ESL. #clilrocks,' photo (c) 2013, Lui Palacios - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Anyone who has regularly read this blog or my books know that I’m a big believer in “positive,” not “punitive,” classroom management strategies (see The Best Posts On Classroom Management).

At the same time, however, there are some occasions that negative consequences are called for — for “serious” offenses and for those times (and for those students) when all the positive classroom management tools in one’s toolbox aren’t working.

A key issue, though, is how — in those situations — can we maximize the chances of making a negative consequence part of a positive classroom management strategy….

I’ve written extensively about one way to do it — see a previous post (see Have You Ever Taught A Class That Got “Out Of Control”? and in my books where, in one, I devoted an entire chapter to that particular strategy).

Another way is doing what a number of teachers do — when an offense is committed, asking the student what consequence they think is appropriate.

Recently, though, I’ve tried a different version of that second strategy — instead of waiting for the offense to happy, engaging with students in advance about what negative consequence would get them to think twice about committing the offense.

Two of my students — good kids — have had a very difficult time controlling themselves. For months, I had tried every tool in my toolbox, but nothing seemed to work.

Then, in an individual and private conversation with each, I asked how much time out of our fifty-five minute class they felt they were focused on what we were studying. Each of them replied — quite accurately — about twenty minutes. We sort of repeated what we had gone over in previous meetings — talking about what they wanted to do in the future, how self-control and “grit” was important in making those future dreams happen, etc. I shared my frustration that we had tried many things in the past, including many of their suggestions — changing seats, stress balls, etc. — and nothing had seemed to work. I told them I wanted to continue to be flexible and positive, and it had also reached the point that I wanted to explore negative consequences.

I asked what would be a negative consequence that they thought would deter them from their typical misbehavior — what would they remember to keep in mind that would make them think twice about acting out in class? Both identified an immediate call to their parents, and we worked out how I would be able to get a hold of them. Then, I asked them what positive behavior interventions they thought had been more effective, and asked each to develop a sequence of escalating interventions. They each said they would like to try a permanent seat change (which we had tried before) to see if that would help, and they chose the seat. They said if they were acting out, they would want to be sent out of class for a few minutes, which I agreed to (though I told each that I would rather they took responsibility and went out on their own when they felt they were “losing it” instead of waiting for me to tell them).

If those didn’t work, they then said I should immediately call home and tell their parents how they were behaving.

Since that conversation, we’ve done the seat changes, and neither has chosen to go outside or had to be sent outside, and I’ve also not had to call home, either. It appears that it took them identifying a potential negative consequence in order for the positive strategies to work.

It’s not a strategy I would use all the time, but it’s just another tool in my teacher’s toolbox.

I guess in classroom management a positive plus a potential negative can sometimes equal a positive….

I know teachers have used this kind of process in developing class rules and consequences, but the idea of trying it in advance individually was a new one for me…

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January 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Start Off The New Year With This Excellent Classroom Advice

'Be Positive' photo (c) 2008, Paul Hamilton - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I’ve written a lot about Marvin Marshall’s positive classroom management advice.

Here are a couple of his recent posts that I think are particularly good to reflect on as we begin a new year:

One is titled Relationships Reduce Discipline Problems. It emphasizes the importance of relationships and shares a number of questions we should ask ourselves. Here’s a small sampling:

Dr. Phelps Wilkins, former long-time principal at Eisenhower School in Mesa, Arizona, shared with me some questions he asked the staff to think about in their relationships with students, particularly those that require frequent discipline. As you read them, think about your most challenging youth.

Through my behavior:

◾Does this child know he is safe with me no matter what happens—that he will never be ridiculed, put down, or made to feel small?

◾Has this child experienced success in some meaningful manner on a regular basis in my classroom?

◾Is the youngster developing a feeling of confidence?

His other post has the title Motivation and Discipline.

In it, he briefly discusses three ways to help engage students: creating curiosity, creating desire, and providing encouragement.

I’m adding this info to:

The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students

The Best Posts On Classroom Management

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December 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Classroom Management Advice From Pope Francis

Last week, I posted What “School Reformers” — And All Of Us — Can Learn From Pope Francis About Creating Change, which highlighted a quote from a recent New Yorker article about the Pope.

Here’s another quote from the Pope that appeared in the same article. I think it can also serve as a good guideline for effective classroom management:

John-XXIII-adopted-this

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December 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Posts & Articles On Boredom & How Students & Teachers Can Deal With It

'boring activities' photo (c) 2010, sanickels - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

A year or two ago, I published a couple of posts about student boredom, and a lesson I do with students to help them think about it a bit differently.

In the past month, boredom seems to have become a “thing” and a couple of new articles have been written about the topic, which I will be including in my lesson.

I thought I’d bring them all together into a “Best” list:

First, here are links to my two posts:

Have You Ever Had A Student Say “ Is Boring”? Here’s A Lesson On It I’m Trying Out Tomorrow

“ Is Boring” — Part Two

Here are the newer ones:

There’s a New Type of Boredom, and Everyone Is Feeling It is from Mashable.

Bored to Death: To learn just how bored kids are in school, look at Twitter is by Amanda Ripley at The New Republic.

How Do Teachers Want Students to Cope with Boredom? is from ASCD.

Let me know if you have posts I should add to list…

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December 10, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
4 Comments

“Flowchart For When A Day Goes Bad In Classroom Management”

As regular readers of this blog and my books know, I love teaching at our school.

Nevertheless, it is not a “walk in the park.” One hundred percent of our students receive a free breakfast and lunch, and many face other challenges inherent in the inner-city. Sometimes those challenges play-out in the classroom.

One of my classes has been a bit challenging classroom management-wise for me recently and it reached a crescendo last week. When one of those days happens, I will typically become frustrated and then angry, and every ounce of my being will want to punish. However, probably the key classroom management lesson I’ve learned over the years is that — more often than not — punishment will make things worse (of course, there are extreme cases when punishment is certainly necessary), so I am usually able to control that impulse.

Instead, I will jettison my lesson plan and redirect students into some less intensive learning activity that I know they will want to do (a game, get into their book discussion groups) and then make arrangements with teachers of the most egregious offenders to pull them out for several minutes the next day during my free period so I can have a one-on-one reflective conversation with them. For example, we’ll talk about what their goals are and how their behavior is hurting or helping to achieve them — if they want to be an Ultimate Fighter, not being able to show self-control is going to create problems. We’ll revisit some of the life skill lessons we’ve done and talk about what they think might help them develop more self-control (change seats, take their work outside if they feel they are “losing it,” get a stress ball, etc.).

Fortunately, these really bad classroom management days don’t happen very often but, when they do, my using this strategy has always worked, and I know it has worked better than what would have happened if I took the punishment route.

It fits into what I consider the best piece of classroom management advice I’ve ever read. It came from Marvin Marshall:

Will what I am about to do or say bring me closer or will it push me away farther from the person with whom I am communicating?

This really brings me to the main point of this post. In reflecting on all this over the past few days as I’ve seen — again — how effective this strategy can be, I thought I’d try putting it into a simple and rough flowchart.

Check it out here and let me know what you think and how it can be improved (I’m not sure if it will come through in an RSS Reader:

Classroom management flowchart

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November 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Simple & Effective Classroom Lesson On Gratitude

'gratitude' photo (c) 2009, hurricanemaine - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve written in my books and here on my blog how I use the concept of “gratitude” in class (see The Best Resources On “Gratitude”).

Today, my colleague Katie Hull did a simple and powerful lesson using one of the resources on that “Best” list and I thought I’d share it here.

It’s based on an experiment and video that “Soul Pancake’ did (the video is on that list, but I’ve also embedded again in this post).

Katie gave her students this writing prompt (which is very similar to the question used in the video):

Close your eyes and think of somebody who is really influential in your life and/or who matters to you. Why is this person so important?

She also shared what she had written about her father as a model. After students wrote it, and shared in partners, she showed the video. Then, she encouraged people to to share what they wrote with the person they wrote about — in fact, some students felt they wanted to share it right then by calling.

Tears were shed.

One girl insisted on calling her mother in class, and then the class pushed Katie to call her father right then and there and read what she wrote.

A powerful lesson to kick-off Thanksgiving break….

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November 15, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“Collection Of Tweets From First Week’s Chat On Classroom Management”

I’ve just posted a collection of tweets over at Education Week summarizing the first week’s chat on classroom management and my new Ed Week book on that topic.

There’s a fair amount of useful information there.

And there’s a second, and final, week to go in the discussion!

classroom-management-qa-larry-ferlazzo (1)

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November 9, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

No, L.A. School Reformers, Grit Does Not Equal Giving Students Rewards & Being Data-Driven

'Perserverance' photo (c) 2008, Wesley Fryer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Anyone who has read my blog or my books knows that I’m a big supporter of Social Emotional Learning, including helping students develop “grit” (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit” and the grit lessons and strategies in my books).

I’ve also been critical of “school reformers” who try to hijack Social Emotional Learning to further objectives that I don’t believe are helpful to our schools (see my Washington Post piece, Why schools should not grade character traits, and New Research Shows Why Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Character Education Are Not Enough.

The latest example of grit “manipulation” is a new report from an L.A. school reform group issuing a report titled True Grit: The game-changing factors and people lifting school performance in LAUSD. Though there are a few good ideas in it, much of the report emphasizes very un-gritty ideas like giving students and teachers rewards and being data-driven through “dynamic data” (see The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven”). According to the report, building grit is a hodgepodge of scores of different ideas that support the group’s school reform agenda.

Uh, no. Helping our students develop grit involves encouraging them to identify their own goals, providing them materials to learn the research behind grit and how it can be useful to them in achieving those goals, and offering support so they can develop the intrinsic motivation to hang in there when they going gets rough or to have the informed judgment necessary to know when to adjust those goals.

Jeez-sometimes-it-seems

Jeez, sometimes it seems to me that as soon as some “school reformers” hear about a good idea, they want to take it, manipulate it to their own ends, and crush the life out of it (see Gates Foundation Minimizing Great Tools For Helping Teachers Improve Their Craft and Videotaping teachers the right way (not the Gates way) ).

You can read more about it at The Hechinger Report.

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November 6, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Getting A Special Wristband Is Not The Best Road To Greater Student Motivation

'SD019' photo (c) 2009, China Sources - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

An article about a Florida high school providing special wristbands to academically eligible students which lead to special privileges is getting a lot of attention this week:

Tyler Minnick showed off his school-issued yellow rubber bracelet with pride.

It bore just two words — “on track.” To Minnick, it represented more than a wrist accessory.

It meant he had earned enough credits to be on the way to an on-time graduation while also meeting his school’s attendance, discipline and grade-point expectations. With that came the reward of being able to go to the media center without a signed pass, a real prize for this avid reader who admits to often losing his paper library passes.

“It’s really helpful,” the Land O’Lakes High senior said of his school’s new incentive program. “It’s hitting the point where it’s giving me the slap on the back to get going, even work for a blue (‘highly on track’) wristband.”

Year in and year out, Land O’Lakes High consistently has ranked among Pasco County’s top performers when it comes to graduation rates and other academic markers. That didn’t stop school leaders from striving for even better.

No, no, no!

I’m sure the leaders of that school are well-intentioned, but, boy oh boy, are they sending the wrong message. Besides bearing similarities to the infamous controversy of a couple of years in a high school that gave color-coded IDs based on student test scores (see The Best Resources To Learn About High School ID’s & The Scarlet Letter), they are telling students they should try to do better for more trinkets, not trying to help them develop intrinsic motivation. Jeez, don’t we have enough extrinsic motivators already in school? How are these wristbands going to help them after they graduate? Perhaps a few lessons on grit, deliberate practice, goal-setting, etc. might be the better way to go?

In a desperate situation, and I’ve had a few, I’m all for short-term extrinsic motivation with an exit plan, but that certainly doesn’t sound like this school’s situation.

I’ve got to wonder if the impetus behind this is increasing test scores. If that’s the case, too bad they haven’t read about the research finding that short-term focus on test score increases results in longer-term damage.

If you want to learn more about the dangers of this kind of extrinsic motivation, you can read The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students, my Washington Post article titled “Bribing students: Another ‘magical solution’ that doesn’t work,” or my two books on the subject.

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November 3, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

This Year’s Shipment Of Stress Balls For Students Has Arrived!

stress

Every year, right about this time, I get stress balls for two-to-four of my students who have a lot of energy and self-control challenges. Research shows that clenching muscles can be helpful for self-control, but since I don’t feel comfortable recommending that action, I give them stress balls.

I give it to certain students after asking them to commit to never throwing it or giving it to another student. They pick it up at the beginning of class from my desk and drop it off there when class ends.

Usually, about half of the students I give them to each year use it consistently and it seems to be helpful (sometimes the balls break from the consistent pressure and I have to replace them). The other half tend to break the rules quickly and have to give them up. However, even in those circumstances, I generally still see improved behavior — I think they see I’m going to “extra mile” and they want to reciprocate a bit.

I always get ones in the form of sports balls — that seems to make having them look more “cool” instead of having a negative connotation. They come together in big bags, so I share the rest with colleagues (who generally obtain similar results).

Have you ever tried them out in your classroom?

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October 16, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Trust Can Have A Pretty Powerful Impact In The Classroom

'Trust' photo (c) 2011, Artem Popov - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ll Take 90% Student Engagement Over 100% “Compliance” — Any Day has been my most popular post of the year so far, and was reprinted in The Washington Post as Getting students to engage — not just comply.

In that post, I describe the weekly reading log that I have students complete about their reading at home, and how I specifically do not ask them to have their parents sign it — student signatures are only required. And how students are on an honor system to describe their plan to “catch-up” on their reading time if they don’t read a full two hours a week at home.

As my blog title stated, I’ve determined through a number of ways over the years that 90% of students typically handle it honestly. However, I forgot to mention in that post one other tactic I use to determine that percentage, and I just applied it today in class.

Periodically, I’ll hand out blank pieces of paper to all students and tell them not to put their name on it. I tell them that all I want them to do is write “yes” if they tend to be honest in the reading log or “no” if they are not. I make it very clear that I will not change the procedure no matter what they answer — I want to minimize the odds that students will write “yes” because they’re afraid I might start requiring parent signatures.

I tell them to fold their papers so no one can see what they wrote and have a student collect them. While they’re doing something else later in the class period, I’ll tabulate the sheets (sometimes I’ll have a student do it). Usually, I have two students who write “no” in each class. However, today, in both classes only one student wrote “no.”

As I did today, I’ll announce the results, tell them I’m impressed, though not surprised. As I did today, I will also jokingly announce that I will have the “no” paper analyzed for fingerprints and track that person down.

The purpose behind doing this process, however, is not really for me to check-up on them — there are plenty of other ways I do that (as I mentioned in my previous post). What it does do, though, is reinforce to students that they are in a genuine community of learners who are people of their word. And the one or two students who are not following-through also feel some peer pressure that they, too, need to step up to the plate.

Trust can have a pretty powerful impact in the classroom….

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October 15, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Excellent Education Week Feature: “Inside Classroom Management”

'If you wonder where I am....' photo (c) 2013, Katie Walker - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Inside Classroom Management: Ideas and Solutions is a special feature from Education Week Teacher.

It includes videos, interviews, columns — you name it. Most can just be clicked-on, though a few require free registration to access. It looks pretty impressive.

You might also be interested in My Best Posts On Classroom Management, not to mention my new Ed Week book, Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

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September 23, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

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

“Wait time” is commonly referred to as the time between a teacher asking a question and calling on a student to answer it. It’s an important, and often overlooked, element of classroom interaction.

Here’s what I wrote about it in one of my books (minus the footnotes):

The average time between a teacher posing a question and a student giving the answer in a typical classroom is about one second.. Multiple studies have shown that the quality and quantity of student responses increases when the wait time is increased to between three and seven seconds. There may very well be times when that time should be extended further for individual students. For example, a teacher could pose a question to a student and say that he will return in a minute and expect an answer.

Today, Alfie Kohn sent out a tweet offering a “take” on “wait time” that I had never thought of before (and I’m embarrassed because of it):

 

Marilyn Watson is an educator who has written several books. Here’s a link for more info about her.

I think her observation is so important that I’ve highlighted it in the image below:

Wait-time-also-matters

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September 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Study: The Benefits Of Saying “I Don’t” vs. “I Can’t”

Thanks to Elena Aguilar, I’ve learned about an important study that could have important classroom management implications.

The study, titled “I Don’t” versus “I Can’t”: When Empowered Refusal Motivates Goal-Directed Behavior, found that having people say “I Don’t” had a major positive effect on fortifying their self-control.

LifeHacker has an excellent summary of the study (most of the research itself is behind a paywall).

But here’s an excerpt from the study itself:

The-students-who-told

I could see including this research in the information I have students read about in the self-control lessons we do in class (which you can find in my books), and also directly applying it in specific interventions.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

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