Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

December 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

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:


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December 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts & Articles On Boredom & How Students & Teachers Can Deal With It

'boring activities' photo (c) 2010, sanickels - license:

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

“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

A Simple & Effective Classroom Lesson On Gratitude

'gratitude' photo (c) 2009, hurricanemaine - license:

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

“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

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

'Perserverance' photo (c) 2008, Wesley Fryer - license:

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 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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