Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Destination Unknown” Is A Well-Done Online Geography Game

german

Destination Unknown is a very slick online geography game using Instagram photos. It’s particularly good because it offers hints. Unfortunately, since it utilizes Instagram, there’s probably no guarantee that all the photos will be classroom appropriate, though I didn’t see anything bad when I played the game.

Because of that potential issue, and because it may not be around for the long-term (since it’s sponsored as a promotion by a company), I’m not going to add it to The Best Online Geography Games. But it still might be worth a visit.

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May 31, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Fun Video With Potential Use In Geography Class: “3 guys Irish dancing around the world”

“3 guys Irish dancing around the world” is the latest video showing travelers doing the same thing in different countries. The genre was begun by “Where The Hell Is Matt,” which continues to be the best.

You can see them all here.

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May 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Here’s The Writing Prompt I’m Using For My Geography Class

'Cambridge Univeristy Press: Geography for the IB Diploma: Patterns and Change: Paul Guinness' photo (c) 2010, Richard Allaway - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

As regular readers know, I teach a Geography class for English Language Learners (and will be teaching similar U.S. History and World History courses next year).

Here’s the simple writing prompt I’m using as part of my semester final (you can download it here):

Geography Final Essay

“I was not sorry for loving Charleston or for leaving it. Geography had made me who I was.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings

“Do you understand the sadness of geography?”
― Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

“All I ever wanted was a world without maps.”
― Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Pick one quotation from these three and respond to the writing prompt:

Writing Prompt

What do you think the writer is saying about geography? To what extent do you agree with what he or she is saying? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.

Quotes found at http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/geography?page=1

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April 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Spacehopper” Is One Of The Best Geography Games I’ve Seen

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There are quite a few online geography games out there, and you can see them at The Best Online Geography Games. Many of them are pretty hard, and can be frustrating to students.

Spacehopper is a new online game that isn’t easy but, after showing you a Google Street View image of a location, provides clues that make it less difficult. You’re shown a map with various dots on it, as well as the map outline of the country. After three guesses, you’re given the answer along with information on the location.

Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

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March 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Billionaire’s Ballot Initiative To Divide California Into Six States Is Insane, But It’s A Gift To Geography Teachers

Venture capitalist and billionaire Tim Draper is getting tired of paying taxes to help the rest of us, so he wants to divide California into six states. And he’s bankrolling an initiative that’s close to getting on the ballot to do just that.

A billionaire meddling into things he knows little about but that would have a major impact on a lot of low-and-moderate income people. There seems to be a lot of that going around.

If it does make it to the ballot, and even if it doesn’t, I do suspect that it might make our upcoming unit on California in my ELL Geography class a trifle more engaging. And I think I speak for all California Geography teachers!

Here’s a video and an infographic on what the San Jose Mercury News — and most other sane people — call a “crazy” idea:

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Six Californias
by johnmnelson.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

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March 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Sites For Learning About Japan

'Map of Japan' photo (c) 2011, Playing Futures:  Applied Nomadology - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

We’re going to be studying Japan next week in my Geography class for English Language Learners.  One of our art teachers is going to come in and show students how to use origami as part of our unit, so it should be an engaging few days.

I’ll be adding this to A Beginning List Of The Best Geography Sites For Learning About Asia & The Middle East.

Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Learning About Japan (additional suggestions are welcome):

The Best Resources For Learning About The Atomic Bombings Of Japan

The Best Sites For Learning About The Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

The Best Sites For Learning About The Japan Earthquake & Tsunami, Part Two

The Best Resources On The One Year Anniversary Of Japan’s Earthquake & Tsunami

National Geographic Kids – Japan

What Is Origami?

How Japanese Paper Cranes Become Popular Around The World

TIME for Kids — Japan

A Kid’s Life In Japan

Japanese Food

Tokyo, Japan

Talking About Japan

More Talking About Japan

Fact Monster — Japan

Watch this video about origami.

Origami
Explore more visuals like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

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March 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Sites For Learning About India

'Image taken from page 17 of 'A E I. Arabia, Egypt, India. A narrative of travel. With fifteen illustrations and two maps'' photo (c) 2013, The British Library - license: http://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/

We’re going to be studying India next week in my Geography class for English Language Learners.

I’ll be adding this to A Beginning List Of The Best Geography Sites For Learning About Asia & The Middle East.

Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Learning About India (additional suggestions are welcome):

The Best Sites To Learn About The Hindu Festival Of Holi

National Geographic For Kids: India

TIME For Kids: India

Snaith Primary School: India

Mr. Donn’s India

Woodlands India

Primary Homework Help India

Fact Monster India

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March 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Our Latest Response From A Sister Class — This Time From South Africa!

'south africa flag' photo (c) 2011, Matthias Mueller - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve been sharing about an ongoing project my ELL Geography class has been doing — studying different countries, developing questions about them, and then recording videos of themselves asking those questions that we’d send to an English class in that country.

It’s been a great experience for everyone involved, and I’ve previously shared some of those videos:

Terrific New Videos: Using English “Sister Classes” From Throughout The World In Our ELL Geography Class (from Brazil)

Great Video Response From English Class In Italy To Our Questions

More Video Responses From Sister Classes — This Time From Latvia!

The latest response is from our sister class in South Africa.

You can see our videotaped questions at our class blog here.

I’ve embedded the great response from our sister class in South Africa below. Here’s a description of that class and its teacher, Sven Glietenberg:

I’m a second-year teacher of Grade 10 English (First Additional Language) at Ntswane Secondary School in Hammanskraal near Pretoria, South Africa.

We’re a semi-rural government school – learners only pay $10 a year to attend. Most learners speak Setswana as a home language but every class contains home-language speakers of all 11 South African official languages.

The learners are very enthusiastic to learn and we make the most of things and try to be creative and active as much as possible, even though we lack some facilities (no electricity in classes/computers/proper sanitation etc.)

A lot of great things can and do happen despite the challenges, mostly all you need is enthusiastic teachers and learners, and a bit of creativity and patience.

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March 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Wash. Post Does It Again With “25 maps and charts that explain America today”

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The Washington Post keeps on coming up with excellent collections of maps and charts.

Last year they published 40 maps that explain the world. It linked to another site called 40 Maps They Didn’t Teach You In School that also has a number of other good maps. However, that second site also includes a few maps with topics and language that wouldn’t be appropriate for the classroom.

Then, The Post published a sequel: 40 more maps that explain the world.

I added both to The Best Websites For Learning & Teaching Geography.

The Post hasn’t stopped there. They’ve also published 40 charts that explain the world, which I added to The Best Multimedia Resources For Introducing Students To The Advantages Of Charts, Graphs & Infographics.

And, today, they just published yet another exceptional collection titled 25 maps and charts that explain America today.

Of course, I’m adding this one the Best Geography list….

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January 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Latest Videos From Our Sister Class Geography Project — This Time, From Spain!

I’ve been posting about the short-and-sweet video exchanges my English Language Learner Geography classes have been doing with English classes from around the world — we videotape questions about their countries and they respond.

Here are a few of my past posts on the project:

More Video Responses From Sister Classes — Time From Latvia!

Terrific New Videos: Using English “Sister Classes” From Throughout The World In Our ELL Geography Class (from Brazil)

Great Video Response From English Class In Italy To Our Questions

We’ve connected with other countries, too, though they have asked to keep their videos private.

The latest response we’ve received has been from the English class taught by Mireia Xorto Prados in Catalonia. I’ve embedded one of their great videos below, and you can see the rest of them at their class blog.

You can see the video questions at our class blog.

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January 25, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Sites For Learning About South Africa

'You are here' photo (c) 2008, Chris Eason - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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 20, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Home Culture Presentations With English Language Learners

'Pyeongtaek City Cultural Tour - 24 September 2011 - Republic of South Korea' photo (c) 2011, USAG- Humphreys - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Having English Language Learners give reports about about their home countries is a fairly typical class assignment. And, for students who are not newcomers, it gets pretty old for them to have to do it every year.

I have students in my ELL Geography class do similar presentations each year, though I try to make it a little different from what they’ve done in the past.

I introduce it as a lesson on “culture” — we discuss what culture is and what would be included as its primary components in any country.

After we make a list, we view this simple slideshow I found on Slideshare:

Then, students create a poster or slideshow highlighting those elements (and any of other ones of their choice that we might have brainstormed) from their home country:

A planning hand-out usually looks something like this:

Make a report on the culture of your home country. Include these elements (feel free to add other ones, too):

Language:
• Spoken & Written
• Gestures

Social Organization:
• Who are the most important people in a community and why
• What are the most important groups in a community and why

Traditions

Food

Arts

Religion

Form of Government

Last year, students made posters and short oral presentations, which included responding to questions from their classmates:

This year, they made PowerPoints. Here are a few samples, and you can see all of them at our class blog:

I’d love to hear ideas on how to make this lesson better!

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January 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Translator Map Is A Cool Way To Teach European Geography & More

translator

Dan Pink shared this cool translator map on Twitter. It uses Google Translate to translate English into any major European language and then shows the word on the geographical location where the language is primarily spoken.

You can read more about it at Business Insider.

I’m adding it to The Best “Language Maps.”

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January 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Anyone Teaching A Class In Africa Where Students Would Like To Answer Our Questions?

'African stability map' photo (c) 2010, futureatlas.com - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve previously posted about the series of videos my English Language Learner Geography class has been creating with questions for English classes in countries we’ve been studying.

So far, we’ve done this short-and-simple process (we create a video, post them on our class blog, and then the other class creates videos responding to them — of course, we’re also open to answering questions ourselves) with classes in Brazil, France, Italy Latvia and the United Kingdom. We’ve got classes lined-up in Asia and in Australia to do the same thing, but we’re studying Africa now and haven’t connected with any class on that continent.

Anybody interested?

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January 4, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Here’s What I’m Having My ELL Geography Students Do As Their Semester “Final”

geo1

Our Winter Break ends on Monday, and our first semester comes to an end in two weeks.

As regular readers know, one of my classes is a Geography class for Intermediate English Language Learners, and I thought I’d share with readers what I plan on having them do as a “final.”

This final obviously builds on what we’ve studied in class, including all the work we’ve done with “sister classes” around the world and the upcoming project they’ll be doing about their own cultures next week. Plus, it builds on the academic writing we’ve been doing.

The final will be a simple reading followed by a prompt. They’ll be reading How to Respect Other Cultures, followed by this prompt:

According to the authors, why is it important to learn about other cultures and what are the best ways to do it? Do you agree with what the authors are saying? To support your opinion you may use examples from your own experiences (including what has taken place in our class this year), your observations of others, and any of your reading.

You can see similar prompts and the reasons for their wording at My Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

Feedback on this final, including ideas on how I can make it better, are welcome!

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