Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

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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December 24, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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More Video Responses From Sister Classes — This Time From Latvia!

'Latvia on map' photo (c) 2008, www.guigo.eu - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/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 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

Our latest connection is with Kristīne Karele‘s class in Latvia.

You can see videos of our questions at our class blog, and here are his students’ responses.

By the way, even though I connected up with classes through the fairly extensive ESL/EFL social media presence, there are plenty of other avenues to make similar connections. You can check out The Best Ways To Find Other Classes For Joint Online Projects for more info.

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December 15, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Sites For Learning About The United Kingdom

'Cartoon UK' photo (c) 2008, Alistair Marshall - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’m continuing to create specific “The Best…” lists corresponding to the countries and regions we’re studying in my ELL Geography class.

You can see all them at The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners.

Today, I’m in a little bit of a rush, so I’ll try to quickly pull together some resources on the United Kingdom (we’re studying it this week and then making a video with questions for a sister class there). I’ll be adding more, and invite others to make suggestions:

National Geographic For Kids — United Kingdom

Kids Ask Questions About England

Fact Monster United Kingdom

TIME For Kids — England

Visual Geography — United Kingdom

Manchester, England

Where To Next?

Wales

Project Britain
(via Lynne Blackburn)

The view from the top of the Shard: London panorama of sights and sounds – interactive

Scotland

London At Night

The Little Red Hen — An English Folktale

Chicken Little — An English Folktale

Myths from England

Sounds of GREAT Britain is a very cool series of interactive videos that allow viewers to take a customized audio and visual tour of…Great Britain. It’s very creative. I’ve embedded the first video below…

The creators of the video also have a very engaging site called LoveWall – Visit Britain which provides excellent categorized images from around the country.

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November 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Geography Students Use “Stay.com” To Create Virtual Trips

stay

As I’ve previously posted, I’ve been energized to try-out a fair amount of Web 2.0 tools this year with my English Language Learners. I’ve been wanting to do a number of these projects for years, but the Internet filter our District had been using made often made doing it quite difficult — if not impossible.

You can see what I’ve been doing in just the first three two-and-a-half months here and here.

Today, we tried another experiment that seemed to go well.

I’ve had a “Best” list titled The Best Sites Where Students Can Plan Virtual Trips. On it, you can find a number of sites where users can learn about different cities around the world and then plan trips there, which they can then save online. I’ve had students use some of them in the past and then they would describe why they picked the places they did, but, until this year, the District blocked the site that I consider the best to use for this purpose — Stay.com. It’s very easy and accessible to use.

Fortunately, this year it’s unblocked, and today students created virtual trips to Paris (we’re just finishing up our unit on France — on Thursday we make videos of students asking questions to our sister classes in that country!).

I had students pick at least six places they wanted to visit and write one sentence each about why they wanted to visit them. Tomorrow, students will review what they classmates wrote and write their own comments.

You can see several of them at our class blog, and I’ll share a few examples here:

Kou’s Guide

A.Jay’s Guide

Selina’s Guide

Lee’s Guide

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November 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Sites For Learning About Italy

'earthquakes-area-italy' photo (c) 2009, Massy Biagio - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Later this week, my ELL Geography class will be finishing up our unit on France by videotaping questions we have for our “sister” English classes in that country.

Next on our list is Italy.

Here’s a very beginning collection of resources I’ve collected (I hope you’ll suggest more!), and I’ll be adding this post to The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners:

Italy For Kids

Ducksters Italy

Italy Facts

Explore Venice with Google Street View

Italy with National Geographic for Kids

Fact Monster Italy

Tour the Ruins of Pompeii

Italy: Enchanted Learning

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November 11, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Resources For Geography Awareness Week

Dynamic lead STACKED_no date

Thanks to Richard Byrne, I’ve been reminded that Geography Awareness Week is November 17th through the 23rd this year.

Here’s a description of the week’s origin:

Each year more than 100,000 Americans actively participate in Geography Awareness Week (GeoWeek). Established by presidential proclamation more than 25 years ago, this annual public awareness program organized by National Geographic Education Programs (NGEP) encourages citizens young and old to think and learn about the significance of place and how we affect and are affected by it. Each third week of November, students, families and community members focus on the importance of geography by hosting events; using lessons, games, and challenges in the classroom; and often meeting with policymakers and business leaders as part of that year’s activities.

Here are geography-related “Best” lists I’ve previously posted:

The Best Websites For Learning & Teaching Geography

The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners
 (which includes several other “The Best” lists I just don’t have time this morning to include here).

The Best Map-Making Sites On The Web

The Best Resources For Google Earth Beginners Like Me

The Best Online Geography Games

The Best Sites Where Students Can Plan Virtual Trips

The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures

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November 7, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Sites For Learning About France

'Eiffel Tower' photo (c) 2011, Kimberly Vardeman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

We’re just beginning a unit on France in my ELL Geography class. I have a number of related resources in The Best Geography Sites For Learning About Europe, but wanted to supplement it with this more specialized list:

France Geography is from KidPort.

France Facts

World Fact Book — France

Global Trek France is from Scholastic.

National Geographic For Kids — France

France Homework Links

France: A Children’s Guide

Happy 125 Eiffel Tower: TIME’s Tribute to the Grande Dame of Paris is from TIME.

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November 6, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

English Language Learners Using Screencast-o-matic For Folktale Presentations

screen

This year, our School District loosened our Internet filter, so there are now many more options for tools we can use (though, of course, our antiquated tech does create some barriers).

Because of this new freedom of access without having to battle for individual sites to be unblocked, I’ve been pretty aggressive in experimenting with Web 2.0 tools to determine which ones provide the most benefit with the least “hassle” for all involved, especially with my English Language Learner students.

I’ve previously posted about some of them already this year:

Making Instagram Videos With English Language Learners

Using Freire & Fotobabble With English Language Learners

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

Literably Is An Excellent Reading Site — If Used With Caution (I tried this out today, and I think it will work well as a formative assessment — check them out here).

The ones I’ve listed above have all gone very well — easy to use, free-of-charge, higher-order thinking, multiple language domains (reading,writing,speaking, listening), authentic audience, high levels of student engagement, minimal time commitment.

And, now, we’ve had another student success with with Screencast-o-matic.

I had previously posted about it, but hadn’t visited the site in quite awhile. Jose Rodriguez, one of the coordinators of the impressive K-12 Online Conference, recommended I try using it for the keynote address I gave for the conference in October on teacher leadership (you can see it here). I was quite impressed at the changes they had made since I had last tried it out.

All you do is register for the site, show a slideshow, and record audio — you don’t even have to upload your slides prior to recording. You only upload your entire slideshow and audio narration at the time it’s finished. You can publish it to the site and/or to YouTube, and you’re provided with an embed code.

I thought this would be perfect to my students — some knew PowerPoint and they could teach the rest quickly, so there wouldn’t really be much new to learn — I suspect, and I ended up being correct, that it would take less than a minute for students to learn how to use Screencast-o-matic.

We had just finished our Latin American unit in Geography by reading a Mexican folktale, so I thought it would be a good time to experiment. I had students create a simple storyboard (just a piece of paper divided into ten or so boxes) and asked them to tell a folktale from their own culture. They needed to end it with the “lesson” of the story. It took one class period for them to create the storyboard, about two periods to make the PowerPoint, and then they recorded on Screencast-o-matic today. We’ll watch them in class tomorrow.

Here are a few of them:

It’s been a positive experience, and we’ll definitely be using Screencast-o-matic again.

Have you had your students try it out?

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October 24, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Terrific New Videos: Using English “Sister Classes” From Throughout The World In Our ELL Geography Class

'Globes to withdraw' photo (c) 2010, Jeffrey Beall - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Earlier this month, I posted videos my Beginning/Intermediate ELL Geography class made asking questions to English classes in Brazil and invited other classes from throughout the world to participate, too (see Do You Teach An English Class Outside The U.S. & Want To Have Your Students Answer Our Questions About Your Country?).

Terrific things have happened since that time, including the fact that our Brazilian sister classes have posted videos in response.

You can read about how it went with Ana Maria Menezes’ class here, and see many written and video responses from the classes in Carla Arena’s school here.

Here’s just one example of their video response:

My students love them!

The other great news is that teachers from around the globe responded to my earlier post, and my students will be preparing video questions for many as we student different regions and countries throughout the school year. Of course, we can always use more! Some of these classes are also preparing to asking my students about life in the United States.

Speaking and listening practice, plus learning about geography and cultures — Not a bad combination!

Thanks to Ana Maria Menezes and Carla Arena for their support…

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October 23, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Wide Angle’s “Video Bank” Is An Excellent Social Studies Resource

wide

Thanks to my talented colleague, Elisabeth Johnson, I’ve learned about “Wide Angle: Window Into Global History,” a project of Channel Thirteen in New York.

It has a collection of multimedia social studies lessons and a “video bank,” which I think is particularly impressive. The videos are divided by themes (power, conflict, migrations, etc.) and each video has suggested guiding classroom questions, a transcript and more.

I’m finding that the page they have listing the videos “by location” particularly useful for my Geography class.

I’m adding the site to The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners.

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October 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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More Resources On Brazil

Here are new additions to The Best Sites For Learning About Brazil:

Pickup Soccer in Brazil Has an Allure All Its Own is from The New York Times.

World Cup 2014: Brazil’s stadiums – interactive is from The Guardian.

Here’s a great Prezi created by my talented colleague Elisabeth Johnson. Bear in mind her comment: “I created a Prezi to introduce Brazil because I don’t think our kids realize how prevalent it is in pop culture. I will warn you that I would probably only show the first minute or so of the “beautiful” video with Snoop Dogg and Pharrell as there are lots of Tanga bikini shots after that.”

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October 9, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Do You Teach An English Class Outside The U.S. & Want To Have Your Students Answer Our Questions About Your Country?

'World map' photo (c) 2010, Martyn Wright - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

One of the variety of classes I teach every year is a Geography course for Beginning and Intermediate students.

As we study different countries and regions, my students are videotaping questions they have and sharing them with English classes in those areas of the world. Students in both of our classes get experience with an authentic audience, and my students generate more geography knowledge. Of course, if students in those other countries have questions about the U.S., we’d be happy to answer them, too.

It’s a simple short-term activity that only requires each class to produce short simple videos once or twice (I’m not a big fan of longer-term “pen pal” relationships — in my experience, at least, they can become a bit of a burden).

We’re starting off studying Latin and South America, and have created our first videos for English classes in Brazil taught or mentored by Ana Maria Menezes and by Carla Arena.

I’ve embedded a couple of our videos below, and you can see them all here at our class blog.

If you are teaching an English class of secondary or above students in any country other than the United States and are interested in doing something like this with us, please let me know in the comments section….

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October 4, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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See Where All Your Food Comes From With “Map Your Recipe”

recipe

As the site says:

Map your Recipe does a simple thing: enter the ingredients of a recipe and it will show you where the vegetables that went into it were first domesticated.

It’s pretty neat — you’re shown a world map with the original sources are identified.

It could make for a nice geography lesson.

Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

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October 3, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Trippin” Is An Innovative Site For Learning English

trippin

Trippin is an engaging and innovative site for English language-learning that combines “edgy” videos (classroom appropriate — just “hip” enough to be particularly attractive to teenage learners), quizzes, and geography. Though I obviously didn’t view all the videos and try-out all the interactives, they seem to be laid-out sequentially (and, I assume, with graduated levels of difficulty) — in other words, players are not allowed to do them out of order

It’s been created by Mau Buchler, a twenty-year veteran of teaching English. He’s been developing the site for three years….

It’s free (though there are indications on the site they at some point there might be a cost), and I’m looking forward to having my students try it out next week.

I’m adding it to The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners and may add it to other “Best” lists, depending on what my students and blog readers tell me.

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September 28, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Sites For Learning About Brazil

'Mapa dos Estados Brasileiros (Brazilian states map)' photo (c) 2007, Douglas - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

As regular readers know, in addition to teaching English to ELLs, I always teach a Social Studies class to them, too. This year, I’m teaching Geography to a multi-level class, and am using many of the resources at The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners.

One of those resources links is to another list, The Best Sites For Learning About Mexico, Central & South America. That post has a number of Brazil-related links. However, I’m doing something a little different this year and teaching a much more advanced Geography curriculum to a number of my students, and right now we’re studying Brazil. As part of that unit, I decided to create a supplemental list to the Brazil links on that other post.

I’m also trying to find a class in Brazil that might be interested in exchanging a few messages over the Web with my students. If you’re a teacher in Brazil and are interested, please let me known.

Here is a beginning list of The Best Sites For Learning About Brazil:

Kids Corner Brazil

National Geographic Brazil for Kids

Brazil Country Profile — BBC

National Geographic Brazil profile

Brazil Guide

Fact Monster Brazil

Brazil Atlas

Many videos about Brazil from How Stuff Works

Play Amazon Explorer

Amazon Interactive

Google Maps Amazon

Rain Forest Talking Book

Brazil Tour 360

Here is a video you might not be able to view in an RSS Reader:

Here’s a YouTube version of the same video:

The Signs Of Brazilian Protests

The BBC has a collection of Brazil videos.

Pickup Soccer in Brazil Has an Allure All Its Own is from The New York Times.

World Cup 2014: Brazil’s stadiums – interactive is from The Guardian.

Here’s a great Prezi created by my talented colleague Elisabeth Johnson. Bear in mind her comment: “I created a Prezi to introduce Brazil because I don’t think our kids realize how prevalent it is in pop culture. I will warn you that I would probably only show the first minute or so of the “beautiful” video with Snoop Dogg and Pharrell as there are lots of Tanga bikini shots after that.”

24 Traditional Brazilian Foods You Need To Eat Right Now

Google has just announced a big expansion of Street View images from Brazil, and you can see all their highlights here.

Degradation of the Brazilian Rainforest
by bhonma.

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September 26, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Two New Ways To Create Geography Games

Here are two new additions to The Best Online Geography Games:

At Quiz Geo, you can easily create your own geography game as well as play ones created by others. It didn’t seem to work for me on Firefox, though, and I could only play it on the Google Chrome Browser.

Class Tools lets you easily create a Map “treasure hunt” with no registration necessary.

classtools

Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

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August 30, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Earth-Picker Is A New Online Geography Game

geo

Earth-Picker is a new online geography games that’s somewhat similar to other ones using Google Street View that can be found on The Best Online Geography Games list.

You’re shown a location and have to identify on a map where you think it is in the world. You’re told how close you are, and how your guess compares to the ones made by other players.

I’m adding it to that games list.

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