Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“Smarty Pins” Is A New Geography Game From Google

pins

Smarty Pins is a new online geography game from Google.

It’s similar to some of the better ones on The Best Online Geography Games — you’re asked a question, provided a hint, and then have to put a “pin” on your guess for the answer. One of the nice things I found — at least, in the questions that I answered — is that you’re only shown the region of the world where the answer can be found.

Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip.

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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

geo2

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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April 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Bus Boycott “Choose Your Own Adventure” Game

rights

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis is reopening this weekend after a $28 million renovation (see the NY Times article, From Slave Ship Shackles to the Mountaintop).

That’s great news for people who live nearby or who can travel there for a visit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear they spent any of that money on providing web resources for people unlikely to go there in person.

Their site does have a somewhat rudimentary, but still useful, “Choose Your Own Adventure” game called Before The Boycott that provides a glimpse into what it was like riding a bus in the South prior to segregation.

I’m adding it to The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories.

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March 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Two New Well-Done “Choose Your Own Adventure” Games

migrant

I’m a big fan of “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories, and have a very lengthy collection of them at The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories.

Today, I learned about two new well-done online games in that genre that are being nominated for awards at the Games For Change Festival:

The first one is Start the Talk: A Parent Learning Tool. It’s designed as a role-playing exercise for parents so they can practice speaking with their children about under-age drinking. Surprisingly — at least to me — it seems to offer some very good advice, and I can see it being useful to both parents and children. I’ll be sharing it at my Engaging Parents in School blog.

The other game that caught my eye is called Migrant Trail.

It’s from PBS. Here’s how they describe it:

The Migrant Trail is a video game that introduces players to the hardships and perils of crossing the Sonora Desert. Players have the chance to play as both migrants crossing the desert from Mexico to the United States and as U.S. Border Patrol agents patrolling the desert. As migrants, players are introduced to the stories of the people willing to risk their lives crossing the unforgiving Sonoran desert to reach America. By playing as Border Patrol agents, players see that the job goes beyond simply capturing migrants to helping save lives and providing closure for families who lost loved ones in the desert.

Through the use of real-time resource management and by integrating characters, stories, and visuals from the film, The Undocumented, with intense gameplay choices, The Migrant Trail gives players another way to experience and understand the human toll of our border policies.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About Immigration In The United States.

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March 5, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

New Online Learning Games For Language-Learning (Plus, A Little Science)

moth

I’ve previously posted
how I use online video games for language learning, and have shared links to many of them. Here are two new ones:

Here’s a link to the game, Words (click English), and here’s its Walkthrough.

Escape from Mr. K’s Room 4 and here is its Walkthrough.

This next game is a little different. Citizen Sort creates free online video games where players sort and identify items as part of a serious science investigation. One of their series of games is called “Happy Match” where you have to describe various images. You can see the screenshot above. It appears to me that it could be useful for English Language Learners to learn some vocabulary, plus learn a little science, too. They have some other games on the site, and say they’re coming out with another one that looks particularly interesting called “Mark With Friends” that might also have ELL potential.

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February 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games

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I’ve been posting annual lists of the The Best Online Learning Games for a number of years.

I thought it would be useful for readers, my students, and me to review them all and identify my choices for the “all-time” best ones.

I’ve begun creating a number of these “All-Time” Best list, with The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly being the first ; The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education second; and The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators third.

Look for quite a few more “All-Time” Best lists over the next couple of months.

There are over 1,200 Best lists now that are categorized and updated regularly.  You can see them all here.

Here are my choices for The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games (let me know which ones I’m missing — I’ll also be adding to this list after I do a complete review of games I’ve published on this blog. Also, these are not listed in any order of preference):

Mission US, which is funded by the Corporation For Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment For The Humanities, has three great U.S. History-related “Choose Your Own Adventure” games.

Zondle is a pretty darn impressive for online learning games. It has tons of content in different subjects, and, if you can’t find what you need, it’s easy to just add your own. The ingenious part is that once you pick the topic you study, you have the option of studying the info in forty different games! Plus, teachers can create their own virtual classroom and track student progress. And, it’s free.

VocabularySpelling City is already on several of my “The Best…” lists for learning games.  Its title speaks for itself.

Jeopardy Labs lets teachers and students create their own online games of Jeopardy. No registration is required, and each game has its own unique url address. Most other apps to create Jeopardy games require a software download, which makes Jeopardy Labs really stand-out since none is required.

Headline Clues from Michigan State University  is a great idea that can be adapted for using in the classroom with paper and pen. In the game, you’re shown the lead paragraph, but letters from two words in the headline are missing. Players have to use clues in the first paragraph to identify what the missing words should be. As you play the online version, you can ask for clues. One of the great things about using this game in the classroom is that students can create their own and have classmates trying to figure out the answers, as well as giving them clues if needed.

Mia Cadaver’s Tombstone Timeout is a BBC game that asks questions related to Math, Science and English, and you can choose which subject you want to use.  The Math and Science sections are divided into levels of difficulty.  That makes it more accessible to a larger number of students.   In “Mia Cadaver”  you can create a private “virtual room” where only your students compete against each other.  Everybody just types in the name you’ve given the room, and the questions begin.  After each question is answered the screen shows the overall ranking of everybody in the room.  Students love it!

Gut Instinct is very similar to Mia Cadaver’s game.

What 2 Learn  has a variety of templates, and a fairly easy process, that teachers and students can use to create and play learning games.

Questionaut is an online video game from the BBC where players have to answer questions related to English, Science and Math. As you answer the questions correctly, a little “questionaut” in a balloon gets to continue on his journey.

Two older music games by the same creator — Luke Whittaker are personal favorites.  One is called Sound Factory  and the other is A Break In The Road. I’m not going to even going to try to describe these wonderful games here.  You can read my post and try them yourself.

I think Wordmaster at the BBC Learning English site is the best “word game” out there.

Of course, I have to include the famous Free Rice game.  It’s great that they donate rice to the United Nations food program for every correct answer, but that’s not why it made my list.  It’s here because it’s a neat vocabulary-building exercise for anyone.  It stands-out becauses it only increases its difficulty level based on how well you’re doing in the game.

Philologus  uses recent television games shows as templates for teacher and student created exercises.

Launchball is from the British Science Musuem.  Students can create a sort of video game (and learn scientific concepts in the process), title it, and post the url.

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January 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Yay! PBS Unveils Third In Series Of Best Online U.S. History Games Out There

mission

Each year for the past two years I’ve posted about a new online “choose your own adventure” U.S. History game created by Mission US, which is funded by the Corporation For Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment For The Humanities.

First, there was one on the American Revolution, then on slavery.

They’ve just unveiled a third one in the series, this one focusing on Native Americans, and it looks great.

You can play A Cheyenne Odyssey here, and all the games here. You can read more about the new game here, and I’ve embedded a short trailer video below.

I’ll be adding this game to The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories, as well as to The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About U.S. History.

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December 3, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2013 – Part Two

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Time for another annual”The Best…” list….

This covers new games since I posted The Best Online Learning Games Of 2013 — So Far six months ago.

As usual, In order to make it on this list, games had to:

* be accessible to English Language Learners.

* provide exceptionally engaging content.

* not provide access to other non-educational games on their site, though there is one on this list that doesn’t quite meet this particular criteria.

* be seen by me during 2013. So they might have been around prior to this time, but I’m still counting them in this year’s list.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2012 — So Far

The Best Online Learning Games — 2011

The Best Online Learning Games — 2010

The Best Online Learning Games — 2009

The Best Online Learning Games — 2008

The Best Online Learning Games — 2007

Here are my choices for The Best Online Learning Games Of 2013 — Part Two:

The Smithsonian Science Education has just launched an online learning game site.  They only have one up-and-running, called Shutter Bugs, but they list more to come.  Shutter Bugs is an excellent game for Beginning English Language Learners to learn the names of animals, along with different verbs. It could also be used for very young native English speakers.

 

World Geography Games has quite a few games about…world geography. I’m adding it to The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners.

Inca Investigation is from The American Museum of Natural History. Students can play to learn about the…Incas.

The China Game is about…China. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About China.

Plan It Green Live
is a game from National Geographic that challenges you to build an environmentally-friendly city.

Broken Picture Telephone is an online “take-off” on the old game of “Telephone” (where one person whispers to another and so on — a favorite game of ESL teachers to promote speaking practice. It had been taken off-line three years ago, but just came back.

I’m just going to quote from Jay is Games to describe how the online game works:

Someone writes out a phrase (essentially an idea for a drawing), and someone else has to draw it. Then someone else looks at that drawing and describes what they think is happening in it, and someone else uses that description to draw their picture… and so on… and so on… and so on! You won’t know what the other submissions or original objective was until you’re done.

All players have to register (which is quick and easy), and then you can start a game that is “private” so only invited players can participate. Unfortunately, I’d lay odds that it’s likely to be blocked by many school Internet content filters, but maybe not…

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.

Lifesaver is an online video game designed to help you learn CPR through the “choose your own adventure” game genre.

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of having my English Language Learner students play online video games as a language development activity (see POINTING AND CLICKING FOR ESL: Using Video Games To Promote English Language Development).

Escape The Room games are one of my favorite game “genres,” where players have to…escape from a room by clicking on objects and using them in a certain way and/or order. Most of these games also have a text component.

Now, a new free tool has come online, the Room Escape Maker, that lets anybody create their own….escape the room games. It requires a little more of a learning curve than I would like, but I think it has some potential.

GR8CTZ — Great Cities of the World challenges you to guess which cities you’re seeing in Google Street View. It has different difficulty levels.

LocateStreet is a similar game using Street View. One nice feature is that it offers clues.

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 1200 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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November 1, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Smithsonian Launches Game Site

shutter

The Smithsonian Science Education has just launched an online learning game site.

They only have one up-and-running, called Shutter Bugs, but they list more to come.

Shutter Bugs is an excellent game for Beginning English Language Learners to learn the names of animals, along with different verbs. It could also be used for very young native English speakers.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About Animals.

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October 27, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Ideas For Using Games In The ESL/EFL/ELL Classroom

'Playing the Game (pt. 1)' photo (c) 2009, Robert S. Digby - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I have many “Best” lists related to using online games with English Language Learners, and you can find them all at A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Learning Games.

I’ve also written a lot and published a number of posts and resources related to playing non-online games in the classroom, but just realized I had never brought them all together in one place.

Here they are (feel free to offer more suggestions!):

Here are two excerpts from our book on teaching ELLs:

Using Games in the ELL Classroom, Part I

Using Games in the ELL Classroom, Part II

Awhile back, I invited ESL teachers to send in their favorite games and posted them:

The Best Language Learning Games (That Are Not Online)

In Pursuit of the Excellent Game is an excellent piece from TESOL on using games with ELL’s.

Articles on TEFL games is by Alex Case.

Humanising Language Teaching is one of my favorite online journals, and they’ve just published the newest issue. There’s always a lot of good stuff in it.  I’d like to highlight a very useful article titled “Why Use Games in the Language Classroom?” by Adam Simpson (you can read his blog here). The article makes a number of good points and points to helpful research. It’s definitely worth reading.

The nine golden rules of using games in the language classroom is also by Adam Simpson.

3 fun ways of incorporating games into beginner level classes is by Adam Simpson.

A homemade revision game is by Sandy Millin.

Activate – Games for Learning American English is from the American English site of the U.S. Department of State. It’s a useful and free downloadable book.

Games in the language classroom: the When & the How is by Adam Simpson.

Check out the resources in this next embedded Facebook post, and explore the comments, too:

The Rolling Question Game is from The EFL Smart Blog.


How well do you know your friend? (Adapting the newlywed game for WL class)
is a fun idea for a speaking activity.

A low-prep, low-tech, effective game for revision is from A Hive of Activities.

Artistically Challenged Pictionary is from Carissa Peck.

Whiteboard Soccer is from David Deubelbeiss. I’m adding it to the same list.

My ELT Rambles shares a number of good classroom games.

Using 80s gameshows to teach languages is from The Guardian.

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September 27, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Jimmy Fallon Comes Up With A Great Game For English Language Learners

'Truth & Lies' photo (c) 2006, Ross Graham - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Earlier this year, I learned about a game developed by Ellen DeGeneres that I’m applying in my ELL classroom and, now, today, I’ve learned one from another television star — Jimmy Fallon.

He played a game with Tina Fey that he called “Box Of Lies.” Several items are put in boxes, a player chooses one of them and the other player can’t see what’s inside. Then the player who picked the box has to describe what is in the box — or not. The player can choose instead to lie and describe something else. Then the other person has to decide if it’s a truth or a lie.

Obviously, it’s a slightly different take on the old stand-by game of “Two Truths and a Lie,” but it’s a nice variation that can easily be using in classes. And certainly you can just put a few things in bags that students choose.

Here’s a video of Fallon and Fey playing it:

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September 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

A Collection Of New Learning Games

'New Game :) What does a Scrabble game you played in tell about yourself?' photo (c) 2009, garlandcannon - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I’ve been accumulating links to new learning games (well, new to me, at least), and here they are:

World Geography Games has quite a few games about…world geography. I’m adding it to The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners.

Inca Investigation is from The American Museum of Natural History. Students can play to learn about the…Incas.

The China Game is about…China. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About China.

Plan It Green Live
is a game from National Geographic that challenges you to build an environmentally-friendly city.

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September 11, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

U.S. Constitution Games

'We the People' photo (c) 2008, Chuck Coker - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Here are games and interactive I’m adding to The Best Sites For Learning About The Constitution Of The United States. I have to say I don’t think they’re necessarily better than the ones that are on that list now, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to add them.

Constitution Games is from PBS.

Mr. Nussbaum’s Page on the Constitution.

Annenberg Classroom interactives on the Constitution.

Constitution Relay

The Constitution and Bill of Rights from iCivics.

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September 3, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The “Broken Picture Telephone” Online Game Is Back!

telephone

Broken Picture Telephone is an online “take-off” on the old game of “Telephone” (where one person whispers to another and so on — a favorite game of ESL teachers to promote speaking practice. It had been taken off-line three years ago, but just came back.

I’m just going to quote from Jay is Games to describe how the online game works:

Someone writes out a phrase (essentially an idea for a drawing), and someone else has to draw it. Then someone else looks at that drawing and describes what they think is happening in it, and someone else uses that description to draw their picture… and so on… and so on… and so on! You won’t know what the other submissions or original objective was until you’re done.

All players have to register (which is quick and easy), and then you can start a game that is “private” so only invited players can participate. Unfortunately, I’d lay odds that it’s likely to be blocked by many school Internet content filters, but maybe not…

I’m adding it to The Best Online Games Students Can Play In Private Virtual “Rooms.”

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August 30, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

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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August 6, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Create Your Own “Escape The Room” Game With “Room Escape Maker”

room escape

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of having my English Language Learner students play online video games as a language development activity (see POINTING AND CLICKING FOR ESL: Using Video Games To Promote English Language Development).

Escape The Room games are one of my favorite game “genres,” where players have to…escape from a room by clicking on objects and using them in a certain way and/or order. Most of these games also have a text component.

Now, a new free tool has come online, the Room Escape Maker, that lets anybody create their own….escape the room games. It requires a little more of a learning curve than I would like, but I think it has some potential.

I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games.

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July 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

More Online Geography Games

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

GR8CTZ — Great Cities of the World challenges you to guess which cities you’re seeing in Google Street View. It has different difficulty levels.

LocateStreet is a similar game using Street View. One nice feature is that it offers clues.

Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tips.

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June 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
4 Comments

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2013 — So Far

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Time for another mid-year “The Best…” list….

As usual, In order to make it on this list, games had to:

* be accessible to English Language Learners.

* provide exceptionally engaging content.

* not provide access to other non-educational games on their site, though there is one on this list that doesn’t quite meet this particular criteria.

* be seen by me during 2013. So they might have been around prior to this time, but I’m still counting them in this year’s list.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2012 — So Far

The Best Online Learning Games — 2011

The Best Online Learning Games — 2010

The Best Online Learning Games — 2009

The Best Online Learning Games — 2008

The Best Online Learning Games — 2007

Here are my choices for The Best Online Learning Games Of 2013 — So Far:

Wonderground is a game from General Electric where you visit various cities in The United States and are given “missions” to explore them and make discoveries related to science and history.

In Pursued, you have escaped from being kidnapped and have to figure out which cities you’ve been taken. You explore the area through Google Street Views, and are given hints of what to look for. There are different levels of difficulty, and you can create your own level, too.

GeoGuessr is one of my favorite games on The Best Online Geography Games list.  It’s now gotten even better.  You can now create your own GeoGuessr game at GeoSettr (Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip).

Depression Quest is an interactive text fiction game (or choose your own adventure) where the player plays the part of someone who is suffering from depression.

The Republica Times is a neat and simple game that puts you in the position of being an editor for a state-run newspaper. You have to keep the state happy and also engage your readers. It could be a useful little activity to incorporate into a lesson on the importance of a free press.

Breakaway is an online game where players are virtual members of a previously-all boys soccer team react to a girl joining it. The United Nations Population Fund helped create it.

Quandary is a neat online game/choose your own adventure story that is can work well as a tool for English language development (see Digital Play for an ELL lesson plan) and/or as a way to deal with ethical questions (the site itself has lot of teaching ideas). You can play as a guest or register.

Review Game Zone lets teachers, and anyone, input academic questions and have them turned into a games that students can use for review. It’s free, and teachers can also monitor student use of at least some types of the games.

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 1100 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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June 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Wonderground Is A Neat Geography & Science Game

Wonderground is a game from General Electric where you visit various cities in The United States and are given “missions” to explore them and make discoveries related to science and history.

It would be accessible to high Intermediate English Language Learners and others, and it’s very engaging.

It will certainly be on “The Best” list for online learning games this year.

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