Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 20, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Quizizz” Is A Great Game-Playing & Game-Creating Site For Classes!


I’m a big fan of sites that let you create virtual private rooms where students can compete against each other in learning games and see their constantly changing results. Of course, for these to be successful learning experiences, you have to have helped create a culture that everyone feels like they’re winners. In my English Language Learner classes, I’m pretty confident that we have this kind of environment and students realize that much of people’s success in the classroom is primarily due to how long each person has been studying English — not because anyone is “smarter” than anyone else.

Unfortunately, because of relatively recent changes in our District’s Web filter, most of the sites that I’ve used before and which can be found on The Best Online Games Students Can Play In Private Virtual “Rooms” list are now blocked.

Today, though, thanks to The Edublogger’s Weekly Round-Up, I learned about Amy Kincaid’s post talking about Quizizz.

Quizizz, which is free, lets you access tons of previously-created learning “quizzes” and also lets you create your own. Once you as the teacher joins, which takes seconds, you pick a quiz; are given a code for a virtual room; then give the code to your students, who just log in with the code and a nickname (they don’t have to register with the site). When all your students are set, you click “start game.” You see the leader board as do the students as they’re progressing through the quiz.

In a number of ways, it’s similar to Kahoot. However, the key advantage that Quizizz seems to have over Kahoot is that with Quizizz, students see the questions, answers, and their leaderboard on their devise. With Kahoot (and please correct me if I’m wrong), students’ devices only show the answers and they have to look at an overhead to see the questions. In antiquated computer labs like the ones at our school (and, I suspect, at many others), we don’t have the capability of projecting a screen for students to see it.

I’m hoping that Quizizz is not blocked for students when I try it out tomorrow at school.

I’m adding this post to the previously-mentioned Best list on sites where students can play in private virtual rooms, as well as to The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games.

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May 13, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Simple Game Using Academic Language

Playing gamesCreative Commons License Jos van der Hoek via Compfight

I have previously written an article in Edutopia (along with my colleague, Katie Hull) about English-Language Learners and Academic Language.

One of the strategies included in the article was a short regular activity I do using words from an Academic Word List (there are various versions freely available online). Simply put, I explicitly teach three words a day in a very fun and engaging way, and then students divide into groups to practice using them.

Last week I tried a fun game as a review that worked very well. I’m sure other teachers have used something similar, but — for me — it was an original idea :) .

Students divided into small groups of two-to-four each and their groups were composed of students from the same “level” (I have a combination Beginner and Intermediate class, and each of those two levels learn different academic words. Each group was given a small whiteboard, marker and eraser, along with their Academic Language Notebooks (where they kept track of the words they were learning).

I explained the rules. Students would be given two minutes to write a sentence correctly using academic words they had learned. For every word they used correctly, they would receive one point. So, if they used three in one sentence, their team would receive three points. They would need to underline the academic words in their sentence, and assign a person to stand and read it. Once they read it, I would determine which words were used correctly and award the appropriate number of points. Afterwards, they would be given another two minutes to develop a sentence using new academic words and assigning a new person to read them to the class.

It was a lot of fun and engagement was at a very high (at times, too high) of a level — sometimes it was difficult to get everyone to listen to the group spokespeople. Not only was it an effective reinforcement activity, and was great for formative assessment, too. We did four rounds, and then they were given an opportunity to “bet” the points they had already won and could write two sentences using new words.

Let me know if you have suggestions of other useful games to use with academic language, or ideas on how to make this one even better!

I’m adding this post to:

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

The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary

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April 20, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Very Interesting Online “Game” For Teachers, Principals & Parents


Sam Chaltain is co-producer of a PBS online series called 180 Days: Hartsville that looks like it’s definitely worth watching.

Along with the documentary, Sam and his colleagues have created a “game” called 180 Days: Challenge. In it, you choose the role of a teacher, principal or parent and are then asked ten questions — in effect, problem-based scenarios — that each have very well-thought out potential options as responses.

At the end of a game, you’re given a “personalized” analysis based on your answers but, more importantly, a very realistic and sophisticated analysis of how it all fits into the education landscape. For example, my personalized analysis was:

Based on your answers, your teaching style gave a slight preference to the emotional needs, slight attention to the social needs and strong focus on the intellectual needs of your students.

Here’s a portion, though, of what followed it:

That’s not a score as much as it is a barometer for where you believe the greatest attention in schools should be placed.

The challenge, in real life, is finding a way for schools to be balanced in providing attention to the different developmental needs of kids.

The reality, as this game illustrates, is that it’s almost impossible to do that consistently well in the current K-12 landscape.

This raises a subsequent question: How do we foster the practices and policies in American public education that will encourage all schools to foster a more balanced emphasis on each child’s development and growth?

Sam wrote more about the game here.

Playing the game only takes a few minutes, and I think having a group of colleagues play and then discuss it could be a very useful professional exercise.

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March 18, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Jimmy Fallon Models Good Game For ELLs

I’ve posted about several games Jimmy Fallon plays regularly on The Tonight Show and how I’ve adapted them for language-learning games in my ELL classroom.

Last year, I posted about Catchphase and how I modify it for class.

Last night, Fallon played it again in his show. Here’s a fun video of it in action:

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March 14, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Google Feud” Would Be An Incredibly Useful Game For ELLs IF You Could Be Sure Of Classroom Appropriate Responses


Google Feud would be a super-helpful and fun game for high school English Language Learners if you could be guaranteed of classroom appropriate responses, but that’s never going to happen so it will only be usable in adult classes.

You pick a category in the game (culture, people, etc.) and then it gives you a phrase, like “wrestling is.” Then you have to guess the top ten responses that would come up in a Google autocomplete box.

Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip.

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March 6, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two Unusual “Choose Your Own Adventure” Games

I’ve shared a lot of online “choose your own adventure games” that are engaging for English Language Learners and others (see The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories).

Here are two that have recently been created and, even though I suspect students won’t be enthralled by them, nevertheless provide models for teachers to show for student assignments:

Play this game to see what it’s like to be John Boehner is from Vox.

How To Win An Oscar is from The Los Angeles Times.

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February 21, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: Jimmy Fallon Plays Pictionary, Another Great Game For ELLs


A regular feature on this blog has been highlighting all the games that Jimmy Fallon plays on his show that are great ones for English Language Learners.

Last night, he played another one that most teachers are familiar with — Pictionary.

Show him playing it with several other stars could be a fun model for students prior to playing the game. When I do it, I model a game in front, and then divide the class into groups of three. Then, in the small groups, everyone gets a chance to be the decider/drawer of the word while they play it three times.

I’m adding this post to The Best Ideas For Using Games In The ESL/EFL/ELL Classroom.

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February 14, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Thoughtful & Important Critique Of Slave Simulation Game


I’ve previously shared online history games created by Mission U.S. I really liked the first one they created about the American Revolution, For Crown Or Colony, and posted about their subsequent simulations on Native Americans and on slavery. However, since I wasn’t teaching U.S. History at the time, I didn’t bother to try-out those next two simulations first and just assumed they’d be as good as the first one.

Big mistake.

Reading a post today by Rafranz Davis showed me I made a an inexcusable error in not exploring the slavery interactive further prior to blogging about it. Trust me, you definitely want to read her post. Here’s just one sentence from it:

The problem here is that IT’S ABOUT SLAVERY…one of the darkest times in American history that STILL holds deep wounds…irresponsibly presented as a “too easy fix” on the part of the slaves themselves through decision making.

Renee Moore left this comment on the post:

I agree with Sabrina, attempts to create simulations or even role playing around these issues requires serious forethought and extensive communication with those affected.

In the meantime, if the goal is to give students (or adults) some idea of what the life of a slave was like, trying reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

I had learned about Rafranz’s post through this tweet by Renee:

Based on Rafranz’s critique (and the following tweet), I’m also going to revisit their Native American simulation.


Coincidentally, today Richard Byrne posted about a new Mission U.S. simulation on immigration.

I’ll have to explore this new one further, and hope it’s not similar to the iCivics fiasco a couple of years ago when they featured a game on a similar topic. Based on Richard’s description, it sounds like they may not have made the same mistakes, but I will still be exploring it thoroughly before posting about it.

This should be a lesson to the creators of these kinds of simulations AND there are important lessons I need to learn, too.

Also, see John Spencer’s post, Injustice Isn’t A Game and Ed Week’s Digital ‘Slavery Simulation’ Game for Schools Draws Ire, Praise.

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