Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 8, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Connect Fours”


This post is the sixth in a lengthy series where I will be sharing the Web 2.0 tools that I’m using with my Beginning English Language Learners, along with explaining how we’re using and sharing student examples of each one.

Previous posts in this series have been:

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Phrase.It”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Padlet”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Szoter”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “”

This Is The Best Web 2.0 Site For ELLs & May Be The Best One For All Students

Today’s post is highlighting a brand-new online game from Russel Tarr’s ClassTools site — in fact, he just unveiled it today!

It’s called Connect Fours and is based on a BBC game show that I’ve posted about previously in “Only Connect” Is A Great Game For The Classroom. As I wrote then, the concept of the game was great was for English Language Learners, but the online BBC game itself was too advanced for them. I had suggested, though, that it would be easy for students and teachers to create their own versions with paper and pencil, and I’ve done that numerous times in my classes.

Thankfully, though, Russel has now created a super-easy version that teachers and students can use to make their own online without having to register.

In the game, there are sixteen squares with words on each one. The player needs to use the words to create four categories of four words each. It’s a great game that helps develop the higher-order thinking skill of categorization.

Usually in this series I’ve been sharing student-created examples. However, since this game has just come online today, my students won’t be using it until later this week — but they will be using it and I’m sure will be enjoying playing and creating!

Here’s the model game I’ve created since we’re just finishing our “home” thematic unit:

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February 5, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Jimmy Fallon Models Yet Another Game Useful For English Language Learners


I’ve published several posts describing games Jimmy Fallon plays on his late-night show that are all very useful for English Language Learners in the classroom.

Last night, he modeled yet another one. This time it was Password, and many people are probably already familiar with how it’s played.

Basically, players are divided into pairs, and one person in the pair is given a word. The other partner is allowed to give a one word clue to help his/her partner guess the word.

To ensure 100% participation in the classroom, I might have one student up in front giving the clue and all the other students have small whiteboards where they would write their guesses and show them.

Let me know if you have other versions that you use.

Here’s a video of how Jimmy Fallon and his guest played it last night:

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

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January 11, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Magical Moments” Lets You Be A Norwegian Elementary Student


Magical Moments is a really interesting sort of “choose your own adventure” interactive where you experience a day of school through the eyes of a young student, including making various choices along the way.

The audio is in Norwegian, but it has English subtitles.

I’m adding it to The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories and to The Best Sites For Walking In Someone Else’s Shoes.

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January 10, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Traveling The World” Is A Nice Online Geography Game


Traveling The World is an online geography game from Air France that works like a sort of scavenger hunt. You’ve got to register in order to play it, but it takes seconds and, like me, you can log in with a fake name and made-up email address quickly.

Ordinarily, I don’t add these kinds of business-sponsored games to “Best” lists because they’re short-lived. However, the contest for this game has already passed and Air France is keeping it around for people to play. So I’m adding it to The Best Online Geography Games.

Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

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January 9, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“The Oregon Trail” Video Game Lives Again Online!


The Internet Archive has just brought over 2,000 MS-DOS games
, including the famous Oregon Trail game.

It’s a wonderful coincidence, since my U.S. History class with English Language Learners is studying westward expansion right now. The game offers good language-learning opportunities as well as historical information.

In the past, I’ve had students try-out a poor substitute for the class game. It’s called Westward Trail.

But now they get to play the original!

I’m adding the Oregon Trail game link to both The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories and to our U.S. History class blog post on Westward Expansion.

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December 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2014


Time for another annual ”The Best…” list (you can see all of this year’s lists at All My 2014 “Best” Lists — So Far — In One Place).

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 “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2013 – Part Two

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2013 — So Far

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 2014:

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., the popular site that collects interactives from museums throughout the United Kingdom, has unveiled a brand-new (and sorely needed) redesign. You can find many great games there.

The BBC has produced a very impressive online “interactive episode” — really, a “choose your own adventure” story — about World War One. Here’s how The Telegraph describes it:

The interactive episode…. tells the story of the 1st South Staffordshire Battalion in one of the most deadly conflicts during the Battle of the Somme – the fight for control of High Wood on 14th July 1916.

Rather than passively watching the action unfold, the viewer is put in control of the choices that Corporal Arthur Foulkes must make to complete his mission. Like in a video game, on-screen buttons will appear when the viewer needs to make a decision to carry the story on.

Some of the situations will pose moral dilemmas and tricky tactical choices. For example, if the Corporal comes across a wounded enemy soldier on the battlefield, the viewer must decide whether to leave him, take him prisoner or shoot him.

Because of violent imagery, it requests that you verify that you’re over sixteen years old before you begin playing it.

Man vs. Wild: The Game is a choose-your-own-adventure story from The Discovery Network.

You can find many games at The Best Online Learning Simulation Games & Interactives.

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.

Spacehopper is a new online geography 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.

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.

I recently learned about two new well-done online games in that genre that were 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.
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.

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 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.

ADDED: Please note: Thoughtful & Important Critique Of Slave Simulation Game

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November 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

This Is Wild! Jimmy Fallon Debuts Another Great Game For English Language Learners

Who would have thought that Jimmy Fallon would be a great source of games for the English Language Learner classroom?

Over the past year, I’ve shared a number of the games he’s used on The Tonight Show and described how they would be perfect for ELLs.

Last night, he unveiled yet another one.

He calls it “Three-Word Stories.” In it, players have to tell a story three words at a time. Yes, these kinds of “chain” stories are common in our classrooms. But the intriguing piece that Fallon throws into the mix is that the goal — in addition to developing a fun and somewhat coherent narrative — is that the primary player has to try to get the other person to use a particular word in the course of the storytelling.

The video below shows how the game is played (be aware that it’s slightly off-color).

In order to have an entire class play at the same time, I would first divide the class into pairs, and each pair would get a small whiteboard, marker and eraser. I’d start off with three words (and the mystery word) in mind, and then give people thirty seconds (or more) to write three words continuing the story. If a pair had gotten the mystery word, then they would come up to start the game again with a new mystery word. If no one had gotten it, I’d pick one of the student three-words and continue the story, etc.

Let me know if you have other ideas how to adapt this game to the classroom!

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

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November 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Jimmy Fallon Models Another Good Game For English Language Learners

I’ve shared several posts where I’ve highlighted games Jimmy Fallon plays on The Tonight Show and which I think are great for English Language Learners.

Last night, he did another one…

It’s called Pyramid, and I’m sure many of us ELL teachers have played something similar in our classrooms. People play in pairs and choose a category. One person in the pair has a certain amount of time to give clues to his/her partner so they can guess what each item is. The pair who guesses the most correctly wins.

I’d modify it for my classroom so that everyone can play all the time. I’d give every two students a whiteboard and then I would be at the front giving clues about a word/item in a category the class would choose. After giving a couple of clues about one word, I’d have pairs write down their guess, hold up the whiteboard, and then winners would get a point.

Watch the video and leave your own ideas in the comments for better and different ways to modify the game for ELLs.

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

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