Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 27, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

PhotoMath Is Now Available For Android


The PhotoMath app, originally released as an iPhone app a few months ago, is now available for Android devices.

The app lets you point it at a math problem on a textbook and then solves it while showing all the work involved.

You might also be interested in my post about it from last October, PhotoMath & Reactions To It From Around The Web.

Print Friendly

January 17, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Guest Post: One Teacher’s Perspective On Common Core Math

As regular readers know, I’m not a huge fan of the Common Core Standards (at least for English), but am now focused on figuring out ways to implement them in the classroom (see A Collection Of My “Best” Lists On The Common Core).

The math department at our school, with the leadership of Gretchen McMeekin, has embraced the new standards with enthusiasm. I have a lot of respect for the judgment of my colleagues, and an enormous amount of it for Gretchen. I’ve invited her to contribute a guest post sharing her thoughts on applying the Common Core Math Standards in our school.

Gretchen McMeekin has been teaching at Luther Burbank High School for 10 years. She is currently the math department head and teaches IB mathematics and Integrated Math 1. She grew up in the Washington DC suburbs and has Undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina. (Editor’s Note: She’s also a very good basketball player)


Most professionals will never be asked to factor a quadratic or simplify a square root. Most will, however, be asked to critique the reasoning of others. In my 10th year of teaching I have embraced the common core for just that reason. The standards of math practice ask students to be problem solvers with the ability to look at a situation, find patterns, utilize resources, and use math models in order to persevere in solving problems.

I get so frustrated when I see complaints on Facebook about common core: they put up a problem and say I don’t know how to do this. Why aren’t teachers teaching the easy way I learned? I find myself arguing that the new way is actually good and it teaches students number sense. I’ve lately realized this isn’t even the right conversation about common core.

The content standards have not changed that much with the common core. What has changed is the expectation that students can approach a problem before being told exactly how to do it. Students are expected to explain their reasoning and engage with each other rather than just the teacher.

Here’s what I witness in my Freshman Math 1 Classroom:

The problem:

Find the equation of a line that connects the relation





Math explanation for those of you that are not math teachers:

The answer is y=3x-2 because 3 times the x value -2 is equal to the y value.

Ex: 3(0)-2=-2  and 3(2)-2=4 and 3(4)-2=10


The old share out:

Smartest student in class: I got y=3x-2

Teacher: good

Almost Every other student in class: I got that too (because they don’t want to share if they didn’t)


The new share out:

Kong says the equation that links x to y is y=6x-2.  Paul says it’s y= 3x-2.

Teacher: What did Kong do well in his thinking and what did Paul do well?

Kids discussion as witnessed in my class:

Jackie: They both got the starting point right but I think Kong is right because the rate of change is +6.

Richard: no you are wrong

Teacher: Remember your academic disagreement, Richard

Richard: Oh right. I see what you are saying about the change in y, but you forgot to consider the x’s?

Jackie: I don’t think that matters.

Marabelle: I looked at it a different way… if you plug in the point (2,4) it works in Paul’s equation not in Kong’s.

Teacher: Does everyone understand what Marabelle said?

Jackie: Yes. but I still think the rate of change should be 6.

Teacher: Ok, I need everyone to think about this. We know Paul’s equation is right, but how do you get the rate of change of 3 from the table?

Edgar: Maybe because of what Richard said about the x’s?

Jennifer: Right cuz it skips every other so it’s really changing 3.

Teacher: I don’t quite understand.

Kemari: Well, like it changes 6 for 2 so if you break it evenly it changes 3 each 1.

Alexis: Oh, you have to divide the y change by the x change.


These freshman are engaging in academic conversation in the math classroom. They are presenting their arguments and listening to others. Different perspectives are welcome because it helps kids see the problem in a different way. Often they understand each other better than they used to understand me. Right or wrong is no longer the only important aspect of problem solving – the conversation and the ability and willingness to express your opinion is also critically important.

To me the Common Core is about skills that you need beyond high school. The Standards of Math Practice nicely sum up skills we need that we can get from a math classroom.

I don’t think parents would complain about their teacher trying to teach the kids how to spot and explain patterns. They wouldn’t be upset about teachers teaching kids to be good calm logical arguers.  We would all celebrate our children being problem solvers with perseverance.


Print Friendly

November 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Teaching Common Core Math To English Language Learners

I’m hearing that many math teachers, at least in the secondary level, are finding it very challenging to teach Common Core math to English Language Learners.

I thought I’d start bringing together some potentially useful resources, and hope readers will contribute more.

In addition, I’d love to interview teachers who are having success teaching Common Core math to ELLs, so please leave a comment if you’d be open to talking with me. Please leave a comment if you’re open to talking.

Before I share resources specifically related to Common Core math, here are some math-related “Best” lists I’ve previously posted:

The Best Math Websites For English Language Learners
The Best Science & Math Sites — 2008

The Best Science & Math Sites — 2009
The Best MATH Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress

You might also be interested in this article: Is math a universal language or a foreign language for ELLs? from MultiBriefs.

And then there’s The Best Resources For Learning About Common Core Standards & English Language Learners.

Okay, now here are some Common Core-connected math resources:

Common-Core Math Standards Put New Focus on English-Learners is an important article from Education Week.

Diane Staehr Fenner has put together an excellent post, Resources for Teaching the CCSS in Mathematics to ELLs.

Laura Stevens has also compiled a very useful list.

Check out the resources at Understanding Language at Stanford.

Common Core Math for English Language Learners

Teaching English learners language of math is from Ed Source.

Again, I hope that readers will contribute more!

Print Friendly

October 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Effective Math Instructional Strategies – Part Two”

Effective Math Instructional Strategies – Part Two is my latest Education Week Teacher post.

Leslie Texas, Tammy Jones and Denise Flick share their thoughts on math instruction, as do a number of readers. It also features an infographic.

Here’s an excerpt:


Print Friendly

October 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

New TED-Ed Video Is For TOK Teachers: “Is math discovered or invented?”

TED-Ed has just published a video and lesson on the topic, Is math discovered or invented?

This question is one most, if not all, IB Theory of Knowledge teachers deal with when we cover the Math Area of Knowledge.

Unfortunately, the video does not make that question particularly accessible and, in my humble opinion, is not up to TED-Ed’s usual high standards. But I could still see showing at least a portion of it in class.

Print Friendly

October 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Ways To Teach Math Besides ‘Drill The Skill'”

Ways To Teach Math Besides ‘Drill The Skill’ is my latest Ed Week Teacher post.

Anne Collins, Sue O’Connell, Alexandra Mattis and José Luis Vilson share their thoughts and suggestions about teaching Math in Part One of a two-part series.

Here are some excerpts:





Print Friendly

October 23, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

PhotoMath & Reactions To It From Around The Web


You may have already heard about PhotoMath, the new iPhone app that lets you point it at a math problem on a textbook and then solves it while showing all the work involved.

Some are immediately reacting by citing it’s potential use in “cheating,” while others cheer that it might force math teachers and textbook publishers to be more creative in how they teach math. In some ways, it may force them to do what some of us in other subjects have been looking at — creating unGoogleable questions.

Here are some useful posts about the app, along with a video. I’m adding this post to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me.

PhotoMath Could Change the Way We Think About Teaching Math is by Richard Byrne and, I think, is the first post you should look at.

We Should Wish PhotoMath All The Success In The World is by Dan Meyer.

PhotoMath from MicroBLINK on Vimeo.

Print Friendly

October 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

My New BAM! Show: “How Can We Make Math More Engaging and Accessible to Students?”


How Can We Make Math More Engaging and Accessible to Students? is the topic of my newest BAM! Radio Show.

Dr. Anne M. Collins and Sue O’Connell are my guests in this ten minute conversation. You’ll be able to read their written responses in my weekend post at Education Week Teacher.

Print Friendly