Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 28, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Great Strategy For Interacting With Art!

This morning, my wife and I took our granddaughter to visit the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

While there, I spotted a neat way to interact with art. Now, I’m not an art museum aficionado, but I’ve been to quite a few over the years, and I had never seen this particular strategy.

Next to a painting was a counter fill with small pieces of paper (a different question was on each paper) and pencils. Viewers could respond to one of the questions (one of the sheets invited viewers to create and answer their own) and place their completed sheet on a board with others.

I thought it would be a neat strategy to use with student art shows at schools (recognizing there might be a few less-than-helpful responses in the bunch). I’m thinking of using it with the art project I do with my IB Theory of Knowledge students and have them create questions about their piece of art (see Play-Doh & IB Theory Of Knowledge: Student Hand-Out & Videos).

Is this a common strategy in museums and I’m just living under a rock?

Here’s what it looked like – the painting, the counter, and the completed sheets:

April 12, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Google’s Brand New “AutoDraw” Is Likely To Become A Favorite Place For Those Of Us Who Are Artistically-Challenged

Google just unveiled AutoDraw, a free site that uses artificial intelligence that provides a series of guesses about what you are drawing. You can choose the right “guess” to pretty-up your artistic creation, write up some description, and then download it or share the link. The image above is an example.

This is perfect for English Language Learners – instead of spending tons of time getting their drawing “just right,” they can, instead, have fun drawing quickly and spend more time on the language part of the exercise.

And it’s great for ESL teachers, too – no more working hard trying to draw images of scenes for vocabulary items to support language acquisition. Now just draw a few lines, project it onto the screen, and you’ll be able to show a masterpiece.

I’m adding this info to The Best Art Websites For Learning English.

You can read more about AutoDraw at Technology Review article, Google’s AI Turns Your Crappy Doodles Into Proper Pictures.

Thanks to Greg Toppo for the tip.

December 15, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: Playing For Change Releases Its Newest “Song Around The World” – Take Me Home, Country Roads

I’ve shared many of Playing For Change’s videos, especially their “Song Around The World” series where singers from…around the world collaborate in singing a song.

Today, they released their thirty-sixth in the series (you can see them all here):

December 13, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Radio Garden” Is A Curated Interactive Map Of Thousands Of Radio Stations Around The World


Radio Garden is an online interactive map of radio stations that you can listen to from around the world.

It came online today.

It’s pretty nifty, and you can read more about it at The Atlantic’s article, The Map That Lets You Listen to the Radio Everywhere.

It would be a good companion to Radiooooo, one of the coolest music sites around. You can click a country on a world map and then click a decade from the past 120 years, and it will then play music from that area and from that time period.

Both of them are now at The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures.

December 11, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Music In Exile” Unveiled Its Website Today – Support Refugee Musicians


I first heard about Music In Exile last month through an NPR story, A Story Of Crisis And Resilience, Told Through Music. As the story said:

Music in Exile is a recording project that collects songs and stories from people displaced by humanitarian crisis.

Today, they unveiled their website with music an stories from refugee musicians, and it’s impressive.

I’m adding the info to The Best Sites For Learning About World Refugee Day.

You might also be interested in my many previous posts about another justice-oriented music organization, Playing For Change.

November 3, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Using “My Shot” From Hamilton With ELLs & Others (Including Writing Prompt)


I’m a big fan of the musical “Hamilton” but, of course, who isn’t? (see The Best Teaching/Learning Resources On The Musical, “Hamilton”)

“My Shot” is one of my favorite songs from the show and, though, like most of the songs, it’s sung too rapidly for many English Language Learners, it has an accessible chorus:

I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy, and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot

I’m going to talk with my student teacher about playing the song in U.S. History (after students learn about Alexander Hamilton), have students learn and sing the chorus, and then have them respond to this writing prompt:

The songwriter has Alexander Hamilton saying these words. What do you think he means by “I’m not throwing away my shot”? Can you think of others you know or who you have read about who have also not thrown away their “shots”? Who are they and what did they do? How can you apply this idea to your own life?

I think that prompt might be accessible to our Intermediate ELLs.  If not, I can make some changes.

I also want to try a version with my ELL Beginners. I think they would really enjoy the music, and they would like singing the chorus. It would be a good opportunity to learn about idioms. And I think, after explaining what it means, I’ll give them this sentence frame to respond to the question “How can you apply this idea to your own life?”:

“I’m not throwing away my shot because ______________________________________________.” Things I will do to not throw away my shot are _______________, _________________________, and __________________________.

It will fit in with our Social Emotional Learning lessons, and students could turn their response into a poster to hang on our classroom walls.

The lyrics to the song can be found here, and I’ve embedded two lyric videos that we can show in the classroom.  There is one classroom inappropriate word used in the song, but it’s just a quick “sh__ting” and, though I’ll double-check with administrators, I think it should be okay.

I’d love to hear ideas on how to make it a better activity!

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

NOTE: New Hamilton Mixtape Version Of “My Shot” Nice Addition To Yesterday’s Lesson

May 27, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “Everyday People” By Playing For Change

I’ve posted many videos from the nonprofit community development organization Playing For Change.

Their new one is great!

Here’s what they write about it:

Turnaround Arts is proud to present “Everyday People,” produced by Playing For Change.

Thousands of Turnaround Arts students from across the country perform alongside Turnaround Artist mentors including Jack Johnson, Chad Smith, Jason Mraz, Elizabeth Banks, Tim Robbins, Yo-Yo Ma, Keb’ Mo’, Josh Groban, Bernie Williams, Misty Copeland, Paula Abdul, Trombone Shorty, Alfre Woodard, Citizen Cope, Doc Shaw, Frank Gehry, John Lloyd Young, Carla Dirlikov and more. In the video, produced by Playing For Change, students and their artist mentors sing, play and dance to Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” making the case that all people deserve to experience the power of arts and music in school.

Turnaround Arts, the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities empowers high-need, low performing schools with innovative arts, dance, theater and music programs, arts integration across subject areas, arts resources, musical instruments, and high-profile artist mentors, as a proven strategy to help address broader school challenges and close the achievement gap.

Learn more:

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