Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

January 28, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Fun Videos & Stories About Books & Reading


I’ve previously published a fairly popular post titled The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading.

Today, the Atlantic published a great story headlined Taking Literature To The Streets, and it shares lots of fun ideas where people are “using guerrilla marketing tactics to promote reading.”

One they featured is a Brazilian project that combines subway tickets with books:

That got me thinking that it was time to share a few other fun stories I’ve been collecting for adding to the previously-mentioned “Best” list:

Here’s a Voice Of America story about a vending machine offering free books to children:

It’s not a video, but here a links to a couple of great stories about vending machines in France that offer free short stories.

January 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s A New Phonics Activity I Did Today

I have big concerns about how phonics is often taught in schools (see The Best Articles & Sites For Teachers & Students To Learn About Phonics), but I do think it certainly has a role in language teaching and learning.

As I’ve often written, I love the book Sounds Easy and it’s an essential component of how I teach English Language Learner Beginners.

I don’t really follow many of the guidelines in the book about how to use it, but the reproducible sheets are pure gold:


I typically use an inductive model with the worksheets (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching) – after doing a page together, students develop their own categories for the words; then they use a dictionary to add new words that fit into their categories.

Today, I tried a new “twist” that seemed to work well. After students categorized and added new words, I asked them to draw a picture using as many of the objects or actions they had put into their categories. Next, they wrote sentences and, and if they could, a story about the picture.

Here’s an unfinished product of that phonics extension:


Students will next present their drawing and sentences.

It’s by no means a brilliant addition to a phonics exercise, but students seemed to enjoy it and and it made phonics an even more communicative activity.

You can’t go wrong with that….

December 7, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: It’s Good To Have Books At Home

Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves is a short-and-sweet article in today’s New York Times.

It highlights the importance of having a home library, and also includes an interesting discussion comparing having books-in-print with having electronic devices filled with books.

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

October 26, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Oral Reading In The Mainstream & ELL Classroom

I often have both English proficient and English Language Learners read texts to each other in my classroom. I’ve done it for several reasons — it promotes accountability because I can see and hear students doing it, working in partners tends to be more engaging for many, students can practice prosody (reading with feeling), and it prompts students to ask for help in pronouncing words that are new to them.

For me, at least, those are plenty enough good reasons to do oral reading in class.

However, I missed a very big obvious one that was highlighted in a post by literacy expert Timothy Shanahan this morning. I’ve long respected his work, and I would strongly encourage you to read his piece, Fluency Instruction for Older Kids, Really?

Here’s an excerpt:


Every time I think I know a lot, a reminder comes along prompting me to reflect on how much I really don’t…

A caveat: This kind of oral reading is very different from the terrible practice of having English Language Learners read loud individually to the entire class. I have an entire “Best” list devoted to why that’s so bad, The Best Posts On Students Reading Aloud Individually In ESL Class.

What’s been your experience having students read aloud to each other?

October 25, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Is A Great Article On The Benefits Of Reading Books & Here Is How I’m Going To Use It


Shanna Peeples, the National Teacher of the Year (you can hear her on my next BAM! Radio Show), shared a great article on Twitter this morning, How Changing Your Reading Habits Can Transform Your Health.

The full article is probably too complex most ninth-graders (though not, I think, for eleventh and twelfth graders). But I think a short excerpt is ideal for ninth-graders with this writing prompt (you can download a sheet I’ve created with both the excerpt and the writing prompt here):

According to Sue Wilkinson, what are the benefits of reading books regularly? Do you agree with her and the research she cites? To support your opinion, you may use examples from your own experiences, your observations of others, and anything you have read (including this excerpt).

In addition, the article ends with great guidelines on how people can become more committed readers, and I think that section could be used as its own separate excerpt with a similar writing prompt.

I also think the entire article could easily be summarized in a read aloud accessible to English Language Learners.

I’ve got to say that I continue to think that Fast Company is one of the best, if not the best, sources for accessible and high-interest articles for secondary students. I use their pieces a lot, and you can find many of them in The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

I’m also adding this post to The Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

October 17, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: Nanci Atwell On Reading

Why kids still need ‘real books’ to read — and time in school to enjoy them is the transcript of a speech Nanci Atwell recently gave – Valerie Strauss reprinted it in the Washington Post.

Here’s an excerpt:


You might also be interested in The Best Resources Documenting The Effectiveness of Free Voluntary Reading.

October 3, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Zing! Lets Students Read & Annotate Tons Of Books For Free


Thanks to the great Richard Byrne, I just learned about a new site called Zing!

It has thousands of free Ebooks that students can read, and it also lets them easily annotate them — without requiring any downloads. Most of the books don’t seem to have an audio option, but it still has a nice collection of those that do. Of course, books with audio narration are ideal for English Language Learners.

Teachers can create virtual classrooms though, as Richard notes, the process is a little time-intensive. It would be nice if they didn’t require as much information on each students as they do in order for a teacher to add a student to their classroom. Even better, it would be great if they allowed students to just use a code given to them by their teacher so they can sign-up for themselves (other similar sites have that feature).

But they are new, so I assume they’ll be making those kinds of changes over time. Their selection of books really stands-out right now, and their annotation process is easy-as-pie, so it’s really worth looking into it despite my minor complaints.

I’m adding this site to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.