Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 23, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Banned Books Week


It’s Banned Books Week. This week:

is an annual awareness campaign that celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books, and highlights persecuted individuals. The United States campaign “stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them” and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions. The international campaign notes individuals “persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read.”

You might also be interested in  The Best Sites To Teach ELL’s About Libraries.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Banned Books Week (feel free to suggest more):

Here’s a great interactive infographic.

It’s Banned Books Week: Here are 5 Classic Books to Celebrate With is from TIME.

Here’s an infographic from the ACLU.

Here’s the official website of Banned Books Week.

The American Library Association has a list of frequently challenged books.

Too Graphic? 2014 Banned Books Week Celebrates Challenged Comics is from NPR.

19 Banned Books If They Were Made Appropriate is from BuzzFeed.

Banned Books That Shaped America

Banned Books By The Numbers (INFOGRAPHICS) is from The Huffington Post.

Censorship of books in US prisons and schools ‘widespread’ – report to UN is from The Guardian.

33 Must-Read Books To Celebrate Banned Books Week is from BuzzFeed.

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September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Dreamreader” Looks Like An Excellent New Site For English Language Learners


Dreamreader is a new reading site for English Language Learners created by Neil Millington, an English teacher in Japan.

Here’s how he describes it:

There are 25 lessons on the site right now and they cover a variety of topics. I’ll be updating with more free lessons on a regular basis, and by the end of the year I intend to have over 50 free readings on the site. Teachers can have their students read the articles online and do the quizzes or, if they want to use them in their class, they can just download the PDFs and print/copy them. There are also downloadable vocabulary worksheet PDFs that students can use for vocabulary study. The lessons are all graded across a wide range of levels (from beginner through to advanced) and I’ve done my best to develop them by using academic-based criteria (JACET 8000, Flesch Kincaid, etc.) and testing them out with EFL learners. I am planning on adding feedback videos to the site too, and hopefully they will be up and ready next month. I hope that students and teachers will find the site useful.

I’m quite impressed with what he’s done, and I suspect you will be, too….

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August 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

September 8th Is International Literacy Day — Here Are Related Resources

UNESCO has declared September 8th to be “International Literacy Day” for the past forty years.

You might find The Best Resources For International Literacy Day useful.

By the way, the International Reading Association is working with NASA on a related project — Story Time From Space.

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August 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Excellent “Reading Research Summary” From Scholastic


Scholastic has just unveiled a new website focused on the joy of reading. It includes a number of materials, including videos and a free downloadable book with contributions from educators about their own reading experiences.

In my mind, though, the most valuable part of it is a Reading Research Summary on the “Joy and Power of Reading.” I don’t think you’re going to find a better compilation anywhere.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources Documenting The Effectiveness of Free Voluntary Reading.

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July 30, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Unite For Literacy” Is An Excellent Site For Beginning Readers


Thanks to a tweet from Barbara Sakamoto, I learned about site called Unite For Literacy. It has over one-hundred simple books in English that the reader can choose to have narrated in English or their choice of many other languages.

I’m adding it to The Best Websites To Help Beginning Readers.

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July 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“FluencyTutor” Could Be A Useful Tool For Students To See Their Reading Progress


Richard Byrne posted yesterday about an intriguing new site that would be useful for emerging readers and English Language Learners called FluencyTutor For Google.

It’s a web app only usable with a Chrome browser that provides a large selection of leveled reading passages that students can read, record, and store on Google Drive. Teachers can then listen at their convenience and correct and note students’ reading fluency. The reading passages provide quite a few supportive features that make them particularly accessible to English Language Learners.

Most of the features are free, but teachers have to pay $99 per year for some “dashboard” services like tracking student progress.

If I was teaching an online class of motivated adult English Language Learners, I could see FluencyTutor’s whole package as an excellent tool.

However, I definitely wouldn’t recommend a classroom teacher using it as a way to track a readers’ progress. I have the same concerns about using it for that as I have about Literably, a web tool in the same vein — having students read to us is as much about building the relationship (if not more so) than getting the data.

On the other hand, though, a site like FluencyTutor could be a super tool for students to practice on their own and compare their reading progress during a school year. It’s less about them tracking exactly how many words they read each minute and more about them seeing how their reading prosody — expressiveness, smoothness — improves. Just having the free features should be enough for accomplishing that goal.

Here’s a video explaining how it works — keep in the mind that some of the features it talks about the end are the ones you have to pay for:

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July 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Amazon Launches “Kindle Unlimited” For Adults; They Have Version For Young Kids – I Wonder If They’ll Create One For Teens?

In the unlikely event you haven’t already heard, today Amazon launched “Kindle Unlimited,” which is an all-you-can-read service for $9.99 per month using its Kindle or a Kindle app on other devices.

You can read all about it at TIME, TechCrunch, and a zillion other places.

As I was checking it out, I discovered that Amazon also has something called “Kindle Free Time Unlimited,” and it’s geared to kids 3 to 8.

As far as I can tell, they don’t have one for teens, but I wonder if that’s in the cards?

I also wonder if Amazon does or might in the future offer discounts to schools or, at least, ones in lower-income communities?

If a school was in a 1:1 device environment, and Amazon offered discounts, it might be worth a look….

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July 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

I Know Of Places Students Can Post Book Reviews, But What About Places To Post Video Book Trailers?

I know of plenty of places where students can post book reviews for “authentic audiences” and have listed them at The Best Places Where Students Can Post Book Reviews For Authentic Audiences.

I also have students create simple video “book trailers” (see Creating Instagram Video “Book Trailers” With English Language Learners and My Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

My students post their creations on our class blog and show them to the entire class, but I’m wondering if there is some quasi-central place on the Web where lots of classes post their video trailers.

Does anyone know?

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May 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

#IRA14 — Useful Tweets From The International Reading Association Convention

'Staged.' photo (c) 2010, Renato Ganoza - license:

I didn’t attend the International Reading Association convention this year, but there sure were some pretty interesting and useful tweets from those who did. Here are a few that caught my eye.

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

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May 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Just Updated “Choose Your Own Adventure” List

'Labyrinthe' photo (c) 2010, Paul Downey - license:

My students love reading “choose your own adventure” stories, and I’ve just updated my popular The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories list.

Actually, I only had time to update the first half — the one with links to online stories. I still have to get around to revising the second half on tools to create them.

Just another item on my “to do” list….

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May 4, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

New York Times Summer Reading Contest


The New York Times Learning Network has just announced their fifth annual summer reading contest.

Here’s a brief description from them:

Every Friday from June 13 through Aug. 15 we’ll pose the same question: What interested you most in The Times this week?

Anyone 13 to 19 years old from anywhere in the world can post an answer, and contestants can choose from any Times article, essay, video, interactive or photograph published in 2014, on any topic they like…

Every Tuesday we’ll choose winners, and publish them on the blog.

It’s a great way to help combat the “summer slide.”

You can learn about additional strategies at:

The Best Resources On The “Summer Slide”

How I’m Helping My Students Try To Avoid The “Summer Slide”

Part Two Of “How I’m Helping My Students Try To Avoid The “Summer Slide””

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April 23, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Apparently, Today Is Both “World Book Night” & “UN English Language Day” – Here Are The Best Resources For Both


It’s a little confusing to me, but UNESCO says today is apparently both “World Book Night” and “UN English Language Day.”

I use the word “confusing” because UNESCO has also declared March 6th as World Book Day (see The Best Resources For World Book Day). My sense is that UNESCO’s strategy is March 6th is for celebration reading in general, and today, April 23rd, emphasizes book-giving.

I’d be happy, though, to be told by someone that there’s a more clear difference between the two.

And, as far as being UN English Language Day. Here’s an explanation from My English Club:

English, along with French, is one of the two working languages of the United Nations, and one of the Organization’s six official languages.

Because it is so widely spoken, English is often referred to as a “world language”, or the lingua franca of the modern era.

English Language Day at the UN is celebrated on 23 April, the date traditionally observed as the birthday of William Shakespeare. The Day is the result of a 2010 initiative by the Department of Public Information, establishing language days for each of the Organization’s six official languages. The purpose of the UN’s language days is to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organization.

Under the initiative, UN duty stations around the world celebrate six separate days, each dedicated to one of the Organization’s six official languages.

The days are as follows:

Arabic (18 December)
Chinese (20 April)
French (20 March)
Russian (6 June)
Spanish (12 October)

Here are some resources on both of these days:

World Book Night: Leading authors line up for ‘sacred’ celebration is from The Guardian, which also has a whole collection of resources.

Southern Californians ready for latest chapter of World Book Night is from The LA Times.

What Is World Book Night?

World Book Night – United States

UN English Language Day

Here’s the UN’s official announcement of language days.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

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April 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Book Reviews – & Shakespeare – In Three Panels


I’ve previously posted about Lisa Brown’s “Three Panel Book Reviews” that formerly appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle. They’re great models for student projects.

I recently learned about how another artist uses this “three panel” idea, though Mya Gosling uses it to summarizes Shakespeare’s plays. You can see all of her work here, and they’re more great models for student work.

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

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