Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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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
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Excellent “Reading Research Summary” From Scholastic

open1

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

unite

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

fluency

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
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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
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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
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#IRA14 — Useful Tweets From The International Reading Association Convention

'Staged.' photo (c) 2010, Renato Ganoza - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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
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Just Updated “Choose Your Own Adventure” List

'Labyrinthe' photo (c) 2010, Paul Downey - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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
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New York Times Summer Reading Contest

bookcontest

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

booknight

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)
English
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
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Book Reviews – & Shakespeare – In Three Panels

shakespeare

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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March 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Interviewly” Makes Great Reddit Interviews Legible

reddit2

The Reddit website has great “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” interviews with well-known people, and I’ve posted about some of them. The content is fascinating. However, it’s almost like they had a contest for who could create the most unattractive and difficult-to-read format, and used the winner’s idea to use as the lay-out for the interviews themselves.

Now, though, Inteviewly has taken some of the best AMA’s and reformatted them into very attractive and accessible designs. They’ve categorized them, too, including a section on authors. These include ones with R.L. Stine and Judy Blume. Those could be read by students in their entirety, or teachers can excerpt parts as Read Alouds.

I’m assuming the people behind Interviewly have negotiated copyright issues with Reddit. If not, the site might not be up for long…

Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip.

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February 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Two Very Important Posts On “Close Reading”

'Fall in Love with Reading (close up)' photo (c) 2005, Enokson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Here are two very important posts I’m adding to The Best Resources On “Close Reading”:

Teach Kids to Build Their Own Prior Knowledge is by Laura Robb and appears in Middleweb.

Martin Luther King Jr. and the Common Core: A critical reading of “close reading” is from Rethinking Schools.

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February 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Newsmart Looks Like A Great Site For High-Intermediate & Advanced ELLs

wsj

Newsmart uses articles from the Wall Street Journal to promote learning English as a second language. It’s a slick site, and it’s free.

Users pick an article, and then there are color-coded portions in it for vocabulary and grammar. Click on it, and you are given a question about the in-context grammar or vocabulary issue. You then accumulate points and badges.

I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Intermediate Readers.

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January 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Creating Instagram Video “Book Trailers” With English Language Learners

'Books behind the bed' photo (c) 2006, rjp - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I’ve written a lot in the past, and shared student work, about using Instagram and Vine videos with English Language Learners to learn academic vocabulary.

Last week, I shared how I was going to try to do a similar project with my English Language Learners — this time, having them create fifteen second video “book trailers” — in other words, mini-book reviews. In that same post, I shared a number of resources about this idea of “book trailers.”

We tried it out today, and it went very well. In fact, our class is teaching other classes how to create them on Friday. I showed my model video (the one at the bottom of this post), and asked students to create a storyboard with five components:

1. The book itself, with students saying the title and the author

2. A drawing of an illustration representing what the book is about, along with one sentence that they would say as a summary

3. Their favorite quote from the book

4. How many “stars” they would give it, with three as the highest rating.

5. Some kind of “action”

You can see them all at our class blog. Here are three student examples, plus my model:

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January 24, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Here’s My Teacher Model For Instagram Video “Book Trailers” Students Will Be Making

I’ve previously posted about having students create video “Book Trailers” (basically book reviews) about the books they’ve been reading.

Here are links to those specific posts, though you can see all of them — and more — at My Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them:

Making Book Trailers With Fotobabble

Book Trailers From My Class

Students Making Video “Book Trailers”

Book Trailers

I’ve also shared the videos my ELL students have made with both Instagram and Vine on academic vocabulary.

Prompted by a discussion we had among ninth-grade English teachers earlier this week, I’ve decided to bring the two concepts together and have students try creating “book trailers” using Instagram videos.

Here’s the model (made in five minutes) I’ll be using:

Ideas on how to make it all go better are welcome!

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December 21, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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More “Word Of The Year” Features