Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Study: Learning About Failures Of Famous Scientists Improves Student Achievement

Learning about struggles of famous scientists may help students succeed in science is the headline of a report on a new study that found student achievement in science increased when students learned about the struggles and failures of famous scientists.

Here’s an excerpt:


In fact, the study found, those that didn’t learn about those failures ended up getting lower-grades than they had received in the previous marking period.

Researchers said that the reason was because those who learned about the mistakes saw the scientists as more like themselves, while the other group saw scientists as having natural talent (growth mindset, anybody?).

I’m adding this info to:

The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”

The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures

February 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: Students Prefer Paper Books

92 Percent of Students Prefer Paper Books Over E-Books: Survey is the headline of an article from NBC News.

Here’s an excerpt:


Anytime I ask my classes, certainly a big majority (perhaps not 92 percent) say the same thing.

I’ll be covering this topic in a future Education Week Teacher column.

What is your experience talking to students?

February 7, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Study: Do Tests On Computers Assess Academic or Technological Abilities?

Comparing Paper-Pencil and Computer Test Scores: 7 Key Research Studies is an important article over at Education Week (Report: Kids who took Common Core test online scored lower than those who used paper is a similar one at The Washington Post).

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

February 4, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Learning About Learning” Provides Very Good Narrow Summaries Of Research & Over-The-Top Recommendations


Learning About Learning: What Every New Teacher Needs to Know is a brand-new report from The National Council On Teacher Quality, and the latest of several briefs released by various organizations summarizing what they think are essential instructional strategies.

The NCTQ report summarizes research that they say suggest the six strategies featured in the graphic at the top of this post should be at the center of teaching and in the training of teachers, and basically says that most of the textbooks used in teaching training programs stink because they don’t talk about the six of them.

I think the six strategies that highlight are great and certainly use them all to various degrees in my teaching practice. And I’m happy to have this report as back-up to support me using them. But, you know, there’s a lot more to teaching than these six strategies, and I don’t think the report’s authors do themselves any service by having a holier than thou attitude (based on a twelve-year-old meta analysis). There’s certainly plenty of well-respected research that support other instructional strategies, and you can read about many of them here.


You might want to read NCTQ: Terrible Teacher Prep and Headline Research by Peter Greene. I received a surprising (to me, at least) amount of criticism for this post about the study. Check out Peter’s post sharing a much more detailed analysis of its flaws.

February 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Good Video On The Science Behind Curiosity


I’ve previously posted about an intriguing study on curiosity (see “Curiosity improves memory by tapping into the brain’s reward system”).

Now, this video has just come online that provides a short explanation of the same study.

I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Curiosity.

February 1, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Ted Cruz Provides Example Of Applying Good Research In Destructive Way – Maybe He Learned It From Ed Policy?


The Iowa Caucuses are happening as I write this post, and the Ted Cruz campaign may have blown it by – at the last minute – interpreting and applying good research in a destructive way. This kind of story, of course, is not unknown to those of us in education (see The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research).

Simply put, he applied research that has shown something akin to peer pressure will increase voter turn-out – just letting people know how their past voter participating rates compared with those of their neighbors has been shown to generate a higher voter participation rate.

However, the Cruz campaign sent out mailers explicitly grading people on their voter participation rates compared with their neighbors and accusing them of “voter violations” through a mailer that looked like an official state form.  On top of that, it appears like they just made-up the past voter turn-out rates.

You can read all the details of this fiasco at The New Yorker (Ted Cruz’s Iowa Mailers Are More Fraudulent Than Everyone Thinks) and at Vox (How Ted Cruz used good political science to design a disastrous mailer).

Why, you might wonder, would I be writing about this story in my blog – apart from getting an opportunity to mouth-off against ed policy wonks and Ted Cruz?

The reason is because all the stories on this fiasco so far have limited themselves to the research on voting, and has ignored its much bigger background. And that much bigger background has a direct application to classroom practice.

The original research calls the idea “descriptive norms.”

Here’s a portion of what I wrote in my book, Self-Driven Learning and in a prior post, “Descriptive Norms” In The New York Times & In The Classroom:

“Descriptive norms” are what people think are the common forms of behavior in a particular situation. A study on this concept found that in a hotel, people were far more likely to keep their towels for an extra day if a sign said “75 percent of the guests who stayed in this room (room 313)” then if it contained a general appeal to save the environment.

Using this idea occasionally in the classroom (in a truthful and not deceiving way) may help students want to try new things. For example, a teacher could introduce a book to a student by explaining that it was one of the more popular ones in your class during the previous year.

I go on to mention how I use it in discussing goal-setting and visualization in the context of sharing with “new” students the specific positive impact some of the things we’re going to do had on previous students.


The New York Times wrote a more expansive explanation in The Destructive Influence of Imaginary Peers though, instead of calling it “descriptive norms,” they called it “social norming.”  That piece also shares some of the potential negative consequences of using this concept incorrectly, so it’s a piece that Cruz campaign staffers apparently did not read.

As the saying goes, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

January 30, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Report On Qualities Employers Want In New Hires

I maintain a The Best Info On Skills Employers Are Looking For In Job-Seekers list and use the info in it often in class. They tend to reinforce the importance of Social Emotional Learning skills and higher-order thinking.

A new report from Gallup, Skills Learned in School Differ From Those Demanded at Work, again reinforces those priorities.

Here’s an excerpt:


Thanks to Dan Willingham for sharing the report on Twitter.

January 23, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: No Surprise – Having Classroom Windows With A View Of Green Is Important

To probably no one’s surprise, a new study has found that students learn more (or, at least do better on tests) when they have a view of nature outside their classroom’s window.

Here’s an excerpt from a report on the research:


I’ve previously written about related research here and at The Best Resources On Bringing Students To Nature (& Nature To Students).