Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 14, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Very Useful Article On Resilience

The Secrets of Resilience is a very useful article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

It’s pretty long but, with modifications, could be a good piece for students.

In fact, I’m thinking just this edited section on recommendations for how to become more resilient would be enough, at least for English Language Learners. The rest of the article primarily cites research to back up this list:

So where does that leave those of us who would like to be more resilient? It helps to take on long-form projects that feel like challenges rather than threats. Whether taking up crew or judo, studying for an advanced degree or mastering an instrument, hard things that aren’t emotional or unexpected help us practice for those that are….

Reach out to family, friends or professionals who care. It is a myth that resilient people don’t need help. Seeking support is what resilient people do.

Engage in active coping. Most serious adversities are neither quickly nor easily solved, but taking control where we can is empowering. Make a realistic plan to improve your situation, and work toward it day by day. Progress shores us up and calms us down.

Finally, remember the ways you have been courageous and strong. Too often we remember what has gone wrong in life rather than what we did to survive and thrive. Think back on a time when you were challenged and give yourself credit for how you made it through. You may already be more resilient than you think.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit”

November 9, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning About “Nudges” In Schools

There’s been a renewed interest in the use of “nudges” for education in light of Richard Thaler winning the Nobel Prize last month for his work on that topic.

Here’s how Ed Week defines a “nudge”:

Interventions based on analysis of human behavior, including the habits, routines, and biases in normal decisionmaking

Cheap or free to implement (e.g., sending an email, changing seating arrangement)

Does not require or forbid an action (As Cass Sunstein put it, “Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not.”)

Generally used at the time a person makes a decision

Here are some resources worth considering when thinking about using “nudges” in our classrooms:

Small ‘Nudges’ Can Push Students in the Right Direction is from Education Week.

Here are a couple of related posts I’ve previously shared:

Quote Of The Day: “Nudges” Aren’t Enough

Ways To Encourage Our Students To Get Through “The Last Mile”

Knowing when to nudge in education is from Brookings.

Why ‘Nudges’ Hardly Help is from The Atlantic.

Don’t Nudge Me: The Limits of Behavioral Economics in Medicine is from The New York Times.

Nudging For Kids has some interesting resources.

Behind That Nobel Prize for Economics, an Innovation for Schools? How ‘Nudge Theory’ Is Already Being Tested in Classrooms is from The 74.

Nudges That Help Struggling Students Succeed is by David Kirp.

For Education Interventions, a Little ‘Nudge’ Can Go a Long Way is from Ed Week.

November 4, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

More Studies Finding That If Educators Are Good At Raising Test Scores, They Might Be Missing The Boat With Other Skills

I’ve previously posted about studies that have found that the laser-like focus on raising student test scores often identifies teachers who are good at doing that, but those VAM-like measures tend to short-change educators who are good at developing Social Emotional or “non-cognitive skills” (see More Evidence Showing The Dangers Of Using High-Stakes Testing For Teacher Evaluation ; Another Study Shows Limitations Of Standardized Tests For Teacher Evaluations; Study Finds Teachers Whose Students Achieve High Test Scores Often Don’t Do As Well With SEL Skills and SEL Weekly Update).

And those have been followed-up by further research finding that that ninth-grade teachers who are particularly good in helping student acquire non-cognitive skills are more successful “much larger in magnitude” in having students graduate and attend college than those whose work results in higher test scores alone (see You’ll Want To Read This Interview With Education Researcher Kirabo Jackson).

Two additional studies now reinforce the findings that focusing on test scores could result in teachers missing the boat on other critical factors.

Teacher Effects on Complex Cognitive Skills and Social-Emotional Competencies is the title of one by Matthew A. Kraft. Here’s an excerpt:


One additional practical benefit from his paper is that he reproduces in the appendix copies of simple surveys that have been used to measure perseverance and a growth mindset. No, they shouldn’t be used for high-stakes assessment (you can find lots of articles at The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources about why that’s a bad idea). However, I think they could be very useful for those of us in the classroom who want to use it in the spirit of being data-informed and not data-driven (The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven”) as formative assessments.

Chalkbeat covers more research at When teachers are better at raising test scores, their students are less happy, study finds.

And before some begin to wonder if “happiness” is a loosey-goosey term that means teachers just have to show movies and give out candy, the researcher instead finds that a pre-requisite for student happiness is creating an “emotionally supportive classroom environment.”

I think everyone would agree that this kind of atmosphere is a critical one for learning to flourish.

So, perhaps evaluating teacher effectiveness is far-more complicated than many think. Who would have thought?

October 26, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Wisdom From Nobel-Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman On Creating Change

If you are interested in encouraging change in student behavior, or in creating social change in our society, you could do far worse than listening to the advice of Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman as he’s quoted in How to Launch a Behavior-Change Revolution (I do, however, have questions about the organization that Freakonomics show is talking about):

I’m adding this to:

The Best Posts & Articles On Building Influence & Creating Change

Best Posts On “Motivating” Students

Here are some other posts I’ve written about Kahneman’s work:

Mini-Lesson On “Cognitive Ease”

The Value Of Student “Ownership”

The Importance Of Good Endings

October 22, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Study That Teenagers Are Sleeping Less & Less

It’s no surprise to teachers or to parents that many teenagers are not getting enough sleep (see The Best Resources For Helping Teens Learn About The Importance Of Sleep).

According to a new study, however, it’s getting even worse.

Here’s an excerpt from Science Daily’s article, More teens than ever aren’t getting enough sleep:

You can see in that “Best” list links to lessons I’ve done in class to help students become more aware of the issue…

October 22, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

New Metacognition Study & How I’m Thinking Of Applying It In My Classes – Feedback Welcome!

I write about – and try to encourage my students to use – metacognition (see Best Posts On Metacognition).

A study has just been announced that has a new (at least, to me) “take” on it that I’m considering adapting to my own classroom.

You can read a summary of the research at Metacognition training boosts gen chem exam scores.

The researchers used a college chemistry class to try out some metacognitive techniques. It has some intriguing twists on it different from other related studies I’ve seen, particularly its use of the Dunning-Kruger Effect (see Useful New TED Video & Lesson On The Dunning-Kruger Effect and here) which, as the article states:

people who perform poorly at a task tend to overestimate their performance ability, while those who excel at the task may slightly underestimate their competence.

The researchers had their students take three practice tests each week.  In the experimental group, students had to predict how they would do and, then, after seeing their results, the would receive recommendations for a specific study plan to use so they could improve the next time.

Here were their results:

By the final exam, students’ predictions of their scores were about right on, or a little underpredicted. Overall, the researchers report, students who learned metacognition skills scored around 4 percent higher on the final exam than their peers in the control section. But the strongest improvement was in the bottom quartile of students, who scored a full 10 percent better, on average, than the bottom quartile of the control section.

So, that’s a quick summary of the study.

One thing is for sure – I’m not going to have students start taking three tests each week and design an online system to give specific feedback on a study plan!

However, the idea of using the Dunning-Kruger Effect to students predict their grade and provide specific feedback does seem interesting.

I always have my students use a self-assessment sheet right before grades are due and most, thought not all, of students’ conclusions line-up with mine.  You can see the ones I use (for my mainstream and ELL classes) at Student Self-Assessments For Mr. Ferlazzo’s Students.

Based on this new study, I’m thinking of giving these assessments to students at the beginning of each grade period and having them predict how they’ll do in each area.  Then, in the middle of the grading period, taking them out again and having a very brief individual meeting with each student where I give them a chance to review it again. Then, both they and I share if his/her work so far corresponds with the prediction.

Obviously, it’s not a three-times-week activity like those in the study, but it does seem to apply the concepts behind the research.

I don’t really see any negative to trying it out.  I realize I probably should not do it in at least one class so there is some kind of control group, but I don’t feel like I can ethically do that since I think it will probably be a beneficial intervention.

What are your thoughts?

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