Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 6, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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New Study Shows That Teaching About “Growth Mindset” Works At Large Scale – Or Does It?

Question Mark from Flickr via Wylio

© 2010 Ryan, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

I’m a big proponent of Carol Dweck’s research on a growth mindset (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”). I use it with my students and, in fact, it’s a concept we push heavily school-wide in our Social Emotional Learning initiative. I’ve seen a number of students positively affected by it, and it’s provided me with a positive tool to improve my classroom’s environment.

So I was very pleased to see a recent study by Dweck and her colleagues finding that teaching students about a growth mindset can be very effective on a larger-scale.

However, almost simultaneous with the publication of that study, a detailed critique of it was also published, basically claiming that the data did not support the researchers’ conclusions.

Despite my continuing efforts to become more sophisticated in my understanding of the research behind these kinds of studies (see The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research), I don’t really understand the data and methodology of the study nor of the critique.

I had hoped that some of the 275 comments following the critique might provide me with some clarity, but I was amazed at how few of the comments actually related to the study itself. Most commented on topics as wide-ranging as global warming, El Nino, and speaker fees for academics. Reading those 275 comments is time I’ll never get back :) .

I did, however, find three that seemed to provide some value, but I couldn’t understand them either.

I’m hoping that readers with far more knowledge of research data analysis might be able to enlighten me about these dueling claims, and will also be requesting the assistance of people who I know have greater knowledge in this arena.

The more I learn, the more I discover I don’t know.

What is your take on this research?

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May 5, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

What Are The School Implications Of New Chetty Study On Geographical Mobility?

Regular readers of this blog, and informed educators everywhere, know about the damage economist Raj Chetty has done to teachers, students, and schools by his exaggerated pronouncements about the education policy implications of his past work.

Today, he unveiled a new study that, as usual, has received lavish media attention. This one is very intriguing though, of course, his past work makes me a little wary of his conclusions in this one. It is difficult to be wary,, though, of such common sense results. Basically, he says that low-income children moving from poor neighborhoods to middle-income neighborhoods results in better life outcomes for the kids when they are adults.

Duh, you might say. Of course, living in areas with better-supported schools, less crime, and better community services would lead to more success for kids. Agreed. However, a previous study of much of the same data a few years ago did not find that to be the case. Chetty says his results are different because more years have passed and the positive outcomes took longer to become apparent.

Here are links to today’s articles on the study:

The New York Times has an article and an amazing interactive on the study.

Want to help poor kids? Help their parents move to a better neighborhood. is from Vox.

Where Poor Kids Grow Up Makes A Huge Difference is from NPR.

I’m wondering if the study’s conclusions, if accurate, might specifically apply to education policy discussions in two ways:

One, though I doubt it will, it would be great it would quiet those who push Social Emotional Learning as a “Let Them Eat Character” approach to responding to poverty instead of seeing SEL for what it is — if done well, a useful supplement to classroom instruction. Interestingly enough, the most public proponent of that mistaken and damaging perspective is New York Times columnist David Brooks, who pushed it again in a widely ridiculed weekend column. You can read more about this topic at my Washington Post column, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning.

Despite what Brooks and other might say, escaping poverty is not just a problem of “psychology.”

Secondly, I wonder if it might not be a stretch to think this study says something about the damaging effects of classroom tracking by ability (see The Best Resources For Learning About Ability Grouping & Tracking)?

Plenty of studies have shown that students facing more challenges benefit more being in a mixed-ability classroom than in a lower-tracked one. The counter argument has been that some research shows that advanced learners do not gain similar benefits and are even hurt. However, as Carol Tomlinson has discussed, those studies showing a disadvantage for advanced learners have not been done in classrooms where teachers have been trained in differentiating up (she calls it a “plus-one” environment), as well as differentiating down.

As she writes:

The studies most cited in terms of benefits of homogeneous instruction for bright learners examined two conditions: heterogeneous classrooms in which little or nothing was done to provide plus-one learning for advanced learners, and homogeneous classrooms in which teachers regularly planned for plus-one learning.

In the two decades since those studies, I’ve observed and studied schools in which the entire faculty focused on providing a third condition: differentiation in mixed-ability classrooms where regular planning for a full spectrum of learners—including advanced learners—was a given.

It seems to me that a middle-class neighborhood with low-income families integrated within it is, in many ways, similar to the kind of classroom Tomlinson has observed — where, by force of numbers alone, a “plus-one” environment naturally occurs.

And, according to the Chetty study, what are the results of this kind of mixed-ability community for the young people who are in a more “advanced” position when families with more challenges move in?


(Thanks to Derek Thompson for bringing attention to that section of the Chetty study)

So, what do you think – am I as guilty of exaggerating the implications of this study as I have accused Chetty of being about his previous research?

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May 3, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Useful Tweets On Ed Research From #rEDNY

I’ve previously posted about the great organization researchED, and here are some useful tweets from their New York conference this weekend.

I’m adding them to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

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May 1, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Slate Publishes The Weirdest Article About Students Teaching Others, But It Has Some Useful Info

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of creating opportunities for students to teach their peers (see The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates — Help Me Find More).

Well, Slate has just published a piece from The Hechinger Report headlined, Pay Attention, Robot, which is about students teaching…robots.

It sounds like ed tech run amok, and it even suggests these teachable robots will be commonplace in the classroom within ten years. It cites some studies that supposedly highlight their effectiveness, but they don’t seem to compare the effectiveness of students teaching robots with, I don’t know, let’s say…students teaching their classmates? And they don’t seem to consider other benefits of people teaching people — like the development of intrinsic motivation (relatedness is a key element of that kind of motivation flourishing) and the refining of “people” skills.

But, disregarding the ridiculousness of these robots in all of our classrooms, the article does an excellent job describing the benefits that students gain by teaching others, and that’s why I’m taking the time to write this post. And that’s the reason I’m adding this post to my previously-mentioned “Best” list.

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April 29, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Looks Like A Pretty Important Stanford Report On Social Emotional Learning


The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education has just published what looks to me like a pretty important report on Social Emotional Learning. It’s titled “Social Emotional Learning in High School: How Three Urban High Schools Engage, Educate, and Empower Youth.”

I’ve highlighted one of their important recommendations at the top of this post.

You can read the entire report here.

You can read a summary of it here.

I’m adding it to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources.

You might also be interested in my Washington Post column, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning.

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April 26, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: “Real-world learning is messy”

Preaching About Teaching Obstacles to Applying Psychological Science to Classroom Instruction appeared at the Association for Psychological Science site.

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

I’m also adding these resources to the same list:

How do we develop teaching? A journey from summative to formative feedback is from Evidence Into Practice.

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April 25, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: Let Students Choose Their Own Books To Read Over The Summer

A new study concludes that providing a choice of books for students to read over the summer reduces the summer slide.

This is not surprise, since a number of previous studies have reached the same conclusion — student choice makes all the difference. You can find links to that previous research at The Best Resources On The “Summer Slide.”

Here’s an excerpt from a report on this most recent research:


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April 19, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Quote Of The Day: The Appeal Of “Grit”

Thanks to Carl Hendrick and Alexander Russo, I learned about the American Prospect’s new article titled Teaching Character. It provides what I think is a well-written critical perspective on the recent public interest in teaching “grit,” and also includes fair responses from supporters.

As I’ve written before, I think teaching grit can have a place in classroom, as it does in mine, but also needs to recognize the grit that many of our students have already and can’t be viewed as a cure-all — it has to be kept in its place. I’m a big supporter of applying Social Emotional Learning in schools, but am concerned about some viewing it as a Let Them Eat Character policy in place of providing the needed financial and policy support our schools and communities need (see my Washington Post column, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning).

Here’s an important quote from the American Prospect article from Pam Moran (I’ve written about her in the past):


I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning About “Grit.”

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