Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 19, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Exercise & The Brain


Exercise enhances our learning ability, and I’ve previously shared The Best Resources On How Exercise Helps Learning — Please Contribute Other Resources.

Just yesterday, two newspapers published extensive article reviewing recent research on the topic.

I’ll be adding these two links to the previously-mentioned “Best” list:

How Exercise May Help the Brain Grow Stronger appeared in The New York Times.

How physical exercise makes your brain work better is from The Guardian.

June 17, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2016 – So Far


It’s time to continue my mid-year “Best” lists!

You can see  all my 1,600 “Best” lists here.

I write many posts about recent research studies and how they can relate practically to the classroom. In fact, I post a regular feature called Research Studies of the Week. In addition, I write individual posts about studies I feel are particularly relevant to my work as a teacher.

You might also be interested in:

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2015 – Part Two

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2015 – So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2014 – Part Two

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2014 – So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 – Part Two

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 — So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2012 — So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2011

Hare are My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2016 – So Far:

Even thought this list is about posts that I’ve written about recent research, I just learned about an important new study from another blog and thought it would make sense to add it here: Your GPS Is Making You Dumber, and What That Means for Teaching is by Dan Meyer. I’m adding it to The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior.”

Dan Willingham Writes The Best Piece On “Grit” That I’ve Seen

Excellent Advice From Dan Willingham On Students Listening To Music In Class

Study Says Just Taking One International Baccalaureate Class Has Powerful Impact

“What Makes Great Teaching” Seems Like An Excellent Report – With One Exception

You’ve Heard Of “Deeper Learning”? How About “Deeper Teaching”?

Study: “you want to speak to the brilliance, but you also need to speak to the struggle”

Is “Emotional Granularity” The Next SEL Skill To Teach?

Hopeful Study On Academic Success, But I Have A Question

Statistic Of The Day: Books Are Important

Another Study Highlights The Impact Of Moving On Student Academic Progress

Good Advice On NPR About “Grit”: “Take A Step Back & Chill”

Another Study Finds That Poverty Helps Create Lack Of Self-Control – Not The Other Way Around

Quote Of The Day: The Role Of Motivation In Language-Learning

The Incentive Follies

Quote Of The Day: “Unhelpful Punishment”

This Is The Most Accessible Piece Out There On The “Nature/Nurture” Debate

Yet Another Study Finds That Having An “Authentic Audience” Impacts Student Learning

New Study Finds One-To-One Device Programs Can Be Effective

Using The “Green Eggs and Ham hypothesis” To Help Students Develop Creativity

Another Study Finds That Gratitude Increases Self-Control

No Surprise To ELL Teachers: Study Finds Drawing Words Helps In Learning Them

Video: Teacher Expectations & Race

Another Study Finds Note-Taking By Hand Is More Effective Than By Digital Device

Quote Of The Day: The Value Of Listening To Students

New Study Highlights Six Components Of An Effective Apology

No Surprise To Organizers: Two-Way Conversation More Successful Than One-Way Communication In Changing Minds

Good Overview Of Advantages & Disadvantages Of Group Learning

No Surprise – New Study Finds That Explaining Things Helps You Learn

Another Interesting Finding On The Value Of Having A “Purpose For Learning”

Study Finds – Wait For It – “School Climate” Matters For Student Learning

Another Flaw In Using Value-Added Measurement For Teacher Evaluation

Quote Of The Day: Power As Autonomy

New Study Reviews 25 Years Of Research Into What Helps Students Graduate – Here’s What They Found

Statistic Of The Day: 2 Breakfasts For Kids Are Better Than None

Another Study Shows We Physically Alter Our Brain By Learning

The Best Resources For Learning About “Deeper Learning”

How Many Repetitions Do You Need In Order To Learn A New Word?

New Study Finds A New Twist On Growth Mindset – Overconfident People Don’t Have It

Quote Of The Day: Principals Can “Create The Conditions” For A Positive Climate

Statistic Of The Day: The Importance Of Teacher-Student Relationships

Study: Extrinsic Rewards Reduces Long-Term Learning Of New Languages & Other Knowledge

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

New Study Finds That Most Kids Don’t Think Collective Punishment Is Fair – Here’s What I Do Instead

Statistic Of The Day: The Older Kids Get, The Less They Want To Go To School

Another Study Shows Limitations Of Standardized Tests For Teacher Evaluations

New Study Documents The Power Of Teacher Collaboration

Unsettling New Report On Science Teachers & Climate Change

The Best Commentaries On Sci-Hub, The Tool Providing Access to 50 Million Academic Papers For Free

Study: Learning About Failures Of Famous Scientists Improves Student Achievement

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

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

Good Video On The Science Behind Curiosity

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

“Ask A REL” Archives Are Some Of The Most Accessible Education Research Sites Around…

New Study Finds Advantages To Collaborative Learning

Interesting Study On Teaching Vocabulary

New Study Finds Big Results From Ethnic Studies Classes

Another Study Points To The Importance Of Students Writing For An Authentic Audience

Studies Find No Surprise: Kindness Matters

Study: The Value Of “Noticing Good Things”

The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of Prior Knowledge (& How To Activate It)

The Importance Of Having Many Tools: “If Your Only Tool Is A Hammer, Then Everything Looks Like A Nail”

Second Quote Of The Day: Economists Often Forget That “Context Matters”

No Big Surprise: Having A “Sense Of Purpose” In Life Enhances Self-Control

Statistic Of The Day: Documenting Progress Towards Goals & Making It Public Helps To Achieve Them

Deliberate Practice & Red Herrings

Study Finds That Nurture Equals Nature In The United States

Statistic Of The Day: The Advantages Of Being Bilingual

No Surprise To Teachers: Study Finds That Helping One Or Two Students Can Make Entire Class Better

Another Study Finds Listening With Ears, & Not Mouth, More Effective

Shocker – NOT: New Study Finds That Lectures Are Not Best Instructional Strategy

Statistic Of The Day: Diversity Helps Us Learn

New Study Says Emphasize Quality Over Quantity In Teaching Writing, But I Don’t Think That’s Most Important Finding

Study Finds Teachers Whose Students Achieve High Test Scores Often Don’t Do As Well With SEL Skills

Quote Of The Day: “Experts” Are Often Close-Minded

A Different Take On Gratitude

Study: Rudeness Spreads Like A Disease

New Study Finds Academic Benefits To Social Emotional Learning

Student Agency & How To Encourage It

Very Important New Report On Looking At ELLs Through A Lens Of Assets & Not Deficits

Study Finds That Empathetic Teachers Enhance Student Motivation – Is Anyone Surprised?

New Study Suggests That A Classroom Motivational Poster Might Be Effective

Statistic Of The Day: Are Most High School Students Not Engaged At School?

From The NY Times: “A Disadvantaged Start Hurts Boys More Than Girls”


June 16, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Dan Willingham Writes The Best Piece On “Grit” That I’ve Seen

“Grit” is all over the news lately, and I’ve previously shared a number of related resources (see The Best Resources For Learning About “Grit”).

In fact, there’s been so much written about it, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start or who to believe.

But that won’t be a problem anymore because Dan Willingham has clearly written the best (and most accessible) analysis of grit that I have seen – and, believe me, I’ve seen a lot of them! (and this is one day after he gave the best advice you’ll see on students listening to music in the classroom!).

It’s in this summer’s issue of the American Educator under the title of “Grit” Is Trendy, but Can It Be Taught? and it’s freely available online.

He provides an excellent analysis of the research, along with reviewing common critiques.

Here’s one short excerpt:

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You’ll definitely want to the the whole piece, but I also wanted to share another excerpt that provided an angle on grit that I don’t think you’ll find elsewhere:

Another perspective is that we might want to measure grit not for evaluation but as a way of communicating to students that this characteristic matters. If the ethos of a school includes the ideal of intellectual passion, that individuals ought to find an idea or project or skill they want to pursue for years, despite difficulties or setbacks, because it fascinates them—well, isn’t that grit? And if that’s an intellectual ideal at the school, doesn’t it make sense to check in with students periodically to see if they have found their passion? Note that this is a different role for grit. Now, grit is not a means to an end (such as academic achievement or success in the military) but an end in itself; the hope is that students will find something they love enough to be gritty about.

So go read it — it’s not short, but it’s not going to take you that long to read it, either.

June 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Excellent Advice From Dan Willingham On Students Listening To Music In Class

I’ve written in the past about students listening to music in the past (see The Best Research On Listening To Music When Studying).

I’ve generally found that playing any kind of music to an entire class ends up being distracting – at least to some. However, I’ve also seen that letting particular individual students listen to music on their phones can help them concentrate, and is worth the work of helping other students understand why I don’t let everybody do it (see “Fair Isn’t Always Equal” by Rick Wormeli).

Recently, Dr. Dan Willingham wrote a useful post on the research around multi-tasking.

What really caught my eye, though, was a response to a question in wrote in the comments section about listening to music. It offered great common sense, and I wish other education researchers were as plain-spoken as he:


June 13, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Study Says Just Taking One International Baccalaureate Class Has Powerful Impact


A new study (shared by Alexander Russo on Twitter) has found that taking just one International Baccalaureate can have a powerful impact on a student’s future.

Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Monthly article about the research:


You can read The Washington Monthly story here, and see the a summary of the study here.

Of course, the research comes from the IB program itself, so an independent review probably would seem warranted.

The results make sense to me – we (led by Katherine Bell, the head of our IB program) work very hard at getting lots of non-Diploma-candidates into all our IB classes.  My Theory of Knowledge classes are composed of anywhere from one-third to one-half of students not in the Diploma program.

Does your school’s experience reflect the study’s results?

June 10, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“What Makes Great Teaching” Seems Like An Excellent Report – With One Exception


Teaching The Teachers is the headline of a fairly in-depth article published by The Economist today. It’s about…teacher preparation, and it has a fair amount of good info in it, though they fall for some questionable claims by school reformers (see The Best Posts Debunking The Myth Of “Five Great Teachers In A Row”).

The most interesting part of the article, I thought, was a reference to a study completed two years ago by The Sutton Trust, a fairly well-respected organization in Great Britain. They reviewed “200 pieces of research). It’s titled What makes great teaching?

Here’s how they summarize its findings:

The two factors with the strongest evidence of improving pupil attainment are:

  • teachers’ content knowledge, including their ability to understand how students think about a subject and identify common misconceptions
  • quality of instruction, which includes using strategies like effective questioning and the use of assessment

Specific practices which have good evidence of improving attainment include:

  • challenging students to identify the reason why an activity is taking place in the lesson
  • asking a large number of questions and checking the responses of all students
  • spacing-out study or practice on a given topic, with gaps in between for forgetting
  • making students take tests or generate answers, even before they have been taught the material

Common practices which are not supported by evidence include:

  • using praise lavishly
  • allowing learners to discover key ideas by themselves
  • grouping students by ability
  • presenting information to students based on their “preferred learning style”

It seems like a very useful report.

I have a problem with one of their findings, though – their contention that it’s bad practice to “allow learners to discover key ideas by themselves.”

Actually, I don’t really dispute the finding itself. In fact, I agree with it.

However, as I’ve written before, I think criticizing it is a red herring.

Apart from the widely criticized Sugata Mitra (see The Best Posts & Videos About Sugata Mitra & His Education Ideas), I don’t hear anybody pushing that strategy.

Instead, what I hear about a lot, and what I support, is called “assisted discovery learning” with teacher guidance, which plenty of research does support (see Is This The Most Important Research Study Of The Year? Maybe and “Should students discover their own math lessons?”).

It seems to me that proponents of direct instruction (see The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior”), in their ardor to prove their point, just lump all alternatives into this teacher-free discovery method that nobody really uses.

So, apart from that issue, I think the report is a solid one, and I’m adding it to The “Best” Lists Of Recommendations About What “Effective” Teachers Do.

June 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

You’ve Heard Of “Deeper Learning”? How About “Deeper Teaching”?


What Does Great Teaching Look Like, Exactly? is a short article that just appeared in Education Week about a study on what they call “deeper teaching” published by Jobs For The Future.

I was intrigued, since I think Jobs For The Future puts out terrific research – much of which is very accessible and practice to teachers. Several of their studies are on various of my “Best” lists.

There’s been a lot of attention paid to the concept of “deeper learning” – see The Best Resources For Learning About “Deeper Learning.”  My quick definition of it is that it emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and knowledge transfer.

The newer report featured in the Ed Week article is titled “Deeper Teaching.” In other words, how do educators ensure that students are successful in “deeper learning”?

It’s worth perusing the study. It compares two lessons on the same math topic – one using “deeper teaching” methods and the other not. Even though it focuses on math, there are many broader lessons to learn from it.

I’m adding this post to The “Best” Lists Of Recommendations About What “Effective” Teachers Do.

June 7, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Study: “you want to speak to the brilliance, but you also need to speak to the struggle”

In February, I wrote about a study that found students had higher academic achievement in science after learning about the struggles famous scientists had to experience in their lives (see Study: Learning About Failures Of Famous Scientists Improves Student Achievement).

Today, NPR was late to the party, but they published a very accessible review of that research in a piece titled How Stories Told Of Brilliant Scientists Affect Kids’ Interest In The Field. The headline of this post is from that story, and here’s another excerpt:


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

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