Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 26, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Another Study Highlights The Impact Of Moving On Student Academic Progress

Yet another study has identified the negative impacts moving often can have on student academic progress.

Children’s social and academic functioning is impeded when their families move more often is the headline of a Eureka Alert summary of the study. Here’s an excerpt:


I wrote about a similar studies a few years ago in a post titled Student Mobility. In that same post, I also wrote:

In an unofficial analysis of data at our school, teachers and administrators determined that the “achievement gap” was substantially reduced for students who had been with us for all four years of their high school career. In this analysis, African-American students not only were the most mobile group, they also moved more multiple times. Latino students had the next largest number of moves, followed by our Asian students.

Of course, it must be emphasized that it’s likely the overwhelming majority of many of these movies are not done by choice. Many of my students’ families have moved because of economic or crime conditions.

The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher (& Outside Factors) Have On Student Achievement shares even more research on these outside-of-school factors, and highlights why we have to organize around socio-economic conditions and not just on explicitly ed policy issues.

May 26, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

Boy, the concept of “grit” is everywhere these days, particularly with the publicity around Angela Duckworth’s new bestselling book on the topic.

I’ve been critical of the use by many to apply grit and other Social Emotional Learning ideas as a “Let Them Eat Character” strategy to short-circuit genuinely effective social and economic policies that our schools, students and families need (see The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning).

And others sincerely just oversell it using the much over-used phrase of it being a “transforming” strategy.

I’m a big supporter of Social Emotional Learning (The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources), and believe that it has an important place in the classroom.

I also believe that it has to be kept in its place.

Yesterday, NPR published an important contribution to this on-going debate (I couldn’t post anything earlier because I was on our annual insane twenty-hour field trip to San Francisco with seventy students). Their story is headlined MacArthur ‘Genius’ Angela Duckworth Responds To A New Critique Of Grit.

In it, Angela Duckworth responds to a recent study critical of some of her grit research, and, to her credit, actually agrees with a fair amount of it. I’m not so sure of her protestation that “she never tried to oversell her findings,” though.

I love this excerpt from the piece:


When it comes to grit, many of our students have shown and continue to show as much, if not more, grit than many of us teachers have demonstrated – just in situations outside of the classroom. I think our challenge is to make our classes into places where students want to show that trait there, and to help them see that it’s in their self-interest to do so.

In addition, we’ve got to also not teach a mindless sense of “Stick–to–itiveness” at all costs. We need to help them develop a sophisticated decision-making progress so that they know when it’s appropriate to change directions (see New Study: With Grit, You Need To “Know When To Fold ‘Em”).

Grit, like all the other Social Emotional Learning skills, are important items in a teacher’s toolbox.

Researchers may argue about how important but, I believe, taught with lots of caveats, I think it’s worthwhile.

It’s just always good to remember that there are no panaceas in education.

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

May 24, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

I’m obviously a big believer in Social Emotional Learning (see The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources).

At the same time, however, teaching SEL skills to students isn’t enough because of broader soci-economic issues (see The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough).

We also need to recognize that many of our students actually have a lot of the skills traditionally considered in Social Emotional Learning, such as “grit,” in other aspects of their lives, and the challenge to us teachers is to help students feel that school is important enough to them that they want to apply those skills there.

Part of SEL is helping students develop the ability to control themselves (see The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control). And previous studies, and a new one, have found that it might be a skill that some in low-income communities might not demonstrate because they just haven’t found it in their self-interest to do so.

Here’s what I wrote about one research paper in 2013:

The research paper, Poverty and Self Control, takes issue with a common belief that many low-income people are poor because they don’t have traits like self-control. Instead, it finds that that poverty causes a loss of self control:

“…the chain of causality is circular, and poverty is itself responsible for the low self-control that perpetuates poverty….policies that help the poor begin to accumulate assets may be highly effective…”

Even though a large portion of the paper is highly technical, and not particularly accessible to a layperson like myself (and its PowerPoint presentation is not that much better), here’s my understanding of what they found….

If you don’t have many assets, and you’re used to the environment of living on the edge, then self-control really doesn’t offer that many benefits — as Janis Joplin sang “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” — you might as well give in to your whims because not giving into them doesn’t really pay off based on your experience (instead of Joplin, the researchers quote Bob Dylan, ” When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.”)

Now a new study has just come out with similar findings.


The use of the word “maladapted” seems a bit weird to me just because I’ve never seen that used to describe students who don’t show self-control. But the broader conclusion of the study does make sense, and seems to reinforce the earlier study.

I don’t think it negates the importance of doing whatever we can to support our students to develop more self-control (though let’s not grade them, please).  It does seem to me, though, to possibly alter the lens we use to look at the issue.

What do you think?

May 22, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

Could a five-minute test predict how quickly adults can learn a second language? is the headline of an article at Quartz today.

It covers a somewhat interesting study, but the researcher makes an important point – learner motivation pretty much trumps all else when it comes to learning a second language:


I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students.

May 18, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Incentive Follies

I’ve written a lot about the importance of intrinsic motivation (see The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students plus my three books on the subject).

I’ve also regularly posted about Roland Fryer’s failed attempts to show that extrinsic motivation should be a major tool that teachers use with students and districts use with teachers (see How Many Studies Must A Man Do Before He Gives Up On Trying To Prove Extrinsic Motivation Works?).

Paul Tough also writes about Fyer’s efforts, both in his new book and the excerpt appearing in this month’s Atlantic (see How Kids Learn Resilience). You’ll also be able to see an interview I did with Paul for my Education Week Teacher column, which will be appearing next Tuesday.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s…excerpt:


May 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: “Unhelpful Punishment”

The Way We Discipline Low-Income Kids Only Makes Their Problems Worse is the headline of a new Slate article about a recent meeting of researchers.

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Restorative Practices – Help Me Find More.

You also might be interested in The Best Posts, Articles & Videos Explaining Why Punishment Is Often Not The Best Classroom Strategy.

May 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

The Genetics of Staying in School by Ed Yong at The Atlantic is just about the most accessible piece I’ve ever seen on the “nature/nurture” debate.

It’s an analysis of a new study analyzing the role of some genes in educational attainment. Both the study, and the article (and the FAQ accompanying the study) point out the critical role that environment plays in influencing the role of genes.

Here’s a short excerpt:



It’s a good companion to ‘Peak’: An Interview With Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool, the piece I did in Education Week Teacher with the researchers behind the so-called 10,ooo hour rule.

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