Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 30, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: This One Should Make Everyone Learning A New Language Happy

Overlooked elements of language and literature play a key role is the headline of an article about what seems to me a fairly arcane study.

However, this statistic jumped out at me:


It seems to me that this kind of info would be heartening news for anyone learning a new language, including English!

November 28, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Practitioners’ Instincts, Observations” Have Important Role In Research

Flossing and the Art of Scientific Investigation is the headline of a New York Times articlee offering a critique of news articles earlier this fall questioning the evidence behind flossing your teeth.

In many parts of the article, including in the headline, you could easily substitute the word “teaching” for “flossing.”

I especially liked its comments on the value of “practitioners’ instincts, observations” as equally important as randomized control scientific experiments.

Here’s an excerpt:



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

November 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Mathematica Releases “Must-Have” Guide For Any Educator Trying To Interpret Research


Mathematica Policy Research has released a simple twelve-page guide titled Understanding Types of Evidence: A Guide for Educators.

It’s specifically designed to help educators analyse claims made by ed tech companies but, as the report says itself, the guidance can be applied to any type of education research.

I’m adding it to:

The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research

The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools

October 26, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Study Finds That PD, Collaboration, Safety, Expectations Important For Schools – What A Surprise!

A new study has found several qualities critical to school success. Of course, just about any teacher could say the same thing.

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



I’m adding the info to The Best Posts & Articles About The Importance Of Teacher (& Student) Working Conditions.

October 11, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Elephant In The Room In The Talent vs. Practice Debate



An article in last week’s New Yorker, Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, is the latest salvo in attempts to debunk the popularized mythology that people can become experts in any field through practice. Of course, as I’ve previously written several times, these attacks are on “straw men” since few people actually take that position. In fact, deliberate practice is not the major factor in developing expertise, but it is the most important element in developing expertise that is within a person’s individual control. (see Deliberate Practice & Red Herrings and Deliberate Practice, The Olympics & Red Herrings).

But all these recent studies pitting genetic talent versus practice are missing a huge elephant in the room — “natural” talent isn’t really that “natural.”

Plenty of research has shown that a person’s environment plays a massive role in determining if that natural genetic talent actually develops. For example, a child living in poverty is less likely to have their genetic benefits realized than a middle-class child with less stress and better nutrition. You can read about these studies at my previous posts:

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

Study Finds That Nurture Equals Nature In The United States

New Studies Highlight Blurry Line Between Nature & Nurture

So, instead of beating up on the position that few people are taking that practice is more important than talent, I wish these researchers would put their energies into supporting getting our students’ natural talent maximized through social and political policy changes.

Why dump on a proven practice (deliberate practice) that has been shown to be an effective individual improvement strategy, and then contrast it with the inaccurate image that you have talent or you don’t?

You might also be interested in:

The Best Resources For Learning About The 10,000 Hour Rule & Deliberate Practice

October 10, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Round Two: How Much “Content” Knowledge Do You Really Need To Be An Effective Teacher?

Several years ago, I wrote a post that received many comments titled How Much “Content” Knowledge Do You Really Need To Be An Effective Teacher?

I think it’s worth checking out, and here’s how I ended it:

The dictionary says the definition of power is “the ability to act.” Some say that information is power. I don’t agree. I think it’s what you do with that information is what determines if you have power — what actions you take. And, in the context of being an educator, it’s not the information I know that determines how much power I have — it’s my ability to share it, to help others want it, and to help them figure out how they can also get it on their own so they can be life-long learners.

A study that came out last week seems to have reinforced my position. You can read about it at Education Week’s post, Study: Improving Teachers’ Math Knowledge Doesn’t Boost Student Scores.

Here’s an excerpt:


As I said in my original post on the topic, I don’t think it has to be an either/or decision, but I continue to be concerned about “alternative credentialing” programs that put a primacy on subject knowledge and a lower priority on instructional skills.

What do you think?

October 10, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Decent Post About The Value Of Guided/Assisted Discovery Learning – Too Bad It Uses The Wrong Comparison


I like the MindHacks blog, and I was pleased today to see that the authors wrote about the value of “guided discovery learning” (I, and others, prefer to call it “assisted discovery learning”).

The post makes a fairly accessible case for its use. Unfortunately, however, they make a mistake that I’ve seen in other places — it contrasts “assisted” or “guided” discovery learning (where teachers provide some…guidance or assistance) with what they call “pure discovery,” where students are pretty much left to their own devices.

Really, apart from Sugata Mitra  (The Best Posts & Videos About Sugata Mitra & His Education Ideas), are there really many teachers who use this kind of “pure discovery”? It seems to me like a recipe for disaster.

If we’re serious about encouraging the use of more constructivist pedagogy in the classroom, I think we need to be making the contrast with instructional strategies that are more commonly used, like direct instruction. Yes, direct instruction has its place, but it must also be kept in its place.

This post is really just an excuse for me to post previous resources I’ve shared on this topic:

Is This The Most Important Research Study Of The Year? Maybe shares research that favorably compares assisted-discovery learning with direct instruction, though it, too, uses the straw man of unassisted discovery.

And here are some related “Best” lists:

The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior”

The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching

The Best Research Demonstrating That Lectures Are Not The Best Instructional Strategy

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments….

October 4, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2016 – Part Two


I’m posting this end-of-year “Best” list a little earlier than usual because I’m being to prepare some research-related “All-Time Best” lists (All Of My “All-Time” Best Lists In One Place!).   With all the content I have on this blog, I think readers find those “All-Time Best” lists useful, and it will be easier for me to make these research ones if I publish this annual one now.

The rest of the end-of-the-year lists will begin appearing in November.

You might also be interested in:

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

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

Here are my choices for My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2016 – Part Two:

AERA Unveils Treasure Chest Of Research Fact Sheets & Videos

Should SEL Skills Start Including An Explicit Focus On “Conscientiousness”?

THE FUTURE OF EGO DEPLETION RESEARCH is a transcript of an important debate on the theory that self-control is a limited resource. I’ve written a lot about that perspective and how I apply it in the classroom, and you can find all those posts, as well as posts on this debate and its importance, at The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

John Hattie’s Research Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated is by Peter DeWitt. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

The Best Research On How Many Decisions A Teacher Makes Each Day

The New Study Headlined “Group Work Harms Memory” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Does

“What Works Clearinghouse” Unveils Newly Designed Website To Search For Ed Research

Important New Study Looks At Assets, Not Deficits, Of Teen “Defiance”

Monster Study On Learning Strategies Released

Three Studies Show Impact of Deeper Learning is from The American Institutes For Research. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About “Deeper Learning.”

Should Students Explain Their Thinking? Not Always, Research Saysis from Ed Week. It’s a helpful study, though I think it uses a “straw man.” It basically says that student self-explanation is effective as long as they’re giving a correct one. It’s difficult for me to believe that many teachers don’t use guidance to ensure that this is the case. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen researchers use straw men to prove their point. I’m adding the info to The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates — Help Me Find More.

A Systematic Review of the Research on Vocabulary Instruction That Impacts Text Comprehension is from The International Literacy Association. It’s behind a paywall, but looks like it might be worth the money. Thanks to Paul Bruno for the tip. I’m adding it to The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn Vocabulary, where I also have links to lots of other research.

LinkedIn Finds Employers Are Looking For “Soft Skills”

Silence Can Be Golden – Sometimes

So Many Textbooks, So Many Useless Ones

Study Reinforces That Prior Knowledge Is Important – As Well As Critical Thinking Skills

Researchers Find – Once Again – That Extrinsic Motivation Doesn’t Work

If You Read Today’s NY Times Column On Supporting College Freshmen, You’ll Also Want To Read This

The Importance Of Teacher & Student Autonomy

New Study Shows Intervention Has Big Impact On “Achievement Gap” – Also Shows Shortcomings Of Ed Research

Deliberate Practice, The Olympics & Red Herrings

Video & Study Perfect For A Quick TOK Lesson On “The Problem With Slow Motion”

New Study Says Teacher-Student Relationship In Fifth Grade Sets Stage For Future Behavior

Video: “Reading books could help lengthen your life”

Guest Post: Response From David Yeager To My Question About SEL, Race & Class

Great Piece On Setting Goals Like An Olympian

Statistic Of The Day: Reading Helps You Live Longer

The Best Resources On Students Having A “Purpose For Learning”

Hattie Ranking: 195 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement should probably be one of every educator’s “go-to” resources.

The Best Resources On The Study Finding That Reading Books Makes You Live Longer

Math Teaching: What We’ve Learned From Research Over a Decadeis from Ed Week, and seems like it could be very useful to math teachers.

No Big Surprise: Study Finds Rundown School Buildings Hurt Academic Achievement

Opportunities & Dangers Of Big New Growth Mindset Study

The Physical & Psychological Impacts Of Racism

Another Study On Teens & Hearing Loss

“Book Deserts” In Many Of Our Students’ Neighborhoods

A Visit To Your School From Michelle Obama Raises Student Achievement – What About Other Speakers?

What is Worth Reading for Teachers Interested in Research? is a great collection put together by Robert Coe. It covers lots of issues, but I’m adding it to The “Best” Lists Of Recommendations About What “Effective” Teachers Do.

Can Reading Logs Ruin Reading for Kids? is from The Atlantic and discusses important recent research. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

The Best Resources On The Value Of Positive “Self-Talk”

The Best Resources For Learning About Mindfulness In The Classroom

Major Review Of Research Reinforces Findings That Exercise Helps Learning

Another Study Points To The Importance Of Reflection

Quote Of The Day: A Problem With Book “Leveling”

Studies: Attendance & Passing Classes More Important Than Test Scores

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has released its first recommendations for how much sleep people need at different ages. Here are some articles about it:

Experts unveil new sleep guidelines for children is from CBC News.

How much sleep do kids and teens really need? New recommendations from experts. is from The Washington Post.

Here’s How Much Sleep Babies and Kids Need, By Age is from TIME.

I’m adding them to The Best Resources For Helping Teens Learn About The Importance Of Sleep.





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