Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

Here’s why run-down schools trigger low test scores is the headline of a Eureka Alert report on a new study.

Here’s an excerpt:


It certainly makes sense to me.

However, this next finding seems a little over-the-top:

Maxwell found that poor building conditions, and the resulting negative perception of the school’s social climate, accounted for 70 percent of the poor academic performance.

Plenty of other research has found lots of socio-economic issues more impactful – see The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher (& Outside Factors) Have On Student Achievement.

I just hope people don’t get the impression that nice buildings are all teachers, and our students and their families, need.

But they sure can’t hurt!

July 18, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Opportunities & Dangers Of Big New Growth Mindset Study

Danger Deep WaterCreative Commons License Michael Reilly via Compfight

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of the growth mindset concept (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”) , though not entirely an uncritical one (see Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen and The Limits To The Power Of A Growth Mindset (& The Dangers When We Don’t Recognize Them) )

Carol Dweck, Susana Claro and PERTS Lab founder David Paunesku just published a big new study – today – on the use of a growth mindset with students in country of Chile.

Education Week has a nice summary of it. You can read the study here, though it’s behind a paywall.

My layperson’s analysis of it is that it offers, as this blog post’s headline says, “opportunities and dangers.”


It certainly provides support to those of us who want to spend time in the classroom teaching about and reinforcing a growth mindset with our students.  The study says that students having a growth mindset  from families with an income in the lowest ten percentile achieved comparable test scores to students with a fixed mindset who came from families with the 80th family income percentile.

That seemed way too good to be true, even for a believer like me.  I wondered if, perhaps, one factor mitigating this kind of leap could be if income inequality was considerably less there than here (that issue has been found to influence many aspects of people’s lives – see The Best Resources About Wealth & Income Inequality — Help Me Create A Simple Lesson Plan Using Them).  Much to my surprise, I learned that Chile is one of the few countries in the world with a higher degree of income equality than the United States!

So, unless I’m missing something, and I’m open to being told I am, it seems like an impressive result demonstrating the potential positive impact of emphasizing a growth mindset in school.

The study also found that “the lowest-income Chilean students were twice as likely as the highest income students to report a fixed mindset…” It suggests that, as other research has shown (see The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough ), some of the difficulties some people who come from low-income communities have in applying certain Social Emotional Learning skills to academic endeavors are as a consequence of the socio-economic challenges they face, not the other way around.  I do wish, though, the researchers had put a little more “meat” into that explanation.


Unfortunately, the “Let Them Eat Character” crowd could very well use these kinds of results to push for growth-mindset lessons instead of providing adequate support for schools, students and their families.

The researchers end with – what seems to me, at least – this attempt to inoculate themselves against being accused of supporting that kind of strategy:

“To be clear, we are not suggesting that structural factors, like income inequality or disparities in school quality, are less important than psychological factors. Nor are we saying that teaching students a growth mindset is a substitute for systemic efforts to alleviate poverty and economic inequality. Such claims would stand at odds with decades of research and our own data. Rather, we are suggesting that structural inequalities can give rise to psychological inequalities and that those psychological inequalities can reinforce the impact of structural inequalities on achievement and future opportunity. As such, research on psychological factors can help illuminate one set of processes through which economic disadvantage leads to academic underachievement and reveal ways to more effectively support students who face additional challenges because of their socioeconomic circumstances.”

I’m not sure when your entire paper can be easily interpreted as saying that having a growth mindset can eliminate most of the achievement (or better, “opportunity”) gap, this short paragraph is enough…

If you can get though the paywall, or if you can at least read the Ed Week summary, let me know what you think of my analysis….


July 16, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Physical & Psychological Impacts Of Racism

Clint Smith has written an important and heavily annotated article in The New Yorker headlined Racism, Stress and Black Death.

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m adding it to:

The Best Resources For Learning About Teens & Stress

A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism – Help Me Find More

The Best Resources Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough

July 16, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Another Study On Teens & Hearing Loss

At the risk of sounding like an “old fogey,” I’m regularly astounded by the high volumes many young people set the music they are listening to on their phones, and I’ve previously shared related info at The Best Resources On Teens & Hearing Loss.

I use some of those resources to do “mini-lessons” throughout the year on the issue.

A new study on the problem just came out, and you can read about it at Eureka Alert at Today’s teenagers could become prematurely hearing-impaired, study warns.

Here’s an excerpt:


July 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Book Deserts” In Many Of Our Students’ Neighborhoods

A few years ago, there was substantial attention paid to a Michelle Obama initiative on “food deserts” (see Do Your Students Live In Food Deserts?).

Now, researchers have found – to no surprise for anyone familiar with many lower-income communities – large numbers of our students live in “book deserts.”

Here’s an excerpt from an article at The Atlantic headlined Where Books Are All But Nonexistent:


And here’s how the article ended:

As an experiment, Neuman and her team—with funding from JetBlue, which also helped fund her latest research—set up a vending machine in a busy area in Anacostia last summer where kids could pick up books for free. Within six weeks, according to Neuman, 27,000 books were given away. “It’s designed to say to people, ‘strike down that notion that these people don’t care about their children’—they deeply care,” she said. “What they lack are the resources to enable their children to be successful.”

I’m adding this info to The Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

July 6, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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


I’ve written about previous studies that have demonstrated that students reading about – or hearing from – others who have successfully overcome similar challenges can be a big help – see Hopeful Study On Academic Success, But I Have A Question.

A new study suggests that a visit by Michelle Obama to a school had similar results, particularly because of her “I was like you, you can be like me” message – see How Michelle Obama’s visit to a London school helped boost students’ grades.

Lots of us have speakers, including former students, come to our classes and schools to help provide some “inspiration” to our students. I certainly have found that my students are most engaged with those who communicate the “I’ve been there” message. It’s interesting to see at lease some research-based findings on the issue.

It will prompt me to be a little more explicit in my prepping speakers to emphasize that part of their talk…

Addendum: The Economist just wrote a piece about the same study.

July 1, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Research Studies Of The Week

'magnifying glass' photo (c) 2005, Tall Chris - license:

I often write about research studies from various fields and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature.

By the way, you might also be interested in My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2016 – So Far.

Here are some new useful studies (and related resources):

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.

Here’s a good summery of research on student motivation from Digital Promise. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students.

Emotionally positive situations boost memory for similar future events is from Science Daily. I’m adding it to My Best Posts On Why It’s Important To Be Positive In Class.

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.

Small increases in sleep improve grades is from Science Daily. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Helping Teens Learn About The Importance Of Sleep.

The scientific case for doodling while taking notes is from Quartz. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On The Educational Value Of Doodling.

June 30, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

This post was originally just on a new study, but I’ve converted it into a “Best” list.

I’ve written blog posts and lesson plans about encouraging students to use “self-talk” for motivation (see “Control Your Destiny”: Positive Self-Talk, Students & Stephen Curry and  We Did A Great ‘Growth Mindset’ Lesson With Our ELLs This Week – Here’s The Lesson Plan).

A new study has just been published reinforcing previous research on its effectiveness.  You can read about it at Thinking ‘I can do better’ really can improve performance, study finds.

Here’s an excerpt:


The study also talks about the effectiveness of imagery, so I’m adding this info to My Best Posts On Helping Students “Visualize Success.”

Olympian Laurie Hernandez Demonstrates The Power Of Self-Talk

Skip to toolbar