Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 20, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

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


Paul Bruno tweeted out a link to an important new study (that is, unfortunately, behind a paywall) titled Factors that Promote High School Graduation: a Review of the Literature, by Jonathan F. Zaff, Alice Donlan, Aaron Gunning, Sara E. Anderson, Elana McDermott, Michelle Sedaca.

I read it, and here’s my summary:

First off, I’d strongly recommend this study be read side-by-side with last year’s report by American’s Promise Alliance, which examined why students drop-out (see New Survey On High School Drop-Outs Is Depressing, If Accurate). I think both studies complement each other – with this new one focused on what helps students stay, while the earlier one targets why they drop-out. They’re similar in many ways and different in a few others.

This new report reviewed:

research from the past 25 years on high school graduation, focusing on longitudinal, US-based studies of malleable factors that predict graduation. Through this systematic search, we identified 12 assets in individual, family, school, peer, and community contexts, which predict high school graduation…

I don’t think anyone is going to be too surprised by what they found.  I’m listing them in the order they are discussed in the study.  However, I don’t believe the researchers list them in order of importance.  I might be wrong on that, but I can’t find anything in the article that suggests there was a strategic plan for what was discussed at the beginning, middle and end:

1. Student motivation, particularly intrinsic motivation: No big surprise to me, especially since I’ve written three books on the topic. Also, see  Best Posts On “Motivating” Students.

2. Student engagement: They identify it as “behavioral (e.g., attending class, completing assignments), emotional (e.g., identification with school, liking school), and/or cognitive (e.g., taking a strategic approach to learning, intellectual curiosity).” See The Best Posts & Articles On Student Engagement.

3. Youth expectations for “attainment”: In other words, do they expect that they are going to college. See The Best Resources For Showing Students Why They Should Continue Their Academic Career.

4. Do students feel that they are in control of their own destiny: “Youth who believe they control their academic outcomes (i.e., internal locus of control) tend to do better in school and persist when they encounter difficulties.” This reminded me of Maria Konnikova’s recent article in The New Yorker where see writes that resilient people see themselves as “the orchestrators of their own fates.” It may also speak to the importance of maximizing the use of choice – see The Best Posts & Articles About Providing Students With Choices.

5. “Parental Academic Involvement”: This includes both parents helping with homework or talking with their kids about school at home, as well as participating in activities at the school itself. See my fifty “Best” lists related to parent engagement here.

6. “Parent-Child Connection”: Do the parents and their children communicate well and regularly with each other?

7. “Positive Peer Norms”: Are students hanging-out with friends who are more likely to graduate or drop-out?

8. “Positive Student-Teacher Relationships”: See The Best Resources On The Importance Of Building Positive Relationships With Students.

9. “Small Schools”: I think big schools can apply this idea through developing Small Learning Communities, as we have done in our school. See The Best Resources For Learning About Small Learning Communities.

10. Participation in School-Based Extracurricular Activities

11. Career and Technical Education opportunities

12: Access To Community-Based “out-of-school” activities like Outward Bound

Obviously, some of those factors are outside of the teacher and school’s control, but we can impact quite a few of them.

What do you think?

March 19, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

There has been some criticism of the federal government’s Community Eligibility Provision Expansion Project (CEPEP), which lets schools with large numbers of free-or-reduced meal eligible students to provide them to everyone who attends.

One of those critiques has been suggesting that it can increase obesity.

Uh, no…

2 Breakfasts May Be Better Than None For School Kids is an NPR segment that discusses those critiques and reports on new research finding the exact opposite results occur:


I’m adding this info to The Best Sites For Learning About Nutrition & Food Safety, which I’ve also just completely updated and revised.

March 15, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Another Study Shows We Physically Alter Our Brain By Learning

As regular readers know, one of my favorite lessons is helping students see how they physically “grow” their brain by learning (see The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning).

It’s also one of the most memorable lessons for students (based on anonymous evaluations).

Yet another study has just been published showing that learning new skills can have a major impact on how the brain looks physically. In fact, a case could be made that it suggests the harder learning tasks we take on, the more the brain is strengthened.

Eureka Alert has published a summary: Complex learning dismantles barriers in the brain

Here’s an excerpt:


March 10, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning About “Deeper Learning”

Note that the original title of this post was “Deeper Learning” In The News Today. I have since turned it into a “Best” list.

Many in the ed world have heard the term “deeper learning,” but I’m not really sure how many educators really know what it means.

I’ve previously published a couple of useful posts on it:

Very Good Video: “Diving Into Deeper Learning”

“Deeper Learning” Report

Yesterday, one big report was released showing that deeper learning is effective in helping students learn and, today, a far more interesting report – written by Barnett Berry from the Center For Teaching Quality – was released focused on how to effectively actually implement in schools.

First off, you can read an article in Education Week that discusses the findings of a new study by the American Institutes for Research that found using deeper learning can increase graduation rates and more.

Teacher leadership & deeper learning for all students is the title of Barnett Berry’s report.

Here’s his definition of “deeper learning”:

What does this look like at the classroom level? Instruction designed around deeper learning involves student voice and choice, incorporates feedback and revision, and typically culminates with a publicly presented product or performance. For example, students aren’t expected merely to supply answers to row after row of math problems—but instead must explain how they are using and applying concepts relevant to algebra, geometry, and calculus. Similarly, deeper learning requires that American history courses go far beyond memorization of names and dates; rather, students … must use the tools of historians to analyze the U.S. Constitution and write about the federal role in immigration policy.

In other words, deeper learning emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and knowledge transfer.

Barnett’s paper suggests that, in order to ensure that this kind of learning reaches all of our students, including those facing multiple challenges, then teacher leadership must be strengthened.  This point is strengthened by the report written about in Ed Week — even though researchers found that deeper learning benefited all students in the schools they studied, it appeared to help lower-income students less.

Barnett points to schools that have had exceptional success applying deeper learning for all students, and identifies that increased leadership roles of teachers as a critical part of that accomplishment.  He writes:


It’s a report well-worth reading…

Here are some more resources:

Equal Opportunity for Deeper Learning is from Jobs For The Future.

The Implications of Deeper Learning for Adolescent Immigrants and English Language Learners is also from Jobs For The Future.

How Deeper Learning Can Create a New Vision for Teaching

Deeper Learning Planning Guide

Deeper Learning From AIR

DEEPER LEARNING COMPETENCIES is from the Hewlett Foundation

Advancing Deeper Learning Under ESSA: Seven Priorities is from Stanford.

March 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

Over the years, I’ve heard different numbers thrown around when discussing how many times a student needs to see it/use it before they truly learn it.

Today, in literacy expert Timothy Shanahan’s blog, he wrote this in response to a reader asking How Many Times Should They Copy the Spelling Words?


I have a lot of respect for Shanahan’s work, and I’d encourage you to read his entire response.

I’m adding this info to The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn Vocabulary.

March 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

There has been no shortage on how and why it’s important to develop a growth mindset (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”).

A new study, though, has found a new twist — that being overconfident can be a sign of having a fixed mindset.

Eureka Report has published a summary of the research in a piece headlined Overconfidence linked to one’s view of intelligence: Those who think intelligence is fixed have confidence exceeding their ability.

Here’s an excerpt:


It’s a pretty interesting report, though I’m not sure it adds much to ideas on how we help our students develop it. But more evidence about what why having a growth mindset is important can never hurt.

March 4, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

I’ve shared many posts over the years that Larry Cuban has written (search his name on my blog results in 136 mentions).

Here’s just written another good post titled School and Classroom Cultures: Easy To Describe but Tough To Create and Sustain.

Here’s an excerpt that echoes something that Ken Robinson has said in the past (see “You Cannot Make A Plant Grow — You Can Provide The Conditions For Growth”):


You’ll want to read his entire post, not least for the reason that he offers several links to supporting research….

March 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

There’s not much new in today’s Guardian article, Can you spot a good teacher from their characteristics?, but it does contain this important reminder:


That’s similar to findings by Robert Marzano:

In a recent meta-analysis of more than 100 studies (Marzano, 2003b), we found that the quality of teacher-student relationships is the keystone for all other aspects of classroom management.

And, from Marzano again,:

If the relationship between the teacher and the students is good, then everything else that occurs in the classroom seems to be enhanced.

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources On The Importance Of Building Positive Relationships With Students.

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