Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

January 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

As I’ve written about previously, I don’t think dogmatism of any stripe really works in the classroom.

Match Your Motivational Tactic to the Situation is a good new (and short) article at the Harvard Business Review that discusses the importance of context in any situation, and is easily applicable to the classroom.

Here’s an excerpt:


The authors do a good job discussing feedback, goal-setting and motivation, and the different strategies that each can be applied depending upon the context of the situation.

As I read it, the old adage, “If your only tool is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail,” came to mind.

We’ve got to have lots of tools in our backpocket….

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

January 7, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: “beliefs are hypotheses to be tested…”

I’ve previously written about the great work of Professor Philip Tetlock, and you can find my past posts about him at The Best Resources On The Importance Of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

The Washington Post has just published an article about his recent work – check out The secrets the world’s top experts use to make really good predictions.

As far as I’m concerned, here’s the “money quote” from that piece, and it’s perfect for IB Theory of Knowledge classes:


I’ll certainly be adding this post to the “Best” list I mentioned earlier…

January 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

I’ve often been frustrated by how some economists apply their skills to the education field.

Apparently, some people (including other economists) have similar critiques on how those skills are applied in multiple areas, including economics itself.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent Washington Post article, The value and limits of economic models:


I’m adding this post to several “Best” lists:

The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research

The Best Posts & Articles About The Role Of Economists In Education

The Best Posts Debunking The Myth Of “Five (Or Three) Great Teachers In A Row” (perhaps the most egregious misuses of modeling by economists in education.

December 30, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

A new study finds something that comes as no surprise to teachers — those who have some kind of sense of purpose to their life exhibit more self-control.

Here’s an excerpt from the article about the research:


I’ve previously posted about related research, which also includes suggestions for class lessons to help students develop a “purpose for learning” (see The Power Of Having A “Purpose For Learning” In The Classroom).

Another connected piece of research can be found at A Sense of Purpose Increases Comfort With Ethnic Diversity, also from The Pacific Standard.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

December 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

I’ve written a lot about helping students develop goals, and have shared a lot of research, as well as student hand-outs, about the value of making goals, and progress towards achieving them, public (see The Best Posts On Students Setting Goals).

Dylan Wiliam shared a new study reinforcing that practice.

Here’s an excerpt:


December 26, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Deliberate Practice & Red Herrings


I just don’t understand why some researchers spend so much time trying to debunk the value of deliberate practice.

Another big study was released this week (thanks to Dylan Wiliamfor the tip).   Rethinking Expertise: A Multifactorial Gene–Environment Interaction Model of Expert Performance. is behind a paywall, but I forked over a few bucks to gain access to it.

Its big conclusion is that expertise is not only related to deliberate practice – it’s also connected to genetic differences and “personality, interests, social attitudes, motivational variables.” They call it a “multifactorial gene– environment interaction model.”

Is that really a big surprise?

It seems to me that deliberate practice debunkers often raise a red herring saying that advocates say that anybody can become an expert through deliberate practice.

I haven’t heard that…

What I have read and learned in research on the topic is that deliberate practice is the most important element in developing expertise that is within a person’s control.

Obviously, genetics are going to play a role, though I was disappointed that the authors of this study did not acknowledge the generally accepted research that finds a person’s economic status impacts if their genes maximize their full potential (see yesterday’s post, Study Finds That Nurture Equals Nature In The United States).

And, obviously, motivation also plays a key role. It seems to me it’s part-and-parcel of deliberate practice, but I do think the these researchers make a good point by highlighting it explicitly as another factor in developing expertise. Motivation falls into the realm of Social Emotional Learning and, as I’ve pointed out before, researchers have found that early childhood and adolescence are the two periods when it is easiest to strengthen those kinds of skills.

The useful “take-away” I get from this paper is that there’s value into more directly integrating discussions about self-control, perseverance, intrinsic motivation into lessons on deliberate practice. I probably haven’t made those connections as clear as I could in talking with students.

I just wish, however, some researchers spent more time using their substantial intellects in figuring out real world connections instead of arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

What do you think?

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning About The 10,000 Hour Rule & Deliberate Practice.

December 25, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Study Finds That Nurture Equals Nature In The United States

An intriguing study was released this month dealing with the question of nature’s versus nurture’s role in intellectual development.

I learned about it from The Experience To Meaning blog, and you can read a clear analysis of the study at The Atlantic, Poverty’s Role in Intellectual Development.

Here’s a particularly important point the research makes:


One would hope (though I’m not holding my breath), that decision-makers would learn from this that neither a Let Them Eat Character approach nor hammering that education is the solution to poverty and inequality are not going to be enough to assist our low-income communities.

It might be useful to read about another study with somewhat similar implications that was released earlier this year: What Are The School Implications Of New Chetty Study On Geographical Mobility?

December 22, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: The Advantages Of Being Bilingual

Thanks to Tas Viglatzis, I learned about this Language Magazine article, Bilingualism Boosts U.S. Labor Market.

The article summarizes a new study from the Educational Testing Service which, surprisingly, is not behind a paywall. You can read Is There Really a Labor Market Advantage to Being Bilingual in the U.S.?

I haven’t had a chance to read the entire report, but here’s an excerpt from the Language Magazine summary:


I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning The Advantages To Being Bilingual Or Multilingual.