Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 27, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Mindfulness Can Mean More Than Meditation – Can’t It?

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles recently about mindfulness in schools (When Mindfulness Meets the Classroom and More Evidence That Mindfulness Breeds Resilience), and, though I have successfully used short visualization techniques with students (see My Best Posts On Helping Students “Visualize Success”), I’ve been – and continue to be – a bit skeptical on the practical aspects of getting my students invested in meditation (which often seems synonymous with “mindfulness”). In addition, even though I’ve tried meditation a number of times over the years, I’ve also found that I don’t really have the patience for it. Given that experience, it’s difficult for me to find the energy to encourage my own students to try it.

However, my understanding is that mindfulness is designed to encourage attention and being in the “now” (see The Best Resources On The Dangers Of Multitasking).  I think I’m pretty good at doing that – I just find meditation a bit boring, and think that many of my high schoolers would, too (though many could use improvement at being more attentive – to more than just me – and in being in the “now”).

I began wondering what other techniques might qualify under the umbrella of cultivating “mindfulness.”  Vanderbuilt University, which says it’s also called “contemplative pedagogy,” has some ideas, including a reading technique that sounds very similar to “close reading.” It seems to me that encouraging student reflection (see The Best Resources On Student & Teacher Reflection) and metacognition (see The Best Posts On Metacognition), as well as self-awareness activities around self-control (see My Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control) can also lead to similar results. I’ve also had students sometimes close their eyes and visualize a short text while I or other students read it to the class.

Unless I’m off-base, and I’m happy to hear that I am, it seems to me that proponents of “mindfulness” might want to intentionally expand the techniques and vocabulary they use to describe the practice, especially since research on meditation in the classroom does seem mixed (see Promising, But Incomplete, Results for Mindfulness and Why Mindfulness Is Overrated).

What do you think and, in particular, what specific techniques do you use in the classroom to promote attention and being in the “now.”

September 24, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Is Interesting: “8 Strategies Robert Marzano & John Hattie Agree On”

8 Strategies Robert Marzano & John Hattie Agree On is an interesting post to read. It’s unclear to me if either of the two men had any role in reviewing the piece before it was published.

Even if they didn’t, based on my own knowledge most of it does seem pretty accurate.

However, I’m not quite sure that the writer provides an entirely accurate assessment of either of the researcher’s perspective on direct instruction or, at least, describes it in the clearest terms. Especially for Marzano – he’s written fairly positively about studies that also show the shortcomings of direct instruction (see Is This The Most Important Research Study Of The Year? Maybe), so the info in this post seems a bit contradictory (though I can’t say with certainty that its incorrect – perhaps it’s just less nuanced?).

So, check out the post, but I’d also recommend going directly to both Hattie and Marzano’s actually writings….

September 23, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: Poverty & Self-Control

I’ve written a lot about the benefits of teaching Social Emotional Learning (see The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources), as well as the pitfalls of a “Let Them Eat Character!” strategy (see The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning and The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough).

Thanks to my colleague Katie Hull, I just learned that The New Republic has republished a good article giving an overview of research reinforcing the dangers of viewing SEL as a magic pill. It’s titled Poor People Don’t Have Less Self-Control. Poverty Forces Them to Think Short-Term.

Here’s how it concludes:


September 20, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Instead Of High School Exit Exams For Civics, Study Suggests SEL Programs Would Be Better Way To Go

Vote! from Flickr via Wylio

© 2005 hjl, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

There’s recently been a big (and, in my opinion, misguided effort) push to make students pass a civics exam in order to graduate from high school (see Yes, Schools Should Develop Active Citizens &, No, We Don’t Need Another Test To Do It).

A new study follows students who participated in a Social Emotional Learning program (called Fast Track) in school through their adulthood.

Here’s what Jonah Lehrer writes about it:

Holbein wanted to expand on this analysis by looking at voter behavior when the Fast Track subjects were in their mid to late twenties. After matching people to their voter files, he found a clear difference in political participation rates. According to Holbein’s data, “individuals exposed to Fast Track turned out to vote in at least one of the federal elections held during 2004-2012 at a rate 11.1 percentage points higher than the control group.” That represents a 40 percent increase over baseline levels.

Just another benefit to teaching Social Emotional Learning….

I’m adding this post to:

The Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship

The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources

September 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

An Interesting “Take” On Research “Reproducibility”

Last week, there was a lot of media attention to a report about scientific studies suggesting that over 60 percent of them fail to be reproduced. That’s really not new – you can see a post from last year titled This Is Interesting & Depressing: Only .13% Of Education Research Experiments Are Replicated.

The New York Times, though, ran a column that I thought had an intriguing “take” on the report. The column is titled Psychology Is Not in Crisis, and suggests that a failure to replicate is important for good science. Here’s an excerpt:


It’s good counsel for all of us to keep in mind when we hear the term “research-based” — we need to recognize that our students and schools are unique, and that research conclusions in one situation might not apply as effectively in our own classrooms.

I have links to other articles and posts and make similar points at The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

September 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Surprise, Surprise – New Research Finds Lectures Aren’t The Best Way To Teach

Are College Lectures Unfair? is the headline of a column in The New York Times reviewing new research about the ineffectiveness of college lectures, though the same could be said, of course, about them in high school, too.

Their research talks about “active learning” being a better way, and they talk specifically about using low-stakes tests. Though inductive learning also provides plenty of opportunities for students to review the same material, and that’s my preferred instructional strategy (see
The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching).

Here’s an excerpt:


The Times article doesn’t include links to the original research, but you can find them here.

I’m adding this post to The Best Research Demonstrating That Lectures Are Not The Best Instructional Strategy.

September 9, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: Discrimination In Adolescence Results In Bad Health As An Adult

Discrimination during adolescence has lasting effect on body is the title of a report on a depressing new study.

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m adding it to A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism – Help Me Find More.

August 29, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Very Interesting Study: Students Seeing Teachers Drawing Diagrams Is Better Than Showing Pre-Made Ones

A new study found that students (primarily those with lower prior knowledge) learn much more when listening to teachers talk and draw diagrams than when teachers talked and showed pre-made ones.

I’ll reprint the abstract below. I think this is very interesting, and reflects my own experience. I know that writing things out takes extra class time, but it definitely seems to “click” more with students than when I just put something I already made on the overhead.

Here’s the abstract:

In 4 experiments, participants viewed a short video-based lesson about how the Doppler effect works. Some students viewed already-drawn diagrams while listening to a concurrent oral explanation, whereas other students listened to the same explanation while viewing the instructor actually draw the diagrams by hand. All students then completed retention and transfer tests on the material. Experiment 1 indicated that watching the instructor draw diagrams (by viewing the instructor’s full body) resulted in significantly better transfer test performance than viewing already-drawn diagrams for learners with low prior knowledge (d = 0.58), but not for learners with high prior knowledge (d = −0.24). In Experiment 2, participants who watched the instructor draw diagrams (by viewing only the instructor’s hand) significantly outperformed the control group on the transfer test, regardless of prior knowledge (d = 0.35). In Experiment 3, participants who watched diagrams being drawn but without actually viewing the instructor’s hand did not significantly outperform the control group on the transfer test (d = −0.16). Finally, in Experiment 4, participants who observed the instructor draw diagrams with only the instructor’s hand visible marginally outperformed those who observed the instructor draw diagrams with the instructor’s entire body visible (d = 0.36). Overall, this research suggests that observing the instructor draw diagrams promotes learning in part because it takes advantage of basic principles of multimedia learning, and that the presence of the instructor’s hand during drawing may provide an important social cue that motivates learners to make sense of the material. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)

Here’s more info on the study.