Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 17, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

Group work can harm memory is the headline of a widely circulated summary of a new study. I believe a good number of the people (though not all) doing the circulating are ones who have in the past expressed skepticism of group work in classrooms.

I think many miss a key failing of the study (and many similar ones) and its most important conclusion.

First off, part of the research compares the memory of those working together to remember information with those who are working on trying to remember it alone. It ignores the fact obvious to any teacher in the classroom that many students – left alone – may very well not try to learn it in the first place! The engagement generated by group work for many is a prime motivating factor for learning. Widely accepted research finds that “relatedness” – connecting with others who you like and/or respect – is one of four key factors in developing intrinsic motivation.

I’ve written about this blindspot in education research before:

It Doesn’t Matter If It’s “Effective” If Students Won’t Do It

The “Best Learning Techniques” Are Useless If Students Won’t Do Them — A Critical Take On A Well Done Study

That’s objection “one.”

More important, however, is the final conclusion of this new study:


It doesn’t find group work less effective.

It finds “cooperative” group work less effective, but finds “collaborative” work more effective.

Collaborative work – when students have done individual thinking and then bring that to the “table” for revision – is clearly what we should be doing in the classroom, and is the kind of work promoted by the Common Core Standards. “Cooperative” learning – “get into your group to do this” with no prior work – is clearly inferior (except for, perhaps, community-building activities).

I’ve written about the in Edutopia, Collaborative Writing, Common Core, and ELLs.

This study is a boost, not an arrow-to-the-heart, to group learning….

I’m adding this post to The Best Sites For Cooperative & Collaborative Learning Ideas (which I have to edit due to this relatively recent distinction between cooperative and collaborative.

September 15, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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


Today, the Institute of Educational Sciences unveiled a redesign of their What Works Clearinghouse website that’s supposed to help districts, schools and educators access good research.

You can read all about it at Education Week’s good article, New ‘What Works Clearinghouse’ Aims to Help Districts Find Research for ESSA.

It appears to me, and I might be wrong, that most of the studies focus on specific “out-of-the-box” intervention programs that schools can purchase. If I am wrong, then I have to say I’m not too impressed with the redesign because I was unable to find research on practices. But maybe I just missed something obvious.

Earlier this year, Digital Promise created its own accessible portal for educational practices which I think teachers will find much more useful. You can read more about it at MindShift’s article, Digital Promise Puts Education Research All In One Place.

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

Addendum: What Works apparently does have twenty “practice guides,” though they’re not obvious on their site.

September 13, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

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



As regular readers know, looking at our students through the lens of assets and not deficits is very important to me (see Getting Organized Around Assets ;A Lesson Highlighting Community Assets — Not Deficits and many more posts).

Amanda Ripley published an article in The New York Times today highlighting another excellent example of this view point.  It’s headlined Can Teenage Defiance Be Manipulated For Good? I’m not a big fan of the headline, but the research is very intriguing. Basically, after students learned about how food marketers tried to manipulate them to buy junk food, students chose to buy less junk food:

“We cast the executives behind food marketing as controlling adult authority figures, and framed the avoidance of junk food as a way to rebel against their control,” explained the researchers, led by Christopher Bryan at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and David Yeager at the University of Texas at Austin.

The researchers used a similar strategy to a classroom management move I wrote about it in “Why Do You Let Others Control You?”

I haven’t read the full study, and don’t know exactly what the researchers did and said. However, it seems to me that the same point could be made by having students read some articles and then respond to thoughtful questions. If that’s “manipulation,” then it’s what good teachers do everyday.

But whether you call it manipulation or not, Ripley does point out the key takeway:


She then goes on to talk about other studies relate to helping students develop a purpose for learning (see The Best Resources On Students Having A “Purpose For Learning”) can be looked at through a similar lens.

I’m not sure if the research really points to specific changes in instructional strategies teachers can use.

I look at it more along the lines that I think Ripley writes about it — it provides ammunition to help teachers further reorient themselves to look at the assets, and not the deficits, of our students. And I don’t think any teacher can have too much of that kind of ammunition.

September 5, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Monster Study On Learning Strategies Released



John Hattie & his colleague Gregory M. Donoghue have released a “monster” study on learning strategies titled Learning strategies: a synthesis and conceptual model. It’s available online and is not behind a paywall.

I learned about it through Pedro De Bruyckere, who wrote a thoughtful analysis of it titled John Hattie proposes a new conceptual model for learning on his blog. Unfortunately, there seems to be a glitch on that particular blog post, so I can’t link directly to it. However, I have linked to his general blog site and you should be able to find it from there.

I’m not familiar with Mr. Donoghue’s work, though have a great deal of respect for John Hattie. The paper is pretty ambitious – they are proposing a new model for learning simply summarized as one of “skill, will, and thrill.”

Unfortunately, because of the academic language required for these kinds of publications, I’m not sure how accessible the primary points they are making will be to many teachers (including me!).

However, a portion of the paper will, indeed, be a must-read for just about every teacher, and it’s the portion where they have several tables listing the effectiveness of many learning strategies. They incorporate the results of many studies beyond Hattie’s famous ranking of them.

That section begins here: Results: the meta-synthesis of learning strategies (fortunately, they’ve set it up so that it’s easy to link to specific sections). Scroll down through them and won’t find a more useful or current listing of learning strategies anywhere else.

I suspect they’ll develop a more layperson-friendly summary of their theory but, in the meantime, they’ve done a great service for teachers everywhere by this learning strategies listing and analysis.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About “Learning Strategies.”

September 4, 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):

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.”

People May Be More Cooperative after Listening to Upbeat Music is from Scientific American. I’m adding it to The Best Research On Listening To Music When Studying.

Why scientists think your boss should play music while you work is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to the same list.

Is Homework Good for Kids? Here’s What the Research Says is from TIME. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Homework Issues.

How Does Exercise Benefit Cognition? is from Scientific American. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On How Exercise Helps Learning — Please Contribute Other Resources.

Should Students Explain Their Thinking? Not Always, Research Says is 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.

Great expectations: how to help your students fulfil their potential is from The Guardian.

September 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Another Study Finds That Learning Second Language Helps Our Brains

EEG recordings prove learning foreign languages can sharpen our minds is the headline of a Eureka Alert summary of a recently announced study.

Here’s an excerpt:



I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning The Advantages To Being Bilingual, which contains lots of resources I use in classroom lessons to encourage English Language Learners.

You might also be interested in The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual Or Multilingual — Part One, which I just updated and revised.

August 31, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

LinkedIn Finds Employers Are Looking For “Soft Skills”



The Best Info On Skills Employers Are Looking For In Job-Seekers is filled with the results of employer surveys finding that they are looking for employees with higher-level thinking skills and “soft skills” (Social Emotional Learning skills).

Here’s an excerpt from today’s Wall Street Journal article about the study, The ‘Soft Skills’ Employers Are Looking For:


August 30, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Silence Can Be Golden – Sometimes


No one would characterize my classroom as a quiet one. However, there are times when I do ask for silence, particularly during independent reading time and when students are writing.

I explained my reasons at a previous post titled When & Why Is It Important To Have Silence In The Classroom? (that post also resulted in several good comments).

Today, Daniel Pink tweeted a good article from Lifehack on the subject titled Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think.

I think I’m finally going to get around to creating a short lesson to help students see the advantages of occasional silence.

Here’s an excerpt from the Lifehack article:


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