Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 7, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Meta-Analysis Identifies Instructional Strategies To Help Struggling Adolescent Readers


What instructional strategies can best assist struggling adolescent readers?

A new study, A Synthesis of Reading Interventions and Effects on Reading Comprehension Outcomes for Older Struggling Readers, seeks to answer that question. It’s behind a paywall (there are different ways to access papers behind a paywall that may or may not work).

Based on my quick review of the study, three instructional strategies seem to stand-out for their effectiveness:

Reciprocal teaching (including a specific reference for ELLs) in cooperative learning groups, explicit reading strategy instruction,  and the use of graphic organizers.

One other interesting part of the study was that their description of “reading strategies” for comprehension seemed similar to the ones identified by the National Reading Panel.  Here’s how the paper listed them:

Good readers used the following skills and strategies: (a) reading words rapidly and accurately; (b) noting the structure and organization of text; (c) monitoring their understanding while reading; (d) using summaries; (e) making predictions, checking them as they read, and revising and evaluating them as needed; (g) integrating what they know about the topic with new learning; and (h) making inferences and using visualization

I’m adding this info to The Best Posts On Reading Strategies & Comprehension.

Thanks to Evidence In Brief for the tip. Here’s a comment that they make about the study:

The findings suggest that secondary readers benefit more from socially and cognitively engaging instruction than from additional reading periods or technology.

March 4, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Results Just Unveiled Of Big New Growth Mindset Study Co-Authored By A Ton Of Well-Known SEL Researchers


Thanks to Benjamin Riley, this morning I learned about the results of a big new growth mindset study that was released yesterday, Where and For Whom Can a Brief, Scalable Mindset Intervention Improve Adolescents’ Educational Trajectories? (happily, not behind a paywall).

It’s written by a zillion of the biggest names in Social Emotional Learning Research (David Yeager, Paul Hanselman, David Paunesku, Christopher Hulleman, Carol Dweck, Chandra Muller, Robert Crosnoe, Gregory Walton, Elizabeth Tipton, Angela Duckworth).

Using a representative sample of U.S. schools and their students, they found that students doing two twenty-five minute online lessons about a growth mindset resulted in a small but important academic gain (measured by GPA’s), with larger improvements found among students who had a track record of experiencing academic and socio/economic challenges.

They also found greater gains in schools they say “support greater challenge-seeking or academic effort.” That makes sense to me, though their measurement of that climate seems a little odd (if students chose to do more challenging math problems on a test).

Though they don’t really describe the content of the online lessons in detail, they fortunately point to a previous paper that does – Using Design Thinking to Improve Psychological Interventions: The Case of the Growth Mindset During the Transition to High School (and that paper also is not behind a paywall!). The content is pretty well described there between pages 377-379).

I’m going to review that paper and the most recent version of the growth mindset lesson I teach (My Growth Mindset Lessons Usually Go Well, But What I Did Today Was The Best Yet (Student Hand-Outs Included)to see what, if any changes, I might want to make to it.

I suspect that most teachers and schools teaching about the growth mindset don’t need a study to know that it’s effective, but it’s really nice to know that to-notch research like this paper supports our beliefs.  And, with luck, it will bring even more people on-board….

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”


February 28, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Intriguing New Study On “Student Engagement” & How To Define It

Ah, “student engagement.”

A phrase used often (see The Best Posts & Articles On Student Engagement), but its meaning can vary.

A new study (it’s behind a paywall, but there are ways around it: see Unpaywall” Is New Tool For Accessing Research Papers For Free   and Sci-Hub Loses Domain Names, But Remains Resilient)suggests that “student engagement” increased for awhile following the passage of No Child Left Behind, but then went down.

In a moment, I’ll share what the authors suggest are some of the reasons behind those changes (they won’t be a surprise to educators).

What I find particularly intriguing, though, is how they arrived at their definition of “student engagement.”

They used an annual ten-question survey given to children by the Bureau of Labor Statistics called the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, Children and Young Adults.

Specifically, ten questions in the CHILD SELF-ADMINISTERED SUPPLEMENT

Here are the questions:

Those seem like intriguing questions to me, and I can see how they might be good measures of “student engagement.”

What else would you include?

Now, getting back to the conclusions of the study and how it relates to NCLB. Here’s what they say:

One way to interpret this pattern is that some of the early changes made by the states—such as the development of streamlined standards, curricula, and tests; provision support to struggling schools; and increased instructional time (U.S. Department of Education, 2007; Wong et al., 2009)—may have boosted engagement but that over time, accountability pressure—specifically the increased likelihood of falling into sanctions—may have eroded school engagement, consistent with previously conducted local studies demonstrating decreases in student engagement in response to high-stakes testing and accountability systems (e.g., M. G. Jones et al., 2003; Nichols & Berliner, 2007)….Though the present study cannot identify what NCLB mechanisms likely impacted engagement, previous research suggests that narrowed curricula, reduced instructional support and autonomy in the classroom, and increased teacher anxiety (e.g., Au, 2007; Diamond, 2007; Finnegan & Gross, 2007; Griffith & Scharmann, 2008; Hannaway & Hamilton, 2008; McMurrer, 2007; Pederson, 2007; Plank & Condliffe, 2013) may have played a role.



February 26, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Study Documents The Benefits To School That Are Obvious To Us, But Maybe Not So Obvious To Our Students

How You Behave in School Predicts Life Success Above and Beyond Family Background, Broad Traits, and Cognitive Ability is the title of a brand-new study that is happily not behind a paywall.

It’s a longitudinal study following participants over fifty years, says it controls for parent income and for IQ, and finds that “being a responsible student, maintaining an interest in school and having good reading and writing skills…could also be predictors of educational and occupational success decades later.”

Here’s another excerpt:

Duh, you might say.

And you might very well be right.

However, I’ve generally found that students tend to listen at least a bit more seriously when I share the results of factual research than when I say something that they can more easily dismiss as teacher “preachy stuff.”

I’m thinking it’s worth at least developing into a short read aloud.

It can never hurt to share ideas about possible actions students can take that are within their control.

What do you think?

I’m adding this info to Best Posts On “Motivating” Students.

February 23, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

One Of The More Interesting Studies You’ll Read This Year: Junk Food & Low-Income Families

There is no shortage of “holier than thou” patronizing critiques of what they imagine the lifestyles of low-income people to be – with implementing work requirements for Medicaid just being the latest result (The Best Articles Questioning The View That Single Parents Are A Problem is another).

A lack of self-control is often one of the charges leveled at low-income adults and kids, despite overwhelming research finding that poverty causes (not the other way around) what some would consider self-control issues but, which, might in fact be logical choices (see The Best Resources Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough).

Now, an L.A. Times piece shares a fascinating study that finds low-income parents are so frustrated at having to say “no” to their children so often because of economic hardship, that they feel saying “yes” to junk food is an affordable way of making a loving gesture.

Here’s an excerpt from Why do poor Americans eat so unhealthfully? Because junk food is the only indulgence they can afford:


Perhaps those who stand in judgment should remember the line:

“There but for fortune, go you or I…”

February 15, 2018
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 2017 – Part Two.

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

Eye exams linked to kids’ reading levels is from Eureka Alert. I’m adding it to The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher (& Outside Factors) Have On Student Achievement.

Back-and-forth exchanges boost children’s brain response to language is from Science Daily. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap”

New study highlights the struggles and strengths of Latino teachers is from Ray Salazar. I’m adding it to New & Revised: The Best Resources For Understanding Why We Need More Teachers Of Color.

New Stanford Study: A Positive Attitude Literally Makes Your Brain Work Better is from Inc. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

February 12, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Interesting Study On “Transfer” Reinforces Effectiveness Of “Learning By Doing”


I’ve written about about “transfer of learning” and how I’ve tried to apply it in class (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer” — Help Me Find More).

And I’ve shared a lot about the importance of assisting students to follow the idea of “learning by doing” (see The Best Research Demonstrating That Lectures Are Not The Best Instructional Strategy and The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior”).

Today, a post by Daniel Willingham (A New Idea to Promote Transfer) about a study on transfer of learning brings those two ideas together.

The study itself is pretty incomprehensible to a non-academic like me, but, as usual, Dan does a great job putting it into layperson’s terms.

Analogies are great ways to promote transfer (see my Ed Week video at the bottom of this post for more info). But even they don’t always work.

The study found that if teachers first introduce the analogy/story and then ask students to write a similar story before they challenge students to apply the analogy to a solving a problem, they’ll do a much better job of transfer than if they are asked to apply only the analogy given by the teacher.

It seems to me this, once again, reinforces the importance of learning by doing. It’s similar to research that shows students find lessons more relevant if they are challenged to write about how they will apply it in real life instead of teachers telling them the connection (see The Best Ideas For Helping Students Connect Lessons To Their Interests & The World).

However, it’s hard for me to see how this study has other practical implications in helping students understand transfer of learning outside of incorporating it in the context of a specific lesson on transfer (like the ones I’ve done and written about).  Let me know if you have other ideas.

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