Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

October 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Students Will Love The BBC’s “Your Life On Earth” Interactive!


The BBC has just unveiled a super-cool interactive called Your Life On Earth.

You type in your birth date and your height, and an interactive display magically appears showing you what has happened since your birth.

Here’s how the BBC describes it:

Explore BBC Earth’s unique interactive, personalised just to you.

Find out how, since the date of your birth, your life has progressed; including how many times your heart has beaten, and how far you have travelled through space.

Investigate how the world around you has changed since you’ve been alive; from the amount the sea has risen, and the tectonic plates have moved, to the number of earthquakes and volcanoes that have erupted.

Grasp the impact we’ve had on the planet in your lifetime; from how much fuel and food we’ve used to the species we’ve discovered and endangered.

The interactive seems to be part of a bigger new site that has lots of interesting features. It’s called BBC Earth.

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October 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Watch The Blood Moon On Wednesday — Here Are Related Resources

From The National Geographic’s Viewing Guide: Watch Blood Moon During Total Lunar Eclipse on Wednesday:

There’s a “blood moon” on the rise. This week the moon will disappear for the second time in 2014, in a total eclipse early Wednesday morning.

You can find tons of more information at The Best Resources For Learning About The Blood Moon.

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October 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Simple Lesson On Climate Change For English Language Learners

My colleague and co-author Katie Hull Sypnieski (with whom I’m writing a sequel to our surprisingly popular book, The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide) are teaching a lesson on climate change to our Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners on Friday. I’ll be combining my Intermediate class with her Advanced one.

I thought readers might be interested in hearing what we will be doing…

First, we’ll show students two short videos on climate change after providing a short introduction to it. There are surprisingly few accessible videos out there, and I think these are the two best ones — Brainpop’s animation on Global Warming (happily, they make this video available free) and this one from the Australian government:

Next, we’ll explain that the United Nations had a special meeting last week on climate change, and that a Marshallese poet recited a poem that brought many delegates to tears (see Marshallese Poet Brings UN To Tears With Climate Change Poem & Provides Extraordinary Opportunity To ESL Teachers). We’ll give everyone a world map, and our Marshallese students will explain where the Marshall Islands are located.

We’ll then give students a copy of the poem, read it to them, and then show one of the videos that accompanies the poem that is embedded in my post about it. Then we’ll have students work in pairs to write in their own words what they think the different stanzas of the poem mean, and discuss it in class.

Next, we’ll show a video of the poet reciting the poem at the United Nations.

Then, depending on how much time we have left, we’ll bring students to the library to do research so they can write an “ABC” paragraph in response to this question: Answer the question, Back it up with evidence like a quotation, make a Comment or Connection. You can read more about this strategy here.

How do you think climate change will affect you?

They’ll research resources at The Best Sites To Learn About Climate Change. They’ll also be able to use information they learned from the two videos.

Their homework will be to write the paragraph, and then they’ll share it verbally with classmates on Monday.

Let me know if you have suggestions on how we can make the lesson an even better one!

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September 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Marshallese Poet Brings UN To Tears With Climate Change Poem & Provides Extraordinary Opportunity To ESL Teachers

Earlier this week, I had heard something about a poet bringing many attendees at the UN Climate Change conference to tears but, in the midst of a typical week of craziness, had forgotten to explore it further.

I just learned that the poem was written by a young Marshallese woman, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner.

It’s very powerful, and I’ll be adding it to The Best Sites To Learn About Climate Change.

What I’m really excited about, though, is the fact she’s from the Marshall Islands and uses that as a basis for her poem. Our school, and my classes, have quite a few Pacific Islander students, especially from the Marshall Islands. This poem is going to perfect for creating a high-interest English lesson(s) for them and, I hope, generate some additional interest in learning more about the topic. You can find additional info on the Marshall Islands at The Best Sites For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

I’ve embedded two videos below. The First one is her reading her poem with imagery from The Marshall Islands. The second one is her saying it at the United Nations.

In addition, I’ve reprinted the transcript of the poem.

KATHY JETNIL-KIJINER: dear matafele peinam,

you are a seven month old sunrise of gummy smiles
you are bald as an egg and bald as the buddha
you are thighs that are thunder, shrieks that are lightning
so excited for bananas, hugs and
our morning walks along the lagoon

dear matafele peinam,

i want to tell you about that lagoon
that lazy, lounging lagoon lounging against the sunrise

men say that one day

that lagoon will devour you

they say it will gnaw at the shoreline
chew at the roots of your breadfruit trees
gulp down rows of seawalls
and crunch through your island’s shattered bones

they say you, your daughter
and your granddaughter, too
will wander rootless
with only a passport to call home

dear matafele peinam,

don’t cry

mommy promises you

no one will come and devour you

no greedy whale of a company sharking through political seas
no backwater bullying of businesses with broken morals no blindfolded
bureaucracies gonna push
this mother ocean over
the edge

no one’s drowning, baby
no one’s moving
no one’s losing their homeland
no one’s becoming a climate change refugee

or should i say
no one else

to the carteret islanders of papua new guinea
and to the taro islanders of fiji
i take this moment
to apologize to you
we are drawing the line here

because we baby are going to fight
your mommy daddy
bubu jimma your country and your president too
we will all fight

and even though there are those
hidden behind platinum titles
who like to pretend that we don’t exist
who like to pretend that the marshall islands
typhoon haiyan in the philippines
floods of algeria, colombia, pakistan
and all the hurricanes, earthquakes and tidalwaves
didn’t exist

there are those
who see us

hands reaching out
fists raising up
banners unfurling
megaphones booming
and we are canoes blocking coal ships
we are the radiance of solar villages
we are the fresh clean soil of the farmer’s past
we are teenagers blooming petitions
we are families biking, recycling, reusing
engineers building, dreaming, designing
artists painting, dancing, writing
and we are spreading the word

and there are thousands out on the streets
hand in hand
chanting for change NOW

and they’re marching for you, baby
they’re marching for us

because we deserve to do more than just
we deserve
to thrive

dear matafele peinam,

you are eyes heavy
with drowsy weight
so just close those eyes
and sleep in peace

because we won’t let you down

you’ll see

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September 27, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“How We Got To Now” Looks Like A Terrific PBS Series


Steven Johnson is hosting a new six-part PBS series called How We Got To Now that will start on October 15th (he also wrote a companion book). Here’s how PBS describes it:

Johnson explains how the answers to the questions he poses in each episode — such as “how do we make something cold?” or “how do we create light?”— have driven other discoveries through the web of ideas and innovations that made each finding possible. Tracking each pursuit through history both ancient and contemporary, Johnson unlocks tales of unsung heroes and radical revolutions that changed the world and the way we live in it.

Here’s a trailer for the show, along with an interview Jon Stewart did with Johnson this past week. I’m adding this info to The Best Sites Where Students Can Learn About Inventions.

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September 21, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

World-Wide Climate Change Demonstrations Today – Here Are Related Resources

Demonstrations are happening around the world today prior to the upcoming UN Climate Summit.

Here are some articles about what’s going on:

Thousands March for Climate Change is from NBC News.

Climate change summit: Thousands join global protests is from The BBC.

Thousands march in NYC, around globe over climate is from The Associated Press.

I’m adding them to a pretty massive The Best Sites To Learn About Climate Change. I haven’t had a chance to review it recently, so there may be a few dead links on it, but the vast majority will still be good. And, believe me, there are a lot of them!

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August 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“If you’re observant about things happening around you, there are insights waiting to be discovered”

Parking Behavior May Reflect Economic Drive is the title of an NPR piece on a new study suggesting that a nation’s economic health can be evaluated by if its drivers back-in or drive-forward into a parking space.

The study itself has big enough holes through which you could drive a truck, but that’s not that important for how I envision using it in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class when we study human sciences.

The key point is made by NPR’s science correspondent at the end:


I think I’m going to have my TOK students read the NPR piece and many of the comments (while also looking at the issue of causation versus correlation), and then have them design a simple experiment (that they wouldn’t actually carry out) based on what they see around them and, at the same time, look at it through the lens of causation versus correlation.

For example, they could design an experiment studying if students who arrive last at their classes have lower grades than those who arrive first or if teachers who arrive at school forty-five minutes earlier at school are “better” teachers than those who arrive fifteen minutes earlier. Then, they could also discuss how causation versus correlation would fit into it.

What do you think? Are there ways I could make it a better lesson?

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August 21, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Excellent Redesign For Site Highlighting UK Museum Interactives

showme, the popular site that collects interactives from museums throughout the United Kingdom, has just unveiled a brand-new (and sorely needed) redesign.

It looks great!

I’m adding it to The Best Collections Of Online Educational Games.

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August 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning About The Rosetta Mission

The European Rosetta spacecraft has just arrived at its comet destination.

Here are some interactive resources on the mission:

European Spacecraft Pulls Alongside Comet is from The New York Times.

Rosetta spacecraft closes in on comet – interactive is from The Guardian.

‘We’re in orbit!’ Rosetta becomes first spacecraft to orbit comet is from CNN.

Europe’s Rosetta probe goes into orbit around comet 67P is from The BBC.

On The Tail of A Comet is an interactive from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Rosetta spacecraft set to rendezvous with rubber-duck comet is from The Guardian.

Check out nearly 1,400 other “The Best” lists here…

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July 5, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Maker Camp 2014″ Starts On Monday


I posted about Maker Camp 2013 last year, and wrote how I had wished I had known about it before the school year ended so I could have let students (and some summer school teaching colleagues know) ahead of time.

But I missed the boat again this year and just learned from Richard Byrne’s blog that Maker Camp 2014 starts on Monday.

It’s a very flexible six-week program:

Join young inventors and artists from around the world on Google+ to make awesome projects, go on epic virtual “field trips,” and meet the world’s coolest makers. Maker Camp inspires kids ages 13-18* to embrace their inner maker, get their hands dirty, fix some things, break some things, and have a lot of fun doing it.

Check out the complete schedule here, and watch this video — maybe I’ll remember next year!

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June 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Science Sites Of 2014 – So Far


Well, this should be the last of my mid-year lists….

It’s a fairly small list this year, though there are certainly tons of good resources from previous ones.

You might also be interested in:

The “All-Time” Best Science Sites

The Best Science Sites Of 2013 – Part Two

The Best Science Sites Of 2013 – So Far

The Best Science Sites Of 2012 — Part Two

The Best Science Sites Of 2012 — Part One

The Best Science Sites Of 2011

The Best Science Sites Of 2011 — So Far

The Best Science Websites — 2010

The Best Science & Math Sites — 2009

The Best Science & Math Websites — 2008

The Best Science Websites For Students & Teachers — 2007

Here are my choices for The Best Science Sites Of 2014— So Far (not in any order of preference):

The Best Resources For Learning About The Blood Moon

How to put a human on Mars is from the BBC.

Here’s the premiere episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s remake of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”:

You might also want to check out the show’s website, as well as a New York Times article about it.

A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On California’s Drought

The Best Sites For Learning About The International Space Station

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