Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

January 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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You Can Read About An Excellent ELL Speaking Activity At My New British Council Blog

I’ve just begun publishing a monthly post at the Teaching English site of the British Council, which is the preeminent international organization promoting English-language teaching.

My first post there is about an excellent speaking/listening activity for English Language Learners — check out Using a “Three-Two_one” Speaking Activity.

british council

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January 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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TED Talks Unveils TED-Ed Clubs For Students

'TED Talk' photo (c) 2013, urban_data - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

TED Talks has just unveiled a new program called TED-Ed Clubs.

I’ve embedded a video below about it but, basically, it’s designed to encourage young people to create their own versions of a TED Talk through starting a school club.

Helping students develop better speaking skills is great but, I don’t know about you, but I get tired just thinking of helping start and teach an after-school TED-Ed Club.

Fortunately, though, they seem to be open to teachers using their materials in class (some of which look decent). They published this teacher’s question:

I’m a teacher and want to use some of the TED-Ed Club curriculum to guide student classroom projects. How do I do that?

And here was their answer:

Apply to start a TED-Ed Club and we’ll work with you to figure out how you can incorporate some of the materials into your own curriculum.

So, if you’re interested, you can apply here.

I’m adding this info to The Best Teacher Resources For “TED Talks” (& Similar Presentations).

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November 6, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

English Language Learners Using Screencast-o-matic For Folktale Presentations

screen

This year, our School District loosened our Internet filter, so there are now many more options for tools we can use (though, of course, our antiquated tech does create some barriers).

Because of this new freedom of access without having to battle for individual sites to be unblocked, I’ve been pretty aggressive in experimenting with Web 2.0 tools to determine which ones provide the most benefit with the least “hassle” for all involved, especially with my English Language Learner students.

I’ve previously posted about some of them already this year:

Making Instagram Videos With English Language Learners

Using Freire & Fotobabble With English Language Learners

Terrific New Videos: Using English “Sister Classes” From Throughout The World In Our ELL Geography Class

Literably Is An Excellent Reading Site — If Used With Caution (I tried this out today, and I think it will work well as a formative assessment — check them out here).

The ones I’ve listed above have all gone very well — easy to use, free-of-charge, higher-order thinking, multiple language domains (reading,writing,speaking, listening), authentic audience, high levels of student engagement, minimal time commitment.

And, now, we’ve had another student success with with Screencast-o-matic.

I had previously posted about it, but hadn’t visited the site in quite awhile. Jose Rodriguez, one of the coordinators of the impressive K-12 Online Conference, recommended I try using it for the keynote address I gave for the conference in October on teacher leadership (you can see it here). I was quite impressed at the changes they had made since I had last tried it out.

All you do is register for the site, show a slideshow, and record audio — you don’t even have to upload your slides prior to recording. You only upload your entire slideshow and audio narration at the time it’s finished. You can publish it to the site and/or to YouTube, and you’re provided with an embed code.

I thought this would be perfect to my students — some knew PowerPoint and they could teach the rest quickly, so there wouldn’t really be much new to learn — I suspect, and I ended up being correct, that it would take less than a minute for students to learn how to use Screencast-o-matic.

We had just finished our Latin American unit in Geography by reading a Mexican folktale, so I thought it would be a good time to experiment. I had students create a simple storyboard (just a piece of paper divided into ten or so boxes) and asked them to tell a folktale from their own culture. They needed to end it with the “lesson” of the story. It took one class period for them to create the storyboard, about two periods to make the PowerPoint, and then they recorded on Screencast-o-matic today. We’ll watch them in class tomorrow.

Here are a few of them:

It’s been a positive experience, and we’ll definitely be using Screencast-o-matic again.

Have you had your students try it out?

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September 1, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

New ESL/ELL/EFL Blog Carnival On Pronunciation Just Published!

'dave sconda teaching pronunciation - /w/' photo (c) 2010, englishmeeting - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Carissa Peck has just published the 34th ELT Blog Carnival (also know as the ESL/ELL/EFL Blog Carnival) and its focus is on teaching/learning pronunciation. It’s so good that I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Learning English Pronunciation.

You can see all the previous Blog Carnivals here.

And you can express your interest in hosting a future edition of one here.

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May 5, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”

I have a huge backlog of resources that I’ve been planning to post about in this blog but, just because of time constraints, have not gotten around to doing. Instead of letting that backlog grow bigger, I regularly grab a few and list them here with a minimal description. It forces me to look through these older links, and help me organize them for my own use. I hope others will find them helpful, too. These are resources that I didn’t include in my “Best Tweets” feature because I had planned to post about them, or because I didn’t even get around to sending a tweet sharing them.

Here are This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”:

Killer Waves: How Tsunamis Changed History is an article from Live Science that could be very useful in my “What If?” history projects. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons.

Nicer Tube lets you show YouTube videos without the usual screen clutter or comments. I’m adding it to A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites.

14 Brilliant Bloom’s Taxonomy Posters For Teachers is from Teach Thought. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom.

Creating Infographics With Your Students is by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Creating Infographics.

Dying languages: scientists fret as one disappears every 14 days is from The Star. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For International Mother Language Day.

Dispelling misunderstandings about PBL is by Andrew Miller. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Cooperative Learning Ideas.

iWitness is a pretty amazing multimedia resource on The Holocaust. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The Holocaust.

Brazilian Police Evict Indigenous Squatters from 2014 Stadium Site is a photo gallery from The Atlantic. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For International Day Of The World’s Indigenous People.

Flood Tools shows you, historically, how likely a particular address is to be flooded. Because Sacramento is now the most likely U.S. city to be hit by a catastrophic flood, and we teach about it in class, I’m adding it to
The Best Sites For Showing Sacramento Destroyed By Floods.

The 1040 Form Turns 100: Resources To Explain Income Taxes is from The ASIDE blog. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About Taxes.

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March 23, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Edcanvas” Has Just Leaped To The Top Of My List Of Useful Web 2.0 Tools

I’ve previously posted several times about Edcanvass, and it’s already on a number of “The Best…” lists.

This week they added another great feature — the ability to easily record up to five minutes of audio on any image or text you pin to a canvass, and you can pin many items on one canvass.

I’m now adding it to yet another “The Best…” list — The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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February 5, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Video: “The Chinese New Year: From Fear to Festivity”

The Chinese New Year: From Fear to Festivity is the title of this video from English Central that I’m adding to The Best Resources For Chinese New Year.

More importantly, though, it’s the first English Central video that I’m embedding in my blog. It’s easy to do, and I just learned it was possible through David Deubelbeiss’ blog — check out his post with screenshots.

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January 30, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

One New Activity I’m Doing To Help ELLs Learn Academic Vocabulary – & Practice Speaking It

One of my students’ favorite activities, and one that I believe is very effective, is several times a week getting together in assigned small groups to practice conversational English. They all have a “cheat sheet” of about seventy different questions and answers that is in our book, The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide and practice asking and answering each others questions. Of course, if you don’t have our book, you can easily come up with your own “cheat sheet.”

Periodically, I ask students what other kinds of topics they want to practice, they come up with more questions, and I put them together on additional sheets — which they all glue into their notebooks.

My combination Beginners/Intermediate class has a wide enough range that the groups can work on their own with me just walking around between them.

This semester, however, I gained several excellent twelfth-graders who work as peer tutors during one of my class’ periods. I’ve assigned each one to a small group, and have given each of my students and them copies of various Academic Vocabulary Lists. Now, in addition to the regular conversational questions-and-answers, during each session tutors spend a short time teaching the concept represented by two-or-three of the words (the academic vocabulary on the lists is for the early grades and tutors know the vast majority of them) and develop a question using it and an “answer frame” that students can use in response.

Here’s an easy one a tutor did today — she first explained what the word “fiction” meant (many of my students, though not all, knew it already), asked the ELLs “What fiction book have you read this year?” Then each student responded, “One fiction book I read this year was ____.”

I’ll eventually develop “academic vocabulary” cheat sheets but, until then, this seems to work well. The peer tutors find it challenging and fun, the ELLs are learning needed academic vocabulary, plus they’re gaining speaking practice and confidence.

Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve on what we’re doing?

Though it doesn’t quite fit, I’m adding this post to The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary.

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January 27, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Webdoc Changes Name To Urturn, Adds Audio Recording Feature (That Didn’t Work For Me)

Web Doc is/was a sorta’ blogging platform that makes it super simple to write individual “docs.” I especially like its ability to search the Web for images within your “doc” and just post it into what you’re writing. It also lets you add a speech bubble to the photo. It has tons more features, including providing an embed code. It was highly ranked on The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2011.

Today, it “relaunched” as Urturn and added several features, including the ability to record audio. That’s a really nice feature, but I couldn’t get it to work. I guess they’re having some relaunch “bugs.”

Once they get it fixed, though, I’ll be adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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January 24, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“U Tell Story” Looks Like A Great Storytelling Tool

John Yan was the creator of ShowBeyond, a very nice alternative to VoiceThread that was on The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows until it shut down last year.

Now, John has just unveiled his new tool for education, UTellStory, and it’s a good one. It’s sort of a streamlined VoiceThread that I think is easier for both teachers and students to use.

You can make slideshows with your own images or grab ones off the web and easily add a audio you record, as well as text, to it. You can make them private or public, and they’re embeddable. You can also let your slideshows be re-used and mixed by others.

It’s free to use, though it costs $50 each year if you want to be able to manage student accounts (Disclosure: I was given one of those free accounts so I could try out those features, but it in no way influenced my decision to review the site or to say these positive comments about it).

The only advantage I see, and it’s a big one, that VoiceThread has over it is you can’t leave audio comments at UTellStory.

Here’s a video explaining a few of the ways to use UTellStory:

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October 16, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

“Skqueak” Looks Like A Great App For Providing Audio To Photos

Skqueak is a new free iPhone app I like a lot that lets you easily provide audio for photos. There are several other apps on various “The Best…” lists I’ll be sharing shortly in the post that do something similar. However, I suspect that Skqueak is going to give them a run for their money. It’s very simple to use, it appears to have a very extended recording time (though I’m not sure what the time limit is exactly) and, most importantly, it makes it extremely easy to create sort of a seamless audio slideshow. None of the other similar apps have such an ability, or at least one that is as easy to use.

Here’s a short example:

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me and to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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August 21, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“VoiceGem” Looks Like A Good Place To Record Audio

VoiceGem lets you easily and quickly make an audio recording (I’m not sure for how long, but it certainly went on for awhile during my experiment) without having to register. You record and then email it to yourself or someone else.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to get the url address to your recording without going to the email. That makes it less than ideal in class if you want students to make a recording and then copy and paste the url address into a blog, for example.

I’m still adding VoiceGem to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English, but that list has similar sites that do give you the url address immediately.

You can never have too many of these kinds of sites, because you never know which ones will be blocked by school content filters.

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July 4, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Attach An Audio Message To Your Photo

In The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me, I’ve described some nice apps that let you add an audio recording to your photos and then share them.

enpixa is a new one that’s very similar to the others. It’s free, and you can add a thirty second recording.

In addition to adding it to that previously mentioned list, I’ll be including it in The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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May 25, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Wow! Voice Of America Dramatically Redesigns & Expands Its Learning English Features

Voice Of America has long been known for its many English-learning features, especially what they called “Special English.” However, relatively recently (I can’t be sure exactly when, but I just discovered it today) they dramatically redesigned and expanding their offerings. And, boy oh boy, they are terrific!

Where should I start?

First, they now have a very attractive page where you can access all of their leveled interactive exercises, as well as their “Special English” news stories.

Their Go English site has long had specific excellent English-learning bilingual programs in Chinese, Farsi, Russian and Indonesian. But now they’ve also added Vietnamese.

The VOA Newsroom videos have all been integrated with English Central, which, in my opinion, is the best site on the web for learning English. What was particularly surprising to me, though, was that you don’t have to register on English Central in order to watch, listen, and practice speaking (and get graded on it) with all the videos. Maybe that’s the way English Central has been all along, or maybe its a new development just for VOA, but I had always assumed the speaking feature was only available once you sign-in to the site. Not having to register just makes it that more accessible.

And they also have a brand new Learning English main site.

Whew! That’s a lot of stuff….

I’m adding all these sites to The Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner Sites.

I’m adding the new Vietnamese site to The Best Multilingual & Bilingual Sites For Learning English.

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April 30, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Nice & Easy Audio Recording Tool

Record MP3 lets you, without having to register, create an audio recording that you can save on your computer and/or save on their site (a link is provided). It’s very simple to use, though I’m not sure what the maximum audio recording length is nor how long they keep it on their server.

My recording uploaded quickly using Internet Explorer. However, it would never upload when in Firefox.

Nevertheless, I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

Thanks to Educational Technology and Mobile Learning for the tip.

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