Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 10, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: StoryCorps & A Ton Of Partners Announce “The Great Thanksgiving Listen”

StoryCorps, ABS News, NPR and a ton of other groups today announced “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” where they’re inviting high school students to interview a “grandparent or an elder” with the StoryCorps great smartphone app (see Boy Oh Boy, Christmas Has Come Early For Teachers With The New StoryCorps Mobile App!).

You can get more information about the project from StoryCorps, including a “toolkit” for teachers.

June 17, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Another Jimmy Fallon Game Useful For English Language Learners


Several times each year, Jimmy Fallon plays a game on The Tonight Show that can easily be modified as a language-learning activity for the classroom. I’ve written about many of them.

Last week, he played a new one called Random Picture Association. As the video below shows, it’s exactly what the name implies — they show photos and players share what comes to mind.

It seems to me that this could be a fun exercise for students to practice speaking — either give groups of two or three a pack of picture cards or show funny images from the web on an overheard. Then one student in each group – taking turns – tells the others in English what comes to their mind.

Has anyone tried something like this in your classroom?

I’m adding this post to The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons.

June 16, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: Communicate Vision By “Using Image Based Words”

I spend a lot of time working with my IB Theory of Knowledge students on the importance of illustrating each point they make, both in essays and in presentations, with stories. In fact, many highlight that fact in their end-of-year class evaluations as one of the most important things they have learned. You can see many of the resources I use to back-up my hammering on that concept at The Best Digital (& Non-Digital) Storytelling Resources (especially in the bottom-half).

Adam Grant shared an article this morning on Twitter that is a nice addition to that collection. It’s titled People Remember What You Say When You Paint a Picture.

Here’s an excerpt:


June 15, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Good Advice For Giving Presentations

Here are new additions to The Best Sources Of Advice For Making Good Presentations:

A TED speaker coach shares 11 tips for right before you go on stage is from TED Talks.

Free e-book: How to Present at a Language Teacher’s Conference is from Adam Simpson.

April 14, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s How We’re Using “WhatsApp” For Language-Learning


Ever since Joe Mazza encouraged me to sign-up for Voxer, I had been ruminating about how it could be used by my Beginning English Language Learners. But Alma Avalos, the extraordinary bilingual aide who is my colleague, came up with an even better idea.

Readers might, or might not, be familiar with the WhatsApp instant messaging app bought by Facebook. Alma suggested that, since many students already have the app on the phone, why not have all of them download it and use it for homework English practice?

So, we easily set-up a Group Chat for the class. At the end of the school day, Alma texts and records a simple audio question (“What did you eat for lunch today?”). She models a response in text and in audio, as do I. Then students have until the beginning of our class at 10:00 AM the following morning to write and record their response. Everyone in the group chat can see and listen to everyone’s responses. Students can receive extra credit for either asking another question or responding to an extra question.

We’re just beginning, and it seems to be going well. I’d love to be able to figure out an easy way to be able to post students’ recordings on our class blog, but there doesn’t seem to be a way. You can email a chat to yourself, but you receive a list of texts (which is useful), and a separate audio file for each voice message. It’s just too time-intensive to deal with clicking on each individual audio message. I wish there was some way to be able to access it on the Web, but that process seems to be a bit convoluted and won’t work with an iPhone.

Does anyone know of another way that Whatsapp can be accessed on the Web in order to play recorded messages for the class? Even though everyone in the Group Chat can already hear them on the app, people would still enjoy hearing them played in class. Plus, I think hearing what the Beginners are doing might inspire enthusiasm for doing something similar among Intermediate students.

How are others using Whatsapp for language learning?

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning About Homework Issues.

April 2, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

I’m A Bit Late To The “Party,” But Voxer Looks Useful


I’ve been hearing about Voxer off-and-on over the past year, but never really investigated it until Joe Mazza invited me to use it and chime in on a discussion of engaging ESL parents.

Voxer is a free mobile app that basically lets you leave group voice messages. You can easily create private groups, like the #BACKCHANNELedu one that Joe has begun.

It seems simple to use. It’s asynchronous — in other words, you leave a voice message and then other people in the group are immediately notified that you’ve left one. It also lists who has listened to the message you left.

It’s another venue where people can connect. I know Joe did a book club last year with Voxer on “Beyond The Bake Sale” with over sixty participants. It seems to me that it could a useful tool for speaking homework with an English Language Learner class. And it’s ideal for a family on the go to stay in touch.

I’d love to hear other ways people are using Voxer in education.

I’m adding this post to The Best Online Tools For Collaboration — NOT In Real Time.

Educator Bill Fitzgerald has some concerns about Voxer, but had a problem getting his comment through my Spam filter. So he sent some tweets to me that I’m embedding below:

February 22, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Socratic Smackdown” Looks Fun & Interesting – If You’ve Tried Using It, What Do You Think?


I’ve had limited success with using Socratic Seminars, though I know others have had far more positive experiences (see The Best Resources Sharing The Best Practices For Fruitful Classroom Discussions).

Kristen Swanson today shared an intriguing tool she found called Socratic Smackdown that might be a good way to introduce the concept to students, especially younger ones (by that, I mean ninth-grade and below). It’s basically a “gamified” Socratic Seminar.

I’ve embedded a video about it below, and I’d love to hear from teachers who’ve already used it. I’m considering giving it a try this year….

January 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “”



This post is the fourth in a lengthy series where I will be sharing the Web 2.0 tools that I’m using with my Beginning English Language Learners, along with explaining how we’re using and sharing student examples of each one.

Previous posts in this series have been:

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Phrase.It”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Padlet”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Szoter” is the focus of today’s post. It’s an extremely simple free tool that lets you easily record audio online without a need to register. You’re then given a link and embed code to your recording. I’m not sure what the length limit is to it, but I haven’t found one yet.

The ability to use it without registration is, like the other tools in this series, is a big selling point. There are other similar Web 2.0 sites that provide a similar service (check out The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English), particularly Vocaroo. However, Vocaroo will only keep the recordings available for six months (I don’t know what, if any, similar restrictions has).

The real advantage that has over all the other similar sites is the best one of all — it’s not blocked by our School District’s content filters. Most of the other recording tools are blocked, so it doesn’t matter if they offer better features than or not. And if it’s not blocked by our district’s filters, it’s probably not blocked by yours, either.

One simple way my students use is making a short recording and pasting the link to it in the comments section of our class blog where they and their classmates can hear it. For example, after using the tool I blogged about yesterday, Szoter to annotate images of homes, students recorded very short sentences describing the images. They were about to use the “reply” feature on the comments to put the link directly below the link of the image.

For example, here’s a recording made by a Beginning ELL student saying “This house has a garage”:

Simple, easy, and effective — and that’s the criteria for every Web 2.0 I’ll be blogging about in this series….

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