Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 30, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

How My University Students Evaluated Me Spring Semester


As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this past year I joined the College of Education at California State University, Sacramento, as an adjunct faculty member to teach credential candidates about working with English Language Learners.

The course was the last eight weeks of the first semester, and the last eight weeks of the spring semester.  It was a good experience, and I’ll be continuing next year, especially now because I’ve done it once (though it is tough teaching for three hours in the evening after being at high school all day!)

Students are asked to complete an online evaluation, which I  eventually see, but I was also interested in getting more immediate feedback on questions that I cared most about. So, as I do in my high school classes, I asked my twenty-seven University students to answer a few questions anonymously. I told them that I would share summaries of their responses with my university colleagues and post them publicly here, as I have done with all my high school classes for the past eight years (see The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers)).

I did the same during first semester, and you can read How My University Students Evaluated Me This Semester.

Here are the four questions I asked, along with summaries, quotes and my own commentaries on the responses:

1. What did you like about the class?

I had asked students during the first class what they would like to learn during this second semester, and many said they would like to learn strategies that could be helpful to English Language Learners and also applicable to non-ELLs. As the saying goes, “Good teaching for ELLs is good teaching for everybody,” but I was more explicit about the idea in the second semester, and students seemed to appreciate it:

I like that Professor Ferlazzo gave us more strategies for scaffolding our lessons to meet the unique needs of ELs at varying skill levels. Last semester, I walked away feeling like I had mainly learned about sentence starters and round robin presentations, but this semester I fell like I gained many strategies that will allow all of my students to construct their own knowledge of the concepts I need them to learn. Thank you for responding to our feedback by making this adjustment.

Several students also were very positive about the emphasis I placed on group work:

I enjoyed the fact that most of the class was group learning and not lecture.

They were also appreciative that I was aware of assignment deadlines in other classes:

I appreciated that there weren’t too many stressful assignments and that you were award of PACT (their entire program’s culminating project) deadlines so you could schedule accordingly.

Videos also seemed to be a hit:

I liked the videos that were shown in this class.  They demonstrated some very helpful teaching strategies that were modeled in the classroom.

Students liked the very practical readings, many which were excerpts from my books and articles (which they didn’t have to purchase):

I could see how to actually apply the readings to my subject matter each week, with useful suggestions for all students, not just ELLs, unlike last semester’s readings.

And, as they were during the first semester, students were universally appreciative of the snacks my wife purchased and insisted I bring each class :)

2. How could the class be improved?

These responses were all over the place and often contradictory.

Several said they appreciated the group work, but think it should be done in a more varied way.  I think that’s a very good point.

Others said there should be less group work and more lecture from me.

Some said they liked the simple and straight-forward reading response questions, while others said they would have appreciated more variety in them.  I think that’s a good point.

Several commented that they would have liked getting some of the materials earlier (due to circumstances beyond my control, sometimes I wasn’t able to receive course materials until right before the class though, at the same time, I have to say my colleagues bent over backward to support me):

Not your fault, but getting the course work/syllabus early.

3. How would you evaluate Professor Ferlazzo as an instructor?

Comments and “grades” seemed to be a bit more positive than the first semester (which were not at all negative), which reflects my own reflection on how I did.

About two-thirds of the class actually gave me a grade.  Out of those, three-fourths gave me a B and the rest gave me an A or an A+, while one gave me a C.

Here are some comments:

A+ : relateable, knowledgeable, fun, understanding, accommodating

Ferlazzo is very approachable to helping students and is a fair grader. He would allow students to students to submit late-work or re-submit for changes.

I felt Professor Ferlazzo showed very little enthusiasm for teaching this course.  He often seemed irritated to be here, but that may just be his sarcastic personality, which I admittedly enjoy at times.

Great dry humor. Let’s try out activities in class instead of just talking about them [My response – we did do a fair amount of that, but it’s a good point to keep in mind for the future.  I can certainly do more].

Mr. Ferlazzo was personable and understanding, but I was frustrated at how late he received the material for this class.  This wasn’t his fault, but it made him seem less knowledgeable.

I feel like you know more and have more potential than you are presenting and teaching in class.  This could be a online course seeing as we come to class to read and share a thought on the reading.

More informed than last semester.

You seem like a perfectly competent instructor.

Larry Ferlazzo is a good instructor and has a lot of knowledge about his content.  Because of how the class was structured, there was a lot of flexibility, which was appreciated.

Very knowledgeable!

Very nice instructor.

I would rate Prof. Ferlazzo as a pretty good instructor.  His field experience and real world situations bring huge value to the class.

4. How would you compare this class with the fall session?

Everybody except three students said they though this spring semester was better than the fall (two said they were equal and one said fall was better):

The workload is lighter without sacrificing the learning, and we all had a general idea of what was expected of us from the start.

Explaining language objectives was solid in the fall and deeper learning was great to know in the spring.  Thank you!

Favorably.  Teaching strategies were modeled and practiced and can be transferred into our classrooms.

Much, much better than the fall.  There were no comments and feelings of complete uselessness like last semester.

More favorably.  Felt like it was more relevant and you were more prepared.

One major assignment was appreciated.

A lot to think about!

May 30, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“TIME/Edge” Could Be Useful For Students Over The Summer


I’ve previously posted Updated: Here Are The Sites I’m Using For My Summer School “Virtual Classroom.”

I’m adding a new site to that list – TIME/Edge, the pay-to-use site for secondary students from TIME Magazine.

I want to be clear – I don’t think it’s worth spending the $9 per student it costs (or the $5 each it costs for its elementary program, TIME For Kids).

However, it does offer an easy-to-use sixty days free trial, and its simple to sign-up, create virtual classrooms, and assign articles (many which are suitable for my History classes). Plus, it provides two options of each article — one using more simple text.

In addition, I’m adding it to:

The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress

The Best Places To Get The “Same” Text Written For Different “Levels”

May 29, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Wash. Post Publishes Excerpt From Our Book on ELLs & The Common Core

Under the headline Strategies for teaching the Common Core — no matter what you think about the standards, The Washington Post has published an excerpt from our book, Navigating The Common Core With English Language Learners.

The excerpt focuses on Social Emotional Learning and critical thinking.

Here’s an excerpt:


You can see other excerpts here.

May 28, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: Books Are Important

Boys who live with books ‘earn more as adults’ is the headline of an article in The Guardian today about a new study.

Here’s an excerpt:


The researchers aren’t sure if it’s causal or correlational. However, I’ve previously posted about similar studies that might be a little more in-depth (see More On The Importance Of Home Libraries).

Nevertheless, it still provides at least some research support for the generous partnership we have with Davis Friends of the Library, who provide all our English Language Learner students substantial home libraries.

I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

May 28, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Download All Lesson Plans & Student Hand-Outs From Our ELLs & Common Core Book – For Free!


Jossey-Bass is making all the lesson plans and student hand-outs from our Navigating The Common Core With ELLs book available for free online – you don’t even have to register to get them!

Just go to our page on the publisher’s site and download away!

May 24, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“ReadWorks Digital” Came Online Today & It Looks Great!


I’ve previously posted about ReadWorks as a source of excellent reading passages for use in classes (see “” Looks Like A Good Source Of Free Reading Passages For Social Studies).

Today, they unveiled ReadWorks Digital, a free site where teachers can create virtual classrooms for students to interact with their excellent texts online, including digital assessments.

It comes just in time for me to add it to one of the sites my students will be using over the summer (see Updated: Here Are The Sites I’m Using For My Summer School “Virtual Classroom”), and it will be a great resource during the school year, too.

I’m also adding it to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

Here’s a short video introduction to the site:

May 23, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Video: Jo Boaler On Learning, Mistakes & The Brain

I’ve previously posted about Jo Boaler’s work (see Great New Video: “When People Make Mistakes Their Brains Grow, More Than When They Got Work Right”).

Thanks to Dan Meyer, I learned that her TEDx Talk was just posted today. It’s titled “How you can be good at math, and other surprising facts about learning” and it’s definitely not just applicable to math.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning:

Skip to toolbar