Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 15, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Flipping “Pits To Peaks”

I’ve always been of a mind towards looking at problems as opportunities (you can read why at The Best Examples Of Turning Problems Into Opportunities — Help Me Find More).

Today, though, I learned about another reason why that perspective is so important.

Chip Heath, along with his brother, have authored some very insightful business books that also apply to education.

Forbes ran an interview with him headlined How To Create More Of the Magical Moments That Transform Life And Business. It originally appeared last year, but is new to me.

Here’s the excerpt that caught my eye:

Boy, problems really are opportunities!

This statistic is just another reason to have that mindset when our lesson is going south, we’re having a conflict with a student, or an even an issue with an administrator.

Those moments can not just be salvaged – they carry the seeds of turning into extraordinarily positive experiences for everyone.

Depending, of course, on what we do with them….

If you have some real-life stories that exemplify Heath’s point, please share them in the comments section.

May 15, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Captionpop” Show Bilingual Video Translations


Captionpop is a free site that shows you the audio of videos in two languages – the one you speak and the one you are learning.

There’s not an enormous selection, but English Language Learners might find it useful.

I learned about it from CASLS.

I’m adding the site to The Best Online Video Sites For Learning English.

May 14, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Ways To Connect With “Sister” Classes

The Edublogger just published a terrific guide on how classes can do joint projects with other classes locally, nationally, or internationally.


I’ll definitely be adding it to The Best Ways To Find Other Classes For Joint Online Projects.

That “Best” list includes examples of many projects my classes have participated in, including:

Links To The Joint Projects My ELL Geography Class Did With Classes Around The World – Want To Join Us This Year?

ESL/EFL Sister Classes Project

May 10, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Guest Post: “ELL Student Engagement: Learning from Immigrant Perspectives”

By Raquel Ríos, PhD

Raquel Ríos, PhD is an education consultant and author of the book Teacher Agency for Equity: A Framework for Conscientious Engagement (Routledge, 2017). She started her career as a middle and high school Spanish teacher. Dr. Rios has worked nationally across the US and internationally in Spain, the United Arab Emirates and Puerto Rico. Visit her website at Follow her on Twitter @RaquelRiosPhD

“What preoccupies me is immediate: the separation I endure with my parents in loss. This is what matters to me: the story of the scholarship boy who returns home one summer from college to discover bewildering silence, facing his parents. This is my story. An American story.”

Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory, 1982

When my grandmother arrived to New York City from Puerto Rico in 1939, New York was one of the main recipients of immigrants from Puerto Rico. At that time, expectations for Puerto Rican achievement were dismal. In 1935, the New York State Chamber of Commerce’s Special Committee on Immigration and Naturalization commissioned a study on the IQ of 240 Puerto Rican schoolchildren in East Harlem. The poor results stigmatized Puerto Ricans as being intellectually deficient. Puerto Rican advocates argued that the children lacked English skills, but it didn’t matter. Reactions to Puerto Rican immigration became toxic.

We have made great progress since then. Still, contemporary public schools struggle with how to engage and effectively teach Latino students who come to the classroom with a wide range of academic, social and emotional needs—not to mention varying English language proficiency levels. Latinos represent over 27% of the nation’s 50.4 million K-12 public school students (NCES, 2016) and there is a growing number of vulnerable Latinos systematically failing academically. In spite of this data, there are numerous success stories we can learn from. My grandmother, for example, managed to provide four children with access to a good education even though she hardly spoke English and had little money or social currency. What was her secret ingredient?

Her secret ingredient was a mindset or a set of beliefs shared by many successful immigrant parents. I call it indigenous wisdom. Indigenous wisdom is the totality of insight and understanding gleaned from life experience and knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Not surprisingly, indigenous wisdom often corroborates with research on how we should approach student engagement, especially for students learning English and academic content.

The following are three insights taken from indigenous wisdom that we can apply to how we build inclusive learning environments:

• Faith- Faith is about trusting a student’s potential and endless possibilities. Faith is not blind. Rather, it comes from a deep awareness of the power of the human spirit to evolve and learn even in the face of adversity. Faith opens our mind to see past the material world, to transcend dominant narratives, popular opinion or daunting statistics that undermine human agency and spirit. One way effective teachers and school leaders demonstrate faith is by providing students with numerous opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skill with low-stakes, formative assessments. Informal, low-stakes assessments show progress over time and communicate learning is a process with ebb and flow. Detachment from outcome is a common theme in indigenous wisdom. Educators who have faith detach themselves from outcomes and pour themselves fully into the student-teacher experience.

• Language as Relationship- Language is how we communicate. It connects our private, inner world to the public domain. Language is the tool by which we build trusting, loving relationships. Indigenous wisdom recognizes love as the most powerful force available to human beings (Arrien, 1993). Similarly, research in learning theory, cognitive sciences, collaborative learning, and engagement all agree that people learn best in community. Immigrant students who are learning English are learning to negotiate new relationships and new terms for community engagement. Teachers need to demonstrate that the classroom is safe and that each student belongs. The safety students experience at home in their native language does not have to conflict with school as long as they know that both have equal value. Teachers can create friendly learning spaces by paying attention to norms for group work and supporting strategic partnerships. ELL students often benefit from working with one partner before moving into larger groups. Language stems for interaction goes a long way in supporting oral language development but also, consider providing students with the choice to remain quiet at times to take a breather, observe, listen and communicate in non-verbal ways.

• School as Civic Engagement- Indigenous wisdom traditions teach that everything has a purpose. In the Hunger of Memory (1982), Richard Rodriguez recalled how his Mexican born parents taught him that schooling was key to job advancement and a way to ‘ease the path.’ In the school setting, this means explicitly making connections between learning and real world application. Ask, how is this content relevant to the lives of my students? or What life skills are embedded in the activity? The best teachers and school leaders find clever ways to help students and families see how school is a preparation for civic engagement and a pathway to becoming an influential citizen. One way to do this is to teach language and content within a broader, real world context, anchoring units and lessons to universal themes, life situations or social issues. Science and biology, for example, live in a unit on medicine and what to expect when you visit the hospital. Mathematics is taught within a unit on banking and how to open an account.

As we continue to evolve and innovate our school practices to be more responsive to the academic, social and emotional needs of ELL students, it makes perfect sense to tap into the indigenous wisdom of immigrant parents. By doing so, we not only create inclusive classrooms but we also legitimize the insights of generations immigrants who continue to enrich our lives.


Issues in Latino Education: Race, School Culture, and the Politics of Academic Success, by Mariella Espinoza-Herold, Ricardo González-Carriedo,

Classroom Community, The Ecology for Learning, Research. Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, Missouri State,

May 9, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Now This Is VERY Intriguing: Students & Teachers Can Now Create Their Own Google Virtual Reality “Tours”

I’ve previously shared a lot about Google Expeditions, the virtual reality “field trip” tool (see The Best Resources For Finding And Creating Virtual Field Trips and and A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Virtual Reality In Education).

Today, Google unveiled a neat new feature – teachers and students can now create their own virtual reality tours!

It’s call Tour Creator, and looks very cool.

You can read more about it at Google and watch the video below:

I’m adding this info to The Best Places Where Students Can Create Online Learning/Teaching Objects For An “Authentic Audience”

(Addendum: You can also read more about it at TechCrunch and at Richard Byrne’s blog)

How to Add Points of Interest to Virtual Reality Tours in Google’s Tour Creator is from Richard Byrne.

May 8, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Fun Activity For ELLs – Choose The MOST Correct Caption

I suggested an activity to my student teacher today that I’ve done before, but I don’t believe I’ve shared about here.  She ran with it and it went very well.

It’s simple – creating a slideshow with images reinforcing vocabulary (this week, we’re studying jobs and careers) and listing three different captions underneath each image.  Depending on the English proficiency level of the students, you can complicate the captioning.  For example, in the one above, both two and three are correct, but three has more details so is more correct.

I usually have students in small groups with whiteboards and we turn it into a fun game.

May 8, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Free Resources From All My Books

Every few months, I reprint this post so that new subscribers learn about these resources.

I have many free resources, including excerpts and student hand-outs, available from all my books. Clicking on the covers will lead you to them.

Look for a fourth book in my student motivation series (out in 2019) and a second edition of The ESL/ELL Teachers Survival Guide (out in 2020):





Helping Students Motivate Themselves: Practical Answers To Classroom Problems.


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