Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

April 28, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

What Does The Trump Campaign Teach Us About The Limitations Of The Common Core Standards?

As educators know, the Common Core Standards place a heavy emphasis on evidence and logic in the context of “argument,” as contrasted with the emotion of persuasion.

Here’s what we write about it in our new book, Navigating The Common Core with English Language Learners:

Argument is given great weight in the Standards. The idea is that students will first read a text or texts, examine the writer’s explanations and points, and then – and only then – develop a claim which they will then back-up with text-based evidence (Common Core State Standards for English, n.d., p. 23), as well as acknowledge opposing positions and present counter-arguments. The Standards place great stock in the importance of this kind of rational based approach, which the writers of the Standards contrast with the emotional sway of “persuasion” (Common Core State Standards for English, n.d., p. 24). They say that persuasion also often relies on other less “logical” strategies like using the authority of the writer of the text or appealing to the audience’s sense of identity or self-interest. Experience in producing evidence-based arguments, say the Standards, is what will truly prepare our students for college and career.

Based on our own experience, we believe that emotion – for good or bad – is a key element of how many arguments are made in the world. It would be nice if completely rational ones all carried the day, but that is how things work in the world as we’d like it to be, not in the world as it is. We do tell our students that logic should be the guide for most academic and professional writing. We also tell them, however, that emotion can have an important place in other writing arenas, and it just has to be kept in its place, as well.

A recent piece in The New Yorker highlights the limitations that a laser-like focus on the rational “moneyball” approach the Standards seem to advocate. Here’s an excerpt from The Anti-Moneyball Election:


I just hope that educators, and our supervisors, keep in mind the limitations, as well as the advantages, the Common Core Standards bring…

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

April 26, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

April Is “National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month” – Here Are Related Resources


The National Association for Bilingual Education has declared April to be ‘‘National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month,’’ and it’s receiving a fair amount of support.

Congressman Mike Honda has introduced a Congressional resolution supporting it, though it has little chance of passing in today’s political environment.

The California Department of Education supports it, as does the United States Department of Education:

You might want to explore The Best Resources For Learning The Advantages To Being Bilingual.

April 26, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Join A Thousand Educators At Our Ed Week ELL Webinar On Thursday

Wax seal. Very fancy. What's inside…? @groennfell Rob Friesel via Compfight

Katie Hull Sypnieski and I will be leading a free Thursday,April 28th webinar for Education Week on English-Learners and the Common Core: New Instructional Strategies. A thousand educators have already registered for it.  Our book, Navigating The Common Core With English Language Learners, is coming out the same time.

You can register for it here.

Here’s how Ed Week describes the Webinar:

This event takes place on Thursday, April 28, 2016, 3 to 4 p.m. ET.

As many educators are discovering, Common Core State Standards pose particular challenges for English-language learners in both language arts and mathematics, and yet the standards documents themselves provide little guidance for how teachers can help their ELLs meet the new objectives. In this webinar, veteran teachers Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull Sypnieski, authors of the forthcoming Navigating the Common Core With English Language Learners, will offer practical guidance on integrating the standards into instruction for ELLs. The authors will discuss research and developments in ELL education, examine the standards in depth with eye towards challenges and opportunities for ELL students, and provide targeted scaffolding techniques and instructional activities. The goal will be to give attendees a better understanding of how and when to adapt instruction under the common core to the particular needs of English-learners.

April 25, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Here’s How My Students Taught Their Classmates A Social Studies Unit – Handouts Included


As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of students teaching their classmates, and tons of research backs-up the value of that practice (see The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates — Help Me Find More).

This past week was the most recent time I applied this idea in my classes.

I simultaneously teach World History and U.S. History English Language Learner classes (fortunately, this year I have the help of a student teacher – it gets a bit hectic when one is not around). World History students learned about World War I a couple of weeks prior to the U.S. History class getting there. So the World History students divided into pairs to prepare a short unit made-up of a cloze (also known as a “gap-fill” or “fill-in-the-blank” – see The Best Tools For Creating Clozes (Gap-Fills)); a data set, which is a series of short texts that students categorize and supplement with more information they find (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching); and a “Make-and-Break,” a term coined by my friend and mentor Kelly Young to describe a simple sequencing activity.

Here is the entire prep and planning packet used by my World History students, which also included a requirement to prepare teaching “moves” and a lesson plan. The process is easily adaptable to just about any topic or subject area. It’s somewhat similar to a lesson you’ll find in one of my student motivation books.

I gave students four days to prepare the unit, including making a master packet and multiple copies of student hand-outs for when they taught. Here is an example of one of the master packets prepared by a group of students.

Fortunately, we were able to use the library for our three days of teaching. U.S. History students were divided into seven groups, as were the World History students. Each group was assigned to a table, and each day the World History group taught one of the three lessons. At the end of each day, the U.S. History students would do some reading in their textbook for a few minutes while I met with the World History class to review the lesson for the following day.

It all went very well. The U.S. History students are eager now to “turn-the-tables,” and both classes will be using the same process on a historical topic of their choice for part of their final “exam” – a “Genius Hour” version (see The Best Resources For Applying “Fed Ex Days” (Also Known As “Genius Hours”) To Schools).

Here are a few reflective comments by my World History students:

When I teach, I liked to tell what I learn and know about the lesson.

When I teach, I learned be a teacher was not easy so we have to be nice to our teacher.

I learned about to be more patient and pay attention to others.

I like about taught other people what I know. I like the way they focus and hard-working what I’m teaching.

What I liked about this project is that I could help my “students” understand what we were doing.

What I learned about teaching is that it could be hard work if the student does not focus.

Teaching is a responsible profession that you need to carry with you because the future of your students depends on you.

I learned how to explain something to the students.

April 22, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here Are All Tweets From Second Week Of Our #NavCCELL Chat On Our New ELL Book


Our book is coming out on Monday, and we’re sharing excerpts from it during two weeks on Twitter, along with inviting comments and answering questions.

We’ve just completed the second, and last, week of the #NavCCELL Twitter chat. Here is a collection of them.

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