Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 29, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The National Writing Project & Public Television Create A MOOC On Social Media

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KQED Education and the National Writing Project are sponsoring a summer MOOC (online class) for educators titled Teach Do Now: Student Engagement with Issues that Matter Using Social Media.

You can read more about it at the link.

I’ll be on a panel with Tina Barseghian, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Vicki Davis to kick it off on July 7th. We’ll be discussion “What are the best strategies for accessing professional learning online?”

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June 21, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Articles I’ve Written In 2014 — So Far

'Miss A Writes a Song' photo (c) 2012, Denise Krebs - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In addition to the thousands of posts I’ve written in this blog (and in my parent engagement blog) over the past seven years,  my six books, my weekly posts for Education Week Teacher and The New York Times, and my monthly posts for the British Council, I’ve also written well over one hundred articles for different publications.

You can access all of them here.

You can also see what I think are The Fourteen Best Articles I’ve Written About Education.

Here are The Best Articles I’ve Written In 2014 — So Far:

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June 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students In 2014 – So Far

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This list focuses on sites that ELL students would use directly. Of course, many other sites on my other lists can also be used effectively with ELL’s.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students In 2013 – So Far

The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students In 2012 — Part One

The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students In 2011

The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students — 2010

The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students — 2009

The Best Internet Sites For English Language Learners — 2008

The Best Internet Sites For English Language Learners — 2007

The Best Web 2.0 Applications for ESL/EFL Learners — 2007

Here are my choices for The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students In 2014 – So Far:

Thanks to Richard Byrne, I recently learned about Quill.

It provides well-done interactive exercises to reinforce grammar exercises and the real advantage is that you can create virtual classrooms to track student progress.

And, it’s free.

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

The San Francisco Symphony has just unveiled a newly redesigned website that’s pretty extraordinary.

There’s so much there, and it’s so accessible — music, instruments, and you can even compose your own, play it, and share your creation with the world.

The text is probably at a high-Intermediate English level. About the only way they could have made it better is if they had provided a feature to have audio-narration of the text — that would make a big difference for English Language Learners.

Because of that shortcoming, I don’t feel like I can add it to The Best Music Websites For Learning English. However, ELLs can certainly compose their own music and explain what they want it to communicate. That’s always a nice language-learning activity.

I’ve been effusive in my praise for the mobile language-learning app Duolingo — my English Language Learner students love to use it both in class and outside of it.

It just got a whole lot better…

As TechCrunch reports:

The new version features courses to learn English for Chinese and Japanese speakers….As part of this update, the service now also features English courses for Hindi speakers…While the addition of these new languages is one of the highlights of this launch, the other is the launch of a number of new game-inspired learning modes, including a multi-player feature that allows people to compete with each other in real time (or you could always play against a bot, too).

They’ve added more features, too, and you can read about them at TechCrunch.  It’s important to note that it appears that TechCrunch made an error — the Chinese version doesn’t seem quite ready yet.

They are going be very popular and helpful to my students!

I’ll add this update to The Best Mobile Apps For English Language Learners.

Citizen Sort creates free online video games where players sort and identify items as part of a serious science investigation. One of their series of games is called “Happy Match” where you have to describe various images.  It appears to me that it could be useful for English Language Learners to learn some vocabulary, plus learn a little science, too. They have some other games on the site, and say they’re coming out with another one that looks particularly interesting called “Mark With Friends” that might also have ELL potential.

“Connect With English” was produced by Annenberg a number of years ago, and is a great video series for English Language Learners. The series has been free to watch via the web, but you’ve had to purchase student exercise books. I’ve previously  posted our own “worksheet” that we developed for students to use.

Though the videos are just beginning to show their age a bit, they’re still wonderful resources.

What’s even better, though, is that Annenberg has just unveiled a new free Connect With English site with tons of interactive exercises for students to use.

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June 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2014 – So Far

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I continue my mid-year “The Best…” lists…

The title of this “The Best…” list is pretty self-explanatory. What you’ll find here are blog posts and articles this year (some written by me, some by others) that were, in my opinion, the ones that offered the best practical advice and resources to teachers this year — suggestions that can help teachers become more effective in the classroom today or tomorrow. Some, however, might not appear on the surface to fit that criteria, but those, I think, might offer insights that could (should?) inform our teaching practice everyday.

For some, the headlines provide enough of an idea of the topic and I haven’t included any further description.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2013 – So Far


The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers In 2012 — Part One

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers In 2011

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers — 2010

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers — 2009

In addition, you might find these useful:

The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice In 2011

The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice — 2010

The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice — 2009

Here are my choices for The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2014- So Far:

What Does A Good Common Core Lesson Look Like? is from NPR. I’m adding it to The Most Useful Resources For Implementing Common Core.

24 Assessments that don’t suck… is from Paul Bogush. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Effective Student & Teacher Assessments.

How My Students Evaluated Me This Year

I apologize if I’m blowing my own horn, but I’ve got say that my Education Week Teacher advice column is a treasure trove of practical advice offered by scores of educators on countless classroom issues.

I think the same can be said about my BAM! Radio Show, where I interview guests who have contributed written responses to the column.

What Are Education Tests For, Anyway? is from NPR, and gives excellent short and sweet definitions of terms related to assessments. I’m going to add it to A Collection Of “The Best” Lists On Assessment.

The Best Posts & Articles Highlighting Why We Need To Be Very Careful Around Ed Tech

Just Completely Revised & Updated My Bloom’s Taxonomy “Best” List

Here Are The Eleven Sites I’m Using For My Summer School “Virtual Classroom”

How I Incorporate Reflection Into Semester Summative Assessments

#IRA14 — Useful Tweets From The International Reading Association Convention

Using Instagram, Bloom’s Taxonomy & Student Interest As A Fun Part Of A Semester Final

Five Teaching Tips for Helping Students Become ‘Wild Readers’ is by Donalyn Miller, and appeared in Ed Week.

12 Ways to Learn Vocabulary With The New York Times is a nice collection. I’m adding it to The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn Vocabulary.

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics has created the ¡Gradúate! Financial Aid Guide to Success (Guide). You can read more about it here, and download it in English and Spanish.

The Smithsonian has a series of one-minute “Ask Smithsonian” videos that answer questions on a variety of topics. They’re short, sweet and interesting to watch. But I plan on using them for something else, too… Next year, I’ll be teaching a number of Social Studies classes to English Language Learners — Geography, World History, U.S. History. I could definitely see showing these videos and, as we study different themes, develop a simple template for them to use in creating similar short videos answering a question of their choice. You might also be interested in The Best Online “Explainer” Tools For Current Events.

Here’s The Writing Prompt I’m Using As Part Of My Final For Ninth-Grade English

New Writing Prompt For My U.S. History Class

Here’s The Writing Prompt I’m Using For My Geography Class

Class Activity: Setting A Goal For The Last Six Weeks Of School

Book Reviews – & Shakespeare – In Three Panels

Updated Personalization vs. Differentiation vs. Individualization Chart Version 3 is from Personalize Learning.

Grit, Failure & Stuff Like That

Simple “History Of Anything” Project

Another Good Writing Prompt: Reconciliation

“Tools for flipping your class”

The Best Resources On Professional Development For Teachers — Help Me Find More

The Best (Or, At Least, The Most Interesting) Posts On Teacher Attire

Excellent (& I Mean EXCELLENT!) Post On Asking Questions

Here’s One More Small Thing I’m Doing To Help Students See The Importance Of Social Emotional Learning

The “All-Time” Best Places To Find The Most Popular (& Useful) Resources For Educators

The Best Video Clips & Full-Length Movies For Helping To Teach Persuasive Techniques (Help Me Find More)

Teach UNICEF is an excellent resource for lesson plans and materials on social topics. I haven’t quite figured out the exact way to navigate it — it has an organized collection here, and then they have “Global Citizen Brief” like this one on Syria that appear to be elsewhere on the site.

The lesson materials are top-notch and provide versions based on grade-levels. Some of the student questions in the lesson plans themselves seem a little too UNICEF oriented, so I suspect most teachers will modify them.

Excellent Post: “This Brilliant Math Teacher Has a Formula to Save Kids’ Lives”

Great Chart: “the differences between teaching writing and teaching writers”

Tweets From My “Integrating Social Emotional & Brain-Based Learning Into Instructional Strategies” Workshop

If You Weren’t Able To Attend Our Workshop On “Developing A Self-Motivated Student Culture,” These Tweets Have It Covered

How To Turn A Negative Consequence Into A Positive Classroom Management Strategy

Free Resources From All My Books

I’m adding this to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”:

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June 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2014 – So Far

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Another day, another  “The Best…” list…..

You might also be interested in:

The “All-Time” Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of English Language Learners

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2013 – So Far

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2012 — Part One

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2011 — Part Two

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2011 — Part One

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s — 2010

The Best Sites For Teachers Of English Language Learners — 2009

Here are my choices for The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2014 – So Far:

Helping language learners visualise their linguistic development: growing learning is by Lizzie Pinard. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Metacognition. She wrote another great post on metacognition and language-learning, and you can find that link within that post. She also shared My top ten learner autonomy and metacognition resources..

I’ve often written about the Picture Word Inductive Model, my favorite teaching strategy for Beginning English Language Learners. I’ve published a post at The British Council with a more detailed explanation on how to use it in the classroom. You might be interested in all my previous posts there, which you can find here.

I’ve written over forty posts for The New York Times
that each include a student interactive and teaching ideas for English Language Learners.

Flashcards in the Classroom: Ten Lesson Ideas is from ELT Experiences. I’m adding it to The Best Tools To Make Online Flashcards.

Videos: Using Art As A Language-Learning Activity

Here Are The Eleven Sites I’m Using For My Summer School “Virtual Classroom”

Geography Instagram Videos By English Language Learners

Stanford University has released a treasure trove of resources about teaching ELLs.

The Image Bank is from The British Council. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons.

Six ways teachers can stay energized is another one of my monthly posts at Teaching English at the British Council.

Here’s an excerpt:

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Last year, I wrote about a fun game for English Language Learners that I learned from late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon (see Jimmy Fallon Comes Up With A Great Game For English Language Learners).

Today, I learned another one…

He calls it Word Sneak, and it’s a simple one — two people are given five words that they have to fit into a conversation.

Obviously, it’s very funny the way he uses it in this video clip, but it can also be used a nice interactive exercise for students.

I’m assuming that some other teacher has used this kind of game before so, if you have, and have some good additional suggestions, please leave them in the comments….

I’m adding this idea to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English, where I’ve also been listing classroom speaking activities.

Good language teachers, as seen through the eyes of teachers and learners is by Adam Simpson. There’s a lot of substance there, and I would label it as a “must-read.”

Drawing Dictations is by Sandy Millin. I’ve started adding all dictation resources to The Best Resources For Learning How To Use The Dictogloss Strategy With English Language Learners.

Teaching mixed ability – some tips is from TEFL Reflections. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Teaching Multilevel ESL/EFL Classes.

Experimenting with English (Part 2) – Activities for learners to do outside the classroom [26 and counting!] is another excellent post by Lizzie Pinard. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Homework Issues.

McGraw Hill has a ton of online videos showing ELL teachers in action. I’m adding it to The Best Online Videos Showing ESL/EFL Teachers In The Classroom. Thanks to Judie Haynes for the tip.

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ESL/EFL teachers who have been around awhile know of Jason Renshaw, who at one point had what I thought (and continue to think) was the best resource on the Web for ESL teachers — English Raven. Unfortunately, he took it off-line a few years ago, and now describes himself as a “former Tesol teacher, textbook author and web resources developer, now learning designer and elearning developer in higher ed (Open Universities Australia).”

Jason has continued his blog — with a somewhat different focus — and he has fortunately kept his huge archive there on TESOL available. His Open Source English resources, accompanied with his screencasts on how to use them, are a treasure trove.

One of my favorite inventions of his is called a “Sentence Navigator.” A screenshot of one small example is at the top of this post. It’s sort of a complex multiple choice exercise — I use some of the ones Jason produced, I create originals, and also have students make them for their classmates.

Jason explained them in an older article as:

a sentence navigation grid: five slots each containing three words. It will be up to the student to “navigate” this grid in order to build an appropriate answer to the question. The student will do this by circling the correct word in each slot and then referring to the teacher for feedback. Once all of the correct words have been circled, the student will be permitted to write the full answer in the space beneath.

Jason was kind enough to let me upload up two full units of Sentence Navigators to this blog so that any teachers can download them to use in class:

Sentence Navigator One

Sentence Navigator 2

Plus, he sent over a Screencast he had made explaining how to use them:

If you’re not using these already in your classroom, I hope you can start and see how useful they can be…

Thanks, Jason!

Play It Again And Again, Sam is from NPR and, I think, may help explain why jazz chants are effective in language instruction.

MusiXmatch is a free Chrome extension that will provide karaoke-style lyrics to most YouTube music videos. It can be used very easily on desktop and mobile devices.

Using songs, and using lyrics karaoke-style, is a longstanding and effective language-learning strategy, and you can read about many of them at The Best Music Websites For Learning English.

You can read more about it at TechCrunch.

The Best Posts & Videos About Sugata Mitra & His Education Ideas

The What Works Clearinghouse at the U.S. Department of Education has released an updated Guide for Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School.

The recommendations are good ones, and it’s always nice to be able to tell one’s administrator that you’re following the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Education .

Even though they say it’s for elementary and middle school, I think it’s safe to say the ideas make sense in high school, too.

I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary.

Creating The Conditions For Self-Motivated Students is another of my posts at the British Council Teaching English website. It includes specific suggestions for teaching English Language Learners, but most of what I write there is applicable to all students.

Here’s an interview with Ann Foreman and Paul Braddock, the key people behind the extraordinarily popular and helpful Learning English British Council Facebook page for teachers.

“The Image Story” Is A Nice Site & Provides An Even Better Classroom Idea

My colleague Katie Hull-Sypnieski and I wrote wrote a lengthy and, if I say so myself , excellent article that has been published by ASCD Educational Leadership.

It’s titled Teaching Argument Writing to ELLs, and it discusses very practical ways to teach writing to Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners — especially in light of the new Common Core Standards. But I think it offers helpful advice even if you’re teaching in a country not using CCSS.

I’m adding it to The Best Online Resources For Helping Students Learn To Write Persuasive Essays and to My Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

Origami & The Language Experience Approach

English Language Learners Design Their Own “Ideal” Neighborhoods

Our Latest Response From A Sister Class — This Time From South Africa!

We’re In The Middle Of My Favorite Unit Of The Year — Comparing Neighborhoods

Getting to grips with project based learning and I’m interested in project based learning but I don’t know where to begin! are two good posts by Adam Simpson discussing PBL and English Language Learners. I’m adding them to The Best Sites For Cooperative Learning Ideas.

Four questions to ask before using an Ed Tech tool is yet another one of my posts over at Teaching English-British Council.

Borrowed Words is a net interactive that shows from which languages English has borrowed the most words from during which periods of time.

Activate – Games for Learning American English is from the American English site of the U.S. Department of State. It’s a useful and free downloadable book. I’m adding it to The Best Ideas For Using Games In The ESL/EFL/ELL Classroom. Thanks to Barbara Sakamoto for the tip.

My colleague and co-author, Katie Hull Sypnieski, and I published a post over at Edutopia titled English-Language Learners and Academic Language.

Using “Dvolver Moviemaker” With English Language Learners

How My ELL Students Evaluated Me At The End Of First Semester

“Thinglink” Announces Free Virtual Classrooms

Creating Instagram Video “Book Trailers” With English Language Learners

Assessing English language learners is yet another of my posts at The British Council’s TeachingEnglish site.

Hot Spot Interview — Report From Venezuela

The Best Mobile Apps For English Language Learners

 

 

 

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June 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Three Good Resources On Bloom’s Taxonomy

'Evaluation [critical thinking skills]' photo (c) 2011, Enokson - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Here are three new additions to The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom:

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June 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2014 – Part One

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I use short, funny video clips a lot when I’m teaching ELLs, and you can read in detail about how I use them in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them). In short, there are many ways to use them that promote speaking, listening, writing and reading.

I’ve posted quite a few of them during the first six months of this year, and I thought it would be useful to readers — and to me — if I brought them together in one post.

I’ve also published quite a few during the previous seven years of this blog. You can find those in these lists:

The Best Videos For Educators In 2014 – So Far

The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2013 — So Far

The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part Two)

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part One)

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2011

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2010

Part Two Of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008

The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development

The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual Or Multilingual — Part One

The Best Pink Panther Fight Scenes For English Language Learners

The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner

The Best Sports Videos To Use With English Language Learners

The Best Video Clips Of Sneaky Critters

The Best Videos Showing “Thinking Outside The Box” — Help Me Find More

Okay, now here are my choices for The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2014 — Part One:

Thanks to Edutopia and Amy Erin Borovoy, who published Five-Minute Film Festival: The Best Cat Videos for Educators, I found this great video that English Language Learners could watch and then describe verbally & in writing:

This is a great video for English Language Learners — there’s no dialogue, but it’s engaging and funny. ELLs can watch it and then describe in writing and verbally what happened in it:

This is a great video of a voice actor making 30 animal sounds. Even better, the name of the animal is displayed after each sound.

One way I reinforce new vocabulary is by playing sound effects games where I play sounds representing words we have recently learned (water dripping from a faucet, door opening, etc) and have students use small whiteboards to get points (that are just for fun) for the correct word. I use it when we learn animals, too. It’s easy to find these sound effects online, but playing a video like this and stopping it prior to the name showing up on the screen could be a lot more fun.

Having English Language Learners put words in the mouth (or thoughts in the mind) of puppets, animals, or photographs of people is a common activity in the classroom. It can be fun and less-threatening when it’s something/someone else who’s talking (or, at least, it can feel that way to the student).

You can learn specific strategies to use at:

The Best Resources For Using Puppets In Class

The Best Sites For Online Photo-Editing & Photo Effects, which includes a number of sites where you can choose photos and add “speech bubbles” to them.

The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English, which includes sites you can use online to actually provide audio to images or animations.

Another engaging strategy is show short animal videos and have students develop a dialogue or a series of sentences the animals might be thinking.

There are lots of suitable videos online, and you can start at The Best Video Clips Of Sneaky Critters. Students can simply act them out when showing videos on a screen with the sound turned-off, or you can be more sophisticated and dub the videos themselves.

Here’s an example that an environmental campaign created (several others will play through if you want):

I’ve previously posted about The Action Movie Kid and how they are great clips to show English Language Learners and have them describe what they see.

Their creator has just put all of them into one video. Here it is:

Here are several more fun short videos that English Language Learners could watch and then describe what they saw verbally and in writing:

Show English Language Learners this video and have them describe what they see — but be sure to warn them to try this at home!

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June 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Two Good Links About Curation

'The wall of #EdcMooc Art -e-Facts' photo (c) 2013, Eleni - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

A lot has been written recently about the importance of “curation” in this age of information “overload.” In fact, I’ve previously posted The Best Posts & Articles About Curation.

Here are two new additions to that list:

Sue Waters has written a very helpful post, including lots of suggestions for web tools to use, at Curation: Creatively Filtering Content.

A Boston Globe article, Information overload, the early years, describes how information overload was experienced five centuries ago, too, and how curators handled the problem.

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June 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Three Useful Classroom Instruction Resources

June 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Research Demonstrating That Lectures Are Not The Best Instructional Strategy

'Lectures' photo (c) 2013, AJ Cann - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

There has been a fair amount of recent research documenting the ineffectiveness of lectures as an instructional strategy. I thought I’d bring articles about the research together in one place.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior.”

Let me know what I’m missing here:

A study was just announced a couple of years ago claiming — surprise, surprise — that integrating pair work and small groups in teaching is more effective than straight lectures. Science Daily reported it in an article titled Interactive Teaching Methods Double Learning in Undergraduate Physics Class. The study’s author’s also seem to make a big deal of using “clickers” for student response, but when I actually read the study they said they only used them an average of 1.5 times each class, so it’s difficult for me to imagine they had that big of an impact. Based on my reading, though, the big difference seemed to be pair and small group work. You can access the study here, but it does cost fifteen dollars. Surprisingly — at least to me — the study was immediately attacked by a many other scientists, including Daniel Willingham, in a New York Times article. I don’t really understand what the big deal is — tons of other studies have shown similar results over the years.

Thanks to a post at The Engineer’s Pulse, I learned about Harvard Professor Eric Mazur. He’s done a lot of work — perhaps it could be called teacher action research — on the advantages of peer work over lecturing as an effective instructional tool. You can read more about his work at a Harvard Magazine article titled Twilight of the Lecture. I’ve also embedded below a talk by him about his work.

Improve grades, reduce failure: Undergrads should tell profs ‘don’t lecture me’ is from Science Daily.

Stop Lecturing Me (In College Science)! is from Scientific American.

Lectures Aren’t Just Boring, They’re Ineffective, Too, Study Finds is from Science Magazine.

University lectures are ineffective for learning, analysis finds is from The PBS News Hour.

Are Lectures On The Way Out? Harvard Professor Proposes A Better Way To Teach is from Boston’s NPR station.

You can see all 1,300 “The Best” lists here.

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June 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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How My Students Evaluated Me This Year

'Blue Morphsuit on Canada Day' photo (c) 2011, Doug Hay - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The school year ended this week and, as I do every year, I had students anonymously evaluate me. As regular readers know, I post the results of these surveys each semester — warts and all. In fact, The Washington Post republished one of the less flattering ones a couple of years ago.

You can see reports from all the previous years, as well as links to more reflective pieces on the use of these kinds of surveys, at The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers).

In the past, I’ve published separate posts for each class. This year, instead, I’m going to share all the results in one big post:

GEOGRAPHY WITH INTERMEDIATE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS

I taught one Geography class with Intermediate English Language Learners. Here’s the evaluation form I used with them.

Highlights:

* Ninety percent said they learned “a lot” in the class (as opposed to “some” or “a little.”)

* Working in the computer lab was the most popular activity, closely followed by “making presentations.” “Reading” and “writing essays” were a little further behind. It was a surprise to me that “making presentations” was number one last semester and, as a result, I tried expanding it in different ways, including having students use inductive learning to create PowerPoints and make short presentations. However, I just don’t feel the time involved in making presentations this way, especially with our school’s outdated laptops (they liked the computer lab because those desktops worked a lot better), was a good “bang for the buck.” Instead, providing students with short readings that they could then read as a jigsaw activity (like what we did when studying Rwanda) seemed to work a lot better. Though I didn’t separate it in the evaluation form, I’m confident that students agree.

* There was a four-way tie for the least favorite activity:”reading,” “making presentations,” “writing essays” and “using textbook.” I believe “making presentations” made the list here because of the PowerPoints we did and the frustration with our antiquated laptops. We sporadically use a fairly decent ELL Geography textbook called “World View,” but I didn’t do as good of a job as I usually do using portions strategically — it was more of a “filler.” Writing essays is never popular. The most disappointing part here was, though working with our various sister classes around the world wasn’t the least popular activity, no one marked it as one of their favorites and several listed it as something they didn’t like. My theory is that we did too many, and that, in the future, we should just do a few. I guess you can have too much of a good thing….

* There was another four-way tie for the activities that students felt they learned the most from: “making presentations,” “writing essays,” “computer lab,” and “reading.”

* Ninety percent felt the pace of the class was “just right,”

* I received “A’s” from just about everybody in “organization,” “knowledge,” “caring” and “hardworking.” However, under “patience” I received an A from seventy-five percent of the class, while getting anywhere between a B and an F from the remaining students. This is an accurate reflection of a quality I know I need to work to develop, and am very open to hearing advice from readers.

* Everyone except two said they would like to take a class from me again. That’s good, because they’ll all be with me next year!

* As far as suggestions on how the class could be better, two suggestions were most common — incorporating more games into the class, which I definitely could have done and should have done, and getting better technology. I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.

All in all, I’m satisfied with the results, and I’ve got some good ideas to implement next year.

MAINSTREAM NINTH-GRADE ENGLISH

I taught two English classes of mainstream ninth-graders, always the most challenging classes I have. Here’s a version of the form I used with them (that’s the one I used for the first semester – I made some minor changes but can’t find the most recent version).

Highlights:

* The results are clearly different in some areas for each class. My afternoon class was more challenging than my morning one, which I at least partially attribute to coming right after lunch.

* Everyone in my morning class except for one student said they learned “a lot.” In my afternoon class, it was divided evenly between “a lot” and “some.”

* Sixty-five percent of the students in my morning class said they tried their best either “a lot of the time” or “all the time.” Thirty-five percent said “some of the time.” It was a fifty-fifty split in the afternoon class.

* Everybody in both classes said our unit on Jamaica was their favorite one.

* Ninety percent of my morning class said I was an “excellent” teacher. In the afternoon class, fifty percent said I was “excellent,” twenty-five percent said I was “good,” ten percent said I was “okay” and the rest said I was “bad.”

* Everyone in both classes, except for two in the afternoon one, felt that I “was concerned about what was happening in their lives.”

* In the morning class, eighty percent said I was patient either “a lot of the time” or “all of the time.” The rest chose “some of the time.” In the afternoon class, sixty percent said I was patient either “a lot of the time” or “all of the time.”

* Everyone in the morning class said they liked the class and they’d like to take another one with me. Eighty percent of the afternoon class said the same.

* Students in both classes chose “working in groups” and their independent book clubs as their favorite activities. Our new librarian has been especially cooperative in helping with these clubs, and I hope to expand them next year.

All in all, I’m satisfied with the evaluation results. As I mentioned, I think coming in right after lunch made things challenging in my afternoon class, and I also think just the mix of students also created the more challenging atmosphere.

IB THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE

I taught one International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class that included a small portion of IB Diploma candidates and a much larger number of students, including English Language Learners, who I specifically recruited for the class and who might not ordinarily take an IB class. Here’s a version of the form I used with them (again, I made some minor changes in the actual form I used, but can’t find the most recent electronic copy).

Here are highlights:

* What are the most important things you have learned in the class?: “there are a lot of different sides of the world we can’t see”; “how to do an outline for an essay and a PowerPoint”; “presentation skills and time management”; “question everything.”

* What have you liked about this class or how it was taught?: “how it was organized to work in groups”; “that you have to think deeper than normal classes”; “I liked how we did so many presentations”; “I liked being here everyday”

* How do you think it can be improved?: “the class is great”; “more control over the volume”; “students should be more respectful”

There were several comments about students needing to be more quiet and show more self-control. I tend to be more lax on classroom management in this class but, as the class gets bigger (and it will get even larger next year), I need to start from the beginning and be a little more strict.

* What grade would you give Mr. Ferlazzo as a teacher? What does he do well and what can he improve?: Everyone gave me an A or A+. Here are some comments: “he makes difficult concepts understandable in a fun way”; “he’s nice”; “he can improve how he controls the class”

* Are there ways you think that what you learned in this class can help you in the future?: “It will help me keep my mind open and to accepting new ideas, cultures, traditions, languages and beliefs”; “I’ll be a better writer and presenter”

Theory of Knowledge is a great class and I’m excited that, for the first time, I’ll get to teach two of them next year!

ENGLISH FOR BEGINNING & INTERMEDIATE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS

I taught English to one combined class of Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners. Here’s the form I used.

Here are the highlights:

* Everyone except for one student said they learned “a lot” in the class.

* Two activities tied as favorite activities — “writing essays” and “computer lab.” The same two tied as “least favorite.” And the same two led under activities where students learned the most.

* Everyone said the pace was “just right.”

* I received A’s from everybody or organization, knowledge, caring and hardworking. I received A’s from everyone but two students for patience. Everyone said they’d like to take another class with me, which is good since they all have me again next year!

This class went very well, and it was helped greatly by having talented student teachers. I hope I have the same help next year!

So, that’s my round-up for this year. It was a good one, and I’m also ready for summer break!

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June 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“The Best Posts On The Migration Policy Institute Report On Engaging Immigrant Parents”

June 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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What Are You Going To Do Differently Next Year?

'Wait till next year*' photo (c) 2010, Jason - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Our school year ended an hour ago, and I can’t think of a better time to think about what I’m going to do differently next year!

A few years ago, I wrote an Education Week column (What Are Your New School-Year Resolutions?) offering similar year-end reflections for the next year and invited readers to contribute their own, and would like to do the same here. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll consider turning your comments into another Ed Week piece.

Here are my initial thoughts:

1. I want to develop a much better management system for student paperwork — to both help them and me to be better organized. I think I need to revisit my two-part Ed Week series on classroom organization, which shared lots of great ideas from different contributors.

2. I’ve got to put a lot of thought into how I’m going to teach my classes that, in effect, are two different ones simultaneously, primarily with English Language Learners (including ones with both Beginning and Intermediate ELLs). I was able to manage that very well with excellent student teachers this year, but I may, or may not, have that kind of assistance next year.

3. I need to further strengthen by ability to be patient. I have a lot of it, but there are times when I know I should demonstrate more of it, but still let myself give-in to acting in ways that result in less-than-effecting teaching.

Okay, so those are “confessions.”

It’s your turn — what are you going to do differently next year?

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June 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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I Explain The Picture Word Inductive Model In My Latest British Council Post

I’ve often written about the Picture Word Inductive Model, my favorite teaching strategy for Beginning English Language Learners.

I’ve just published a post at The British Council with a more detailed explanation on how to use it in the classroom.

You might be interested in all my previous posts there, which you can find here.

I’m going to add this particular post to The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons.

Here’s an excerpt:

The-PWIM-Picture-Word

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June 8, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

New Student Motivation, Engagement & SEL Resources

'KeepCalmKeepMoving' photo (c) 2012, A Healthier Michigan - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Our school year will be over in four days and, after a brief rest, it will be time for me to complete the third volume in my student motivation “trilogy” that should be published early next year by Routledge.

It’s tentatively titled Building a Community of Self-Motivated Learners: Strategies for Teaching Resilience, Respect, and Responsibility (I’ve got to get that done by the end of the summer so that my colleague Katie Hull and I can get to work on the sequel to our ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide).

It looks like this next book will be timely, as student motivation and SEL is definitely in the news. Here are some related resources:

Student Motivation: Age-Old Problem Gets New Attention is a new report from Education Week, which is very good but would be better if they included links to the studies that are cited. It also includes a survey of Ed Week readers on motivation questions that, because the sample isn’t scientifically identified, is of somewhat limited use. I’m adding them to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students.

How Can Teachers Foster Curiosity? is also from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Curiosity.

I’m adding an older paper titled The Psychology of Curiosity to the same list.

Integrating Social-Emotional Learning Into High School is from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources.

Teach The Teachers Well is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to the same list.

Here’s a disappointing graph I’m adding to The Best Posts & Articles On Student Engagement:

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June 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Videos For Educators In 2014 – So Far

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Another day, another mid-year “Best” list (you can find all 1,300 Best lists here).

You might also be interested in:

The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators

The Best Videos For Educators In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — Part One

The Best Videos For Educators In 2011

Part Two Of The Best Videos For Educators — 2010

The Ten Best Videos For Educators — 2010

And you might also want to see The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual — Part OneThe Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language LearnerThe Best Video Clips Demonstrating “Grit”; and The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading.

You might also want to check out The Best Video Collections For Educators and The Best Video Clips On Goal-Setting — Help Me Find More.

Here are my choices for The Best Videos For Educators In 2014 – So Far:

Over at Vox, Ezra Klein interviews Ta-Nehisi Coates about his article, “The Case for Reparations.” I’ve embedded the video below, but Vox has a nice interactive table of contents that might make it more useful — especially if you don’t have an hour to watch the whole thing. I’m adding it to A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism.

Who’s not familiar with the famous Schoolhouse Rock video, I’m Just A Bill? Just in case, though, it’s the second video after this description. The first video is an updated version by Vox that is more cynical and more accurate (I’m not sure of that one will show-up in an RSS Reader).

I added this video to The Best Hans Rosling Videos:

I added this video to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research:

I’ve previously posted the video and links to the full text of George Saunders’ well known commencement speech on “The Importance of Kindness.”

Now, this animation of part of it has been created….

I added this next video from Business Insider to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures:

I added this amazing video to The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About World History:

Watch as 1000 years of European borders change (timelapse map) from Nick Mironenko on Vimeo.

I added this video to The Best “Language Maps”:

TED Talks unveiled a new animation titled “The Long Reach Of Reason.”

Here’s how Chris Anderson at TED describes it:

Two years ago the psychologist Steven Pinker and the philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, who are married, came to TED to take part in a form of Socratic dialog. Steven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein: The long reach of reasonSteven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein: The long reach of reasonShe sought to argue that Reason was a much more powerful force in history than it’s normally given credit for. He initially defended the modern consensus among psychologists and neurologists, that most human behavior is best explained through other means: unconscious instincts of various kinds. But over the course of the dialog, he is persuaded by her, and together they look back through history and see how reasoned arguments ended up having massive impacts, even if those impacts sometimes took centuries to unfold.

They turned it into a “talk in animated dialogue form.” I’ve embedded it below, and you can read more about it here.

This next video is only a little over two minutes. Watch it til the very end…

Neil deGrasse Tyson shared this great video showing effective teaching in action. I’ve added it to The Best Places To Learn About (And View Video Clips Of) Teachers In The Movies:

Here are two good videos. Make a point of reading Joe Bower’s analyses of the South African reading commercial (the first video) and of the video of the young girl learning to ski. You won’t be disappointed.

John McCarthy shared this short video clip of U.S. Olympic bobsledder Lolo Jones. She begins by sharing her favorite quote (though doesn’t cite the source and I can’t find it online, either):

“A failure isn’t a failure if it prepares you for success tomorrow”

I showed the video to my students, along with writing that quotation on the board. Then, I asked them to respond to this writing prompt:

What is Lolo Jones saying about how we should view failure? What do you think of her view? To develop your position, be sure to include specific examples. These examples can come from the video, anything else you’ve read, and/or your own observations and experiences.

I added this to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures and to My Best Posts On Writing Instruction (where I collect all my writing prompts).

I’m Not Sure You’ll Find A Better Video Illustrating The Importance Of Libraries Than “El Bibliotecario”:

The Librarian / El Bibliotecario from Facebook Stories on Vimeo.

This is a very creative video from TED-Ed. You can see the whole lesson here.

Ann Foreman shared this Life of Brian video on Facebook. It’s a classic scene of how NOT to teach grammar:

TED Ed shared a nice lesson and video called “Who Invited Writing?” You can see the entire lesson here:

Do we teach like cats or dogs? This video was shared by Daniel Coyle on Twitter:

I’ve added this video to The Best Online Resources For Teaching & Learning About World War II (Part Two):

I don’t think I’d use this with students, but, as Greg Toppo said when he shared this on Twitter, it seems like a “spot-on take on bullying.”

Because of that, I’m adding it to A Very, Very Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Bullying.

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