Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 17, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Carlos Slim, “The World’s Richest Man,” Spends Some Of His $ For New Online Spanish-Language Ed Resources

Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire, has just unveiled Acceso Latino, an online tool designed to be a “one-stop” site for Spanish-language “employment, education, health care, and civil rights” resources.

Much of the site is just composed of links to materials others have created. However, there is some original material that could be useful to educators, particularly videos on different types of jobs and some decent, though surprisingly shallow, videos on content covered in the GED.

Of course, as I’ve previously posted, Slim has also paid for all the Khan Academy videos to be redone in Spanish, and there’s a link to the Khan Spanish-language site, which is new to me.

I’m adding this information to The Best Multilingual & Bilingual Sites For Math, Social Studies, & Science, which also describes how I use these kinds of bilingual materials in class.

Print Friendly

August 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“The Problem With Goal-Setting”


I’m a big fan of Daniel Coyle’s book, “The Talent Code,” (see “Teachers Need To Behave Like Johnny Appleseeds”: An Interview With Daniel Coyle) and a big proponent of student goal-setting (see The Best Posts On Students Setting Goals).

Writer Samuel Thomas Davies has an intriguing analysis and interpretation of some of the research and Dan Coyle’s book.

He suggests that the chances of people being successful on achieving their goals has much to do with their self-perception. In other words, instead of saying “My goal is to read higher-level books” it is better to say, “I am a reader; therefore I will read higher-level books”; or instead of saying “I want to focus more in class” it might be better to say, “I am a scholar; therefore I will focus more in class.”

I think that’s pretty interesting, and I’m going to give it a try with my students this year…

Print Friendly

August 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“The High Price Of The American Dream” Is A Free eBook & Great Writing Model For English Language Learners


My extraordinarily talented teacher colleague at our high school, Dana Dusbiber, along with the extraordinarily talented bilingual aide Alma Avalos, teach a class of adult English Language Learners once-a-week at our school in the evening.

With support from the University of California at Davis, their students have published a “must-read” book that I’m sure will be a model for ESL classes around the country and the world.

And the University has made it available free! You can download an eBook version here.

The stories in it are so moving and so well-written. You couldn’t ask for more engaging, and better-written, models for student-writing.

Here’s information about the process Dana used in the book itself, but here’s a short introduction she wrote. Dana has been an urban educator for 25 years and a National Writing Project teacher consultant for 20 years, including working in ELL leadership for NWP:

The adult learners and I met once a week during this past school year. This was our third year together, so there was a familiarity and comfort already established amongst the core group of students. I believe that this was a crucial element which allowed the students to both trust me and know beforehand something about the process we use to read and write in class. We were fortunate to have a UC Davis Adult Literacy Grant which paid for materials and for the cost of the book publication (see more about the grant at the end of the manuscript).

We started back in September of 2013 with narratives about childhood. We brainstormed topics and discussed elements of autobiography. We used scaffolding materials designed for an “autobiographical incident” essay to talk about the important pieces we would include in our drafts. From there, I gave weekly mini-lessons on organization, development, adding detail and topics related to our drafting process. Alma Avalos and I worked alongside students during class time to read and provide feedback on their drafts. Some students wrote in Spanish early in the process.

The students decided that they wanted to write holiday reflections and coming-to-America stories for the book. I was excited that they wanted to include writing that reflected a broader range of their life experience and that they had the confidence to risk doing so.

We will write again together next year, and will again publish our writing. We ended our year together in June with some ideas and goals for next years’ stories. The stories will again show the risks that the students are taking as they reach higher to write their lives. I am honored to work with them.

I am thinking now, in the quiet time of these late summer days, about some of the structures I will use next year in the adult class. I will bring in more design elements of Writer’s Workshop and provide more time for the students to free-write and brainstorm draft ideas. I will teach vocabulary through focused topic study (which the students also initiate) and will continue to teach grammar and language structure in the context of student needs as they arise in class.

Thanks for sharing it with us, Dana!

Print Friendly

August 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Contribute A Post To The Next “ELT Carnival” – “Back To School Tips”

'Carnival by the River' photo (c) 2004, Out.of.Focus - license:

David Deubelbeiss over at ELL Classroom 2.0 will be hosting the next ELT Blog Carnival (formerly known as the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival). The deadline is September 1st and the topic is “Back To School Tips.”

Here’s what he wrote:

Post any and all entries HERE

We are also looking for future hosts of the Carnival for the coming year. Find out more and sign up to host a monthly carnival HERE.

Check out all prior Blog Carnival entries, now nicely archived on the new ELT Blog Carnival site.  The last one a great one on “Humor”, with some wonderful resources. 

Make sure to join the Carnival on Facebook so you’ll get notified every time a new carnival is published.

Print Friendly

August 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Nice Listing Of Educational Videos Available For Streaming Through Netflix & Amazon

The Fordham Institute has completed a useful listing of history, science and literature educational videos available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon. It’s organized by topic and is pretty comprehensive.

Some of the films they included are a bit bizarre (“Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving” in the unit on Native American Cultures? Really?), but most of them seem appropriate.

I’m adding the list to The Best Places To Find Theatrical Movies On Science, Math, & History.

Print Friendly

August 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Manuscript For My Third Book On Student Motivation Is Done!

Though I still have to give it one last “run-through,” the manuscript for the third book in my student motivation “trilogy” is now complete and ready to submit to the publisher, Routledge.

It’s titled:

Building a Community of Self-Motivated Learners: Strategies to Help Students Thrive in School and Beyond

It will be published in early 2015, though they should have a cover and pre-ordering information available within a month or so. I’ll certainly post about it.

You can find information about my previous two volumes in the series (as well free resources from them and my other books) here.

Now it’s time to get ready for the new school year and start working on my next book, which is a sequel to the ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide.

Print Friendly

August 8, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Six Good Ed Tech Links

Here are some recent useful articles on ed tech-related issues:

Why Some Schools Are Selling All Their iPads is from The Atlantic. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On “One-To-One” Laptop/Tablet Programs.

Why a New Jersey school district decided giving laptops to students is a terrible idea is from The Hechinger Report. I’m adding it to the same list.

How can teachers get devices for blended learning? is from Edutopia. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On The “Flipped Classroom” Idea.

Apps That Rise to the Top: Tested and Approved By Teachers is from MindShift. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Beginning iPad Users.

The NAEP has started having students write essays online. Though they are not the Common Core tests our schools will have to be taking, its experience is useful to know as our students begin to take standardized tests online this year. Here are some articles about it:

4th Graders Struggle With Icons, Directions on Computer-Based Tests is from Education Week.

The End of Paper-and-Pencil Exams? is from The Atlantic.

I’m adding them to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

Print Friendly

August 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

In Honor Of John Venn’s Birthday (A Little Late), Here Are Some Fun Venn Diagrams

I was traveling earlier this week, and missed John Venn’s 180th birthday. He, of course, introduced the Venn Diagram to the world.

Here are some fun Venn Diagrams that join other interesting ones at The Best Multimedia Resources For Introducing Students To The Advantages Of Charts, Graphs & Infographics:

Google placed an interactive Venn Diagram its home page.

Here’s a Venn Diagram of Venn Diagrams.

This is the first Venn diagram ever published is from Vox.

Print Friendly

August 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Good Classroom Management Advice: “The Person Who Asks The Questions Controls The Conversation”

If a student an I are having a bad day — a fortunately rare coincidence, but one that nevertheless still happens — sometimes our conversation can denigrate into one that is not helpful to anyone.

Marvin Marshall, who writes a lot about positive classroom management techniques, offers some good advice in that situation:

The Person Who Asks The Questions Controls The Conversation

In other words, if the conversation is going south, asking a question could be one way to get it on track again — “What do you think we should do about this situation?”; “What do you think would help fix this problem?”; “How is what is happening now contributing to any goal you have for the future?”; “How could we deal with this situation in a way that would help you achieve a goal you want for the future?”

Obviously, students can offer retorts that are not constructive to any of those questions, too, but the strategy is worth keeping in mind.

As is other advice Marvin has offered, which I think is the best classroom management guidance I’ve ever heard:

Will what I am about to do or say bring me closer or will it push me away farther from the person with whom I am communicating?

Do you have any good one-sentence classroom management advice that’s good and easy for teachers to remember?

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Classroom Management.

Print Friendly

August 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Looks Like A Great Deal: The NY Times Offers Free Online Classroom Subscriptions


The New York Times is now offering free online classroom subscriptions to “The New York Times Replica Edition” which, I believe, is an online edition of the complete print edition. In other words, it won’t included the extra resources available on the Times website.

It’s still a great deal and it’s open to K-12 classrooms anywhere in the United States. Students can access it from home or from school.

Go to their site to complete an enrollment form….

Print Friendly

August 6, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Mental Imagery, Olympians, “Pickles” & Student Success

I’ve written a lot about using visualization techniques with students (see My Best Posts On Helping Students “Visualize Success”) and even have a chapter about it in my book, Self-Driven Learning.

Here are some resources I’m adding to that “The Best” list. I had been meaning to add the NY Times articles for awhile, but was prompted to finally do so by the humorous Pickles comic strips of the past few days (which I’ve also embedded below):

Olympians Use Imagery as Mental Training is from The New York Times.

Here are the two Pickles strips:

Print Friendly

August 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

How Useful Is The LinkedIn Publishing Platform & LinkedIn Generally?

LinkedIn has now opened up its publishing platform to 15 million people. In other words, if you’re a LinkedIn member, you can now blog with it.

I have no idea how important or useful that is, and hope that readers will enlighten me.

In fact, though I’m a LinkedIn member and connect back to anyone who requests one — as long as they have some relationship to education — I’m still not clear what LinkedIn “does.”

The only thing that I have found useful on it is David Deubelbeiss’ ELT Professionals Around The World group, which seems to have some useful conversations (I’m just a lurker there).

Tell me what I’m missing, if anything. Should I share posts from this blog there? Should I write some original articles on their platform? Are the people on LinkedIn really different from those on Twitter, Google Plus, or Facebook?

Is the advice in this piece, LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform: Pros, Cons and Generating more Content, good or bad?

Print Friendly

August 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Image: Useful List Of Questions

I’m adding this tweet to The Best Posts & Articles About Asking Good Questions — Help Me Find More:

Print Friendly

August 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“How To Build A Better Teacher” — Praise & Minor Critique

A week after an excerpt from Elizabeth Green’s new book, Building A Better Teacher, appeared in The New York Times (Why Do Americans Stink at Math?), another excerpt was the cover story of Parade Magazine — How To Build A Better Teacher.

In it, she lists what she says education researchers have found to be five things “great teachers do differently.”

She makes some great points, along with a couple that I think don’t quite hit the mark:

1. They can right a wrong. — She nailed this one:


2. They never say “Shhh!”

I’m not as positive about Doug Lemov’s techniques as Ms. Green sounds likes like she is, and I’m not convinced that this is a key part of what makes a good teacher “great.” Perhaps, though, it might be more relevant to younger children than in high school, where I teach.

3. They encourage deeper thinking. — She nailed this one, too — we need to ask better questions (see The Best Posts & Articles About Asking Good Questions).

4. They “cold call”—with ­purpose

Yes, cold-calling can be very valuable, but Ms. Green doesn’t clearly highlight the accompanying element that’s necessary to make it effective — wait time.

5. They show more than they tell. — yes, “making your thinking visible” — Bulls-eye!

Her Parade piece is definitely worth reading. I’m looking forward to reading her book, plus, she’s agreed to answer a few questions for my Ed Week Teacher column. Look for it in the future.

Print Friendly

August 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Teaching & Learning About The “Helper’s High”

I recently learned about research behind the “helper’s high” — strong feelings people experience from helping others — and am considering preparing a lesson about it.

I’ve gathered some resources here, and would love for people to make additional suggestions:

The Science of Good Deeds: The ‘helper’s high’ could help you live a longer, healthier life. is from Web MD.

The Helper’s High is from The Greater Good Science Center.

What We Get When We Give is from Psychology Today.

Helper’s High is from Allan Luks.

Print Friendly