Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Create Virtual Classrooms With “Awesome Stories” – Plus Students Can Write For An Authentic Audience


I’ve written a number of posts over the years Awesome Stories, the excellent site for free accessible student content on many topics.

Now, for an annual fee of $59, teachers can create virtual classrooms using the site and monitor student progress. That’s nice, though a feature that goes along with that is the one I particularly like – the ability for students (and teachers) to create their own “stories” that can then become part of the site’s content. You can’t beat having an authentic audience for student motivation!

The process to create those stories seems workable for students, though it would be nicer if it was a little more simple – I get wary of anything that requires a ten minute instruction video. But, as I said, it seems like students could figure it out.

Of course, reading the site’s content remains free to everybody.

I’m adding this info to:

The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”

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

August 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The “All-Time” Best Sources Of Online Images


I have nearly 1,600 “Best” lists and, though they’re all categorized and regularly updated, they can be pretty overwhelming – even to me!

That’s one reason why I have a small number, but growing, newer category of lists call “All-Time Best” ones. You can see All Of My “All-Time” Best Lists In One Place!

This post is another attempt at bringing a little more sanity to these lists.

I’ve just revised and updated The Best Online Sources For Images, but it’s still pretty massive – plus there are a zillion comments with even more recommendations from readers.

Here are my choices of the best – and easiest – sites to use for legally obtaining free images. They’re the ones I use the most. The links on this list are either direct links to the sites or links to my blog posts about the resources. In the case, those posts include the direct links:

“Photos For Class” Is My Favorite Site For Finding Images

“Unsplash” Is A Great Source Of Public Domain Photos & Just Got A Lot Better!

Getty Images Has Just Become The Number One Source For Images In Social Media — Choose From 40 MILLION!

You Can Now Embed Images From Imgur With Automatic Attribution

Pixabay is a good source of public domain images. Here’s a post from Richard Byrne some suggestions on how to use it.

ELT Pics is a project initiated on Twitter to collect photos helpful to English Language teachers.

Feel free to let me know if you think I’m missing any obvious ones that should be on this “all-time” list.


August 13, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On The Study Finding That Reading Books Makes You Live Longer


There’s been a lot of attention, both in this blog and elsewhere, on a recent study finding that reading books can extend your life.

I thought readers might find it useful if I put the best articles/videos about it together in one spot. And, since I’ll be preparing a lesson about it, a “Best” list will help me, too!

You might also be interested in The Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

Here are the resources (the first two are links to previous posts on this blog):

Statistic Of The Day: Reading Helps You Live Longer

Video: “Reading books could help lengthen your life”

New research shows that people who read a lot live longer is a great differentiated lesson for English Language Learners from Breaking News English.

Readers Live Longer, Plus 4 Other Science-Backed Benefits to Turning Pages is from People Magazine.

Study: Reading May Extend Lifespan is from Voice Of America.

The best reason for reading? Book lovers live longer, scientists say. is from The Washington Post.

Read Books, Live Longer? is from The New York Times.

Do Bookworms Live Longer? New Study Links Reading More Books To Longer Lifespan is from Tech Times.

Book up for a longer life: readers die later, study finds is from The Guardian.

August 11, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Another Very Positive Review Of Our Latest Book On Teaching ELLs


Our book, Navigating The Common Core With English Language Learners, has received several extremely positive reviews (you can find them, as well as tons of free resources from the book, here).

It just received another one – this time from educator Rita Platt at Middleweb.

You can read it at How to Navigate the Common Core with ELLs.

Here’s an excerpt:

This is less a book to be read cover to cover than a handbook to be marked up, dogged eared, covered in Post-its, and used to help teacher do the work of helping students learn.

Thanks, Rita!

By the way, Katie and I have begun work on our third ELL book — look for it in early 2018.

August 11, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Olympian Laurie Hernandez Demonstrates The Power Of Self-Talk

I’ve previously posted about how positive self-talk can have an impact on students (see The Best Resources On The Value Of Positive “Self-Talk”) including, though not limited to, helping them build agency (see The Best Resources On Student Agency & How To Encourage It).

Social media has been awash the last twenty-four hours with a GIF of Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez saying “I got this” to herself just before helping the U.S. team win a gold medal with her balance beam routine.

Another great example to show students…

August 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Facebook Unveils New “Personalized Learning” Platform They’re Making Available To Everyone


You may, or may not, have seen the article just published by The New York Times, Facebook Helps Develop Software That Puts Students in Charge of Their Lesson Plans.

Facebook has worked with a charter operator, Summit Public Schools, to develop what looks like a very extensive “personalized learning” platform. The charter network piloted it last year and they have now – like, I mean, literally “now” – made it available free to any teacher who wants to use it. The article says it had a “steep learning curve,” but one would hope they’ve made adjustments since that time.

You can access the platform here.

In order to register, you have to have a Google Apps for Education account. When you register, you need to be able to upload proof that you’re a teacher, like a pay stub or a letter on school letterhead. They seem to be pretty picky about it — I had to upload an image of my pay stub three times before they accepted it. It was initially rejected because either the date or the entire image wasn’t big or clear enough. They do get back to you within minutes of your upload.

The curriculum itself looks quite ambitious. And the instructions appear fairly clear on how to set-up classes. If you’ve got a one-on-one device program, it would seem to me that fully exploring this new tool could really be worth your time. For those of us without that kind of access to technology, however, I suspect we’ll generally pass – and it’s clearly not directed towards us, anyway.

This new platform will certainly be the talk of ed tech folks for awhile. Perhaps I’m completely out of the loop, but I don’t think a lot of people saw this new tool coming…

I’m adding this info to:

The Best Resources For Understanding “Personalized Learning”

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

August 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“eLesson Inspirations” Is An Excellent Collection Of Critical Thinking Lessons For ELLs


As I’ve said before many times, Humanising Language Teaching is my favorite language-teaching journal – plus, it’s free!

Its most recent issue has a very good article titled Introducing a New Online Tool: eLesson Inspirations on Global Issues by Bill Templer.

In it, he discusses a free collection of very good lessons for teachers of English Language Learners. It’s called eLesson Inspirations, and its organized by the The Global Issues SIG of IATEFL (one of the two biggest international organizations of ELL teachers).

The lessons include videos and student hand-outs, and are designed to get students to think critically about the world around them and, at the same time, develop better English skills.

Read the article to learn more about the collection and then access all the lessons – for free – at the eLessons Archive. There are about twenty-five of them there now. However, I was disappointed to see that it appears they aren’t adding any new ones to the list – the last one was uploaded last December.

If it was being regularly updated, I’d add it to The Best Places To Find Free (And Good) Lesson Plans On The Internet. I’ll add it there if and when they begin to add new ones.

But, as I’ve said, even without new ones being added, the collection they have now is quite impressive and useful.

August 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Noise Level Charts

I’m regularly amazed by how much I don’t know…

My colleague and co-author, Katie Hull, is moving to middle school this year, and she attended some trainings last week. She told me that one of the things she learned about and liked a lot was a “noise-level chart.”

Apparently, this is very old-news to elementary school teachers who, by the look of the zillions you can find on Pinterest, have been using them for years.

But I don’t think it’s as well known to high school educators, at least the two of us!

Using something like this could be very helpful in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes, which are very large, and we’re all packed into a very small classroom.

Introducing the chart, practicing it, and then explaining what level the class noise level should be prior to each activity (or, even better, asking them what they think the level should be), could be a very helpful strategy.

Again, it’s probable that most readers of this blog already know about this strategy. I wish somebody had told me about it earlier!

Here’s what I’ve come up with for my classroom – tell me how I can make it better, please:


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