Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

January 18, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “6 great online reading resources for young ESL learners”

Adam Simpson is an exceptional English teacher and blogger. In fact, I’ve shared his work on this blog nearly one hundred times!

I was honored this morning by his creating a video highlighting a few of the links, and my reviews of them, from my The Best Websites To Help Beginning Readers.

It prompted me to update and revise the entire list, so you might want to check it out, in addition to visiting his must-read blog and watching his video below:

(This video may have been mistakenly taken off-line by YouTube, but Adam is working to get it back)

6 great online reading resources for ESL learners from Adam on Vimeo.

January 17, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s A Nice Lesson I Did On Ethics In My Theory Of Knowledge Class


This past week, I did a lesson on ethics that I do every year with my IB Theory of Knowledge students. It went very well, and I thought readers might find it useful to hear what I did.

I borrowed and modified it from the IB Theory of Knowledge Course Book. Though we don’t use that textbook with students, I use some of the ideas in it for lessons.

I introduced students to the idea that there five primary sources from where we derive our personal morality:

1. Human Nature
2. Religion
3. Observation & Reason
4. Emotional Empathy
5. Social & Political

I actually had not heard of this list prior to reading the textbook but, after looking it up, it appears to be relatively common (though I can’t find an original source and would love it if readers could identify one).

I then divide students into five groups and assign one of the sources of morality to each one. They have a class period-and-a-half to work together and research online their “source” and each prepare a poster and two-to-three minutes presentation on it. How they research is up to them – they can divide up parts of it and work on their own. Most divided up parts. The one-page listing in the textbook provides examples for each of the five, and those are very helpful (for example, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for human nature and the UN Declaration of Human Rights for social and political). If you do this lesson, I’d suggest you either get the book or identify your own examples for students to use (you can find additional info online that might be useful here, here, and here).

After spending one period researching the info in the library, students had twenty minutes to meet in their groups and create a poster – each student in their group had to create their own, but it was okay if they all looked the same. I gave students in each group a letter, and then the A’s from each group got together, as did the B’s, etc., to meet and present to each other — in other words, it was a “jigsaw.” I told people to listen carefully because the culminating project would be for them to write an explanation using the info they learned saying what they believe are the sources of their own personal morality and why. Oddly, I thought, the textbook has students doing this prior to their investigations.

It all went quite well with a high-level of engagement.

Here are some of the evaluative comments students wrote:

I found it really interesting because I never looked at my morality from all those perspectives. I didn’t realize that there were as many ways to describe and identify our morality.

This morality project helped me understand the people around us and ourselves better.

I learned a little about myself. This enabled me to reflect upon myself and see how I reason with myself.

It was useful because I did not recognize or think about most of these sources.

I really liked learning about the sources of morality because I had never thought about my morals coming from anywhere other than my parents/family.

I liked this activity because it was individual and group work.

Any suggestions on how to improve it and/or where I can find more examples demonstrating each of those five sources of morality — even the textbook doesn’t offer enough of them (in my opinion, at least).

January 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s A New Phonics Activity I Did Today

I have big concerns about how phonics is often taught in schools (see The Best Articles & Sites For Teachers & Students To Learn About Phonics), but I do think it certainly has a role in language teaching and learning.

As I’ve often written, I love the book Sounds Easy and it’s an essential component of how I teach English Language Learner Beginners.

I don’t really follow many of the guidelines in the book about how to use it, but the reproducible sheets are pure gold:


I typically use an inductive model with the worksheets (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching) – after doing a page together, students develop their own categories for the words; then they use a dictionary to add new words that fit into their categories.

Today, I tried a new “twist” that seemed to work well. After students categorized and added new words, I asked them to draw a picture using as many of the objects or actions they had put into their categories. Next, they wrote sentences and, and if they could, a story about the picture.

Here’s an unfinished product of that phonics extension:


Students will next present their drawing and sentences.

It’s by no means a brilliant addition to a phonics exercise, but students seemed to enjoy it and and it made phonics an even more communicative activity.

You can’t go wrong with that….

January 10, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Michael Jordan Story On Goal-Setting


As regular readers know, I’m a big proponent of encouraging students to set their own goals.

In fact, just this month I wrote a post for Teaching English – British Council titled Increasing Motivation Through Students Setting Goals.

In my book Helping Students Motivate Themselves, I included an extensive lesson plan on goal-setting, and you can download a recently updated version of it from my book’s website at Routledge.

One of the materials to be used in that lesson is a short excerpt from Michael Jordan’s autobiography on setting goals.

Unfortunately, the site that hosted that excerpt recently changed the url address of that story. You can now find it here.

I’m adding a link to this post to both The Best Posts On Students Setting Goals and to my resource page for the Helping Students Motivate Themselves: Practical Answers To Classroom Challenges book.

January 10, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Just Updated “Best Tools For Creating Fake ‘Stuff’ For Learning”


There are lots of ways “fake tools” for creating iPhone text messages, Facebook profiles etc. can be used in the classroom.

I’ve just updated The Best Tools For Creating Fake “Stuff” For Learning, which provides links to many places that allow you to create those kinds of fake versions.

January 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

More Resources For Using When Teaching About New Year’s Resolutions


Here are new additions to The Best Ways To Help Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Succeed:

Can Psychology Teach Us How To Stick To New Year’s Resolutions? is from NPR.

To bolster a new year’s resolution, ask, don’t tell is from Science Daily.

More people to stick to New Year’s resolutions is a lesson for English Language Learners from Sean Banville.

January 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of Prior Knowledge (& How To Activate It)


All teachers have a least heard about the importance of helping students connect their prior, or background, knowledge to new information and concepts — it’s a very effective learning/teaching strategy.

Here is a collection of new and prior articles and posts that can help teachers (and students) understand why it’s important and consider various instructional strategies to do it effectively in the classroom:

What you already know is the key to learning new things is a new article in the Guardian, and the piece that prompted this “Best” list.

Does Background Knowledge Matter to Reading Comprehension? by Russ Walsh.

We all know that students learn more effectively if they can connect new information to prior knowledge. How the brain builds on prior knowledge is a report on a new study that saw how different parts of the brain actually do it.

You Don’t Say! Researchers Find That It’s Easier To Learn Something New If You Can Connect It To Something Familiar

More Evidence Reinforcing The Importance Of Connecting To Student Prior Knowledge

Stop The Presses! Study Finds Student Prior Knowledge Is Important & Best Explored Through “Flipped Flipped Classroom” (not a typo)

Background Knowledge: A Key to Close Reading with ELLs is from Colorin Colorado