Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 26, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Sideways Dictionary” Explains Tech Through Analogies & Lets You Contribute Your Own

Sideways Dictionary explains lots of technology concepts through analogies and invites readers to contribute their own.

It’s a great site for a number of reasons.  One, it can help anyone more easily understand tech terms.  Second, it’s a nice tool to teach about analogies, which are exceptional tools for promoting knowledge transfer (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer” — Help Me Find More and The real stuff of schooling: How to teach students to apply knowledge).

Finally, it’s a another place where students can write for an authentic audience (see The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”).

It would be wonderful if there was a similar site that was not just limited to analogies for tech concepts but, instead, had a broader list of fields (political ideologies, scientific and math concepts, etc.).  I couldn’t find any doing a quick search.  Anyone else know of one?

February 27, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Virtual Reality In Education

See Everything You Wanted To Know About How We’re Using Virtual Reality With ELLs, But Were Afraid To Ask

My student teachers and I have been making some initial attempts at trying out Google Cardboard with my English Language Learner students (I bought a few plastic ones from IMCardboard – the actual cardboard ones are just too flimsy for my high school classroom).

Unfortunately, the WiFi doesn’t seem up to the task of streaming VR videos. Until we work out that problem, we’re going to experiment with using photos.  One lesson we’re planning to try is to write up a list of the elements that make-up a good VR photo, explore two of them, and then have students write a short argument essay about which one is better (we’re in the middle of an argument essay unit).  Of course, we could do the same exercise with regular photos, but I suspect engagement will be higher doing it this way.

After that experiment is complete, we’ll start using it in our World and U.S. History classes.  I’m still trying to figure out what value-added benefit it gives if we can’t access the VR videos.  All suggestions are welcome (we also have a camera that can take 360 photos, and I’m trying to figure out how we can use that, too).

In the meantime, I thought it would be useful to bring together my past posts about Virtual Reality in education, along with new resources I’ve been collecting.  Feel free to offer your own suggestions.

You might also be interested in  The Best Resources For Organizing & Maximizing Field Trips – Both “Real” & “Virtual”

Here’s what I have so far:

Google Rolls-Out The Coolest Way – Ever – For Students To Take Virtual Field Trip

20 Best VR Apps for Google Cardboard from MakeUseof looks interesting.

Is virtual reality ready for school? is from Brookings.

Reader Idea | New York Times Virtual Reality in the Classroom is from The New York Times Learning Network.

5 Apps to Use with Google Cardboard is from Class Tech Tips.

Ripping Learning off the Page is from Edutopia.

Teachers eye potential of virtual reality to enhance science instruction is from Ed Source.

Coincidentally, later today, Richard Byrne is hosting a Google Hangout on this very topic. If you can’t make it, I assume it will be archived (it is, and you can find it here).

Kathy Schrock has a nice collection of resources.

9 Must-Have Virtual Reality Tools for Teaching with Google Cardboard is from Class Tech Tips.

Virtual Reality Could Transform Education as We Know It is from Ed Week.

Future Ready: VR, AR, and MR in the classroom beyond the novelty is by Micah Shippee.

“Speak To Go” Could Be A Fun Tool For A Student-Centered Geography Lesson

Google Unveils Virtual Reality Tours Related To Alexander Hamilton

Embed 360° photos and Virtual Reality (VR) Content is from Edublogs.

IATEFL presentation : Virtual Reality in the EFL Class is from IATEFL.

Using virtual reality to step into others’ shoes is from The Hechinger Report.

Tips For Getting Started With 360° Photos And Virtual Reality (VR) Content is by Sue Waters.

Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality – What’s the Difference? is from Voice of America.

Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality is from Richard Byrne.

Video: Google Expeditions Announces New Augmented Reality Program For Schools

December 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Google Translate Dramatically Expands Recent Breakthrough

Two months ago, I posted about a Google announcement that they had made a breakthrough in improving Google Translate (Google Says They Just Achieved A Huge Breakthrough In Machine Translation) and that they expected to roll changes out among its languages.

It looks like they might have accelerated those changes, and you can read all about it in a massive New York Times article published today, The Great A.I. Awakening.

Here’s an excerpt:


The improvements seem absolutely amazing.

The Times article goes into excruciating detail about how the changes have been achieved. To be honest, I’m less interested in the “how” and more interested in its reality. It just makes it so much easier to ELL teachers to communicate with parents and with newcomer students!

I’m adding this info to The Best Sites For Learning About Google Translate & Other Forms Of Machine Translation.

November 15, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The New “PhotoScan” By Google Is One Of The Most Useful Apps I’ve Ever Seen


The new PhotoScan app from Google, for both Android and iPhone, lets you easily convert your old “paper” photos into high-resolution digital images.

I know one thing I’ll be doing over Thanksgiving break.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me, which needs a big revision and update.

November 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Three New Sites That Let Teachers Create Virtual Classrooms & Monitor Student Progress


Here are three new additions to The Best Sites Where Students Can Work Independently & Let Teachers Check On Progress:

EdCite clearly looks like the best of the three – it’s free and very easy to use.  I learned about it from Class Tech Tips.

The other two – Kids Discover Online (for Social Studies) and Whooo’s Reading (for literacy) seem to offer some decent materials, though they also both require payment.  Neither’s cost is outrageous.  The also both offer some free resources, but those are pretty limited.

November 7, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Statistics On How Visitors Find This Blog


Each year, I publish year-end statistics of how visitors find my blog (you can find last year’s post here).

About 16,000 readers subscribe to this blog daily and can read the content without visiting directly. However, another five-to-six-thousand readers do visit to read the posts. How do they get here?

Well, for 2016, the answer was:

The number one referrer was a big surprise – Flipboard. Even though people can subscribe to the blog from there, I’m very surprised that 21% of readers find their way here from there. It’s a huge jump from last year.

Twitter is next, with 18% of visitors coming from there.

Then, 17% come from Facebook.

9% come from Pinterest, and that’s a substantial drop from last year even though the number of followers I have there has increased tremendously.

Edutopia (which often publishes excerpts from my books), and Education Week (where I write a teacher advice column) are tied at about 3% each.

It’s sort of a “grab-bag” after that…

So, any ideas about what I can learn from this analysis – particularly about the huge jump in Flipboard and the substantial decrease from Pinterest?


October 5, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Overestimating The Future Impact Of Tech

Why the next 20 years will see a lot less technological disruption than the past 20 is the headline of a very interesting story in Vox.

Here’s an excerpt:



You might also be interested in:

The Best Advice On Using Education Technology

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

September 27, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Google Says They Just Achieved A Huge Breakthrough In Machine Translation

Google announced today a new system of machine translation which, they say, dramatically increases its accuracy.

You can read about it at their blog. TechCrunch describes it as “looking at the sentence as a whole, while keeping in mind, so to speak, the smaller pieces like words and phrases” as opposed to previous efforts as translating by “phrase.”

This new system has been uploaded to Google Translate for Chinese-to-English, and I’m eager to have my Chinese English Language Learners try it out tomorrow to let me know what they think of it.

GMNT, the name of the new system, is in green on this chart, and you can see how much it is supposed to improve the translation accuracy. Based on these results, it seems safe to assume that several other languages will soon have GMNT applied to them in the app, too:

(image from Google Research blog)

I do have to say that based on my very imperfect Spanish, the evaluation of Google Translate’s present ability in Spanish/English translations seems pretty optimistic (a five, with a human translator at five-and-a-half), but I may very well be wrong.

I’m adding this post to The Best Sites For Learning About Google Translate & Other Forms Of Machine Translation.

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