Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 5, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Developing Student Digital Portfolios

Over the next day or two, I’ll be publishing a post over at Education Week Teacher with advice on creating student digital portfolios (it’s now been published, and you can see it here).

I thought it would be useful to share a beginning list of resources here:

First, you might find these previous “Best” lists useful (I’ve just updated them):

The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online

The Best Ways For Students Or Teachers To Create A Website

I’ve previously posted several times about how much I love the Shadow Puppet app — there isn’t anything out there that’s an easier tool for creating a quick audio-narrated slideshow. It’s perfect for English Language Learners. Recently, the company behind Shadow Puppet has just released another new and free educational app that looks like it could be very useful. It’s called Seesaw, and basically lets students easily create digital portfolios that can be shared with teachers and parents. It’s free for teachers and students, and has a free and paid version for parents.

5 Free Tools For Making Digital Portfolios is from Edudemic.

4 Free Web Tools for Student Portfolios is from Edutopia.

5 Good Options for Creating Digital Portfolios is from Richard Byrne.

Digital Portfolios: The Art of Reflection is from Edutopia.

Meaningful Learning with Digital Portfolios: Tools & Examples is from Shelly Sanchez Terrell.

7 Good Options for Building Digital Portfolios – A PDF Handout is from Richard Byrne.

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June 5, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Skype Opens Up Web Version To Everyone


Skype has now opened-up its web-based version to everyone.

In order to be able to use it for voice or video calling, however, you still have to download a plugin. Much to my surprise, however, my school computer, which has a zillion restrictions on what can and cannot be downloaded, let me do it.

This can come in quite handy now for teachers whose districts restrict software downloads, and could make it easier for class conversations with authors, other classes, etc.

You can read more about it at this Tech Crunch post.

I’m adding this info to The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration.

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June 2, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Khan Academy & College Board Announce New Free SAT Prep


The College Board and Khan Academy have just announced a new free interactive series of exercises for SAT prep.

I’m a bit skeptical of the effectiveness of these kind of online test programs for anyone but the most motivated student, but I may very well be wrong. It might be helpful to my IB students. At least, except for an initial introductory one, it seems free of most of their awful usual Khan videos.

You can read more about it at the Los Angeles Times article headlined College Board, Khan Academy team up to offer free SAT prep program.

I’m adding this info to:

The Best Posts About The Khan Academy

A Beginning “The Best…” List Of Free & Decent Online Practice Sites For State Tests — Help Me Add More!

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May 29, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Google’s New “Expeditions” Looks Like An Insanely Cool Way For Students To Take A Virtual Field Trip


I’m a big advocate of taking students on real-world field trips and, in fact, am recovering today from two relatively insane field trips in a week of seventy students each.

In addition, I try to take advantage of virtual field trips to places where it’s not feasible for us to go in the the “real world.”

Google resources are prominent in The Best Resources For Finding And Creating Virtual Field Trips. And, yesterday, they made another big announcement unveiling a new project called Expeditions.

Basically, teachers will be able to choose locations from around the world using an iPad and then:

send synchronized three-dimensional 360° panoramas to each student’s Cardboard viewer, pointing out areas of interest in real time and instantly pausing the trip when needed.

Yes, that’s right — students would have individualized Cardboard viewers — sort of virtual reality glasses (though students would also be able to view the images on other devices, too).

Here’s a Google video showing what it might look like in a classroom (and here’s another report on how it works):

You can sign-up to learn more at the Expeditions website.

Google says:

While Expeditions can be used on devices already in the classroom, they come alive with Google Cardboard. Our pilot kit is a collection of all the hardware needed to go on Expeditions in full virtual reality — a tablet for the guide, VR viewers for each student, a speaker to provide ambient sounds and a durable box to transport, charge, and store it all. We know many schools don’t have great Internet service (or any at all) so we built Expeditions to work without it. The kit includes a router that allows Expeditions to run over its own local Wi-Fi network so there’s no buffering, dropped connections or lengthy loading times.

It’s unclear to me if they’re making these “pilot kits” available for free or if schools have to pay for them. It seems like the Cardboard viewers cost about $20 each, though Google also makes the designs available so really ambitious teachers could have students create them. However, since Google introduced a new Cardboard version yesterday, I don’t know if the new designs are on their site or if those are for the older kind.

I wouldn’t want to deal with having to make them, and I’m hopeful they will be making the kit, or at least the Cardboard viewers, free to schools.

Real-world trips can’t be beat but, if you’re going to go on a virtual one, it seems like “Expeditions” is going to be the coolest way to go….

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May 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Skype’s Version Of Star Trek “Universal Translator” Now Available To Public

I’ve previously written several posts about Skype’s experimental simultaneous translation system.

Today, they made it available to anyone with a Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 preview edition on their computer.

You can read more about it at TechCrunch.

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

Here’s another video from Skype showing it in action:

I’d love to hear how people think this might or might not affect English language teaching — positively or negatively!

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March 25, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Our District Just Activated Awful YouTube Safety Mode – What’s Been Your Experience?


Our District has just activated YouTube’s Safety Mode, and it’s just awful. Teachers are up-in-arms because so many videos are blocked. Just today, I found videos that I often used in class like newsreels from the Spanish-American War, clips from movies about the Battle of Waterloo, even Charlie Chaplin’s “Gold Rush” silent film are now blocked.

I put this question out on Twitter today, trying to find out if other district’s have been able to just activate it for student accounts but leave teachers free from the restrictions. Here’s one response I received — any other ideas?

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