Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

October 16, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Ways To Deal With YouTube’s Awful Safety Mode


The use of YouTube’s Safety Mode by school districts has made the lives of many teachers more difficult – it’s not very “smart” and so blocks a zillion useful classroom videos.

Here are a couple of posts I’ve written in the past about dealing with it:

Update: School District Filters Using Awful YouTube Safety Mode

Our District Just Activated Awful YouTube Safety Mode – What’s Been Your Experience?

Here’s a new resource that could be useful: How to Download YouTube Videos from PC Magazine.

I’ve also had good luck downloading YouTube videos with SaveFrom.Net

Richard Byrne published a post about new Google features that might help teachers deal with YouTube’s awful Safety Mode. If you look at the comments section at Google, though, it looks like there is still a long way to go.

My favorite method now is downloading the videos and adding them to my Dropbox.

Any other ideas out there?

October 13, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Knewton Is Free & Lets Teachers Create Virtual Classrooms – But Is It Good?


Knewton is a free online learning site that lets teachers create virtual classrooms and monitor students work. Yes, there are plenty of other sites that let you do the same thing (see The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress).

Knewton, though, is supposedly different because it uses “adaptive learning” – as NPR describes it:

the platform presents video and a variety of written content and then asks multiple-choice questions. Based on student responses, and patterns of responses from other similar students, the next piece of content is served up.

It offers English, math and biology courses.

Sign-up and student registration is easy. I’m going to have a few students try-out the fourth-grade English course today to see what they think. It definitely seems pretty hard to me – beyond what I would expect of a fourth-grader. We’ll see what my English Language Learner students have to say about it.

Knewton may or may not be a useful supplement. I suspect, though, that it’s not going to be the “magic pill” its finder claims it that it will be. You can read more about it at that NPR article, headlined Meet The Mind-Reading Robo Tutor In The Sky.

I’m still going to add this post to the previously-mentioned “Best” list, as well as to The Best MATH Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

September 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

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


In May, I wrote about Google’s new virtual reality field trip program (see Google’s New “Expeditions” Looks Like An Insanely Cool Way For Students To Take A Virtual Field Trip).

Here’s how I described it then:

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).

Today, Google announced they’re taking the show on the road to cities in the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Here’s a list of sites they’re visiting, and bringing along everything teachers and students need to use the Expeditions program:


Here’s their announcement:

Expeditions is hitting the road! Expeditions teams will visit selected schools around the world, starting with The United States, Australia, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, and Brazil. Each team will bring a complete Expeditions kit with everything the teachers need to take their students on journeys anywhere. If it sounds like something your school, teachers and students would be interested in, please visit our Pioneer Program site to learn more about the program and sign up to be considered. Spaces are limited so sign-up soon!

As we won’t be able to visit every school who signs up, later in the year we’ll be making Expeditions available for download by any school that wants to use it with kits they’ve assembled themselves – all you need are enough tablets or smartphones for everyone that wants to join and a wireless network.

If you want them to come to your school, you have to have at least teachers signed-up to participate, though its pretty clear that preferences will be given to schools that have a lot of teachers on-board.

Here are two more articles about Google’s announcement today:

Google Virtual-Reality System Aims to Enliven Education is from The New York Times.

Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program Brings Cardboard To Schools is from TechCrunch.

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Finding And Creating Virtual Field Trips.

July 31, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “How Google Translate Makes Signs Instantly Readable”

Earlier this week, I posted about recent updates to Google Translate (see Google Translate Announces Another Big Update Today).

I think its ability to translate text by just looking at it through your phone is akin to magic.

Here’s a new video that explains how it actually does it:

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

July 29, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Google Translate Announces Another Big Update Today


Last January, Google Translate updated big-time with support for (not quite) real time voice translation and translation of text through camera images (see “Google Translate” Starts A Big Time Update Today).

Today, they announced another big update – adding a ton of new languages to the feature that translates images of text, along with what they say are improvements that will make the voice translation ability work better:

We started out with seven languages—English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish—and today we’re adding 20 more. You can now translate to and from English and Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. You can also do one-way translations from English to Hindi and Thai. (Or, try snapping a pic of the text you’d like translated—we have a total of 37 languages in camera mode.)

I’ve embedded a cute video below where they’re showing off using the new languages in the visual mode.

I’ve found the real-time voice translation feature not very workable in classroom situations, but perhaps these new updates will mitigate those problems.

The visual text feature, on the other hand, has come in quite handy for some students. As the video shows, you just set the language of the text you want translated and the language you want it translated into, click the camera icon, point it at the text, and it shows you the translated image. As the video also shows, it works great with large text. It works well with small text when I’m using my iPhone 6, but students have found in the past it doesn’t work nearly as well with lower-end smartphones. I don’t know if this new update will fix that issue or not.

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

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