Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

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.

September 11, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Beginning List Of The Best Resources For Learning About Google Classroom


Our district is taking baby steps towards using Google Classroom, and I thought it would be a good time to begin a related “Best” list.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Resources For Using Chromebooks In The Classroom – Help Me Find More

The Best Resources For Learning How To Use Google Docs/Google Drive

The Best Posts To Help Understand Google’s New “Books Ngram Viewer”

The Best Resources For Google Earth Beginners Like Me

The Best Sites For Learning About Google Translate

Here are my choices for Google Classroom resources:

You have to start with Alice Keeler, and these two links are good places to begin.

Of course, Vicki Davis’ 100+ Great Google Classroom Resources for Educators is the other key treasure trove.

You probably don’t need to look any further than the sites of those two great educators but, if you’re interested, here are a couple more:

Learn Google Classroom is from Ed Tech Teacher.

Everything You Need To Know In Google Classroom Part One and Part Two.

This Is Intriguing – Now Anyone Can Create A Class In Google Classroom

Welcome to your first day of Classroom is from Google Ed.

September 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Another Tech Tool Claims To Make Online Text More Accessible

Research has shown that reading paper is a somewhat better medium for students than reading on screens (see The Best Resources On Which Is Best – Reading Digitally Or Reading Paper?).

However, some companies are trying hard to change that by using tech solutions to make tech more easily comprehensible. If they are successful, it could change the equation.

I’ve previously written about a browser extension called Beeline that seems to have potential (see New Software Makes Text Easier To “Read”).

Now another company called Asym has unveiled their own browser extension which is much more subtle than Beeline but for which they make a lot of positive claims.

You can read more about it at Quartz’s article This article has been perfectly formatted for maximum reading comprehension, and you can see Asym’s example below. The top image is, as it says, shows text prior to Asym’s intervention and the second image shows it afterwards:



September 6, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Because Khan Academy Doesn’t Receive Enough Attention, Sal Khan Featured In TED Talk PBS Special Next Week


TED Talks has a special next week on PBS called Education Revolution that is featuring Sal Khan and others.

Here is how they are describing it:

TED Talks: Education Revolution, hosted by author, producer and comedian Baratunde Thurston and actor and singer Sara Ramirez, focuses on how education is changing to adapt to our new digital world. The program features talks from educator Sal Khan, who examines what the classroom might look like in the future and the impact of online teaching, Victor Rios, who takes a deep dive into the problems of the school-to-prison pipeline, and Principal Nadia Lopez, whose middle school is in the most dangerous borough in New York and where almost all her students live below the poverty line. TED Talks: Education Revolution also addresses the issue of over-parenting with some revolutionary ideas from Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult, who believes chores and love are more important than a check-listed childhood. The program also features music from Meshell Ndegeocello and a performance piece from the legendary Anna Deavere Smith from her one-woman show, Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education.

Today, they released Khan’s talk, which I’ve embedded at the end of this post (you can read the transcript here).

I’ll never understand why Khan and other tech advocates always have to hype their tech as the thing that is going transform education – can’t they be satisfied in producing a product that may just make it a little better for a lot of students?

You might also be interested in The Best Posts About The Khan Academy.

TED Talks did this kind of program with PBS in 2013 also (I’m not aware of them doing it during other years, but perhaps I just missed it?). Here are posts I wrote about that event:

You Can Now Watch Entire PBS TED Talks On Education Online

Complete Unedited Versions Of Last Night’s TED Talks On Education (Including Bill Gates & His $5 Billion Boondoggle)

Here’s the video of Khan’s talk:

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

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