Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

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

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

July 25, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Dango” Interprets Your Words Into Emojis


Dango is a new online tool that is supposed to “use deep learning to predict which emojis you want to use.”

Type something into it and, as the above image illustrates, Dango interprets what you wrote into emojis.

I’ve previously shared resources and ideas on how to use emojis in language learning/teaching, and I wonder if I can fit Dango into it somehow:

“Emoji Finder” Could Be A Fun & Different Picture Dictionary For English Language Learners

Here’s a nice lesson on using emojis to teach vocabulary.

Any ideas how to use it in class (I also wonder if I could use it in Theory of Knowledge class when discussing emotion?)

July 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

More Latinos Accessing Internet Through Phone, But No Change For Broadband

The Pew Center just came out with a report on U.S. Latino online access (see Digital Divide Is Narrowing for Latinos: Report).

Access is way up through mobile devices, but there hasn’t been a change in access to broadband over the past five years:


I’ve certainly seen this in my classroom, and it presents a big challenge to students. There’s a whole lot you can do on a computer that you can’t do easily on a iphone, including writing an essay. Not to mention recent research showing that lack of experience with laptops and computers impacts student performance on state assessments (see Study: Do Tests On Computers Assess Academic or Technological Abilities?).

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About Schools Providing Home Computers & Internet Access To Students.

July 20, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Q & A Collections: Using Tech In The Classroom”

Q & A Collections: Using Tech In The Classroom is the headline of my latest Education Week Teacher column.

It includes links to all my Ed Week posts on using tech in the classroom from the past five years – in one place!

Here’s an excerpt from one of them:



I’m adding it to The Best Advice On Using Education Technology.


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