Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

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!

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….

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!

March 25, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

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?

March 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Digital Learning Day Is On March 13th – Here Are My “Best” Lists On Ed Tech In One Place!




Here’s how The California Writing Project describes Digital Learning Day:

Organized by the Alliance for Excellent Education, Digital Learning Day celebrates effective teaching and learning practices powered by technology. Each year, hundreds of thousands of teachers and education leaders, and millions of students from all fifty states and the District of Columbia join this grassroots movement in schools nationwide. From classroom activities to district-and statewide initiatives, Digital Learning Day events are diverse and unique and share the goals of encouraging innovation, supporting teachers, and spreading best practices for the use of technology in schools.

You can learn more about it at the Digital Learning Day site and/or at The California Writing Project.

Here are my best “Best” lists related to ed tech:

The Best Advice On Using Education Technology

The Best Sources For Ideas On How To Use Technology With English Language Learners

The Best Places To Find Research On Technology & Language Teaching/Learning

The Best Posts On The NY Times Ed Tech Article

“A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Using Technology To Help Engage Parents”

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

The Best Places To Learn Computer Basics & How To Fix Tech Problems

The Best Eleven Websites For Students To Learn About Computers

The Best Sites For Learning About The History Of Technology

My Best Posts For Tech Novices (Plus One From Somebody Else)

The Best Research Available On The Use Of Technology In Schools

The Best Good, Inexpensive & Simple Classroom Technology Tools

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2014

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly In 2014

The “All-Time” Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education

The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

The Best places to learn Web 2.0 basics

The Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner Sites

My Best Posts Related To Twitter

The Best Guides To Figuring Out Pinterest

The Best Resources For Learning What Google+ Is All About

A Beginning List Of The Best Resources For Learning About Facebook

You can find even more by reviewing my regularly updated collection of over 1,400 “The Best” lists.

March 7, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Writing Challenge For Kids” Could Be A Nice Change-Of-Pace For Students


I’ve previously written several posts describing activities that I’ve been having my Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners do in pairs or small groups, with the Intermediates in more of a “teaching” position, but where they can learn, too.

Another exercise that fits into that category is a collaborative story lesson that I’ve posted about at A Good & Simple Collaborative Storytelling Lesson. I won’t repeat the steps here, but, basically, I give prompts and students work in groups to write and illustrate a story together. It’s a lot of fun, and I can adapt the prompts to the thematic unit we’re studying at the time, current events, student interests, etc.

Today, Edudemic wrote a very clear and positive review of an iPad/iPhone app called Writing Challenge For Kids (if you get it, make sure you get that version and not the one for adults). I’d encourage you to read it. The app basically does the same thing, but with automatically generated prompts, and uses a timer.

I’ve purchased (for $1.99) and downloaded it on my iPhone. It seems to operate just as Edudemic says it does, and I plan on putting it under my document camera this week and using it as a “change-of-pace” from the “manual” collaborative storytelling process I referenced earlier. I’m confident that the “manual” way is a better one, but, as in many situations, a tech version can often be used in place of an “old-fashioned” way to occasionally liven things up. As lots of research shows, novelty works wonders in teaching and learning.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

March 6, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Google Announces Big Online Conference For Educators


Google has announced a free online conference for educators called Education On Air that will take place on May 8th and 9th.

They don’t mention any names of presenters or speakers, and they’re pretty vague on the topics to be covered. They say a schedule will be released next month. They are also inviting people to send in suggestions of what should take place.

Those days are a Friday and Saturday. It’s the middle of testing season, so I wonder how many teachers will be able to participate in the first day.

It will be interesting to see what Google comes up with…