Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 15, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: “Teaching Doubt” (& How I’m Going To Use It In Class)

Teaching Doubt is a great column in The New Yorker. It’s perfect for IB Theory of Knowledge classes, and just about every other one, too.

I’m going to be using this simple writing prompt with the article:

What is Lawrence M. Krauss saying about doubt? Do you agree with him? To support your opinion you may use examples from your own experiences, your observations of others, and any of your reading, including his article.

Here’s an excerpt:


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

Print Friendly

March 14, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Nearly 2,000 Categorized Resources For IB Theory Of Knowledge Classes

As regular readers know, in addition to teaching various classes to English Language Learners and to mainstream ninth-graders, I teach the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge course. I also regularly share TOK resources here on the blog, and I think it’s pretty popular among TOK teachers around the world.

In addition, I accumulate links to articles and resources on the Delicious bookmarking site, and now have nearly 2,000 categorized into the all the TOK “Ways of Knowing” and “Areas of Knowledge.”

You can find most of them here.

However, for some weird reason, not quite all of the “tags” are visible at that link. Here are direct links to the WOK and AOK resources not listed in the above link:

Logic and Reason (They’re separate, but all related. I think I first started using the logic tag and later switched to reason)

Indigenous Knowledge Systems


Intuition (though most are still in the Emotion category)

Human Sciences

Print Friendly

March 5, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Value Of Students Creating Their Own Evidence

Earlier today I published Yet Another Study Finds Constructivism Tends To Work Better Than Direct Instruction, and this afternoon I saw, once again, why that research funding is accurate.

As regular readers know, in addition to teaching several classes of Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners, I also teach two International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes (it often makes for an interesting transition — I’ll go from, let’s say, teaching “The Vowel Song” to teaching Plato’s Allegory of the Cave seven minutes later).

In addition to a final essay, TOK students have to develop an present a major oral presentation in their second semester on a deep and substantial topic (you can see examples here).

Yesterday, as part of helping students prepare, we viewed an excellent presentation from one of my previous classes, one that I know is used by other TOK classes as a model. The presentation explores “What Is Madness?” and one of its most intriguing parts is a survey the presenters used to have participants evaluate their own levels of sanity. You can view the video here and it’s cued up to that point.

Today, I showed the class that one-minute segment again and asked them to start thinking about if they could think of anyway to “create their own evidence” to use in the presentations — in other words, keeping in mind what we had previously learned in studying the human sciences, could they create surveys or do experiments that would be applicable to their topics?

As they were thinking, I then showed them two short video clips from Dan Pink’s excellent National Geographic Channel show titled Crowd Control, which I have previously posted about several times. Here are the engaging clips I showed the class:

You can’t go wrong showing a high school class about a human science experiment involving dog poop!

After I showed them the clips, I again asked them to continue thinking about what kinds of surveys or experiments they could incorporate in their presentations.

Then, I explained briefly explained an experiment NPR discussed last year about a scientist comparing countries based on how many drivers went forward into parking spaces to get to their destinations quicker and those who showed the ability to delay gratification by backing into spaces so they could leave quickly.

The key point of the story, however, was this quote:


Up to this point, the entire activity had taken less than ten minutes.

I then told students to get into their presentation groups and discuss for three minutes possible experiments they could use as part of their presentations.

The room quickly buzzed with excitement.

After three minutes, I called on students to report back with their preliminary ideas, and there were some great ones. One group exploring the question of what is reality and who gets to define it said they’d like to use some smartphone virtual reality apps and have people test them out. Another that is considering the role of imagination in art talked about their creating various items and having people evaluate them using an imagination “criteria.” One other group taking on the topic of if technology is truly necessary in order to “advance” society said they might come up with a list of technology achievements and ask people which one they think would be most important if they had to choose one for a brand new country they were creating.

The list could go on and on, and that was just in one class after a three minute discussion following a ten minute activity.

We then went to the library where they worked on their presentation and could choose to watch more clips from Dan Pink’s show, which most did.

The level of energy about the Oral Presentation has never been higher, and it will be fun to see what students come up with…

Print Friendly

February 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Watch 41 Clips From Dan Pink’s TV Show, “Crowd Control”


I’ve previously written posts about Dan Pink’s great National Geographic series, Crowd Control.

You can now watch forty-one short clips from the show on National Geographic’s YouTube Channel.

Here’s one sample:

They’re excellent for use in many lessons, particularly for IB Theory of Knowledge when we study human sciences.

Print Friendly

February 27, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On “The Dress”

You may be puzzled by the headline of this post just as I was when I went on Twitter yesterday afternoon and saw tons of people tweeting and arguing about the color of a dress.


The whole hullabaloo still seems bizarre to me, but I think it does offer an opportunity, especially for International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes, to use it for discussing Perception.

Here are a few quick links that I think TOK teachers might find useful:

What color is this dress? Weigh in on the photo everyone’s talking about is from NBC News.

12 fascinating optical illusions show how color can trick the eye is from The Washington Post.

Though I do think it’s useful in class, and I’ll be talking about it there today, I still do tend to agree with Paul Bruno here:

Print Friendly

February 20, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Scientist’s “Explanimations” Is A Useful Animated Video Series

New Scientist has a series of short videos that call “Explanimations”:

Ever wondered if space is actually infinite? Or what exactly reality is? Our animation series explains big ideas and abstract concepts in just a few minutes.

You can see the entire playlist here, and I’ve embedded an example below:

Print Friendly