Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 23, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Three Useful History Links For Theory Of Knowledge Classes (& Others)


When we teach history in IB Theory of Knowledge classes, we need to help our students critically look at it from various perspectives.

Here are three recent articles I’ve used in class that help do just that:

Bay Area schools named for flawed icons weigh fresh starts is from The San Francisco Chronicle.

The architecture of white supremacy still evokes pain is from The Associated Press.

‘Comfort women’ and a lesson in how history is shaped in California textbooks is from The Los Angeles Times.

February 15, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Video Series Called “Theory Of Knowledge” Raises Hopes, But Then Dashes Them

A YouTube channel called Wireless Philosophy has produced some useful videos in the past, and I was pretty excited when I saw this week they were launching a new series called “Theory Of Knowledge.”

I thought that they might be using IB’s Theory of Knowledge course content as a guide – after all, who wouldn’t want to influence thousands of teens across the world?

Alas, I was disappointed – at least by this first video in the series. It does have some relevance to what we teach in TOK, but it appears much less connected to real-life relevance and much more connected to the kind of questions people use in their worst stereotypes of what philosophers think and do. I’m hoping future ones are better.

Check out the video and let me know if you think I’m being too harsh in my judgement:

Here’s a great suggestion from another TOK teacher in response to this post:

February 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Commentaries On Sci-Hub, The Tool Providing Access to 50 Million Academic Papers For Free

This post’s first title was “It’s Now Possible To Access 47 Million Academic Papers For Free, But Should We?”

I have since turned it into a Best list on the topic.


Anybody who is outside of universities and colleges in the Western world, and who has attempted to do academic research, knows about how expensive it is to gain access to many studies. Though there is an on-going effort by many researchers to make their work freely available, the lure of publication in prestigious journals is very tempting and often necessary for career enhancement.

Now, a Kazakhstan researcher – with allies from around the world – has devised a method that allows anybody to gain access to pretty much any published research paper – for free. Later in this post I’ll be sharing links to articles that explain how it works in more detail, but my understanding is that allies in institutions that do subscribe to these journals have shared log-in credentials. Once you copy and paste the url address to the paywalled paper into the “pirate” site, it automatically searches and mixes-and-matches until it gains access.

It seems unbelievable, but does appear to be extremely easy to use and works within minutes.

But it does raise obvious ethical and legal questions:

Yes, the publishers act like bandits, but how ethical is to get research for free – through subterfuge -that is being sold  (even though the people who wrote the study receive none of the the money – at least according to the articles written about this issue)?

When the movie industry began trying to shut-down pirate film sites, they were able to identify some who downloaded copies and prosecuted them. Is that a possibility here, or is the technology completely different?

Since these papers are about science, do ethical questions around pirated movies, books, and music not apply?

Are my questions reflective of a First World Problem mentality?

I’m raising these questions not only for me, but because I plan to discuss this site and these questions in my IB Theory of Knowledge class as we examine ethics….

Let me know what you think…

Here are articles about the site:

The website that offered 47 million pirated academic papers is back is from Quartz, and shares the new url address of the site.

The Research Pirates of the Dark Web is from The Atlantic.

Meet the Robin Hood of Science is from Big Think.

Why one woman stole 47 million academic papers — and made them all free to read is from Vox.

Expensive Journals Drive Academics To Break Copyright Law is from NPR.

Should All Research Papers Be Free? is from The NY Times.

February 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Disappointing New TED-Ed Video & Lesson On Henrietta Lacks

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of TED-Ed videos and lessons – if you search this blog, you’ll find 145 posts sharing them.

For any organization with such a prodigious output, there are going to be some hits and misses, but TED-Ed has maintained a very high standard.

Which is why I was very surprised and disappointed at their newest video and lesson on “The immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks.”

You probably are somewhat familiar with the story of the young African-American woman whose cells were taken from her (without her knowledge) and are now used around the world for medical research and which have generated huge profits for drug companies. Shockingly, the video only spends seconds on these issues and the lesson itself only briefly touches on those ethical and racial issues.

Check the video and lesson out and let me know if you think I’m over-reacting. Below the video, you can find additional resources on the issue that can be used to help students learn more…

Henrietta Lacks’s cells were priceless, but her family can’t afford a hospital is from The Guardian.

Ethical Justice, But No Financial Rewards, For The Henrietta Lacks Family is from Forbes.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the Sequel is from The New York Times.

Henrietta Lacks: the mother of modern medicine is from The Guardian.

February 6, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Five Videos Demonstrating The McGurk Effect


The McGurk Effect demonstrates how we can “hear with our eyes.”

It’s perfect when teaching Perception in IB Theory of Knowledge classes.

Here are some articles and videos talking about it – you can never have too many videos because of District Internet content filtering:

This simple illusion shows that you can literally hear with your eyes is from The Washington Post.

When Your Eyes Hear Better Than Your Ears: The McGurk Effect is from Slate.

February 4, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Videos On Milgram & Stanford Prison Experiments – Not Blocked By YouTube Safety Mode


I’m beginning to teach about the Milgram and Stanford Prison Experiments in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes.

I’ve always has a rich collection of related resources at our class blog, but many of the videos are blocked by YouTube’s Safety Mode (see The Best Ways To Deal With YouTube’s Awful Safety Mode) and, before I took the time to download the videos and upload them again to the blog, I decided take a few minutes to see if there were some equally good ones that were not blocked.

Here’s what I found:

The Milgram Experiment from Johannes Jørgensen on Vimeo.

Disclose TV Video on Milgram experiment

Stanford Prison Experiment Overview (13 min) from Ryan Beck on Vimeo.

Stanford Prison Experiment-Zimbardo from Sansa Morse on Vimeo.

Stanford Prison Experiment Video

January 24, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

New ELL History “What If?” Projects


I’ve often blogged about our What If? History projects (see The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons).

As I do every year, my IB Theory of Knowledge students first create ones, and then I make arrangements for them to come to my English Language Learner history classes for one or two periods to help them create their own.

Here’s the research planning form my students use, and here’s the outline they use for their PowerPoint presentations.

Here are a few simple presentations my ELL students created:

What Would Have Happened If The Aztecs Had Killed The Spanish?

What If Columbus Didn’t “Discover” America?

What If Genghis Khan Didn’t Unite The Mongols?

What if Muhammad Did Not Experience A Revelation?

You can see many other examples of presentations created by both my ELL and TOK students at the previously-mentioned “Best” list…

Skip to toolbar