Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 16, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: Trailer For “Arrival” Movie – Can A Linguist Save The World?

The movie “Arrival” will hit theaters in early November, and its first trailer came out today.

I’m thinking the trailer itself could be useful for Theory of Knowledge classes when we study language – it appears that the focus of the movie is on a linguist who is supposed to save the world by deciphering the aliens’ language.

What do you think?

August 15, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two New Videos Exploring If We Live In A Computer Simulation

The topic of whether we live in a computer simulation or not fits right into any exploration of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

Here are two new videos about that topic, and I’m adding them to my Theory of Knowledge class blog post that includes “Cave” videos and resources, including many student-created ones.

August 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

MIT’s “Moral Machine” Is Most Engaging Version Of “Trolley Problem” You Will Find



Most of us are probably familiar with the famous ethical “Trolley Problem” (see The Best Videos About The Famous “Trolley Problem”).

Now, MIT has created what’s got to be the most engaging online version of the age-old ethical dilemma in its “Moral Machine.”

They’re take on the problem is that you are designing the moral decisions a self-driving car has to make. You’re given thirteen scenarios and, after you’re done, you can see how your answers compare to those of previous participants.

The best part, though, of the site comes next. You can then create your own scenario that others can play!

I think it’s safe to say that for as long as this site is up, any IB Theory of Knowledge class that has access to technology will be playing it during their Ethics unit.

You can read more about it at Slate’s article, Should a Self-Driving Car Kill Two Jaywalkers or One Law-Abiding Citizen?
Here’s a short video from the site:

August 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video & Study Perfect For A Quick TOK Lesson On “The Problem With Slow Motion”

A new study has come out finding that we are more inclined to believe that people have acted intentionally after we see them in slow motion.

You can read about it in these two pieces:

This infamous Draymond Green clip shows how slow motion can bias referees is from The Washington Post.

The Problem With Slow Motion is from The New York Times.

As the Post article explains:

The researchers believe that slow motion makes it appear that a person has more time to think, plan and then act than they really do. Thus, slow-motion video could create the illusion that a person is acting intentionally when he or she is not.

“Seeing something in slow motion gives you the false impression that the actor had more time to act, so it feels more premeditated,” Caruso said. “When you see it in slow motion it just has this, like, air of inevitability.”

And the Post illustrates the point with this Draymond Green video from the NBA playoffs (it also has a video of a shooting that I wouldn’t feel comfortable showing to my class):

Since we’re in Northern California, many of my students will be familiar with this incident.

I plan on showing the video to my Theory Of Knowledge classes when we’re studying Perception, then ask them if they think it was intentional – why or why not. Then I’ll explain what the study found, and ask students to think and discuss what the reasons might be for the research finding. After a short discussion, I’ll tell them what the researchers said about it.

The purpose of the unit is to help students see how and when Perception can help and hinder our search for knowledge, and this is a perfect example.

August 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two Useful Video Clips On The Atomic Bombings Of Japan

Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

Here are two videos that I’m adding to The Best Resources For Learning About The Atomic Bombings Of Japan. I think I will be showing both of them to my Theory of Knowledge classes when we study ethics and debate whether the decision to drop the bombs was the correct one or not:

August 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Noise Level Charts

I’m regularly amazed by how much I don’t know…

My colleague and co-author, Katie Hull, is moving to middle school this year, and she attended some trainings last week. She told me that one of the things she learned about and liked a lot was a “noise-level chart.”

Apparently, this is very old-news to elementary school teachers who, by the look of the zillions you can find on Pinterest, have been using them for years.

But I don’t think it’s as well known to high school educators, at least the two of us!

Using something like this could be very helpful in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes, which are very large, and we’re all packed into a very small classroom.

Introducing the chart, practicing it, and then explaining what level the class noise level should be prior to each activity (or, even better, asking them what they think the level should be), could be a very helpful strategy.

Again, it’s probable that most readers of this blog already know about this strategy. I wish somebody had told me about it earlier!

Here’s what I’ve come up with for my classroom – tell me how I can make it better, please:


August 4, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Good Video For Theory Of Knowledge: “Indiana Jones & Pascal’s Wager”

Crash Course has this relatively new video on Pascal’s Wager, and it’s a good one for IB Theory of Knowledge classes.

My big critique of it, though, is the same one I have for all of Crash Course’s videos – he’s speaks so darn fast. Proficient English speakers should be able to get it, but English Language Learners (and I have many in my TOK course) are going to find it tough to access:

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