Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 28, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Videos: Using Art As A Language-Learning Activity

'fancy pants' photo (c) 2010, Amanda Sicard - license:

Creating art can be a great language-learning activity for English Language Learners!

We’re lucky to have an extraordinarily talented and caring art teacher — Mr. Johnny Doolittle — at our school. Every year he gives up his free period for many days to lead our English Language Learners in many different activities, including origami when we are studying Japan in Geography class; drawing when we are learning art vocabulary; and replicating a Depression-era mural we’re going to see at Coit Tower in San Francisco on our annual field trip.

Often, we combine these lessons with days when his mainstream art students help teach our newcomers — a neat opportunity for practicing speaking skills. Our class also talks, writes and reads about all the activities we do with Mr. Doolittle and his students. And since many of our ELL students don’t have much time in their schedule for electives like art, our time with his classes provides a little taste of that activity.

Here’s a video of our most recent week-long art project — replicating a mural that we’re going to see tomorrow on our field to San Francisco. Believe me, students will be looking very, very intently at the artwork when we get there and talking about it with their classmates — in English!

You can see videos of all our previous art projects at our class blog.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources Discussing The Importance Of Art In Education.

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May 22, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: A New Version Of “I’m Just A Bill” That’s More Cynical & More Accurate

Who’s not familiar with the famous Schoolhouse Rock video, I’m Just A Bill?

Just in case, though, it’s the second video embedded in this post.

The first video is an updated version by Vox that is more cynical and more accurate (I’m not sure of that one will show-up in an RSS Reader).

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May 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “We are one World Cup anthem with subtitles”

Thanks to David Deubelbeiss for subtitling this video that I’m adding to The Best Sites For Learning About The 2014 World Cup In Brazil.

By the way, look for my New York Times post tomorrow, which is also on the World Cup…

We are one World Cup anthem with subtitles from David Deubelbeiss on Vimeo.

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May 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “Around the World in 360° Degrees”

In his own version of “Where The Hell is Matt?”, here’s a guy who took panoramic videos of himself in different places around the world.

I don’t think it’s anyway near as interesting as the two “Matt” videos (which are also embedded below), since Matt shows much more interaction with people, but it still could be useful in a Geography class…

Matt in 2012:

And here’s the original from 2008:

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May 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Using Instagram, Bloom’s Taxonomy & Student Interest As A Fun Part Of A Semester Final


I’ve previously posted about some elements in my upcoming finals (see My Best Posts On Writing Instruction and scroll down near the bottom).

Another element I’m trying out this year is having students in all my classes create Instagrams (see other ways I’ve used Instagram and Vine in my classes at The Best Resources For Learning To Use The Video Apps “Vine” & Instagram). They’ll all be somewhat different:

* My ninth-grade English students will identify questions (following some lessons on Bloom’s Taxonomy) they still have about the units we’ve studied this year and find the answers to them.

* Intermediate English students will be choosing questions related to the English language.

* My Geography class for English Language Learners will be identifying questions they have about the United States, since we’re finishing up the year studying our country.

* My IB Theory of Knowledge students will identify the TOK topics they were most interested in and illustrate them in the video.

You can download the instructions I’m giving to my ninth-grade students here, and I’ll also share them in this post. In addition, I’ve embedded an example I created for them.

Any feedback on how I can make these better activities are welcome!

Here are the instructions:

Instagram Video Project Instructions

Ninth-Grade English

You will be creating three Instagram videos highlighting questions about any of the units we  have studied this year  (Natural Disasters, New Orleans, Mandela, Jamaica, Everest) that you still have on your mind. You may also include questions about any of the life skill lessons we learned (grit, learning and the brain, goal-setting, etc.). You will need to provide the answers to them after spending time researching in the library.

One of your questions may be related to the lower two levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, and the other two need to be connected to the higher levels.  Your questions must be approved by Mr. Ferlazzo.

The video must:

First, show the question and say it, and show your name (first name only).

Other portions of the video must include drawings, at least one sound effect, the answer to your question, and an image of at least one of your sources.

You can also include puppets, music, your own acting, images from elsewhere and other narration.

Everything in your video must be appropriate for a classroom.

Remember, you only have fifteen seconds, but you can fit a lot into that time.

Practice and time it.

NOTE: Shortly after this post was published, I added “You may also include questions about any of the life skill lessons we learned (grit, learning and the brain, goal-setting, etc.).” to the above instructions. However, I did not add it to the downloadable student hand-out that I had already uploaded.

And here’s the teacher example I created in about five minutes:

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May 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Great GIF: “European Colonial Empires from 1492-2008″

Watch European colonialism rise and fall in seconds in this GIF. Thanks to Vox for the tip, which has also written an accompanying text:

I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About World History, which also contains this related video:

Watch as 1000 years of European borders change (timelapse map) from Nick Mironenko on Vimeo.

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May 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

One-Minute “Ask Smithsonian” Videos Are Good To Watch & Are Useful Models For Student Creations


The Smithsonian has a series of one-minute “Ask Smithsonian” videos that answer questions on a variety of topics.

Here’s an example:

There short, sweet and interesting to watch. But I plan on using them for something else, too…

Next year, I’ll be teaching a number of Social Studies classes to English Language Learners — Geography, World History, U.S. History. I could definitely see showing these videos and, as we study different themes, develop a simple template for them to use in creating similar short videos answering a question of their choice.

I’m assuming other teachers have tried doing something along these lines, so would appreciate hearing any ideas you might have…

You might also be interested in The Best Online “Explainer” Tools For Current Events.

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May 7, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

I Learn Another Great Game For English Language Learners From Jimmy Fallon


Last year, I wrote about a fun game for English Language Learners that I learned from late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon (see Jimmy Fallon Comes Up With A Great Game For English Language Learners).

Today, I learned another one…

He calls it Word Sneak, and it’s a simple one — two people are given five words that they have to fit into a conversation.

Obviously, it’s very funny the way he uses it in this video clip, but it can also be used a nice interactive exercise for students.

I’m assuming that some other teacher has used this kind of game before so, if you have, and have some good additional suggestions, please leave them in the comments….

I’m adding this idea to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English, where I’ve also been listing classroom speaking activities.

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May 4, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Videos For Theory Of Knowledge: “What Is A Photocopier?”

'a MAZE OF CONFUSION' photo (c) 2008, ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓ - license:

The old Abbott and Costello “Who’s On First?” routine is used by Theory of Knowledge teachers around the world to illustrate how language can be used to discourage understanding. Jimmy Fallon also did a remake with famous comedians. You can see them both here.

The New York Times recently shared a sad, but funny, video, What Is A Photocopier?, that can be used for the same purpose:

It reminded me of the famous Bill Clinton deposition during the Monica Lewinsky scandal about the meaning of “is.”

You can read about it here and see the famous few seconds in the first video below. I’ve embedded a second video that provides a little more context, though the video itself is of poor quality:

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May 4, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

New RSA Animated Video Of Daniel Pink Talk

'Daniel Pink - PopTech 2007 - Camden, ME' photo (c) 2007, kris krüg - license:

People are probably familiar with Dan Pink’s “TED Talk” which is one of their most popular of all time, and some are familiar with the RSA Animation of another one of his talks on motivation (I’ve embedded both below).

A few days ago RSA posted another animation of a talk he gave on his most recent book (by the way, for what it’s worth, Dan interviewed both my wife and me for it). I’ve embedded this new video first, followed by the other older two.

I’m adding this info to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students.

Thanks to Brain Pickings for the tip.

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May 4, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Video: Violence ‘Interrupters’

It’s new to me, but apparently there’s an organization in Chicago called “Ceasefire” that works to reduce gang violence in Chicago.

Here’s a useful clip from a Stephen Colbert interview with Ameena Matthews, one of the group’s leaders. I think the short segment on why people join gangs is one that will be particularly helpful since we write about that in our English class. You can also view an entire PBS film on the project here, and read more about it at NPR.

I’d love to hear from people in Chicago sharing what they think of the organization’s work.

I’m adding this info to The Best Sites To Learn About Street Gangs.

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