Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 14, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Wow, The National Writing Project Offers Wonderful Online Writing Opportunity To Students


The extraordinary National Writing Project has done it again and is offering a too-good-to-pass-up online writing opportunity to students.

Here’s an excerpt from their site, WRITING OUR FUTURE: AMERICAN CREED AND A NEW YOUTH PUBLISHING OPPORTUNITY (you’ll want to go there to get all the other additional information):

NWP is getting ready to launch a new youth publishing opportunity connected to the PBS documentary American Creed (broadcast nationally February 27 and streaming free of charge starting February 28 at Through stories set in big cities, small towns, and rural areas around the country, American Creed wrestles with key challenges facing American youth today, including creating economic opportunity and finding ways to meaningfully participate in civic life. The film encourages youth to explore questions like “What should America’s national ideals be?” and “How do we close the gap between ideals and reality?” American Creed is co-produced by Citizen Film and WTTW.

You and the youth you work with are invited to add your voice to the conversation about American Creed. Bring the film to your classroom or learning center, and support young people in responding through writing, art, and media. Teens (13+) and young adults are invited to share their responses on the National Writing Project’s American Creed youth publishing site (also coming February 27).

Here’s a trailer for the documentary:

I’m adding this info to The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”

February 6, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Nick Foles Just Gave Teachers A Gift Of A Great SEL Lesson

Check out this quote from Eagles quarterback Nick Foles:

“I think the big thing is don’t be afraid to fail,” Foles said. “In our society today, with Instagram and Twitter, it’s a highlight. It’s all the good things. When you look at it, you have a bad day, you think your life isn’t as good, you’re failing. Failure is a part of life. It’s a part of building character and growing. Without failure, who would you be? I wouldn’t be up here if I hadn’t fallen thousands of times, made mistakes. We all are human. We all have weaknesses. Just being able to share that and be transparent.

“I know when people speak and share they’re weaknesses, I listen. Because I can (relate). I’m not perfect. I’m not Superman. We might be in the NFL and we might have just won the Super Bowl, but we all have daily struggles…. I think when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that it’s an opportunity for your character to grow.”

Here’s the writing prompt I’m using with it today:

What does Nick Foles say about failure? What does he say about comparing yourself to others? To what extent do you agree with what he or she is saying? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.

I’m also showing the video of him saying it:

Before introducing the quote, though, students will get a chance to watch some of his highlights:


I’m adding it to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures.

February 4, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Geography Writing Frames For ELLs (They Can Be Used In Other Subjects, Too)


Last month, I shared videos, an article and a writing prompt I used in my ELL Geography class (see The Best Videos For Learning Why It’s Important To Study Geography).

However, I realized I forgot to include the “writing frame” including sentence starters that I gave my students to use as a guide.  You can download it here.  The frame can easily be modified for other subjects.  Let me know how you think I can make it better!  I did not put an enormous amount of thought or time into it, but it seemed to work well.

While I’m at it, I thought readers might also be interested in a writing frame that I have my same Geography students complete as a unit review. Again, it’s not something I spent a lot of time creating, but it, too, seems to work okay.

I’m adding this info to The Best Scaffolded Writing Frames For Students.

January 26, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

Google Testing Ideal Tool For Students To Write For An “Authentic Audience”


I’ve shared a lot of practical ideas and research about the importance of having students write for an audience beyond their teacher (see The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience” and The Best Places Where Students Can Create Online Learning/Teaching Objects For An “Authentic Audience.”

Yesterday, Google announced they were testing what might be an ideal tool for students to do just that.

It’s called “Bulletin,” and they are experimenting with it in Nashville and Oakland:

Google appears to be testing a new tool for people to report and publish local news stories, called Bulletin.

website first spotted online Thursday describes Bulletin as “an app for contributing hyperlocal stories about your community, for your community, right from your phone.” It’s designed to make it “effortless” to tell “the stories that aren’t being told” via your smartphone. It’s not just for techie early adopters: “If you are comfortable taking photos or sending messages, you can create a Bulletin story!”

If they make it available to everybody, it seems to me that it could have great potential!


January 13, 2018
by Larry Ferlazzo

PBS NewsHour Segment On Generosity & Belonging – Here’s How I’m Using It In Class

Last night, the PBS NewsHour had a short segment titled When the easiest way to feel safe is offering help to others.

You can find the transcript at that link, and I’m embedding the video at the bottom of this post.

I’ve developed this prompt that I’ll give students after they read and watch the video:

What does Akhil Sharma say about generosity and belonging? Do you agree with what Sharma is saying? To support your opinion you may use examples from your own experiences, your observations of others, and anything you have read, including Sharma’s essay.

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

You might also be interested in:

The Best Resources For Teaching & Learning About The “Helper’s High”

Students’ Sense of Belonging: What the Research Says is from Ed Week.

December 21, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Helping Students Create “Public Narratives”


There are lots of different ways for students to write about an “autobiographical incident.”

One way I’m planning to experiment with this coming year with my English Language Learner students is framing it as a “public narrative.”

“Public Narrative” is a strategy refined by Marshall Ganz, a former community organizer (readers might remember I was an organizer for nineteen years prior to becoming a teacher):

“By telling our personal stories of challenges we have faced, choices we have made, and what we learned from the outcomes, we can inspire others and share our own wisdom,” Ganz has written

I like the three acts framework he uses.

You can find easily modifiable hand-outs here, along with links to both text and video examples here.

Pages 27 through 38 in this lengthy document have even more useful resources.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

I’m adding this info to The “Best” Sites For Helping Students Write Autobiographical Incident Essays.

October 5, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Commaful” Looks Like An (Almost) Perfect Place For Students To Write Online

Adobe Spark has been my “go-to” tool for English Language Learners to write and display online their written work. Their videos, accompanied by music, are very engaging.

However, it might have competition now that I learned about Commaful from Nik Peachey.

Commaful lets you simply and easily create online slideshows of your writing, with the text accompanied by easily search-for and selected photos, videos or GIFs. Then, you can link to or embed your creation.

It doesn’t have music, unlike Adobe Spark, and the photo selection does not appear to be as robust. However, Commaful does have one huge advantage over Adobe Spark – you can create your stories without registering or logging-in. That is indeed a huge advantage, as any teacher will tell you.

Of course, another disadvantage is it’s unclear what kind of standards are maintained for Commaful’s content. I didn’t see anything inappropriate in a quick search, but who knows?

One other minor inconvenience with Commaful – after I embedded by five second creation below (it’s only two slides, but you can make ones with many, many more) and clicked on it here, I got a pop-up inviting me to register at the site to read stories. However, if you click it to go away, you can then continue to read the embedded story.

I’m adding this to The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online,

I might add it to The “All-Time” Best 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners if it works out well in school.

anon / Commaful

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