Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 1, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Teaching/Learning About How To Write Compare/Contrast Essays

I recently realized that I have specific “Best” lists for many different types of essays (see All My “Best” Lists On Teaching & Learning How To Write – In One Place!), but I’ve never created one for Compare/Contrast.

So, here goes:

Here are instructions for a compare/contrast unit project from one of my class blog.

Writing to Compare and Contrast from Citelighter on Vimeo.

When you are writing to compare, how should you organize your writing? What types of words should you use to make comparisons? Learn more about how to write engaging compare and contrast essays.

I use a lesson comparing/contrasting photos to introduce the concept to Beginning English Language Learners. Here are some posts specifically related to that activity:

“Blog challenge: compare and contrast photo”

Blog challenge: compare and contrast photo – this is from EduLang.

Finding Similar Images To Use For Compare/Contrast Prompts

Describing photos (comparing, contrasting and speculating) is from EFL Smart.

Here are some NY Times posts for ELLs where I’ve discussed writing compare/contrast essays:

Students separate run-on sentences in this interactive about International Dance Day, and use it as a model for creating their own.  In addition, they can view a variety of dance videos and write a compare/contrast essay.

Study the 9/11 terrorist attacks through a K-W-L chart and Venn Diagrams that lead to writing a compare and contrast essay.

A mixture of activities, including ones on idioms, recipes,  developing neighborhood tours and writing a compare/contrast essay.

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August 1, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Using “If This Animal Or Image Could Talk” Lesson Idea In Class

A fun writing lesson for English Language Learners is showing videos or images of animals and asking them to write down what they think they believe the animal might be thinking. I’ve written a number of posts related to these kinds of lessons and variations on it (having paintings or parts of the earth talk) and thought I’d bring them, and additional resources, all together in one “Best” list (feel free to contribute your own ideas!):

Video Challenge For Students: What Is This Lion Thinking?

“What Is This Animal Thinking or Saying (If It Could Talk)?” Is A Fun Language Development Exercise

What Would This Animal Be Saying And/Or Thinking?

What Are People In This Painting Thinking?

I share similar ideas in my New York Times post headlined Teaching and Learning About Animals.

Nature Is Speaking is an amazing series of videos where celebrities give voice to parts of nature that are being threatened, including the ocean, coral reefs, etc. The could be good models for a more serious use of this instructional strategy.

There is a YouTube channel by Chris Cohen that he calls Animal Translations, where he puts his voice to animal thoughts. The accent is a bit thick, so it might be difficult for ELLs to hear everything, but they’d certainly get the idea. Then, students could create their own internal dialogue they could perform while the video was shown on a screen without sound.

Here the two samples:

I’m adding this post to The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons.

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July 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Tools & Lessons For Teaching Information Literacy – Help Me Find More

As a companion “Best” list to The Best Resources For Learning Research & Citation Skills, I thought it would be useful to create this one.

I’m using the term “information literacy” here to describe assisting our students developing critical thinking skills to evaluate both web and content in other media forms. I’ve seen the term used to describe broader skills, too. Let me know if you think I’m off-based with my definition.

So, using that definition, here is a beginning Best list, and I hope readers will contribute more:

Show Me Information Literacy Modules


Sarah Bolanos made a great suggestion – Education Resources For Web Literacy from November Learning.

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July 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Writing Personal “What If?” Moments For Class & For….Scientific American Magazine

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of students writing about “What if?” scenarios in our history classes, as well as in IB Theory of Knowledge courses. I’ve also used it in English when have students write alternative endings of stories. You can read more about this strategy at The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons.

Today, Scientific American published a nice piece summarizing research on the benefits of “What if?” thinking and also highlighting as aspect that I’ve never really considered in the context of teaching — the idea of personal “What if?” moments and stories.

I think that could be a fun writing activity in class.

As part of the article, the magazine is invited readers to submit their own personal “What if?” moments:

Share a couple sentences about a moment from your past that you often revisit and think, “What if…?”

You can submit it here by August 2nd.

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July 27, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Zoom In!” Looks Like A Good Site For History Teachers


Zoom In! is a new(er) free site that provides some very good U.S. History lessons that use historical documents and are standards-based. Along with in-class instruction, students use the online resources to do close-reading and scaffolded written responses.

Teachers create online virtual classrooms where they can monitor student progress.

Two of their features standout to me:

First, they clearly have been very intentional about choosing primary source documents that are likely to be more accessible to students and then have made them even more accessible with their lay-out and easy ability to look-up word definitions. I haven’t really seen any other site that has been able to do this anywhere near as well as Zoom In!

Secondly, I really like the way they scaffold the writing of written responses/essays. Again, more sites could learn from them.

I’m adding this post to:

The Best Online Tools That Can Help Students Write An Essay

The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress

Here’s their promotional video:

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July 23, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On Getting Student Writers To “Buy-Into” Revision – Help Me Find More

Many teachers, including me, have experienced the struggle of getting our students to buy into seriously revising their original drafts.

I’ve tried modeling my own writing process, and have met with limited success.

I’ve previously posted this sixth-grader interviewing President Obama. He cut the President off when he began talking about students needing to revise their writing, and that reflects many students’ feelings about it:

I was prompted to think about this by finally getting around to reading a late March New York Times column titled What’s More Important to You: the Initial Rush of Prose or the Self-Editing and Revision That Come After It?

I thought that this excerpt, in particular, would be a good one to share and have my mainstream students (I think it might be too difficult for my ELLs) respond to a prompt along the lines of:

According to Cheryl Strayed, what kind of relationship do original writing and the process of revising it have with each other? Do you agree with her? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.


John Spencer has also written a very helpful post titled NINE WAYS TO HELP STUDENTS EMBRACE THE REVISION PROCESS.

Here’s a great tweet to use:

Reader Tony shared this advice:

One of the best examples of revision is in the appendix of Stephen King’s book “On Writing”. He shows the first page of one of his novels, then shows a scan of his original draft, complete with hand-written revisions and notes. He then justifies each revision.
Could be a good piece to use with students.

What are your other suggestions?

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

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July 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

All My “Best” Lists On Teaching & Learning How To Write – In One Place!

I’ve published quite a few posts and “Best” lists related to teaching writing, and I thought it would be useful to me and to readers to bring them all together:

The Best Posts On Writing Instruction

The Best Online Tools That Can Help Students Write An Essay

The Best Websites For K-12 Writing Instruction/Reinforcement

The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online

The Best Sites For Grammar Practice

Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Mindmapping, Flow Chart Tools, & Graphic Organizers

The Best Resources For Researching & Writing Biographies

The Best Resources For Learning How To Write Response To Literature Essays

The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”

The Best Online Interactive Exercises For Writing That Are Not Related To Literary Analysis

The Best Online Resources To Teach About Plagiarism

The Best Resources For Learning Research & Citation Skills

The Best Online Resources For Helping Students Learn To Write Persuasive Essays

The Best Spelling Sites

The Best Sites For Gaining A Basic Understanding Of Adjectives

The “Best” Sites For Helping Students Write Autobiographical Incident Essays

The Best Sites To Learn “Feelings” Words

The Best Sites For ELL’s To Learn About Punctuation

The Best Resources To Help Students Write Research Essays

The Best Sites For Learning To Write A Story

The Best Writing Advice From Famous Authors

The Best Resources On Punctuation

The Best Ways To Use Mistakes When Teaching Writing

The Best Funny Videos To Help Teach Grammar – Help Me Find More

The Best Video Clips On The Benefits Of Writing Well — Help Me Find More

The Best Resources For Teaching/Learning About How To Write Compare/Contrast Essays

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