Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 18, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Great Piece On Student Boredom & The Writing Prompt I’m Using With It

How to Never Succumb to Boredom is a very good piece over at Bright. I’m going to have students read it and then answer this prompt:

What is the author saying about boredom? Do you agree with his view? 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 adding this post to:

The Best Posts & Articles On Boredom & How Students & Teachers Can Deal With It

The Best Posts On Writing Instruction

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August 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Cornucopia Of Useful Resources For Teaching Writing

Here are a number of great resources for teaching writing. I’m adding most to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction:

Richard Byrne writes about the Hemingway App might have turned itself into a useful writing tool and not just a gimmick. I’m adding it to The Best Online Tools That Can Help Students Write An Essay.

Speaking of those kinds of online tools, one that’s already on that list, Write Well, today just announced some useful improvements.

Dylan Wiliam advises: Forget the Rubric; Use Work Samples Instead is a pretty important post by Doug Lemov. Be sure to also check out Dylan William’s comment on it. In addition to adding it to my “Writing” Best list, I’m also adding it to The Best Rubric Sites (And A Beginning Discussion About Their Use).

The Moving Writers have created a great collection of mentor texts. I’m adding it to The Best Websites For K-12 Writing Instruction/Reinforcement.

WISE EYES: Prompting for Meaningful Student Writing is from The National Writing Project. I’m adding it to the same list.

School Writing Vs. Authentic Writing is by Ken Lindblom.

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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.

Guest Post: A List Of Useful Resources On Teaching Information & Digital Literacy

How to Teach Students to Evaluate the Quality of Online Information is from Edudemic.

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July 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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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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