Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 31, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“FoxType” Looks Like A Very Versatile Writing Site

Daniel Willingham sent a tweet this morning about a site called FoxType Sentence Tree that would automatically diagram sentences.

I guess if you’re really into grammar – as fan who is proficient in English or as an advanced English Language Learner who thinks it could be helpful – it’s a site to bookmark. For someone who is definitely not into sentence diagramming, I nevertheless thought it was pretty cool and found it to be very accurate the several times I tried it out:


I also noticed the site had a number of other features, and some of them seemed particularly interesting to me.

One was a visual thesaurus. It seemed a little less “busy” than others I have on The Best Reference Websites For English Language Learners list, but I have to say that in testing it out not all of the displays looked as attractive or as accurate as this one:


They also have a text editor that seems to provide decent feedback on writing that’s submitted, and I’m adding that resource to The Best Online Tools That Can Help Students Write An Essay:


You get to use all the tools for free during an extended period, and then they just ask you to pay what you think it’s worth.

All in all, it’s a very intriguing site.

April 28, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

What Does The Trump Campaign Teach Us About The Limitations Of The Common Core Standards?

As educators know, the Common Core Standards place a heavy emphasis on evidence and logic in the context of “argument,” as contrasted with the emotion of persuasion.

Here’s what we write about it in our new book, Navigating The Common Core with English Language Learners:

Argument is given great weight in the Standards. The idea is that students will first read a text or texts, examine the writer’s explanations and points, and then – and only then – develop a claim which they will then back-up with text-based evidence (Common Core State Standards for English, n.d., p. 23), as well as acknowledge opposing positions and present counter-arguments. The Standards place great stock in the importance of this kind of rational based approach, which the writers of the Standards contrast with the emotional sway of “persuasion” (Common Core State Standards for English, n.d., p. 24). They say that persuasion also often relies on other less “logical” strategies like using the authority of the writer of the text or appealing to the audience’s sense of identity or self-interest. Experience in producing evidence-based arguments, say the Standards, is what will truly prepare our students for college and career.

Based on our own experience, we believe that emotion – for good or bad – is a key element of how many arguments are made in the world. It would be nice if completely rational ones all carried the day, but that is how things work in the world as we’d like it to be, not in the world as it is. We do tell our students that logic should be the guide for most academic and professional writing. We also tell them, however, that emotion can have an important place in other writing arenas, and it just has to be kept in its place, as well.

A recent piece in The New Yorker highlights the limitations that a laser-like focus on the rational “moneyball” approach the Standards seem to advocate. Here’s an excerpt from The Anti-Moneyball Election:


I just hope that educators, and our supervisors, keep in mind the limitations, as well as the advantages, the Common Core Standards bring…

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

April 18, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Links For Helping Students Learn How To Write “Leads” or “Ledes”


I’m having students in my ELL World History class learn how to write “leads” or “ledes” of newspaper articles, and we’re beginning with doing them around events between the two World Wars.

Here’s what I have so far, and I hope that readers will contribute more:

How to Write a News Article: The Intro or Lede is from St. Petersburg College.

How to Write a Lead is from Purdue.

Examples – just look at the first paragraphs of the examples.

More Examples – again, just look at the first paragraphs of the stories.

Newspaper Game

BBC Newspaper Game

Newspaper Story Format from Read Write Think.

Who, What, When, Where Game

April 4, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Kevin Durant On “Hard Work” & How I’m Using It In Class

Angela Duckworth tweeted out the video I embedded below. It’s okay, but the “money quote” is right at the end, and it’s a good one:


I’m going to share it (and a portion of the video) with students along with this writing prompt:

What does Kevin Durant think about hard work? Do you agree? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.

You download the sheet I’ll be giving to students here.

I’ll be adding this post to The Best Posts on Writing Instruction, where I collect all my writing prompts.

April 3, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

NY Times Learning Network Announces “Found Poem” Contest For Students


Found poems can be fun and educational assignments, as well as good formative assessments. And, as usual, The New York Times Learning Network has announced their annual Found Poem contest.

The deadline is May 3rd.

Here are a few rules, and you can read all about it at Our Seventh Annual Found Poem Student Contest.

– Each poem must be 14 or fewer lines.

– You may give it your own original title if you like. The title does not count as one of the lines.

– Your sole source material must be Times pieces. You can use up to two articles. (Note: This is a change from previous years, when we allowed you to mix words from as many items as you wanted.)

April 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“RACE” Looks Like A Useful Writing Strategy


I’ve previously written in my books and here on my blog about writing scaffolds like “ABC” (Answer the Question; Back it up; make a Comment/Connection) or “PQC” format (Point/Quote/Connect). You can see Here’s An Example Of How I Scaffold A Short Writing Prompt for more details.

Yesterday, teacher Meghan Everette wrote an excellent post on Scholastic about her school’s version of this kind of scaffold, which they call “RACE” (Restate, Answer, Cite the Source, Explain/Examples). In her post, Responding to Text: How to Get Great Written Answers, she shares helpful examples.

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

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