Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 6, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Now THIS Is An Example Of Writing For An Authentic Audience: Writing For History

Elyse Eidman-Aadahl sharing a fascinating article today from the Chronicle of Higher Education titled Why Historians Want You to Journal in the Age of Trump.

In it, an archivist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recommends that people begin to journal about current events to create a resource for future historians. She mainly is targeting present historians, but the advice can easily be applied to non- professional historians, also – like our students!

I could easily see this idea as being a “hook” to have students begin to blog about current events.

The article shares several pieces of advice. Here’s one:

Doing something like this semi-regularly on a class blog would be easy to do and easy to archive.

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

May 28, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s What I’m Doing As A Final With Beginning ELLs

I’ve previously shared what I’ve done for final exams in my Intermediate English Language Learner class (see My Revised Final Exams (And An Important Lesson).

This year, I was successful in implementing a bit more rigor in my Beginning ELL class, so I’m modifying the Intermediate Final and using it there (for most, though not all, of the students – students who arrived late in the year will do a far more simple assignment).

First, I’ll ask students to define a few terms: hook, thesis statement, topic sentence, conclusion, quotation marks. Here’s the sheet you can download.

Next, students will review all the essays they’ve written this year and choose two of them – one, preferably from earlier in the year and the other, preferably, a later one. They’ll they analyze each essay using an “improvement rubric.” This kind of rubric, unlike most, does not utilize deficit language and emphasizes what students have done instead of what they have not done. You can read more about improvement rubrics at “Instead of seeing students as Far Below Basic or Advanced, we see them as learners.” You can download the rubric my students will be using here, and here’s a partial screenshot of what it looks like:Final for beginners vocabulary words-1kg0j3j

Final for beginners improvement rubric-2e4415q


Then, students will complete a short series of reflection questions, which you can download here.  The questions are:

1) Look at the scores you gave yourself on both essays. Overall, which essay was your strongest? Why?

2) Look at the scores on your strongest essay. What did you do well?

3) Look at the scores on your strongest essay. What are 3 things you need to get better at next year?

4) In what areas of your writing would you like Mr. Ferlazzo or Ms Buric to help you with next year?

Lastly, students will then choose one of those two essays to revise and rewrite.

I’m always open to hearing suggestions on how I can make it better!

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

May 25, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two New & Very Useful Writing Frames For Teachers & Students

One of my popular – and most useful – “Best” lists is The Best Scaffolded Writing Frames For Students.  It’s certainly one that I consult regularly.

I’m adding two new writing frames to that list.

Mary Osteen, one of my many talented colleagues, shared this one today at an English Department meeting.  She calls it “AREE!” with an explanation point so she can sound like a pirate 🙂

It stands for Assertion, Reason, Evidence, Explanation:


I think it’s a helpful frame.

However, what I believe really makes it stand out from some of the other frames on that “Best” list is this sheet that she’s developed to teach the frame:


She has students fill in the blank squares as a way to scaffold learning the writing frame progression.  For International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge teachers, this kind of form will look familiar because that’s how IB encourages us to teach the concept of Knowledge Questions.

You can download both of the documents pictured in this post here (Mary has given me permission to share). By the way, I’ve recently given up the use of my regular document scanner and instead use an amazing iPhone app called Genius Scan, which works great!

The second writing frame I’d like to share I learned about in the form of a tweet:

April 4, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Resources For National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month.

Here are new additions to The Best World Poetry Day Resources – Help Me Find More:

Here are several tools that let you create poetry online.

Erasures lets you create a version of “Blackout Poetry” online. You can learn more about Blackout Poetry here.

22 Ways to Teach and Learn About Poetry With The New York Times is from The New York Times Learning Network.

20+ Ideas and Resources for Learning with Poetry is from Shelly S. Terrell.

March 26, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Sideways Dictionary” Explains Tech Through Analogies & Lets You Contribute Your Own

Sideways Dictionary explains lots of technology concepts through analogies and invites readers to contribute their own.

It’s a great site for a number of reasons.  One, it can help anyone more easily understand tech terms.  Second, it’s a nice tool to teach about analogies, which are exceptional tools for promoting knowledge transfer (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer” — Help Me Find More and The real stuff of schooling: How to teach students to apply knowledge).

Finally, it’s a another place where students can write for an authentic audience (see The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”).

It would be wonderful if there was a similar site that was not just limited to analogies for tech concepts but, instead, had a broader list of fields (political ideologies, scientific and math concepts, etc.).  I couldn’t find any doing a quick search.  Anyone else know of one?

March 19, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s My Entire ELL Beginners Seven-Week Unit On Writing A Story (Including Hand-outs & Links)

My previous post, Here Are The Ten Downloadable Graphic Organizers I Use With ELL Beginners To Write A Story, was very popular, so I thought readers would find it useful if I shared my entire seven-week unit on writing a story. I hope you can suggest ways I can make it better.

After a simple “Word Splash” (words that I pre-teach like “setting,” “theme,” “protagonist,” and “antagonist”), I use very modified versions of the WRITE Institute’s story unit as we read two books together: The Story Of Ferdinand and Teacher From The Black Lagoon. You can purchase a supplementary copy of that unit from the WRITE Institute for $20 here. We have copies of their full unit, but I only use a three of their graphic organizers (a protagonist/antagonist sheet, a sheet for listing words related to the five senses and a story map) – I’m sure you could create or find other versions (lots of story maps are here, a five senses sheet here, and protagonist/antagonist graphic organizers are here).

So, the first week we do the word splash, then I read The Story of Ferdinand from the doc cam while students have their own copies. As you may remember, Ferdinand has his “favorite spot” in the story. At that point, I provide students with this sentence starter: “My favorite spot is ____________________________ because _________________________.” They create posters and share with the class. Every six pages or so we stop, students are paired-off, given small whiteboards and markers, and they take turns reading the story to each other while the other writes the words down on the board (if necessary, students can “cheat” by looking at the book). The “reader” checks the accuracy of the “writer.”

Afterwards, we complete a story map. The most difficult part of that process is helping students understand “theme” and, to a lesser extent, protagonist/antagonist. So, after the story map is done, students create a poster identifying three of their favorite movies or stories and identify the theme and the protagonists and antagonists.

Next, we read Teacher From The Black Lagoon using a similar process, without the “favorite spot” activity. Then we create a Story Map, without following-up with the theme poster.

Next, students write their own stories, and that’s where my previously posted ten graphic organizers come in.

After they complete handwriting their story, I have a short individual conference to provides simple suggestions (read about my thoughts on error correction at my British Council post, ESL/ELL error correction – Yes, No or Maybe?), and then students type it in Word – the red indicator of errors is obviously very helpful. We conference again, and then students copy and paste it into our class blog. You can see them all here.

Then, students record their stories using Speakpipe’s Voice Recorder. It says they only keep the recording online for a few months, but it’s the only stand-alone voice recorder that gets through our district’s content filters. Students record, past them onto our blog, and then I manually copy and paste them that night so it’s on the same comment as their story.

Students then read each other’s stories and leave a comment. I fell down on the job here and didn’t originally do as much pre-teaching on commenting as I should have, and it shows. I followed-up the next day with more explicit support, which resulted in a better comment like this.

Unfortunately, because of student absences, time constraints and the fact that I was out of class for a couple of days with district meetings, we couldn’t continue with the improved comments (they’ll have another chance later).

Instead, at that point I provided students with this guide for their writing a second and longer story. I gave them the option of either revising their first story or starting from scratch.

Students worked on their revisions/new stories, but we couldn’t get enough time in the computer lab for them to post all their creations on the blog – yet, at least.

Now, we’re moving onto a series of fable lessons. These appeared in my latest book, Navigating The Common Core With ELLs. Fortunately, the publisher has made the lesson plan and all the hand-outs available for free download – no registration required!

Just go to the book’s website, scroll to “Downloads” and click on “Fables Lesson Plan.” It teaches fables inductively and leads to students writing their own. I’m in the middle of doing these lessons now. The only change to the book’s lesson plan is that I have three more advanced beginners who, after having done part of the lessons, are now creating a collection of fables from their home countries that we’ll also study.

Student-created fables will be posted on the class blog and we’ll try commenting again. Here’s the graphic organizer I’m having students use to create their own fables.

So, that’s what we’re doing. Let me know how you think it can be improved!

I’m adding this post to The Best Sites For Learning To Write A Story.

Addendum: See Video: Trailer For New Animated Move Based On “The Story Of Ferdinand”

February 22, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here Are The Ten Downloadable Graphic Organizers I Use With ELL Beginners To Write A Story

We’ve spent the last two weeks in my English Language Learner Beginners class reading and learning about stories.

Last Friday, it was time for them to begin writing one, and I did a terrible job of getting them started. I think I was tired and wasn’t thinking clearly, and assumed too much and provided must less support than was needed.

So, over the weekend, I created a simple set of eight graphic organizers, plus borrowed two others from online, and we began again today. Needless to say, it went a lot better.

You can download the eight I created here. They are in the sequence I’m using them.

You can download the Conflict Graphic Organizer that I’m using here. Students use this as the sheet listed “Conflict” in my downloadables.

You can download the Plot Diagram Graphic Organizer that I’m using here. Students use this as the sheet listed as “Diagram Your Events” in my downloadables.

I don’t think you’ll find anything earthshaking in them, but they are workable. Let me know how you think I can make them better.

I’m adding this post to The Best Sites For Learning To Write A Story.

February 4, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Good Judgment” Is A Site Where Our Students Can Showcase Their Forecasting Skills

I’ve written some past posts about the work of Philip Tetlock (Quote Of The Day: “beliefs are hypotheses to be tested…” and The Best Resources On The Importance Of Knowing What You Don’t Know).  He’s particularly known for his work in developing a science of “forecasting.”

He recently unveiled a site called Good Judgment where users can forecast an answer to a question and, when and if the action takes place, is “scored” on their forecasting ability.  Users make a prediction, then share their reasoning, and you can link directly to individual’s forecasts.

Some of the questions are bit obscure, but others are very relevant.  The site says there is, or will be, a feature that allows users to submit their own questions (but they won’t be scored). However, that doesn’t seem to be operating yet.

This seems to me to be an excellent way for students to write for an authentic audience, which is why I’m adding it to The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”

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