Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 22, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Adam Grant On Failure & How I’m Using What He Says In Class


Adam Grant has written an excellent short piece on Medium titled To Overcome the Fear of Failure, Fear This Instead.

I’m going to have students read it (after first making sure the understand what the word “entrepreneur” means) and then have them respond to this writing prompt:

What does Adam Grant say about failure? Do you agree with him? 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 & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures

The Best Posts On Writing Instruction (I collect all my writing prompts there)

March 19, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Another Good Idea via Adam Grant: Seniors Writing Letters To Freshmen


Earlier this week I wrote about the latest great idea I learned from Adam Grant (see Great Idea From Adam Grant: Student Mini-Talks That Challenge “Conventional Wisdom”).

I just learned another today from his email newsletter:

Last fall, a Wharton student named Lauren McCann came to me with a wonderful idea: what if seniors wrote letters to freshmen about what they wish they had known earlier in college? She took the initiative to make it happen—the website had over 10,000 hits in the first 24 hours alone, and other schools are now adopting it. Join me in congratulating her, and feel free to check out the letters here.

He’s talking about college seniors and freshmen, but the idea could easily be applied to high school.

I have students at the end of the school year write letters to students who are taking my classes next year, and I’ve had my Theory of Knowledge students write about how they’ve handled self-control issues so that other students could read them.  However, with the proper scaffolds, something like what they’re doing at Adam’s school could be used to great effect in a school like ours.

I’ll certainly be talking to our teachers about it.

Have any readers done this at your schools?

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

March 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Storium Looks Like A Useful Collaborative Storytelling Platform


Storium is a free collaborative storytelling platform that has just opened itself up to the general public, and which I learned about from my colleague AJ Sisneros.

Unlike most other tools on The Best Sites For Collaborative Storytelling list, Storium lets you choose who you want to write with, which obviously works best for teachers and students. However, it seems that many of the free “worlds” you can use in the stories can only have a limited number of writers (you have to pay to increase the numbers).

The video below explains it more in detail. It’s probably too complicated for English Language Learners, but I think it could have potential for other classes.

March 11, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Short & Simple Writing Prompt On Effort & Perseverance


Today, The New York Times published a short and interesting interview with Anthony Foxx, United States transportation secretary. It’s titled Anthony Foxx: Grit Goes Further Than Genius.

I’ve got to admit I had never heard of him before, which is embarrassing, especially after reading his story.

The last three paragraphs, I think, are particularly important. I’m turning them into a Writing Prompt.

Here are the paragraphs:

I was talking to a group of kids recently at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, and one of the kids asked me this brilliant question. He said that a lot of kids grow up in circumstances that are really tough, and the question was, should they be able to use their background as an excuse for not making it?

I responded that it’s a tough question because if I say yes, then what that does is deny that individual the room to make a choice for themselves to surmount their background. If I say no, that means that maybe I don’t give enough credence to what someone’s individual circumstances are.

The way I looked at it as a kid was that I had a lot of disadvantages. Statistically I’m not supposed to make it, but if I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down swinging. I think the key is that you’ve got to have a little fight in you. And you’ve got to be very clear about who you are. And once you know that, you have to be willing to live by that.

And here’s the accompanying writing prompt:

How does United States transportation secretary Anthony Foxx think young people should respond to “tough” circumstances (these might growing up where money is a problem, difficult family issues, etc.)? Do you agree with him? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.

What do you think?

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

March 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video On Apartheid & Forgiveness – Plus An Accompanying Writing Prompt


Last month, I shared a PBS News Hour segment titled “A ruthless defender of apartheid now seeks forgiveness.” It’s a very impressive piece that I added to The Best Sites For Learning About Nelson Mandela.

I’m sharing it again at the bottom of this post.

Today, my colleague Katie Hull showed it to her students along with the following writing prompt, which she gave me permission to share (you can download the student hand-out here):

A ruthless defender of Apartheid now seeks forgiveness
02/17/16 PBS News Hour

“In South Africa, thousands were killed and tens of thousands were detained under the watch of former Apartheid-era government official Adrian Vlok. Once seen by some as the regime’s “face of evil,” Vlok is now seeking redemption by reaching out to the people he helped to oppress.”

Watch the video and be prepared to respond to this prompt:

Do you think Adrian Vlok deserves forgiveness? Explain why or why not. To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples from the video, any of the reading you have done, or your own experience.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction, where you can find links to countless writing prompts I use in my classroom.

March 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Do Your Students Slouch Back In Their Chairs? Here’s A Writing Prompt On It I’m Using In Class


What teacher doesn’t have students who like to slouch back in their chairs?

Many of us don’t like it and don’t think it’s a good practice. However, I don’t know about you but, for me, apart from just asking them to sit up (sometimes), I never had a good explanation about why they should.

Until now.

Quartz just ran an article titled Neuroscience says these five rituals will help your brain stay in peak condition.

Here’s a writing prompt I developed from it – you can download the student hand-out here:

Why Should We “Sit Up” In Our Chairs?

An article in Quartz magazine says:

“Mothers everywhere were really onto something when they instructed their children to sit up straight. Not only is an upright position found to increase energy levels and enhance our overall mood, it’s also been shown to increase our confidence…”

One study cited in the article found that people felt tended to feel more powerful and positive when looking up, instead of looking down.  In addition, another study found that people tended to feel more self-confident when they sat-up straight. In other words, when they were “slouching,” they felt less capable of doing a task.

Writing Prompt:

What do the studies say about sitting up straight in a chair? Do you agree with their conclusions? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.

What do you think?

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

March 5, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Four New Links With Advice On Writing Books


Here are new additions to So, You Want To Write A Book? Here’s The Best Advice…:

How to Become an ELT Materials Writer is from the International House Journal.

How to Publish Books in Different Genres: Roxanna Elden on Books, Dogs, Kids and Agents is from The Huffington Post.

Advice for would-be textbook authors on approaching a publisher and writing a proposal is from SAGE Connection.

Failed first drafts: the joy of making mistakes is by Jessica Lahey.

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