September 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
September 12, 2014
September 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
With the Ray Rice video bringing attention to the tragedy of domestic violence, I thought it would be useful to bring together a few related resources. These are particularly accessible to English Language Learners, but can also be useful for all students. I hope readers will contribute more:
The Most Brutal Domestic Violence Awareness Ads is from BuzzFeed.
Here’s a video to use in an ESL lesson on the issue. It’s one in a series. If you click on it and go directly to YouTube, you’ll see the others:
The Minnesota Literacy Council has a unit accessible to ELLs.
Breaking News English has a lesson on violence against women.
Picture Story Four at this link is on domestic violence.
I’ve started a somewhat regular feature where I share a few posts and resources from around the Web related to ESL/EFL or to language in general that have caught my attention:
I’m adding these next two posts to the same list:
Scaffolding CCSS Instruction for ELLs – New Resource Guides is from Colorin Colorado.
What happens in the brain when you learn a language? is from The Guardian. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning The Advantages To Being Bilingual.
Core and Quirks has some intriguing ways to diagram verb tenses. I’m adding it to The Best Web Tools For Teaching Irregular Verbs & Verb Tenses.
TESOL has a useful blog with regular teacher contributors. Check it out!
As all teachers know, controversial topics can be very tricky to handle in class. Here’s a process I used in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes this past week they went far better than I had expected, and I think this series of lessons might be able to be applied to other classes.
FIRST DAY: I introduced The Belief-Knowledge Continuum from our IB textbook. You can find it the continuum online in many places and it just so happens that our textbook’s version is available at Google Books. I’m not sure who originated it, so I’m wary of reproducing it in this post. But it’s really very simple — a number scale from negative ten to positive ten, with a few labels including impossible, probable and certain. “Probable” is also labeled “Belief” and “Certain” is labeled “knowledge.”
TOK’s definition of knowledge is “justified true belief.” This continuum doesn’t mean that belief is worse than knowledge. It just means that though we might believe something, we just don’t “know” for sure.
Then, our textbook lists a few items asking students to place them on the continuum (Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, Murder is wrong) — you can see the list here.
I have students work in pairs to create their own poster plotting each of those items and providing an explanation of why they placed it there. Students then share their charts and discuss where they agree and disagree.
SECOND DAY: Students read an excerpt from the philosopher Ruben Abel’s book “Man is the Measure.” In it, he lists the different kinds of “evidence” people use to justify their knowledge. You can find that excerpt here (I only use the section following the heading “Good Reasons”). In groups of three, students make a poster ranking the types of evidence from the one they think is most convincing to least convincing; they have to provide an example; be prepared to defend their ranking; and draw a picture representing each type of evidence.
THIRD DAY: In a “speed-dating” style (groups facing each other, and then when one group is done one of the lines moves to the next group while the other line remains where they are), students share and discuss their “evidence” poster. However, they use a specific process for their discussion.
Teach Thought has published a nice “26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Conversation In The Classroom.” I adapted them and created a shorter list just showing their “Clarifying,” “Agreeing,” and “Disagreeing” questions. Students used them to guide their discussions with each group. I was the timer, and was flexible in both speeding it up and slowing it down:
- First minute: each group read and reviewed the other’s poster
- Second minute: one group asked clarifying questions from the sheet
- Third minute: the other group asked clarifying questions from the sheet
- Fourth minute: one group using the agreeing stems
- Fifth minute: the other group used the agreeing stems
- Sixth minute: one group used the disagreeing stems
- Seventh minute: the other group used the disagreeing stems
Students would then switch to discuss with another group (we did it about three or four times). In addition, I had asked students to keep in mind which poster they liked the best, and which disagreement they found most interesting.
After “speed-dating,” students met in their groups for a few minutes to discuss their favorite poster and which disagreement they found most interesting, and each group then gave a very short report.
After providing the group with the “winning” poster a dried fruit prize, I then gave students a half-piece of paper to write anonymously if they liked the use of the question/sentence stems and to say why or why not. I hadn’t tried using them before and want to get honest reactions. In both of my 35 student classes, everyone except for one or two students like them a lot and felt that without them the discussions would not have been productive.
FOURTH DAY: The warm-up activity was students writing down their response to:
Should we respect people’s racist or sexist beliefs? Why or why not? What might be the reasons they are using to justify those racist and sexist beliefs?
After a short discussion, I introduced a sheet developed by TOK teacher Remi Vicente called “Problems of Knowledge.” Basically, it’s a list of many of the reasons why people often confuse their “beliefs” with actual “knowledge.”
In their same groups of three, students reviewed the list and identified which ones they felt were the five most common “problems of knowledge.”
FIFTH DAY: In their same groups of three, I gave each a first section of that day’s daily newspaper (in one class, we also had access to computers) and distributed these instructions (here they are as a downloadable hand-out):
1) Take out the Belief knowledge continuum and your types of evidence poster.
2) Get with your group that developed the types of evidence poster.
3) Look at newspapers, news magazines and online news sites to identify current events – between two and five of them
4) Where are your chosen current events on the continuum – what is guiding the action of the primary person/people involved in the current events you chose. There may be more than one, and they might need to be “plotted” differently. Explain your decision.
5) Look at the types of evidence poster. Identify what evidence each of the primary people are using to justify their actions.
6) Look at the problems of knowledge sheet and poster you made. What flaws, if any, are the primary people making?
7) Make a simple poster for each current event showing where on the continuum you placed the current event and why, they type of evidence and flaws. Be prepared to share with class.
Students chose a variety of events, including President Obama’s de facto declaration of war against Islamic militants, the Ray Rice controversy, and the killing of Michael Brown. Because of the activities we did earlier, the quality and tone of the discussions was at an incredibly high intellectual level — examining evidence, points of view, and reasoning.
I also have to say that, perhaps for one of the few times in my years of teaching Theory of Knowledge, students really “got” how what they were learning could be applied to the world outside of school.
Admittedly, it took a lot of time. But, with this background, I think we can approach future discussions of current events in similar vein without all the days of preliminary build-up.
Let me know what you think of this series of lessons, and how you think I can make it better!
Coincidentally, Luis Vilson has just published a good post over at Edutopia with additional ideas on how to handle controversial topics in the classroom.
TED Talks just released a new Hans Rosling video (done with his son) called “How not to be ignorant about the world.”
You can see it on the TED Talk site with all its bells and whistles, including a transcript, but I’ve embedded the YouTube version below.
I’m, of course, adding it to The Best Hans Rosling Videos:
As regular readers know, I’ve been accumulating teaching/learning resources for the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class ever since I began to teach it a few years ago.
The collection is now up to nearly 1,700 links that are categorized by Ways of Knowing and Areas of Knowledge, and you can access them all here.
September 8th was International Literacy Day, and I have a lot of related resources at The Best Resources For International Literacy Day.
There’s an infographic from UNESCO on that list from last year, and they’ve published this new one with updated statistics, which I’ll be adding there:
September 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
How Should Teachers Dress? is the first “question-of-the-week” at my Ed Week column this year.
Responses are welcome there or here in the comments section.
She’s now writing her own blog, which is a “must-follow” for any TOK teacher. Here’s her description:
Eileen Dombrowski, lead author of the IB Theory of Knowledge Course Companion (OUP, 2013), has recently launched a TOK blogsite that complements the course overview of the TOK book with regular fresh comments on ideas and events in the news. In the traditional spirit of TOK educational sharing, the blog and associated resources are free. It’s also easy to sign up to follow the blog by email to receive fresh posts as they are added. Check it out: Activating TOK: thinking clearly in the world
It’s not quite yet available for pre-order from Routledge, but they do have it up on their website with a publication date of March 15, 2015.
I thought blog readers might be interested in seeing the Table Of Contents:
Chapter 1. I Still Want to Know: How Do You Motivate Students?
Chapter 2. Still Want to Know: How Can You Best Handle Classroom Management?
Chapter 3. Still Want to Know: How Can You Get Students More Interested in Reading And Writing?
Chapter 4. How Can You Get Students to Transfer Their Knowledge and Skills From
One Class to Other Classes and Outside-of-School Situations?
Chapter 5. How Can You Help Students Want To Live A Physically Healthy Lifestyle?
Chapter 6. How Can You Help Students Get Into a State of “Flow”?
September 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
100 Years of Unrest is an interactive map that has:
tried to gather information on social unrest throghout last century. Protests, uprisings, rebellions and revolts, civil wars, wars for independence, revolutions were mapped. Mapping events in time has enabled to follow hotspots or temporal trends of civil disobedience across the globe.
It’s based on information from Wikipedia.
Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.
Previous readers of this blog and my blogs are familiar with much of my writing about helping students develop self-control, including lessons using the famous Marshmallow Test (see The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control). In fact, in about ten days you’ll be able to read at my Ed Week Teacher column an interview I recently did with Dr. Walter Mischel, originator of that experiment.
One of the key elements of any of my self-control lessons is highlighting the different techniques that children used to avoid eating the marshmallow (looking away, etc.) and how students can apply them in class. In that “The Best” list, you’ll be able to see a fun Sesame Street video where The Cookie Monster demonstrates those same successful strategies, and my high school students love watching it as a refresher later in the school year after we learn about the Marshmallow Experiment in September.
And this leads me to parrots….
Researchers have found that some parrots, unlike other non-human species, also have a capacity for self-control, and created a version of the Marshmallow Experiment for them. You can read more about it at a Slate article titled A Parrot Passes the Marshmallow Test.
It’s very interesting but, as far as I’m concerned, the most useful part of the article is this short video. I plan showing it to students later in the year as another fun “refresher” — students can watch and identify the strategies used by the children and the parrot to reinforce their self-control.
I’m adding this info to my Best list on self-control.
I’m adding this video to The Best Resources For Learning About Rube Goldberg Machines:
Teaching Tolerance, the organization justifiably well-known for developing very good social-justice oriented teaching resources, has just unveiled: “Perspectives for a Diverse America… a literacy-based curriculum that marries anti-bias social justice content with the rigor of the Common Core State Standards.”
It’s a very ambitious site, and I think most teachers will find the highlight to be 300 great texts, often from larger works, all set-up to print out and copy for students. Those are a gold mine!
I hate to say it, but I generally found the site’s set-up to be fairly convoluted and confusing to navigate, though others may very well feel differently. But, whether you agree with me or not on that, I’m sure you’re going to agree that the texts are a wonderful resource.
You do have to register in order to access the site, but it takes a minute to do so.
I’m adding the site to The Best Teacher Resource Sites For Social Justice Issues.
My latest column at Ed Week Teacher features links to the ten “all-time” most popular posts that have appeared there.
Here’s an excerpt from the number one post:
Heganoo looks like a very nice and easy online map-making site. After a quick registration (though I never received a confirmation email, but was still able to use the site without it) you can identify any location or locations on a map and make it a point-of-interest where you can add text, links and, most importantly as far as I’m concerned, an image by just pasting its url address. That ability to add an image via web address is a bit unusual for map-making sites.
I’m adding it to The Best Map-Making Sites On The Web.
You can read more about Heganoo at Google Maps Mania.
Building Relationships is the title of my latest British Council post where I share a fun introductory activity I do with students at the beginning of each school year.
It includes a link to a downloadable student hand-out, along with this artistically challenged teacher model I use:
By the way, you can see all my previous British Council posts here.
More Teachers Adopting Restorative Discipline Practices is the title of an NEA Today story that unexpectedly features my classroom practice.
I had a short email interaction with the writer over the summer, but hadn’t thought much would come of it.
You might find it interesting.
I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Classroom Management.
This is the cover of my upcoming third book on helping students develop intrinsic motivation (my own little trilogy ). It will be published by Routledge in early 2015.