Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 27, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Thoughts On Today’s NY Times Column By Carol Dweck

I’m a fan of much of Professor Carol Dweck’s work, and have often written in this blog (and in my book) about how I’ve applied her research in the classroom, especially around praising effort instead of intelligence.

A few months ago, though, I heard about one of her recent research projects that bothered me a bit, and, then, today, I saw a column she co-wrote about it in The New York Times. It’s titled “Willpower: It’s in Your Head.”

In it, she challenges the research findings of Professor Roy F. Baumeister, another researcher whose work has influenced my teaching practice. Professor Baumeister has written a great deal about self-control, and I wrote a piece in Education Week about how I apply his findings in the classroom — he also contributed a guest commentary.

Basically, Professor Baumeister (and many others) have concluded that self-control is a resource that can be depleted, and needs to be periodically replenished. Professor Dweck claims that it only is depleted if you believe it needs to be replenished.

That’s a very simplified summary, and I’d encourage you to read both her piece and Professor Baumeister’s commentary to get a more amplified view, as well as learning more how I interpret it for classroom use.

I’m all for having a “growth mindset,” which is another concept that Professor Dweck is known for and which I use with my students. However, especially with adolescents, it seems to me that we need to recognize that our students are not Supermen or Superwomen, and it’s unlikely that many — if any — have an unlimited level of self-control. My students and I have found Professor Baumeister’s research very useful and I have often seen it work effectively.  The key, of course, is that we need to help our students develop effective strategies to replenish their capacity for self-control.

Earlier this morning, I contacted Professor Baumeister to get his reactions to the critique. Here is his response (and he granted permission for me to share it here):

[Many] things can make a difference right at the beginning of depletion, when you’re only slightly depleted. we have replicated her finding that getting people to believe in unlimited willpower makes them do better when they are slightly depleted. but that same manipulation actually makes them do worse when they are severely depleted.

What do you think?

May 23, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Cornucopia Of Useful Social Emotional Learning Resources

I’m hopelessly behind on important resources to share, particularly ones related to Social Emotional Learning. Thanks to Karen HuxtableJester and to Vipula Sharma for some of the links. I’ll be adding this post to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources:

The Educator and the Growth Mindset is from Jackie Gerstein and Metacognition Curriculum is an older post from Frank Noschese.

Test Your Mindset is an online interactive from Carol Dweck that I think would be useful to offer to students.

Helping Students Reach Their Full Potential with the Growth Mindset is by Dan Winkler and provides a pretty good, and short, definition of a growth mindset.

I’m adding all the previously-mentioned links to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

Teaching Teenagers to Develop Their Emotional Intelligence is from, of all places, The Harvard Business Review.  Though I’m a bit skeptical of making these kinds of connections, here was a particularly interesting sentence (and link) from the article:

a cost-benefit analysis released last month concluded that for every dollar schools spend on SEL, there is an average of $11 worth of benefits to society, including costs associated with healthcare and educational attainment.

Here’s an Ed Week article on that particular study.

How to Be Emotionally Intelligent is from The New York Times.

I’m adding this tweet to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control:

High Schools That Walk the Social-Emotional Walk (and Don’t Just Talk the Talk) is from Ed Week.

May 10, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Limits To The Power Of A Growth Mindset (& The Dangers When We Don’t Recognize Them)

As regular readers know, I’m a big believer in helping students understand and develop a growth mindset, and have recently published two very popular posts about it.

However, I also think it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.

Carol Dweck, whom I have praised repeatedly, and her colleagues just published a paper on self-control/willpower and a growth mindset. Jonah Lehrer has written the best explanation of it that I’ve seen. Basically, their study suggests that contrary to previous research that has found self-control to be a resource that can be depleted and then needs to be replenished through food, beverage, or other means, in fact, having a growth mindset about your capacity for self-control is really the best way to keep your willpower at a high-level (I believe that’s an accurate summary, but am more than willing to be told otherwise).

This study seems to build on Professor Dweck’s Op Ed in The New York Times a few years ago which I, and other researchers ,critiqued. And I made similar criticisms of another researcher who I admire, Heidi Grant Halvorson, when she made a similar case for people dealing with stress (see Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen). Many studies have found that we have a certain amount of cognitive “bandwidth” available to deal with pressures and that certain stresses, particularly economic ones, can take up a substantial space in it. That, in turn,  limits what might be available for what are considered Social Emotional Learning skills. In other words, people aren’t poor because they don’t have self-control or grit — poverty itself helps create a lack of those qualities.

I’m not convinced that pushing our students to develop a growth mindset should be the primary strategy we educators use to help our students deal with all the challenges they face, including self-control and stress. Though I think a growth mindset is a critical perspective we want our students to develop, I think also acknowledging that we all have some limitations, and learning strategies to effectively cope with them is an equally important concept and skill to learn (here are strategies around self-control and stress I teach students).

I am not trying to put words into the mouths of Professor Dweck (and Heidi Grant Halvorson) and her colleagues by suggesting that they believe that having a growth mindset is the answer to all these challenges, though I think that pushing these ever-expanding claims about the power of a growth mindset can sometimes leave that impression.

These kinds of claims also play into the “Let Them Eat Character” narrative that the problem for low-income people is character and not poverty and inequality. David Brooks is a big public advocate of this perspective, which he repeated just last weekend. And I’ve written about it in The Washington Post, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning.

As I’ve stated before (see the discussion in the comments here), I hope that all researchers take into consideration how their studies might be misused by others in the public policy arena.

What do you think — am I over-reacting?

May 6, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

New Study Shows That Teaching About “Growth Mindset” Works At Large Scale – Or Does It?

Question Mark from Flickr via Wylio

© 2010 Ryan, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

I’m a big proponent of Carol Dweck’s research on a growth mindset (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”). I use it with my students and, in fact, it’s a concept we push heavily school-wide in our Social Emotional Learning initiative. I’ve seen a number of students positively affected by it, and it’s provided me with a positive tool to improve my classroom’s environment.

So I was very pleased to see a recent study by Dweck and her colleagues finding that teaching students about a growth mindset can be very effective on a larger-scale.

However, almost simultaneous with the publication of that study, a detailed critique of it was also published, basically claiming that the data did not support the researchers’ conclusions.

Despite my continuing efforts to become more sophisticated in my understanding of the research behind these kinds of studies (see The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research), I don’t really understand the data and methodology of the study nor of the critique.

I had hoped that some of the 275 comments following the critique might provide me with some clarity, but I was amazed at how few of the comments actually related to the study itself. Most commented on topics as wide-ranging as global warming, El Nino, and speaker fees for academics. Reading those 275 comments is time I’ll never get back :) .

I did, however, find three that seemed to provide some value, but I couldn’t understand them either.

I’m hoping that readers with far more knowledge of research data analysis might be able to enlighten me about these dueling claims, and will also be requesting the assistance of people who I know have greater knowledge in this arena.

The more I learn, the more I discover I don’t know.

What is your take on this research?

January 30, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

January’s Top Posts From This Blog

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I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see older Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month (more recent lists can be found here).

You can also see my all-time favorites here.

Here are some of the posts I personally think are the best, and most helpful, ones I’ve written during this past month (not in any order of preference):

In Case You Missed It: Washington Post Republishes My Recent Complaint About Bill Gates

Quote Of The Day: “Differentiation Does, in Fact, Work”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “”

No, No, No! Grading Students On Grit & Gratitude Comes To Our Area

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Szoter”

“Four strategies for grammar instruction” Is My Latest British Council Post

“What If?” Projects From My Theory Of Knowledge Class

New Additions To Bloom’s Taxonomy Resources

“Goal Of Classroom Management Is To Have Power ‘With,’ Not ‘Over,’ Kids”

New App “Seesaw” Is A “Learning Journal” For Students

“Teaching About Weather and Seasons” is my latest NY Times Post For ELLs

New “Public Domain Project” Offers Thousands Of Free Clips & Images

My Interview With NPR: “For the First Time, Majority of Public School Students Live in Poverty”

New “Warm-Ups” I’m Doing With My English Language Learners

Statistic Of The Day: New Study Finds That Money Matters For Schools

Guest Post On TPR Storytelling – What It Is & How To Do It

Quote Of The Day: I Think This Is The Best Article Carol Dweck Has Written

Statistic Of The Day: Students Need More Skills in Critical Thinking, Communication & Problem-Solving

Guest Post: One Teacher’s Perspective On Common Core Math

“Positive Classroom Management Strategies – Part One”

This Has Got To Be One Of The Most Useful Sites On The Web For ELL Teachers

Resources From All My Blogs

Quote Of The Day: More Time For Teacher Collaboration Better Than Longer School Day For Students

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Padlet”

“Google Translate” Starts A Big Time Update Today

Study Finds That Bilingualism Supports A Growth Mindset

Here Is The New Student Self-Assessment I’m Using At The End Of Our Semester

No, The “Cone Of Experience” Is Not “Research-Based” & Yes, Some People Debunking It Have Way Too Much Time On Their Hands

Rick Wormeli On Differentiation

Free Resources From All My Books

“Teachers Of Color Can ‘Broaden Student Perspectives’”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Phrase.It”

My BAM! Radio Shows

Video: PBS News Hour Shows A Second Excellent Segment On Self-Control

“‘Education Suffers’ Without More Teachers Of Color”

Duolingo For Schools Opened Today – Here’s How It Works

Some Thoughts & Resources On Today’s Federal Announcement About English Language Learners

“The Teachers Of Color ‘Disappearance Crisis’”

My New British Council Post: “Instructional strategies for multi-level classes of English language learners”

Must-Read Review Of Alternatives To Standardized Tests

Quote Of The Day: “Techniques Don’t Work In Isolation”

Study Suggests It’s Time To Put Up Pictures Of Mountains On My Classroom Wall

“Supporting ELLs in The Common Core Era”

Guest Post: “Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Student Voice”

What A Great Idea — “Surprise Journals” — & It Has Student Examples, Too!

“ELLs & The Common Core – Part One”


January 24, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Five Most Popular Posts Of The Week

Here’s the latest edition of this every-weekend feature . These are the posts appearing this blog that received the most “hits” in the preceding seven days (though they have originally been published on an earlier date).

You might also be interested in My Most Popular Posts In 2014.

Here they are:

1. This Has Got To Be One Of The Most Useful Sites On The Web For ELL Teachers

2. The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom

3. The Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner Sites

4. Guest Post: One Teacher’s Perspective On Common Core Math

5. Quote Of The Day: I Think This Is The Best Article Carol Dweck Has Written

January 1, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

December’s Best Posts From This Blog


I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see older Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month (more recent lists can be found here).

You can also see my all-time favorites here.

Here are some of the posts I personally think are the best, and most helpful, ones I’ve written during this past month (not in any order of preference):

“Nine education predictions for 2015″

“The Most Popular Classroom Q & A Posts In 2014″

ESL/EFL Teachers Can Get Great Free Online Prof. Dev. With “The Electronic Village Online”

The Wash. Post Publishes My Annual “Best and worst education news” Of The Year

BAM! Radio Redesigns Site – Listen To All Thirty-Three Of My Shows!

‘Care Is The Catalyst For Learning’

Second Great Video Of Football Star’s Love Of Reading

Quote Of The Day: “constructivist methods are intensely valuable”

“‘There’s Nothing More Innovative Than Care’”

Study: Conscientiousness + Curiosity = Academic Success

Best Christmas Video Of The Year — From Improv Everywhere

New Sesame Street Video On Self-Control: “Imagine It’s Something Else”

Video: My English Language Learners Did A “One-Sentence Project”

Video: New TEDx Talk By Carol Dweck

A Step Towards Star Trek’s “Universal Translator”

“Supporting Student Engagement By ‘Building Community’”

“Student Engagement Is ‘The Act Of Being Invested In Learning’”

Obama Administration Insists On Evidence Before Supporting A Program – Unless It’s Their Own Ed Policy

Getting The Least Motivated Students More Motivated By Working With The Most Motivated

“Should students discover their own math lessons?”

“Student Engagement ‘Involves Joyous Effort’”

The Difference Between Failures and Mistakes

Wash Post: “single most important factor in helping children learn is the quality of their teachers” – WRONG!

“Ways Of Knowing” Final Projects By My IB Theory of Knowledge Students

“The Best Ways To Engage Students In Learning”

“Hstry” Looks Like A Nice Tool For Making Timelines Online

Extrinsic Motivation In My Classroom

“The ‘Secret Sauce’ Of Formative Assessment”

Quote Of The Day: The Benefits Of Collaboration

“Grit” Runs Amok In The New York Times