Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Intriguing New Study On Student Engagement


Something must be in the air today — first there was the new study by Carol Dweck, and now another intriguing study — this one by University of Pittsburgh researchers on student engagement.

Unfortunately, unlike Professor Dweck’s research, which was available for free, the Pittsburgh study is behind a paywall. I did go ahead and purchase School context, achievement motivation, and academic engagement: A longitudinal study of school engagement using a multidimensional perspective. However, I think the free report summary does a good job of laying-out its key points.

For what it’s worth, though, with a couple of important exceptions, I don’t think you’ll find much new in the report that you can’t find in The Best Posts & Articles On Student Engagement or The Best Posts On Motivating Students.

However, there are those two exceptions…

The first one is a relatively obvious point about choice, but one that I think is easy to overlook. Here’s what the report says:

Contrary to our hypotheses, however, perceived provision of choice did not predict students’ subjective task valuing of learning at school, nor did it predict their academic self-concept (Hypothesis 1b). There is evidence that the benefits of choice-provision for student motivation are likely to be limited if the choices involve tasks that are not deemed interesting or relevant to a student’s personal goals and interests (Assor et al., 2002). Opportunities for decision making or freedom of action are less important than the extent to which the decision making and action opportunities available reflect personal goals, interests, and values (Deci & Ryan, 2000). It is possible that decision-making opportunities do not effectively support student autonomy in the case that no relevance to personal goals or interests is detected. In order to make choice and freedom of action motivational, students should be provided with options to engage in schoolwork that are relevant to personal goals and interests (Flowerday & Schraw, 2003; Katz & Assor, 2006).

In other words, student choice is not a magic bullet.

Though it’s not a brilliant revelation, it is nevertheless an important reminder to all of us.

Their other key point, I think, is more important.

They characterize “student engagement” as a combination of “behavioral, emotional, and cognitive engagement.” The way they measured it is through a student survey evaluating each of the three components with specific questions where they had respondents rate on a five point scale. Though they don’t include the entire survey in the paper, they do provide examples:

Behavioral engagement — “How often do you participate in class discussion actively?”

Emotional engagement — “I feel excited by the work in school.”

Cognitive engagement — “How often do you try to relate what you are studying to other things you know about?”

With those examples, and a couple of others they include in their paper, it would be fairly easy for teacher to create their own survey measuring those three components of student engagement (I’ll be developing one that I’ll post on this blog in the future). It seems to me that those kinds of questions could be an important evaluative tool as a companion to the kind of teacher/class evaluation I posted about earlier today. Answers could reveal some pretty critical feedback for educators.

What do you think?

June 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Videos For Educators In 2013 – So Far


Here’s the latest in my mid-year“The Best…” posts….

You might also be interested in:

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 — Part One

The Best Videos For Educators In 2011

Part Two Of The Best Videos For Educators — 2010

The Ten Best Videos For Educators — 2010

And you might also want to see The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual — Part OneThe Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner and The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading.

You might also want to check out The Best Video Collections For Educators.

Here are my choices for The Best Videos For Educators In 2013 – So Far:

Jason Flom shared this great video on the importance of making mistakes. I’m adding it to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures.

This demonstrates both the disadvantages of extrinsic motivation and the importance of helping our students develop creativity. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students and to The Best Sources Of Advice On Helping Students Strengthen & Develop Their Creativity:

Here’s a cute video that would be a fun introduction to the lesson on self-control in my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves (and it could be used with any of the other ideas I share in The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control).

A willingness to take risks is an important quality of a language learner, which is why I’m adding this video to The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner:

Story, Imagery, & the Art of 21st Century Presentation is a very good video of Garr Reynolds on presentation skills. I’m adding it to The Best Digital (& Non-Digital) Storytelling Resources.

Here’s a great video animation created by Scott McLeod where he imagines a conversation between a policy maker and an educator about “teacher accountability.”

I’m adding it to A Collection Of The Best “Laugh While You Cry” Videos.

Dan Pink has posted a nice and short video demonstrating the importance of asking good questions.

I’m adding it to….The Best Videos Showing The Importance Of Asking Good Questions.

You may have heard about the late David Foster Wallace’s amazing commencement address from several years ago at Kenyon College. A video, using his audio, was unveiled on the Web, and has since been seen millions of times. Here’s the video (you can read the transcript here). Here are previous posts where I’ve also highlighted particularly notable commencement addresses:

This TED Talk video from Rita Pierson on “Every Kid Needs A Champion” is a great one. I had never heard of Rita Pierson before, but she makes great points. I wonder how and why she got connected to Ruby Payne? (see The Best Critiques Of Ruby Payne).

I’m adding the video to The Best Resources On The Importance Of Building Positive Relationships With Students.

This is a great entertaining video, and it got me wondering if it could be a model for some class projects — would it make sense for students to create similar videos demonstrating the historical transitions in, let’s say, the rule of law, or how children were treated (or, as one reader suggested, changing scientific beliefs)? You’d want to be very, very careful (and I’d probably avoid it) with using it to examine racial and gender attitudes, but there may very well be other attitudes that would be worth examining. At the very least, the video will offer a few minutes of enjoyable entertainment:

What a great video to help teach “Perception” to IB Theory Of Knowledge students:

Here’s another short video that would be great to teach “perception” in IB Theory of Knowledge classes. Thanks to Michelle Henry for the tip:

The PBS News Hour aired an impressive report on project-based learning in a Kentucky school district. I’m embedding the video below, but it might not come through on an RSS Reader:

Watch School District Uses Project Based Learning Over Testing on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

The report refers to an interesting program in that state called “districts of innovation. You can read more about them here and here.

I’m adding this info to The Best Sites For Cooperative Learning Ideas and to The Best Articles Describing Alternatives To High-Stakes Testing.

The Anti-Defamation League has launched an “Imagine a World Without Hate” video and action campaign with the posting of this pretty amazing video. It can be used in many ways, including as part of a “what if?” history lesson. That’s why I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons:

Rick Wormeli shared these two very useful videos of education researcher John Hattie:

I’m adding this excellent video on how African men are stereotyped in Hollywood movies to The Best Geography Sites For Learning About Africa. It’ll be a great way to also get my ESL students to start talking about how they feel their cultures have also been stereotyped.

The wonderful StoryCorps stories on NPR are great pieces to read and listen to on the radio. They also have converted a number of them into short video animations, and many of them (though not the one I’ve embedded below) are closed-captioned.

Here is one of my favorites — with the late, great Studs Terkel:

I’m adding this video to The Best Resources About Wealth & Income Inequality:

The well-regarded documentary The Finland Phenomenon is now online for free and is embedded below. I learned about its availability via a tweet by Pasi Sahlberg, which also included a radio interview. I’m adding it to The Best Resources To Learn About Finland’s Education System.

The Gates Foundation  released a new one of Hans Rosling’s “magic” world data videos (you can see his previous ones I’ve posted here). Check it out:

The eagle in this video certainly illustrates an example of perseverance. I’m adding it to The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner:

I’m adding this video to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”:

NASA released this video showing temperature changes in the world since 1880 and including 2012 — it’s an updated version of one they’ve released in previous years. I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Learn About Climate Change.

What A Great Video To Show The Importance Of Modeling & Support:

Dan Pink was interviewed on CBS, and it really gets at some key elements of motivation and goal-setting. There’s nothing new there for people familiar with his work, but it’s a great piece to show to colleagues and to students. I’ve embedded it below, though am not sure if it will show-up in an RSS Reader:

I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students and to The Best Posts On Students Setting Goals.

Eduardo Briceño is the Co-Founder, with Dr. Carol Dweck, of Mindset Works:

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

I wouldn’t put this next video in the same class as the other ones on this list, but I think readers might still find it useful. Eye On Education, the publisher of my new books on student motivation, Helping Students Motivate Themselves and Self-Driven Learning, have just posted a short video clip from a webinar I did for them.

In it, I share three strategies that can help students develop intrinsic motivation:

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 1,100 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

May 3, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Very, Very Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Bullying — Please Suggest More

'Bully Advance Screening Hosted by First Lady Katie O'Malley' photo (c) 2012, Maryland GovPics - license:

I know there are a ton of resources out there on bullying. I’m also skeptical about a lot of it being useful.

So I’m just going to start off list with two resources I think are good ones, and hope that readers will contribute a lot more.

Absolutely Everything Researchers Know About Bullying is from Rules For Engagement at Education Week.

Interesting New Study By Carol Dweck

Appealing To The Self-Interest Of Bullies is post I wrote.


I’m adding next infographic to the list. I’m displaying it in a couple of ways because I like it a lot and what it to be accessible, but the original formatting is a bit “funky”:

You can see a better version here.


via USC Rossier Online

Bullying prevention from the ground up is by Jim Dillon at Smart Blogs.

Bullying Prevention Programs May Have Negative Impact: Study is from The Huffington Post.

Anti-Bullying Programs Could Be a Waste of Time is from TIME.

Bullying Is Bad, But Do We Know How To Stop It? is by Paul Bruno.

Raiders Quarterback Applauds Bullied Dolphins Player For ‘Standing Up And Being A Man’ is from ThinkProgress.

The Stanford Prison And Why The Miami Dolphins Weren’t Just “Boys Being Boys” is from Forbes.

If a 6’5, 312-pound Miami Dolphin can be bullied… is from The Washington Post.

How do other countries tackle bullying? is from The Guardian.

It Takes a Village to Create a Bully is from The Pacific Standard.

I don’t think I’d use with students, but, as Greg Toppo said when he on Twitter, it seems like a “spot-on take on bullying.”

What’s New on A Redesigned Training Center Plus 11 User Guides is from

Suggest away! I’m all ears….

April 3, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Writing Prompts — Feel Free To Contribute Your Own!

The University of California requires incoming freshmen and women to take the Analytical Writing Placement Exam to determine their English placement. We use their model a lot in our high school English classes — both during our regular classes and for a beginning and ending year writing assessment we evaluate through use of an improvement rubric (see “Instead of seeing students as Far Below Basic or Advanced, we see them as learners”).

You can see an example of this kind of prompt (which requires students to read an essay and respond to it) at a previous post where I shared one my colleague and I developed for an article on Carol Dweck and the idea of a growth mindset.

Here’s an AWPE-style prompt based on a Bob Marley quote (we’re studying a unit on Jamaica) that my colleague Katie Hull Sypnieski and I developed (well, really, it was mostly her :) ). You can download it here as a student hand-out, but I’ll also share it here:

“If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy . . . Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.” Bob Marley

Writing Prompt:
In the above quotation, what is Bob Marley saying about love and relationships? To what extent do you agree with what Marley is saying? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your reading.

Again, it’s very abbreviated — not the prompt itself, but what they are reading prior to their response. Typically, it’s an actual essay. But even a short quote like this can be good practice.

These kinds of prompts follow the “They Say, I Say”

Do you have similar examples of prompts (& the essays that the prompts refer to) that have worked well with your students? If so, leave examples in the comments and I’ll write a future post sharing them all.

March 18, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen

Doppia Identità
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Gioia De Antoniis via Compfight

A few minutes ago I published a post that repeated my admiration for Carol Dweck’s work, one of numerous posts I’ve written sharing that perspective.

However, I did publish one a couple of years ago that was critical of an op ed piece she did in The New York Times questioning extensive research that found self-control to be a limited resource that needed to be replenished. Dr. Dweck suggested that operating under that belief was contrary to her rightfully admired perspective on having a growth-mindset. In other words, it only needs to be replenished if you believe it can be depleted.

As I wrote in that post:

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.

So why am I bringing this up now? Well, another researcher whom I admire, Heidi Grant Halvorson, has just written a widely-seen article with the title How You Can Benefit from All Your Stress. She makes an argument for stress similar to Dr. Dweck’s on self-control.

Comments on that piece make many of the same points I would make in a critique, though more eloquently than I would.

I believe that there are much more effective coping ways I can help students at our 100% free lunch (who also receive free breakfast and dinner) school to deal with stress than encouraging them to look at it as a way to grow (and an extensive lesson plan in my new book provides even more details).

I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that:

your mindset about stress may be the most important predictor of how it affects you.

We’re all familiar with the saying, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, than every problem looks like a nail.”

Photo Credit: Matthew via Compfight

Helping our students develop a growth mindset can be one of the most important life skills lessons we can teach. But let’s also recognize that it’s not the solution to everything.

March 18, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two Excellent Posts On Giving Effective Feedback

I read two excellent posts today on giving effective feedback, and I’m adding both of them to The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students:

How To Give Good Feedback is by Annie Murphy Paul.

This next piece is an excellent interview with Carol Dweck. I learn from all of her work, but I found this one particularly interesting because she shared some thoughts I hadn’t heard her say before. In addition to adding this interview to the feedback list, I’m also adding it to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.” Here’s one particularly useful excerpt:

January 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Useful “Fixed” vs. “Growth” Mindset Worksheet For Students

A few days ago, I posted about an essay prompt related to Carol Dweck’s growth and fixed mindset concept that we are using for our semester final this week (see Here’s The “Growth Mindset” Article & Prompt We’re Using As Part Of Our Semester Final).

Illinois educator Arpan Chokshi subsequently shared with me a simple worksheet that he has his students complete, and gave me permission to share it on this blog.

You might find it useful….

January 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s The “Growth Mindset” Article & Prompt We’re Using As Part Of Our Semester Final

My colleagues and I help our students learn about the importance of a “growth mindset” during the year (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”).

My colleague Katie Hull and I are going to use the following prompt with this NPR report, Students’ View of Intelligence Can Help Grades, as part of our final next week. We thought others might find it helpful:

Writing Prompt:

According to Carol Dweck, what is a “growth mindset” and why is it important? Do you agree with what Dweck is saying? To support your opinion you may use examples from your own experiences, your observations of others, and any of your reading (including this article and the other articles on the brain, self-control, and grit that are in your notebook).

January 1, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2012

I put out a request, as I do every year, to readers to share the best education-related books that they had read over the past year. The books could have been published earlier and the only requirement was that you had read them sometime this year.

You might also be interested in these posts from previous years:

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2011

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2010

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2009

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2008

Thanks to all of you who took the time to contribute. Even if you didn’t, though, you can still share your recommendations in the comments section of this post.

My personal favorite was The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t by Nate Silver. It’s full of insights about the possibilities and, more importantly, the limitations of how data can be used. Much of what he writes can be applied to schools, and I’m looking forward to writing a post about it in the future.

Here are The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2012:


DRIVE by Daniel Pink-speaks volumes to non-educators, educators and definitely administrators!

Jim Homan:

“Why School” by Will Richardson. An ebook for sale on Amazon that takes about 90 minutes to read. One of the most important books of this year.

Leigh Ann:

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is the best book I’ve read this year. Her voice jumps from the pages and inspires you to do more. Inspires you to give students the unique opportunity to find what types of literature they enjoy. You can feel the warmth and connections that she has made in her classroom. I don’t know how any teacher who reads this book wouldn’t be compelled to make a change. Love it.

Jeffrey Temple:

Stratosphere by Michael Fullen

Jane Bozarth:

Katz, “Designing Information”. My Amazon review: “Three pages in I wanted to stop and write this review but forced myself to read the rest of the book before writing. My opinion was unchanged. “Designing Information” is a delightful, delectable, informative, visually rich, entertaining exploration of the business of making information more accessible…..”


I’m choosing Why School? by Will Richardson, too. I think Will does a fantastic job of exploring the changing nature of education and offers up suggestions for how teachers and administrators can take steps to meet the changing needs of today’s students (for tomorrow).

Kurt Reynolds:

Don Tapscott’s “Grown Up Digital.” I reference it nearly every day in class. It gives me great hope for this generation. Check out his excellent TED Talk too. Tapscott uses startling examples and backs them up with research. A great counterpoint to a lot of what comes out denigrating this generation (Mark Bauerlein’s “The Dumbest Generation” or Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows” or Jeane Twenge’s “The Narcissist Epidemic”). A must read for every teacher entering the profession.

Jonathan Martin:

Net Smart by Howard Rheingold: Hugely informative and wise on the topic about how the thrive online. My review here.

Robert Ryshke:

Creating the Opportunity to Learn by Wade Boykin and Pedro Noguera. This is one of the best books on what we need to do in America to deal with the huge gap in accessibility to quality education in the US.

The Innovator’s DNA by Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen was also a wonderful book. It is very interesting to think about how to apply these principles to schools, to help teach our students to be creators or innovators.

Susie Highley:

Fall Down 7 Times, Get up 8: Teaching Kids to Succeed by Debbie Silver. I am so tired of all of the time and effort some educators put into devising elaborate reward systems, which, in my opinion, do little to change behaviors. I reviewed this book for Middle Web. Debbie does a great job of combining current research and practicies in an entertaining manner, filled with many examples. Here’s a link to my review.

Linda Aragoni:

A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives edited by Anderson and Krathwohl moves away from the multiple choice tests that were the focus of the original taxonomy. Since educational objectives are the foundation of the Common Core State Standards, this book is already more influential than the original. The revised taxonomy answers many of the questions teachers raise about how to teach under Common Core.

Bill Sterrett:

I recommend Doug Lemov’s “Teach Like a Champion” book (with accompanying DVD of video teaching clips) as a great illustration of numerous actual teaching tips, strategies, and approaches. Theory is important, but educational leaders need to always prioritize real-life examples, challenges, and solutions.

Carol Gardiner:

21st Century Skills Rethinking How Students Learn edited by James Bellanca & Ron Brandt This book is a culmination of research and expertise written by favorite authors of education. They provide a framework of learning that marries core knowledge and background knowledge with innovation, creative thinking, problem solving and technology.


“Teach Like A Pirate” by Dave Burgess. The cover tagline reads: “Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator.” This claim holds up! This book will inspire the tenured and new teacher to unleash their passions in the classroom. The book has three parts: 1. The PIRATE (acronym) philosophy and system 2. How to create engaging lessons 3. Final thoughts and guidance. The two things I like most about Dave Burgess’ approach is that he is tells classroom stories I can relate to and I feel challenged by his strategies for creating engaging curriculum.

Matt Renwick:

I have to go with Opening Minds by Peter Johnston. This resource, along with his previous book Choice Words, has helped me change the way I listen and speak with students. Opening Minds is the only book I can think of that I have personally shared with teachers, parents and my wife.


I really enjoyed “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character” by Paul Tough. I think Tough argues quite vividly and persuasively that the skills such as “curiosity, self-control, and social fluidity” (ability to get along); skills that today are often called “soft” or “non-cognitive.” The book focuses on the determinants of success or failure among developing children and argues clearly and persuasively, in non-technical plain English, that the current-day educational policy emphasis on cognitive development among young people is seriously off-base. Tough’s book is brief and right on point. I recommend it highly.

Brenda giourmetakis:

Carly’s Voice by Arthur an Carly Fleishmann. While it is not a how to education book, it offers a deep understanding of children with autism who are non verbal. Because I had a student starting at my school with this description, I knew this would give me insights. It has made it’s rounds through my staff and because they have read it, they understand our new little student. They have more compassion and less pity for his situation. I would recommend this book to anyone who feels that autism is a mystery. Carly helps you understand more of the “why’s” behind the actions and reactions of children with autism.


I will be using Eleanor Dougherty’s book, “Assignments Matter: Making the connections That Help Students Meet Standards” as a resource for my curriculum class this spring. I believe it is well written and extremely helpful for teachers trying to align standards with assessments.

Ellen Adolph:

Angela Maiers’ Passion Driven Classroom and Habitudes has been very enlightening to my teaching. Another book I’ve recommended to at least 2 dozen folks (parents, neighbors) anyone who is truly interested in education is Tony Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap; it will really get people thinking!

Christian Klaue:

Necessary Endings by Dr. Cloud. Once we find something that works, we don’t just stick with it forever after. We need to keep reevaluating if it is still the best way to go. Carol Dwecks Mindset and Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage are honourable mentions.

Blair Peterson:

As a parent and educator I love Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner. Wagner profiles real life innovators and their parents and the educators who influenced them. I’m seriously thinking about how our school can do a better job of developing innovators.

Jan Hamilton:

What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali. An inspiration for all teachers and reminder of the power we wield. The perfect book to read before heading back to school.


Pathways to the Common Core : Accelerated Achievement by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth, and Christopher Lehman was a very informative and motivational read in preparation for transitioning my staff into common core. It explains how the new standards will work and creates an easy to follow roadmap that helps a CCSS novice navigate through this new transition and movement.

John Berray:

My top read of 2012 for educators is Dave Burgess’ Teach Like a Pirate. Dave shows teachers how to develop energized lessons, the kind that make his classes among the most popular on campus. Teach Like a Pirate offers specific strategies on how to tap into and cultivate the wellspring of creativity educators already possess! This book is an empowering read, transcends disciplines, and is the type of book I wish had been included in my own teacher preparation program.

Joy Kirr:

Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers. Kids need to be told that they are geniuses! They need to keep that spunk and assertiveness well into high school, so they can truly show their geniuses as they mature, instead of being ashamed of what they do. Great lessons embedded, and resources any grade can use.

Rachel Amstutz:

Several of my favorites have already been listed here but I have to lend my support to them as well! Creating Innovators is a fantastic read as it tells an important story by spotlighting students and families. Pathways to the Common Core is also a great tool to support our transition. I’m only half way through it, but it’s impacting my work tremendously.

Other favorite that were not yet listed include:
Best practices, 4th edition as it reflects on what we know works and incorporates the new movements/initiatives thoughtfully.

Blackants and Buddhists for proving a concrete example of teaching perspective, tolerance, openmindedness, evaluating for biases, and for its usefulness as a tool for my equity team.

Jennifer Lawler:

Sensible Mathematics, 2nd Ed. by Steve Leinwand. There aren’t a ton of books written about teaching math, or leading the reform that math education needs in this country. Leinwand hits the nail on the head with this book, laying out exactly why and how math class needs to change if we are to realize the promise of the CCSS. His companion work, Accessible Mathematics, geared more towards classroom teachers, is equally as good.

Suzanne Porath:

I would agree with Matt Renwick on Opening Minds by Peter Johnston. This book has influenced my own work in the classroom and also my understanding of my dissertation work. As Johnston says, words create worlds, and each interaction I have with my students creates a particular type of world. Johnston has helped me become more conscious of what worlds I’m creating and be more intentional with my language. I believe that all teachers should read both Choice Words and Opening Minds several times during their careers as with experience and new circumstances, Johnston’s ideas become more relevant.


I share a strategy a week with our staff from Doug Lemov’s “Teach Like a Champion; 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College”

Thanks again to everybody who contributed! Feel free to leave additional recommendations in the comments section.

November 12, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

” Struggle For Smarts? How Eastern And Western Cultures Tackle Learning”

Struggle For Smarts? How Eastern And Western Cultures Tackle Learning is a very interesting piece from NPR this morning.

It basically says that in Asian cultures, the feedback that is given both at home and at school to children tends to be the kind that specifically reinforces the struggle and hard work that they give to learning, while in Western cultures we tend to tell them that they are smart only when they get things right. In other words, supposedly in Asian cultures they already know and apply the research of Carol Dweck on feedback without knowing it….

I’ve taught many Asian students at our school, and clearly the importance of hard work is valued in many of their families, but I’ve never really thought about this particular kind of cultural difference. I’d be interested in hearing from other teachers here and in Asia if they agree with the analysis described in NPR.

Here’s an excerpt:

This is not to imply that the Eastern way of interpreting struggle — or anything else — is better than the Western way, or vice versa. Each have their strengths and weaknesses, which both sides know. Westerns tend to worry that their kids won’t be able to compete against Asian kids who excel in many areas but especially in math and science. Jin Li says that educators from Asian countries have their own set of worries.

“‘Our children are not creative. Our children do not have individuality. They’re just robots. You hear the educators from Asian countries express that concern, a lot,’” she notes.

So, is it possible for one culture to adopt the beliefs of another culture if they see that culture producing better results?

Both Stigler and Li think that changing culture is hard, but that it’s possible to think differently in ways that can help. “Could we change our views of learning and place more emphasis on struggle?” Stigler asks. ” Yeah.”

For example, Stigler says, in the Japanese classrooms that he’s studied, teachers consciously design tasks that are slightly beyond the capabilities of the students they teach, so the students can actually experience struggling with something just outside their reach. Then, once the task is mastered, the teachers actively point out that the student was able to accomplish it through the students hard work and struggle.

“And I just think that especially in schools, we don’t create enough of those experiences, and then we don’t point them out clearly enough.”

October 13, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”

Jumping Silhouettes [Explored #420 02-21-2012]
Photo Credit: Antoine Gady via Compfight

The “question of the week” at my Education Week Teacher column this week is “How Can We Help Our Students Develop a Growth Mindset?” (NOTE: You can now read Carol Dweck’s guest response to that question here). As part of the response, which will be published on Tuesday, I thought a “The Best…” list would be useful.

Carol Dweck, who identified the concept, will be one of the guests responding to that question, and several readers have already shared their ideas. There’s still time to contribute yours….

You can find a specific lesson in my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves, on how I incorporate the idea of a growth mindset in my classroom, and some of my other related ideas in my article in this month’s edition of ASCD Educational Leadership, Eight Things Skilled Teachers Think, Say, and Do.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”:

I’ve got to start with Professor Dweck’s own website, Mindset Online. Other resources by her are included in all “The Best…” lists in this post.

Here are a few previous related “The Best…” lists:

The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures

The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning

The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students

The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit”

Here is a fabulous infographic on the concept.

The Pajaro Valley School District has an excellent collection of resources, Carol Dweck’s Important Work on Mindsets.

Montgomery Schools also have a useful online packet.

Eduardo Briceño is the Co-Founder, with Dr. Carol Dweck, of Mindset Works:

Here’s The “Growth Mindset” Article & Prompt We’re Using As Part Of Our Semester Final

Useful “Fixed” vs. “Growth” Mindset Worksheet For Students

read two excellent posts today on giving effective feedback, and I’m adding both of them to The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students:

How To Give Good Feedback is by Annie Murphy Paul.

Here’s an excellent interview with Carol Dweck. I learn from all of her work, but I found this one particularly interesting because she shared some thoughts I hadn’t heard her say before. Here’s one particularly useful excerpt:

Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen

Changing Teens’ Mindsets on Social Aggression is a useful Ed Week article.

Promoting Equity Through Teaching For A Growth Mindset

Quote Of The Day AND Video: “We’ll Score Goals When We Grow Old”

Interesting New Study By Carol Dweck

Quote Of The Day: “Your Thoughts Can Release Abilities Beyond Normal Limits”

‘Growth Mindset’ Gaining Traction as School Improvement Strategy is from Education Week.

Daniel Coyle shared this video on Twitter. Even though it has a sports focus, it can very easily be applied to any area of learning:

Studies Offer Practical Ways to Bring ‘Growth Mindset’ Research to Schools is an Ed Week post about some recent studies. One of them featured having students read about the struggles experienced by famous scientists, as opposed by focusing solely on their achievements, and resulted in higher student motivation and academic achievement. Here’s an earlier study done by the same researchers with Taiwanese students (the most recent research was with classes in New York) that reached similar conclusions and has a lot of interesting background information.

Teachers told: use ‘not yet’ in place of ‘fail’ when marking is from The Telegraph. It’s about a new guide for UK teachers on how to help students develop a growth mindset.

Two Good Videos On How We Learn & How I Plan To Use Them In Class

New Research: Students Benefit from Learning That Intelligence Is Not Fixed is from MindShift.

Two New Sesame Street Videos On Social Emotional Learning

Researchers See What A Growth Mindset Does To The Brain

If you’ve found this list helpful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might want to also view the over nine hundred other “The Best…” lists.

September 22, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s Why We Humans Can “Celebrate” Our Mistakes

I’ve posted a few times about the importance of, to borrow from Carol Dweck, “celebrating” our mistakes. You can find those posts at The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures. We humans should take advantage of that ability, as this “Rubes” comic strip demonstrates:

Source: via Larry on Pinterest

August 13, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Very Interesting (& Different) Post On “Fixed” Versus “Growth” Mindsets

I’ve written a lot about Carol Dweck’s work on a “fixed” versus “growth” mindsets, as have many other people.

Today, though, I learned through a very interesting post at psySociety that there’s also another term used to describe the two perspectives — entity theorist (fixed) and incremental theorist (growth).

That’s interesting, but that’s not really why I’m writing about that post. It’s titled “Olympic Greatness: Biology or Motivation?” and does an exceptional job explaining that genetics obviously has a role in a person’a success, but that motivation can nevertheless take you a long way. Here’s an excerpt:

However, one might note that it’s not necessarily a “this-or-that” distinction. There is a chance that people could hold both entity and incremental theories about ability. As Richard Schmidt wrote in Motor Control and Learning, “abilities represent the collection of ‘equipment’ that one has at his or her disposal and limit the effect of learning on performance.” Essentially, this view states that abilities are determined by genetics and can be described as something you are “born with,” but you can still greatly improve your skills by working hard.

The post is illustrated by this Nike commercial, which many of us have probably seen during the Olympics. I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning About The 10,000 Hour Rule & Deliberative Practice.

June 3, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Nice Short Video On “Fixed” vs. “Growth” Mindset

I’ve written a lot about Carol Dweck’s research, especially in The Best Articles On The New Study Showing That Intelligence Is Not “Fixed” and in The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students. I’ve also created a lesson plan based in part on her research that can be found in my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves.

Here’s a new short video of Professor Dweck giving an excellent overview of her perspectives on having a “fixed” vs. a “growth” mindset:

December 20, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

December’s Best Posts

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 my previous Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month.

These posts are different from the ones I list under the monthly “Most Popular Blog Posts.” Those are the posts the largest numbers of readers “clicked-on” to read. I have to admit, I’ve been a bit lax about writing those posts, though.

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):





























December 6, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

“We Should Celebrate Mistakes”

(NOTE: You can see videos of my student’s final projects for this unit here)

As regular readers, I’m a fan of Carol Dweck’s work, notwithstanding my critique of her recent New York Times op ed on willpower.

I was recently watching a video of a group discussing Professor Dweck’s book, with her participating via Skype. I was struck by one comment she made, saying “we should celebrate mistakes.”

So, today I began to experiment with a lesson on doing just that. I’m going to refine it a lot more, and I think my colleagues might try it out in a number of different classes and make it even better. Here’s what I’m doing — I’m all ears if you have some ideas. My final version will be adaptable to all levels of students — mainstream and ESL:

Today, I began to very briefly talk about how we learn from our mistakes and, if we aren’t making any, then we’re not taking enough risks. I asked my ESL Beginners to write down what they felt were two common mistakes they made in learning English. They were all pretty broad — pronunciation, remembering new words, etc. They then shared what they wrote in groups of three.

Tomorrow, I’ll ask them to review what they wrote, and then try to remember specific times when they made mistakes in those more general categories. Then, I’ll ask them to write what they learned from each of those experiences. I’ll give the example of “I said ‘bottle’ the wrong way and people couldn’t understand me. My friend helped me learn the correct way to say it.” Students will then share what they wrote in small groups.

Later tomorrow, I’ll create an inductive data set (read more about inductive data sets here) listing each specific example and what they learned from it separately.

On Wednesday, students will need to cut each item out and paste them on a sheet in categories (I’ll probably just use the common general problems they wrote today for the categories they’ll use). I’ll use the typical “moves” of an inductive data set (see the earlier link for information about those, or see my books).

Thursday, they will review the content of each category, think about them, and add new examples they can think of — including mistakes they made and what they learned from each one. Students will share them in groups, and I hope students will see what a vast amount of knowledge they have learned from making mistakes.

Friday, each student will get a Post-It. I’ll ask them to pick one mistake they listed and what they wrote they learned, have them share in the Friday groups where we review weekly homework, and paste them on a “Mistake Wall.” We’ll make this a regular weekly event.

What do you think?

November 23, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

Research Studies Of The Week

I often write about research studies from various field and how they can be applied to the classroom. I write individual posts about ones that I think are especially significant, and will continue to do so. However, so many studies are published that it’s hard to keep up. So I’ve started writing a “round-up” of some of them each week or every other week as a regular feature:

The Future of Self-Improvement, Part I: Grit Is More Important Than Talent is not a new research study, but it does give a good short review of the research by Angela Duckworth about the importance of grit,or perseverance. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit.”

How Struggle Leads to Learning is a report on a study involving three-year-olds, but I suspect it might be applicable to others, too. I’m adding it to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures.

How can you learn to resist temptation? reports on a new study that reinforces the importance, emphasized in follow-up reports to the marshmallow experiment, for people to prepare plans on how they are going to resist specific temptations. As I’ve previously written, I have students make these kinds of plans and draw, write, and share them with classmates. I think one new aspect of this study highlights that it’s important to verbally repeat your strategy several times. I’m adding it to My Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson has written a short article for Carol Dweck’s website. It provides a simple review of the basics on the kind of feedback we should be giving our students, and generally there’s nothing new in it. However, it did make one important point I have not see made anyplace else:

Avoid praising effort when it didn’t pay off. Many parents try to console their child by saying things like “Well honey, you didn’t do very well, but you worked hard and really tried your best.” Why does anyone think that this is comforting? For the record – it’s not. (Unless, of course, it was a no-win situation from the start).

Studies show that, after a failure, being complimented for “effort” not only makes kids feel stupid, it also leaves them feeling like they can’t improve. In these instances, it’s really best to stick to purely informational feedback – if effort isn’t the problem, help them figure out what is.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t provide references to those studies. I’m still adding it to The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students.

Still the Write Stuff: Why We Must Continue Teaching Handwriting provides an overview of research on the topic. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Handwriting & Learning.