Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Interesting New Study By Carol Dweck


Readers of this blog are no strangers to the work of Carol Dweck, and you can find a collection of resources related to her work at The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

Professor Dweck and her colleagues have just published a new study that builds on her previous work and specifically relates it to reducing aggressive behavior by teenagers. Happily, the paper is not behind a paywall. It’s title is a long one — An Implicit Theories of Personality Intervention Reduces Adolescent Aggression in Response to Victimization and Exclusion.

You can also read a short summary of it by Art Markman.

Here is my brief summary (which I am very open to being critiqued and corrected) and my key “take-aways”:

Professor Dweck is known for, among other findings, developing the concepts of incremental mindset — that people’s traits can change over time — and an entity mindset — where traits are fixed. Many educators, including me, have used her research in the classroom in changing the kind of feedback we give students and in helping them see the physical changes caused in the brain by learning new things (my previously mentioned “The Best…” list give far more details).

In this new study (which focused on dealing with the effects of bullying), Professor Dweck and her colleagues taught six brief sessions to students elaborating on the incremental mindset, and found that they were less likely to react aggressively to bullying and, in general, behaved more appropriately in the classroom. They appeared to believe that neither the supposed reason behind their being targeted and the beliefs of the bullies themselves would be permanent, and tended to be less depressed. Here are some key excerpts:

…our results suggest that an incremental theory may predispose students to behave resiliently when situations of exclusion or victimization arise….

Our findings can inform theories of how social cognitive development can influence adolescent aggression. Past research has suggested that adolescents show an increased belief in the fixed nature of transgressors’ traits and behaviors (e.g., Killen et al., 2010). Relatedly, the early years of high school are a time of heighted social comparison, where one’s social label (especially if it is seen as a fixed label) can be a source of pride or shame, and therefore a powerful influence on how one copes with peer conflict (e.g., Brown, Mory, & Kinney, 1994; Crosnoe, 2011; Eccles & Barber, 1999). Overall, adolescence was predicted to be a special period during which beliefs about the potential for people to change their personal characteristics could play a particularly important role in aggressive retaliation….

Peer victimization or exclusion, as we have noted, can also lead to depression and other internalizing symptoms, and previous correlational research has suggested that this is especially likely when children hold more of an entity theory (Rudolph, 2010). Our experimental study showed that an incremental theory intervention could buffer adolescents from the effects of peer victimization. When adolescents who reported higher levels of victimization were taught to see themselves and others as capable of change, they reported fewer depressive symptoms compared with adolescents who received no treatment.

That’s what the study says about victims. I found what it says about the bullies themselves even more interesting:

One extension of this research is to test whether implicit theories might also be a cause of bullying itself. It may be the case that some students bully others to validate themselves and their status, a motivation that may well be fostered by an entity view of the self. Indeed, adolescents who believe that there are fixed “winners” and “losers” may well wish to place themselves among the “winners” and use bullying as a tool for doing so. Thus, it may be interesting in future investigations to determine whether the present study’s incremental theory intervention would reduce bullying.

One nice “bonus” is that the paper provides a fairly detailed description of the curriculum used to teach the incremental mindset.

For my work in the classroom, the bottom line of the study is that it reinforces the importance of teaching the lessons found on The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset” list, and exploring how I can expand them a bit by reflecting on the ideas in this paper.

I’m eager to hear the reactions of others….

November 9, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Study Finds That Specific Praise Improves Performance — Have They Ever Heard Of Carol Dweck?

A new study has been receiving some media attention for showing that praising someone’s athletic performance results in….their improving their performance. Interestingly, even though it’s clear in the study that the praise is very specific about what was being done, the researchers don’t seem to even highlight that point — they just say that praising someone is successful.

Of course, any research that reinforces what we teachers know is good practice is welcome, but, really, haven’t these folks ever heard of Carol Dweck?

It’s good to know about this new research, but I don’t think it’s even worth putting on The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students.

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?

January 16, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

SEL Weekly Update

I’ve recently begun this weekly post where I’ll be sharing resources I’m adding to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources or other related “Best” lists:

Research-based Strategies to Help Children Develop Self-Control is from MindShift. I’m adding it to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

These California districts are measuring schools in a new way is from The L.A. Times.

Professor James Heckman has recently redesigned his website, which has tons of info on SEL.

Carol Dweck has recently written several pieces on the dangers of a “false growth mindset.” Here are a few that I’m adding to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”:

Recognizing and Overcoming False Growth Mindset is from Edutopia.

What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means appeared in the Harvard Business Review.

The Stanford professor who pioneered praising kids for effort says we’ve totally missed the point is from Quartz.

January 14, 2016
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 The Twenty Most Popular Posts In 2015 and Eighth Anniversary Of This Blog — What Have Been My Most Popular Posts?

Here they are:

1. Here’s A New Phonics Activity I Did Today

2. The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games

3. NEW “Fillable” PDF Forms For IB Theory Of Knowledge Presentations

4. Must-Watch Video Of The Day: New RSA Animation Of Carol Dweck Talk

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

December 27, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

December’s Top 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).  There are a lot of them this month:

Teaching Channel Video: “Wingman” Is A Great Small Group Discussion Activity

Here’s A Stephen Curry Quote Teachers Can Use With Their Students!

Deliberate Practice & Red Herrings

“The Ten Most Popular Classroom Q & A Posts in 2015″

How My University Students Evaluated Me This Semester

Here’s What I’m Doing In 2016 & What You Can Look Forward To Reading About Here

Study Finds That Nurture Equals Nature In The United States

Wash. Post Published My Annual List Of Education Predictions For The Coming Year

Video: Jonathan Kozol On Savage Inequalities

Wash. Post Published My Annual “Best & Worst Education News” Of The Year

Statistic Of The Day: The Advantages Of Being Bilingual

No Surprise To Teachers: Study Finds That Helping One Or Two Students Can Make Entire Class Better

“Applying a Growth Mindset in the Classroom”

“Curing Blindness in 100,000 People, and Counting” Is My Latest NY Times Interactive For ELLs

Statistic Of The Day: Number Of Unaccompanied Minors Surge At Border

Another Study Finds Listening With Ears, & Not Mouth, More Effective

“‘Growth Mindset Starts With Us, Not With Them’”

Must-Watch Video Of The Day: New RSA Animation Of Carol Dweck Talk

“American Panorama” Has Potential To Be Excellent U.S. History Site

Shocker – NOT: New Study Finds That Lectures Are Not Best Instructional Strategy

Video & Transcript Of Exceptional Speech By Pres. Obama At Naturalization Ceremony

“Policy Decisions Must Be ‘Done With’ Teachers, Not ‘Done To’ Them”

Chronas May Be The Best New World History Site Of The Year

“Saving Elephants” Is Topic Of My Latest NY Times Interactive For ELLs

The Fifteen Tech Tools & Non-Tech Resources I Use Most Often With My Students

Quote Of The Day: The Value Of Employees (& Students) Feeling “Ownership”

The Golden State Warriors & Social Emotional Learning

“‘Writing A Letter Isn’t Enough’ To Affect Ed Policy”

The Educational Value Of Students Creating “What If?” Scenarios

“Story Wars” Lets You Create Public Or Private Collaborative Stories

Quote Of The Day: Attorney Journal Loretta Lynch On Anti-Muslim Bullying In Schools

My New BAM! Show Is On A Growth Mindset

Statistic Of The Day: Diversity Helps Us Learn

Big New Report Issued On Social Emotional Learning

Statistic Of The Day: It’s Good To Have Books At Home

The Death Penalty Is Focus Of My Latest NY Times Interactive For ELLs

We Just Reviewed The “Copy-Edits” On Our Book About ELLs & Common Core – Look For It In March!

Quote Of The Day: Education Will Not End Poverty

“Strategies For Dealing With An ‘Awful’ Textbook”

New Study Says Emphasize Quality Over Quantity In Teaching Writing, But I Don’t Think That’s Most Important Finding

Two New Sites Where Teachers Can Create Virtual Classrooms & Monitor Student Progress

Study Finds Teachers Whose Students Achieve High Test Scores Often Don’t Do As Well With SEL Skills

This Is A Useful Video For Students To Learn The Advantages Of Asking For Help

Triventy Looks Like A Decent Online Learning Game Site

Ways Teachers Can Affect Ed Policy Is Topic Of My Latest BAM! Radio Show

Quote Of The Day: “Experts” Are Often Close-Minded

Quote Of The Day: Math & Constructivism

“GrammarFlip” Might Have Potential For Reinforcement Of…Grammar Skills

New Version Of “No Child Left Behind” Passes House – Includes Changes For English Language Learners

“Teacher Leaders Are ‘Hungry To Learn’”

My Latest NY Times Student Interactive For ELLs Is On Climate Change

“‘Schools Cannot Thrive’ Without Teacher Leadership”

Learning From The Past To Inform Our Present Response To Refugees