Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 3, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Short Summary I’ve Seen Of Daniel Pink’s Book, “Drive”

I’ve written quite a bit about Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, here on this blog (see My Best Posts On “Motivating” Students) and in my new book.

I recently saw what I think is the best short description and summary of the book’s key points. Check-out the post “What really motivates us?” at the Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog.

April 12, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Good Short Interview With Daniel Pink

“The American School Board Journal” has published a nice short interview with Daniel Pink, author of the book, “Drive.”

For people familiar with his work, there’s probably nothing new in it. But it’s a nice introduction to the problems of rewards and incentives.

I’ll add this resource to My Best Posts On “Motivating” Students.

August 31, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

Exceptional Interview With Daniel Pink

I’ve just finished listening to an hour-and-twenty-minute interview/conversation between Daniel Pink (author of Drive) and Russ Roberts, host of a podcast titled EconTalk.

It’s really an exceptional conversation. Roberts is a gentle skeptic at times of Pink’s points, and it creates a situation where Pink talks about his research and perspective in a somewhat different way than I have heard him talk about it before — I’ve usually just read what he has written, or heard/read interviews from people who are in complete agreement. It was very helpful.

The last half hour of the interview is entirely devoted to incentives in education, but don’t just go to that part. I usually am not a fan of podcasts, but his one is worth listening through in its entirety.

I’m adding this post to My Best Posts On “Motivating” Students.

January 1, 2010
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Few Reflections On Daniel Pink’s New Book, “Drive”

Daniel Pink’s new book, “Drive:The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” just came out. I found it to be a very interesting “read,” though have to admit I was a little bit disappointed that — as far as practical applications to teaching — it didn’t have that much beyond what could be found in his must-see TED Talk (see My Thoughts On A Very Intriguing Video On Motivation & Incentives).

As I wrote in that post:

He cites a lot of research debunking the effectiveness of extrinsic rewards on motivation. This isn’t news to the many of us whom have read Alfie Kohn’s excellent book Punished By Rewards. However, he seems to provide a slightly more nuanced critique.

Pink basically says that extrinsic rewards do work — for mechanical work that doesn’t require much higher-order thinking.  But he says research says that it will not work for anything that requires higher-order thinking skills and creativity.

This analysis mirrors my own experience in the classroom.  In Have You Ever Taught A Class That Got “Out Of Control”? I shared the challenges I faced last year in using extrinsic motivation to get students into a new pattern of behavior, and then moving them back toward intrinsic motivation. Using “points” was definitely effective in getting the class under control. They received them for being focused and doing their work.

However, I didn’t think students started doing their highest quality work until they were “weaned” off the point system and began to gain what Pink calls “autonomy, mastery, and purpose.” Pink says that those are the three essential elements in generating higher-order thinking skills.

One thing I did learn from the book was that behavioral scientists define these two categories into “algorithmic” and “heuristic.”    Here is how he defines the difference on page 29:

An algorithmic task is one in which you follow a set of established instructions down a single pathway to one conclusion.  That is, there’s an algorithm for solving it.  A heuristic task is the opposite.  Precisely because no algorithm exists for it, you have to experiment with possibilities and devise a novel solution.  Working as a grocery checkout cleark is mostly algorithmic.  You do pretty much the same thing over and over in a certain way.  Creating an ad campaign is mostly heuristic.  You have to come up with something new.

I was struck by the similarity of algorithmic and heuristic to what Gladwell and others have framed as “puzzles” and “mysteries.”  I’ve written more about that at Is Figuring Out How To Make Schools Better A Puzzle Or A Mystery?

Another particularly useful part of the book — related to teaching — is a good review of Carol Dweck’s research and writing, though I think you can get the same information directly from her — see What Kind Of Feedback Should We Give Our Students?; The Difference Between Praise & Acknowledgment; and Reading Logs — Part Two (or “How Students Can Grow Their Brains”).

The nice thing about Pink’s book is that he shares a lot of neat research in an accessible way.  I was also impressed by his explanation of Edward Deci’s work on self-determination theory. I also use Deci’s research in my book that will be published in April, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work (Linworth Publishing).

You can read an interview with Pink at the Wall Street Journal, which also has published an excerpt from his book.

I’d be interested in hearing other people’s reactions to the book. Please leave a comment…

August 30, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Silence Can Be Golden – Sometimes


No one would characterize my classroom as a quiet one. However, there are times when I do ask for silence, particularly during independent reading time and when students are writing.

I explained my reasons at a previous post titled When & Why Is It Important To Have Silence In The Classroom? (that post also resulted in several good comments).

Today, Daniel Pink tweeted a good article from Lifehack on the subject titled Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think.

I think I’m finally going to get around to creating a short lesson to help students see the advantages of occasional silence.

Here’s an excerpt from the Lifehack article:


August 15, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Importance Of Teacher & Student Autonomy

I’ve written a lot about the importance of student autonomy to help encourage intrinsic motivation (see The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students).

Of course, the same holds true for us teachers – for example, I’ve certainly heard enough stories from elementary teachers about the “Open Court Police” who ensure that all teachers are on the same page of that reading program each day.

Daniel Pink tweeted out a good article today from The World Economic Forum titled Autonomy could be the key to workplace happiness. It provides a good overview of research on the importance of worker autonomy, and it’s easy to replace “worker” with “student.”

Here’s an excerpt:


The article highlights the roles of goal-setting and choices in providing autonomy. So you might also be interested in:

The Best Posts & Articles About Providing Students With Choices

My Best Posts On Students Setting Goals

August 7, 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:
Daniel Pink on Incentives and the Two Types of Motivation is from Farnam Street blog. There’s nothing new in the piece, but it does give a nice summary of the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students.

Replication Project Investigates Self-Control as Limited Resource is from The Association For Psychological Science. I’ve previously shared about this study (see The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control). I like this link because it also includes critiques of it from researchers who I know and respect.

Social-Emotional Learning: States Collaborate to Craft Standards, Policies is from Ed Week, and has me – and others – a bit concerned. Here’s a tweet voicing my doubts, too:

How to teach … mindfulness is from The Guardian. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Mindfulness In The Classroom.

Gay-Straight Alliances Make Schools Safer, Study Finds is from U.S. News. I’m adding it to A Very, Very Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Bullying — Please Suggest More.


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June 20, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Conversation With Texas Teachers About Self-Motivated Learners



I had the pleasure of having a half-hour Skyped conversation with a group of Texas teachers earlier this month, and invited Dan Perez to write about it:

Dan Perez comes from the Lamar Consolidated ISD in Rosenberg, TX.  Dan was a 6th grade Science teacher for eight years prior to transitioning to his new adventure this year as an Instructional Technology Specialist.  

Connecting Texas to California

Two weeks ago our district hosted a week long mini technology PD conference for our teachers called INTERACT (Integrating Technology Realistically Among Classroom Teachers).  This year we included a time frame for teachers to discuss various topics of interests. Prior to the conference, teachers read snippets of an assigned book relating to their selected topic in order to prep for our conversation with various educational experts. Enter the topic of meaningful student motivation, Larry Ferlazzo, and his book, Helping Student Motivate Themselves.

Our group met for about an hour and a half, part of which would include a live conversation with Larry via Skype.  Prior to our conversation with him, we reflected on our reading assignments and came up with questions to ask.  We had questions relating to student ownership, intrinsic rewards, goal setting, dealing with disruptive students, and reassessments.

When we connected with Larry, we discussed the importance of getting to know your students’ hopes and dreams.  He mentioned we need to “lead with our ears, instead of our mouths.”  It’s difficult for students to “buy in” if we’re not listening.  We also need to be flexible with our assignments relating to their dreams. This allows their work to be more meaningful and thus keeping the students’ interests. Dreams, meaningful work, and conversations regarding second chances can also help students who are often apathetic towards school work.

Acknowledging improvements in student work is essential. Students need to see individual progress, and they need to be conversed with it as well. One teacher shared how she’s changed the way she grades assignments by pointing out what the student got correct versus what they got wrong.  Some teachers also mentioned how they don’t grade with red pens either.

In relation to goal setting, our teachers loved the concept of Daniel Pink’s One Sentence Project mentioned by Larry.  Teacher’s want to invoke this where students will write one sentence on what they hope people will say about them in the future. Our group also discussed Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, where it will take 10,000 hours of practice in order to achieve mastery.  All of this was to reinforce the topic of creating measureable realistic goals. Our teachers discussed how they respect students’ dreams, but they want them to come up with a “Plan B”.

For other questions, conversations with students seem to be the answer.  Whether it’s with the class as whole relating to classroom discipline issues or a one on one conversation with a student regarding behavior or academic concerns, heartfelt conversations are key.

Our conversation with Larry was exciting and participants enjoyed hearing his input as these opportunities don’t happen often.  Larry input was truly humble and honest. He mentioned how he was there to share, but also to learn.  He never tried to “fake” an answer and would mention if he didn’t know an answer to a question.


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