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…

January 25, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Videos: Intriguing New Documentary On Schools Called “Most Likely To Succeed”

A new documentary on education had its premiere this afternoon at Sundance. It’s called “Most Likely To Succeed.” I learned about it through a tweet by Daniel Pink.

I’m not entirely sure about its thematic focus, but it does include impressive people like Linda Darling-Hammond and Yong Zhao.

Here are some clips, including an interview with the filmmakers at the end:

CLIP 5 from One Potato Productions on Vimeo.

MLTS Teaser: Vince from One Potato Productions on Vimeo.

Yong Zhao from One Potato Productions on Vimeo.

Linda Darling-Hammond from One Potato Productions on Vimeo.

December 18, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

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

I’ve previously posted about a project suggested and developed by Daniel Pink about “one sentences” (see The Best Resources For Doing A “One-Sentence Project”).

The idea is that people think twenty years ahead or further about what they want other to say about them, and then use it as a helpful guide for how they live their lives.

In that resource link, you’ll find short videos from Dan, a hand-out I use, along with videos from my previous classes and ones from other schools in the United States.

I just did it with my Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learner students today — it’s a very good project to do two days before winter break! In addition to having them write their “one sentence,” I had them write three things they will do in 2015 to help them move towards their one-sentence goal (see The Best Posts On Students Setting Goals).

I used my favorite iPhone app, Shadow Puppet, to record a few of my Intermediate students showing and sharing their posters (actually, I should say that I had my students actually do the recording, and the last photo is upside down).

I’ll record the rest of my Intermediate students and My Beginners tomorrow, and will post the rest at our class blog.

November 19, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Dan Pink’s New TV Series Airs Next Monday!


As I mentioned earlier this month, Dan Pink’s new television show, Crowd Control, airs next Monday on the National Geographic Channel (Monday, November 24th at 9PM ET).

Dan is best known among educators for his book, Drive, which delved into the key issue of developing intrinsic motivation. I’ve written a lot about his work.

Here’s how the National Geographic Channel describes it:

In the new series, Best-selling author and expert Daniel Pink will use behavioral science to lead a series of experiments that show how we can apply the power of persuasion in our daily lives to reduce stress, minimize annoyances, improve health and increase happiness. Using hidden cameras to record his results, Pink will tackle the seemingly impossible task of righting everyday wrongs — from convincing partygoers to clean up their streets to stopping the senseless rush at an airport baggage claim.

You can read more in-depth discussions of his new show at these two links:

Adam Grant, another one of my favorite authors, interviews Dan about the new show.

This New TV Show Experiments With Design to Deter Speeding, Jaywalking is the headline of a Slate article about it.

It really looks like a great show. You can see lots of short, advance clips on its website.

Not only am I sure that I’ll learn a lot from it, but I also plan on showing clips to my IB Theory of Knowledge class when we study human sciences. After seeing them, I plan on challenging students to use what they’ve learned in class and from the clips to create their own — appropriate, of course — human behavior experiments. I’ll share how it goes….

I was able to preview the first show, and was impressed. It’s fast moving, and Dan applies recognized behavioral science findings to real-life problems, including using cash rewards to reduce speeding; fear and game-playing to reduce jaywalking and an unusual effort to try and reduce bicycle thefts. And, if you’re wondering, his cash rewards experiment doesn’t disprove the idea that rewards discourage intrinsic motivation. In fact, it reinforces the research that extrinsic motivation can work to change mechanical habits that require little creativity or higher-order thinking. Remember, though, that extrinsic motivation doesn’t encourage — and, in fact, dampens — those higher order skills.

By the way, in my original post about the show, I mentioned that one of the episodes featured a musical staircase designed to encourage people to use it more. I commented on its similarity to a “Fun Theory” video I’ve also shared. Dan later emailed me to let me know that earlier in that particular episode he discusses that original experiment and builds on it to create a staircase that encourages people to collaborate to create music when climbing instead of the mismatched chords individuals had created on their own. A creative modification, indeed!

Fortunately, we get the National Geographic Channel, and I’m looking forward to watching the entire series!

August 29, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

ASCD’s Ed Leadership Is Online – Here Are My Recommendations

The newest issue of ASCD’s Educational Leadership publication is now online, and its theme is Motivation Matters.

Here are three pieces that are not behind a paywall that I would highly recommend:

Rick Wormeli has a typically great article that’s titled Motivating Young Adolescents. It includes a list of “Top 12 Demotivators” that I think should be taped to every teacher’s desk.

Motivated to Learn: A Conversation with Daniel Pink can also be found in the issue, and Dan always has important thoughts to share and that are worth hearing.

Research Says / Curiosity Is Fleeting, but Teachable is an excellent piece by Bryan Goodwin.

I’m adding Bryan’s piece to The Best Posts On Curiosity.

I’m adding the others to The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students.