Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 13, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Doing A “One-Sentence Project”

'Daniel Pink - PopTech 2007 - Camden, ME' photo (c) 2007, kris krüg - license:

One of the many great ideas that Daniel Pink has shared is having people come up with one sentence that they hope other people will use to describe them in the future.

He writes about it in his books and in other writings, and I also discuss it in my new book.

Students in two of my classes — one an ESL class and the other a mainstream ninth-grade English class — are doing it now and it’s going well. It’s a short and simple lesson that’s a good reflective exercise for students. I’ll be sharing a video of my ESL students sharing what they came up with and the posters they illustrated. However, even though it’s gotten a mixed response from my double-block ninth-grade class, it’s had a very large impact on a few students who have been experiencing many, many challenges. In fact, after a student collected the posters in that class today, two students stayed after class and insisted that I read theirs right then in front of them. The wanted to explain to me why they wrote what they wrote and how they plan on living up to it in the future. It was very powerful. I’ll share some written examples from that class next week.

Here’s the student hand-out I used: ONE SENTENCE PROJECT (part of it was adapted from the third video in the next part of this post).

Here are the three videos I showed prior to students working on their one-sentence:

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

What’s Your Sentence?: The Video from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

Here’s a video a few of my ESL students made:

Mrs. Jee shares this Animoto slideshow.

Let me know if you have resources to share on One-Sentence Project’s you’ve done with your class.

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

February 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

February’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).

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):

Summary: Week Four Of Twitter Chat On Student Motivation Using #selfdrivenlrng Hashtag

I Began This Blog Six Years Ago: Here Are My All-Time Most Popular Posts

Video: Excellent Classroom Example of Dan Pink’s “One Sentence Project”

What A Neat Lesson Idea For Using Photos!

Knowledge Isn’t Power — “Power is Power”

Study: More Power Equals More Self-Control & Less Power Equals — You Guessed It!

Free Book Excerpts — Lesson Plans On Bloom’s Taxonomy & Metacognition

“Teachers As ‘Persuaders’: An Interview With Daniel Pink”

The Harlem Shake As A Language-Learning Activity

“7 Qualities to Maximize the Impact of Your Lesson Plans”

“Several Ways to Balance Between District Mandates & Student Needs”

You Can Now Pre-Order My Book, Self-Driven Learning, On Amazon

I’ll Be A Guest At An Ed Week Webinar On “Developing Intrinsic Motivation in Students”

“What Does It Mean to Be a Citizen?”

“Brainy Box” Is A Winner!

“How Peer Assistance Can Improve Teacher Practice”

Brain “Priming” In The Classroom

What A Great New Financial Literacy Tool For English Language Learners & Everybody Else

“Creating a Culture of Improvement With Peer Assistance & Review (PAR)”

Student Reflection Form On Goals & Joy

New Research Shows Why Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Character Education Are Not Enough

One New Activity I’m Doing To Help ELLs Learn Academic Vocabulary – & Practice Speaking It

Washington Post Reprints My Evaluation Post

“Response: Do’s and Don’ts for Better Project-Based Learning”

February 7, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

I’ll Be A Guest At An Ed Week Webinar On “Developing Intrinsic Motivation in Students”

Principal Chris Wejr and I will be guests at an Education Week Webinar on Developing Intrinsic Motivation in Students. It will take place on March 5th. You can read more about it here.

Our Webinar kicks-off a series of three on the topic, including one with Daniel Pink.

January 29, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources About The New Push For Immigration Reform

'DREAM act' photo (c) 2011, Quinn Dombrowski - license:

My oh my, the tone about immigration reform and the idea of providing a path to citizenship to the undocumented sure seems to have changed recently!

I thought it would be useful for readers, my students and me to start bringing together useful resources.

By the way, be sure to check out my post on citizenship at The New York Times next week — I think people will find it useful.

You might also be interested in these previous “The Best….” lists:

The Best Resources On The Obama Administration’s Plan To Partially Implement The DREAM Act

The Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship

The Best Sites For Learning About Immigration In The United States

The Best Sites To Learn About Arizona’s New Immigration Law

The Best Resources To Learn About Alabama’s Awful Immigration Law (& Its Impact On Schools)

Here are my choices for The Best Resources About The New Push For Immigration Reform:

The best resource out there for now is the Associated Press interactive comparing President Obama’s proposals with those from the bipartisan group of eight Senators.

Here’s the closed-captioned video of President Obama’s address :

And here’s the transcript of his speech.

Here’s a NY Times article about his speech.

Here’s a New York Times article about the Senators’ plan, and a Wall Street Journal interactive about it.

And here’s a great NY Times editorial.. Here’s another one.

Obama Spotlights Undocumented Student in Immigration Speech is from Education Week.

Five things economists know about immigration is an interesting piece in the Washington Post.

The first is from a New York Times columnist, David Brooks, who I often criticize when he writes about education but also often praise when he writes on other topics he knows something about. He writes about immigration in his piece headlined “The Easy Problem”. He takes on a lot of the typical arguments against immigration reform and then ends way:

The first big point from all is that given the likely gridlock on tax reform and fiscal reform, immigration reform is our best chance to increase America’s economic dynamism. We should normalize the illegals who are here, create a legal system for low-skill workers and bend the current reform proposals so they look more like the Canadian system, which tailors the immigrant intake to regional labor markets and favors high-skill workers.

The second big conclusion is that if we can’t pass a law year, given the overwhelming strength of the evidence, then we really are a pathetic basket case of a nation.

Another important article from The Washington Post deals with what may be one of the most critical, if not THE most critical, question in the debate — what and when is the process for the undocumented who are here to become citizens? The article reviews typical waiting times (you can get the sense of them by the title — How long is the immigration ‘line’? As long as 24 years ) and ends way:

Immigration advocates worry that the promise of citizenship could end up being “in name only” for some undocumented immigrants. ”Instead of dying in the desert, they might just die waiting to become permanent residents,” concludes Paparelli.

Which G.O.P. House Members Might Support Immigration Reform? is from The New York Times, and is pretty interesting.

Five things economists know about immigration is from The Washington Post.

House Group Works to Present Its Own Immigration Plan is from The New York Times.

House G.O.P. Open to Residency for Illegal Immigrants is from The New York Times.

Do Illegal Immigrants Actually Hurt the U.S. Economy? is from The New York Times.

USA has published details of the Obama Administration’s immigration reform plan. Check out White House immigration bill offers path to residency.

Newspaper Article About Our Extraordinary Bilingual Aide

What’s the immigration solution? Your Say Interactive is from USA .

A Senate Plan Alters Waiting Periods for Immigration is from The New York Times.

Five reasons why immigration reform is moving forward
is from The Washington Post.

Path to Citizenship for Immigrants Draws Support Across Party Lines, Survey Finds is from The New York Times.

Key provisions expected in immigration legislation proposal is a very useful interactive infographic from The Washington Post.

The Senate immigration bill: Here’s what you need to know is also from The Washington Post.

The Weird Math of the Immigration Bill is from The Atlantic.

Quote Of The Day: Heritage Foundation Makes a $5.3 Trillion Mistake

Preview | Immigration: The pathway to now is a preview to a multi-part video series The Washington Post is publishing on the last thirty years of immigration reform. It will start on May 14th, and is embedded below:

Immigration reform: The five most important issues is from The LA Times.

Boomers need immigrants is also from The LA Times.

Progress on an Immigration Overhaul in 5 Areas is from The New York Times.

What Happens Next With The Immigration Bill is from The Washington Post.

The Washington Post has a very important analysis of immigration and jobs.

Quote Of The Day: David Brooks Hits A Home Run On Immigration Reform

In Report, 63% Back Way to Get Citizenship is from The New York Times.

Illegal Immigrants Are Divided Over Importance of Citizenship is from The New York Times.

What Happened To Immigration Reform is from The Atlantic.

What gives us a right to deport people? Joseph Carens on the ethics of immigration is a really interesting interview at The Washington Post.

Republican Ideas on Immigration Could Legalize Up to 6.5 Million, Study Says is from The New York Times.

This is amazing.

What has happened to the Republicans?

I’m adding this to The Best Resources About The New Push For Immigration Reform.

I wish this next infographic didn’t use the term “illegal immigrant,” but it still has useful info:

Courtesy of: Infographic World

Suggestions are welcome.

If you found post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 1050 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

January 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s The Table Of Contents & Free Resources From “Self-Driven Learning”


All Figures, Including Student Hand-outs, From My Two Student Motivation Books Are Now Freely Available For Download

Also, Education Week has published an eBook collection of my columns there on the same topic.

Routledge has made their page live on my new book, Self-Driven Learning: Teaching Strategies for Student Motivation. It’s a sequel to Helping Students Motivate Themselves. It’s also available on Amazon.

All Excerpts From My Book, “Self-Driven Learning,” In One Place

This excerpt appeared in The Washington Post: “Five ways to get kids to want to read and write”

Here’s an excerpt that appeared in Education Week Teacher.

Links To The Entire Six Week Twitter Chat On Helping Students Develop Intrinsic Motivation

Summary Of #selfdrivenlrng Twitter Chat On Student Motivation — Week One

Summary: Week Two Of Twitter Chat On Student Motivation Using #selfdrivenlrng Hashtag

Summary: Week Three Of Twitter Chat On Student Motivation Using #selfdrivenlrng Hashtag

Summary: Week Four Of Twitter Chat On Student Motivation Using #selfdrivenlrng Hashtag

Summary: Week Five Of Twitter Chat On Student Motivation Using #selfdrivenlrng Hashtag

Free Book Excerpts — Lesson Plans On Bloom’s Taxonomy & Metacognition

Video: “Helping Students Motivate Themselves”

“Ethical & Effective Test Prep” Is Another Excerpt From My New Book

Nice Book Review

Another Positive Review Of My New Book

The Best Resources For Doing A “One-Sentence Project”

My New Book, Self-Driven Learning, Is Now Available On Kindle

Here’s A Goal-Tracking Sheet I’m Giving To Students

“Positive, Not Punitive, Classroom Management Tips”

More Positive, Not Punitive, Classroom Management Tips

The BAM Radio Network interviewed several guests, including Daniel Pink and me, for a program on student motivation. You can listen to it here.

Interview: “Self-Driven Learning and Student Motivation”

New Kindle Version Of My Book, Self-Driven Learning, Now Available

Larry Ferlazzo shares secrets for motivating students is an interview appearing in The California Educator.

Choice Equals Power: How to Motivate Students to Learn is an article about the book at KQED.

Here’s the Table Of Contents:

Chapter 1: I Still Want to Know: How Do You Motivate Students?
Chapter 2: What Can I Do to Help Students Feel More Positive About School and Learning?
Chapter 3: How Do You Handle Rudeness in Class?
Chapter 4 : How Can You Best Handle Classroom Management?
Chapter 5: I Still Want to Know: How Can You Help Students Develop Higher-Order Thinking Skills?
Chapter 6: How Can I Get My Students More Interested in Reading and Writing?
Chapter 7: How Can You Best Prepare Your Students for Standardized Tests While Doing No Harm to Them?

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.

December 30, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Best Posts From The Last Seven Years


Don’t miss my latest three lists, My Favorite Posts In 2014 — So Far, My Favorite Posts In 2013 — So Far and My Favorite Posts In 2013 — Part Two

I’ve recently looked back in the archives of the blog to identify the best posts of each year, and now I’m up to 2012!

The first list in this series, My Best Posts Over The Years — Volume One, focused on the year 2007 and included a fair amount of still-useful material (at least in my opinion).

I’d say the same thing about my review of posts from 2008, which you can find in My Best Posts Over The Years — Volume Two.

Volume Three covered 2009.

Volume Four reviewed 2010.

Volume Five looked at 2011.

And now it’s time for 2012:

I published my fourth book, “The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide: Ready-to-Use Strategies, Tools, and Activities for Teaching English Language Learners of All Levels,” (co-authored by Katie Hull Sypnieski). You can see lots of excerpts here.

Here are some of my favorite “The Best…” lists from this year (by the way, the total lists I’ve published reached 1,000 this year):

The Best Sites To Learn About Saul Alinsky

The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading

The Web 2.0/Social Media Tools I Use Everyday & How I Use Them

The Best Posts & Articles On Building Influence & Creating Change

The Best Posts Questioning If Direct Instruction Is “Clearly Superior”

The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons

My Best Posts On Metacognition

The Best Funny Movie/TV Clips Of Bad Teachers

The Best Resources On The Newly-Released California Educator Excellence Task Force Report (I served on the Task Force)

The Best Resources On The Importance Of Knowing What You Don’t Know

A Sampling Of The Best Tweets With The #SaidNoTeacherEver Hashtag

I’ve published quite a few articles in other publications this year. Here are a few of my favorites:

I’ve enjoyed doing my monthly New York Times column on teaching English Language Learners and my weekly teacher advice column in Education Week Teacher.

My article in ASCD Educational Leadership, Eight Things Skilled Teachers Think, Say, and Do, has been the most popular article on their website for months.

Here is a good post on classroom management:

How To Recover From A Classroom Train Wreck….

And one on education policy:

“Sacramento City Teachers Association declines to participate in Race to the Top “

Here are some on instruction:

“Instead of seeing students as Far Below Basic or Advanced, we see them as learners” (Guest post by Lara Hoekstra)

Have You Ever Had A Student Say “This Is Boring”? Here’s A Lesson On It I’m Trying Out Tomorrow

Series Of Good Dan Pink Videos To Use With Students

“What I Cannot Create, I Do Not Understand”

Ducklings Video Demonstrates Great “Differentiated Instruction”

And here are a few miscellaneous ones:

All My Class Blogs

Eight Ways To Build An Audience For Your Blog

Prof. James Heckman Says Adolescence Is Key Time To Teach (& Learn About) Self-Control & Perseverance

“You Cannot Make A Plant Grow — You Can Provide The Conditions For Growth”

How I’m Helping My Students Try To Avoid The “Summer Slide”

Wow! Voice Of America Dramatically Redesigns & Expands Its Learning English Features

Part Two Of “How I’m Helping My Students Try To Avoid The “Summer Slide””

Daniel Pink Answers Two Questions About Group Incentives

Is This The Most Important Research Study Of 2012? Maybe

September 23, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Series Of Good Dan Pink Videos To Use With Students

I’ve written a lot about Daniel Pink’s writings on motivation over the years.

Thanks to Pam Moran, I recently discovered a series of short videos Dan did for the Patterson Foundation that would be good to use with students.

Actually, Dan did one interview with the Foundation, and they elegantly turned them into bite-size ones that I think are perfect for the classroom. Some could just be shown to provoke a student response and discussion and others, like his One Sentence Project, presents specific next steps:

Here’s the one on The One Sentence Project, and here are also links that give more information on it:

What’s your sentence?: The video

What’s your sentence?: The movie

This next video isn’t part of the same series, but it is Dan’s official “introduction” to the One Sentence Project, so I thought I’d add it:

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

Here’s a great classroom example:

Here’s another example:

Finally, here’s the entire video before it was cut into the above clips:

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

May 28, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Applying “Fed Ex Days” To Schools

'Disney Supervising Animator and 3D Alumnus Lino DiSalvo Reviews Student Reels at VFS' photo (c) 2011, Vancouver Film School - license:

Author Daniel Pink has written a lot about “Fed Ex Days” and describes it this way:

One of the best ideas I’ve heard in the last 10 years is the FedEx Day. Created by the Australian software company Atlassian,FedEx Days give people 24 hours to work on whatever they want — so long as it’s not part of their regular jobs and provided that they show what they’ve created to their colleagues when the 24 hours elapse.

Why the name? Because you have to deliver something overnight.

Dan has also written about a version of it in The Genius Hour: How 60 minutes a week can electrify your job.

Several teachers and administrators have picked-up on the idea and have applied it to the school setting.

Of course, having students work on projects of their own choosing is not an entirely new concept — many teachers have done this for years. For example, at the end of the year I have students create a unit using teaching/learning strategies we’ve used and then have them teach part of in small groups. You can see the general plan and access hand-outs here (that particular post relates to their doing an ethnic studies project of their choice, but it can all be adapted easily to any topic they want) and I have a complete lesson plan in my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves.

You can also find additional related resources at The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates.

But “Fed Ex Days” (by the way, Dan Pink just posted that Fed Ex would like a different name used for the project and the Australian company is seeking suggestions) tend to be a little less structured and more shorter term. I’m going to put some more thought into them over the summer and try it out next year.

I thought I’d put together a few posts and resources developed by educators who have tried Fed Ex Days — either with students or with teachers for professional development. Most of the posts shared here also include downloadable hand-outs.

Please share links to additional resources in the comments section.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Applying “Fed Ex Days” To Schools:


Josh Stumpenhorst wrote about what he called Innovation Day and Dan Pink wrote about it at What your business can learn from a 6th grade classroom.

4th Grade do Innovation Day is by Pernille Ripp. That’s her post from 2011, and here’s her post from 2012 — What Is Innovation Day and Why Should You Care?

#GeniusHour Blog Post Index is by Denise Krebs.

Here’s another version: Inspire Drive, Innovation, and Creativity: The 20% Project in the Classroom.

Here’s a nice video students made to publicize their “Genius Hour” activities:

A Year of Genius Hour – What Have I Learned? is from Dare To Care.

Here’s a project from our class blog that can be easily adapted for any “Fed Ex” type project.

The #GeniusHour Wiki has a variety of resources related to…Genius Hour. Here’s how it’s described: “Genius Hour is a precious time, loved by all my students. It is when they are allowed to develop their own inquiry question about whatever it is that they want to explore. They are then given about 3 one hour Genius Hour sessions and then they are usually ready to present their learning to the class.”

Why 20% Time is Good for Schools is from Edutopia.

20 Time In Education

Cybrary Man also has many resources related to Genius Hour.

20% Time MOOC

20% Time In Education is a Google Plus Community.

10 reasons for Genius Hour; 10 signs it will fail is by Sylvia Martinez.


FedEx Prep: A Reflection is by principal Chris Wejr.

Inspiration delivers is by principal Lyn Hilt.

Fed Ex Day – We Delivered!
is by principal Brian Downing.

FedEx Day: Putting Autonomy Back in Professional Learning is from Mr. Wastler’s Office.

Additional suggestions are always welcome.

(Time off to innovate: Good idea or a waste of tech talent? is an article in Computer World that also might be worth a look)

10 Reasons To Try 20% Time In The Classroom is from Edudemic.

Primetime: Putting the conditions for intrinsic motivation into homework in 2nd grade
is from The American School of Bombay.

Parents Said No to the Test is a good post about “Genius Hour” by Greg Miller.

‘Genius hour’: What kids can learn from failure is from CNN.

Here’s The Genius Hour website.

Genius Hour and the 6 Essentials of Personalized Education is from Edutopia.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the over 900 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

May 14, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Every Day I Discover How Little I Know — Here’s Another Example

I periodically post about examples of my own ignorance, and now have another opportunity to do so….

As a self-styled quasi-expert on intrinsic motivation (see my book “Helping Students Motivate Themselves” and my list, The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students), one would think that I’d be pretty familiar with research on the topic. And I am, or, at least, I thought I was.

Then, in this week’s New Yorker Magazine, I read a profile of Clayton Christensen, a widely-known business thinker who, among other things, has written a lot on motivation issues. Coincidentally, he himself wrote a short commentary on intrinsic motivation today for Fast Company.

In it, he refers to a well-known article written by Frederick Herzberg for the Harvard Business Review that is the most reprinted article they have ever published, and it’s about intrinsic motivation. Christensen summarizes it in his piece:

So, what are the factors that will cause us to love our jobs? These are what Herzberg’s research calls motivators. Motivation factors include challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth. Motivation is much less about external prodding or stimulation, and much more about what’s inside of you and inside of your work.

These are very similar to the points Daniel Pink makes about what “drives” us.

Until this weekend, I had never heard of Christensen or Herzberg.

I have a lot to learn….

April 22, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

Open Letter To Pres. Obama From National School Boards Association President

Source: via Larry on Pinterest



The President of the National School Boards Association just published an open letter to President Obama.

You can see her entire letter here. It’s well worth reading.

Here’s another excerpt:

The work world our children inherit will be significantly different from the one we have known. Jobs in the 20th century were mostly algorithmic or routine. According to McKinsey & Co., most such jobs have already evaporated because of automation and outsourcing. Future work will be more complex, so we had better prepare students differently than through standardized tests.

As the nature of work changes, so too must motivators. Carrots and sticks, which worked with routine jobs, actually impede efforts when the work is more complex, Daniel Pink says. Instead, the rewards of learning and challenges of the work itself must now be the primary motivators. Adults learn best, experts say, if they feel competent, autonomous, and a sense of belonging.

Much in our current school systems works against these, and our new national focus on teacher evaluation will continue that trend. As a result of ignoring innate needs, our schools too often are not innovative hubs. Yet to meet the challenges of our future, we must cultivate a spirit of innovation and inspiration. We will only succeed in preparing for our future if we empower all in our schools to think through complex problems and processes and generate solutions. Rather than laboring over bureaucratic compliance problems, let’s engage students and teachers (even board members!) in solving problems of teaching and learning.

Our schools will never become great through threat or intimidation. Schools must be safe places to take risks, where staff members and students feel valued for their ideas and talents and empowered to fail so that they can grow. Students will learn what they see, experience, and enjoy.

We have the knowledge and experience to do this at the national, state, and local levels. However, the present narrow focus on accountability and trend of demonizing those in public education, arrogantly focusing on “failing schools,” is diametrically opposed to fostering excellence.

April 22, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

What Do New Studies Say Happens If You Are Treated Unfairly And/Or Feel Controlled?

Prof. Armin Falk, a professor at Bonn University, unveiled some very intriguing studies on motivation last week. I’ll provide a short summary of how I believe some of his key findings can be applied to education. You can also read a more extensive report here, review one of the studies here, and/or watch a video of his talk that I’ve embedded in this post (I’d suggest you skip to the fourteen minute mark).

I’ve previously shared Daniel Pink’s findings on the importance of “baseline rewards”:

Pink also points out that everyone needs “baseline rewards.” These are the basics of adequate “compensation.” At school, baseline rewards might include students expecting fair grading, a caring teacher who works to provide engaging lessons, a clean classroom. If the baseline needs are not met, then the person’s “focus will be on the unfairness of her situation and the anxiety of her circumstance….You’ll get neither the predictability of extrinsic motivation nor the weirdness of intrinsic motivation. You’ll get very little motivation at all.”

Falk studied the idea of fairness, which I think can be described as the same or very similar to the concept of “baseline rewards.” In his studies (his first one focuses on people feeling like they are treated equally like their colleagues, which is interesting and unsurprising, but not important for this discussion — I’m referring to his other research) he takes Pink’s findings a step further.

Falk says that if people don’t feel treated fairly, they get motivated to do worse.

He shares intriguing results of the impact of a strike at Firestone Tires to help back up that assertion.

In addition, not being treated fairly causes stress and negative health effects.

He also found, and this is a partial quote:

All incentive systems involve control….How do we perceive control? Controlling someone signifies distrust. The less trusted we feel, the less hard we work.

It seems to me that there are lessons in his findings for how we treat our students and how the Obama Administration and other “school reformers” are treating us educators.

What do you think?

April 20, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts About The Most Bizarre Standardized Test Question Ever

You may have already heard about the incredibly bizarre question that appeared on New York’s standardized test — it’s about a talking pineapple.

If you haven’t already seen them, here are a few posts that will give you all the information you need:

The Pineapple Story Tests Us: Have Test Publishers become Unquestionable Authorities? is from Anthony Cody at Education Week.

Daniel Pinkwater on Pineapple Exam: ‘Nonsense on Top of Nonsense’ is from The Wall Street Journal.

State Scraps “Pineapple” Test Question is from The New York Times.

When Pineapple Races Hare, Students Lose, Critics of Standardized Tests Say is the New York Times’ “take” on it.

Putting Daniel Pinkwater to the Test is from Wired.

‘Talking pineapple’ question on standardized test baffles students is from Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

March 19, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“Round-Up” Of Recent Good School Reform Posts & Articles

March 12, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Round-Up” Of Recent School Reform Posts & Articles

Here are some new educational policy-related posts and articles that I’ve found useful:

Turnarounds: The SIG Mystery is a post from Alexander Russo that in turn links to a three part series in the Denver Post about the mystery of School Improvement Grants. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Four School Improvement Grant Models.

Schools We Can Envy is by Diane Ravitch and appeared in the New York Review of Books. I’m adding it to The Best Resources To Learn About Finland’s Education System.

Common Core won’t likely boost student achievement, analysis says is from Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Sharing Concerns About Common Core Standards.

Common Core: David Coleman is no Doug Lemov… is by Alice Mercer. I’m adding it to the same list.

As teacher merit pay spreads, one noted voice cries, ‘It doesn’t work’ is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

Eight brief points about “merit pay” for teachers is by Daniel Pink. I’m adding it to the same list.

The “Mathlash” To Silicon Valley’s Move Into Education is from EdSurge. I’m adding it to The Best Posts About The Khan Academy.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do: Why Authority Fails is by Paul Thomas.

Scapegoating Teachers is by Moshe Adler. I’m adding it to The Best Posts On The NY Times-Featured Teacher Effectiveness Study.

Review of the Long Term Impacts of Teachers is from The National Education Policy Center. I’m adding it to the same list.

If Newspapers Are Going To Publish Teachers’ Value-Added Scores, They Need To Publish Error Margins Too is by Matthew Di Carlo. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The New York Court Decision Releasing Teacher Ratings.

Phil Kovacs Responds to the Latest Research on Teach For America is from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Raising Concerns About Teach For America.

March 4, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

February’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):


March 1, 2012
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:

Kevin Washburn discusses several research findings and expands on them at What should we be teaching? I was particularly struck by what he said under “Initiative and entrepreneurialism” and am adding it to The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures.

High Fluid Intelligence, Gestures, and Simulation is from the Eide Neurolearning blog. It reports on recent research on gestures and learning. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Students Using Gestures & Physical Movement To Help With Learning.

Lack of Sleep Makes Your Brain Hungry from Science Daily is a report on recent research. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Helping Teens Learn About The Importance Of Sleep.

Does being reminded of money make you an uncooperative jerk or an independent thinker? is a blog post by Daniel Pink on some a new study. Even though it’s not my post, I’m adding it to My Best Posts On “Motivating” Students because it’s probably the best place for it.

February 1, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“The ‘Good’ Kids Are Compliant, The ‘Bad’ Kids Are Defiant, And Nobody Is Engaged”

“You see schools where the ‘good’ kids are compliant, the ‘bad’ kids  are defiant, and nobody is engaged.”

That’s a quote from the Daniel Pink video I posted about earlier today. He gives a nice review (from the 79 minute mark to the 81st minute) about the difference between learning and performance goals, which I’ve previously posted about and used in lesson plan you can find in my book.

At the 86th minute, he also makes a nice comment about the fact that schools and other institutions have a “poverty of metrics” in relation to standardized tests.

January 28, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

January’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):