Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 21, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Update On My “Practical Example Of Trust, Self-Control & Choice In The Classroom” & What I’m Doing Next

Earlier this week, I published A Practical Example Of Trust, Self-Control & Choice In The Classroom. It described a process I used in my Theory of Knowledge classes where students volunteered if they would or would not have the self-control needed to just use their phones to work on an essay while I was gone for a couple of days. Fifteen students from the two classes said they would not and asked to be put on a list for the sub saying they could not use their phone and had to watch a movie. The rest said they could be trusted.

Well, I came back today and had students who said they had enough self-control to use their phone only on their essay respond anonymously if they were able to keep to their word.

The results: 70% said yes in one class; 90% said yes in the other one.

Now, it’s time for the really interesting part of the experiment. I’m going on another field trip next Thursday and, again, taking the following day to recover. I’m going to use the same process, and this time ask students to first reflect on their experience from this week. Will those who were not able to stick to their word learn from what happened this week and realize they should be put on the “no phone list” next week?

I’ll let you know….

May 18, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Practical Example Of Trust, Self-Control & Choice In The Classroom

Tomorrow is our annual insane twenty-hour field trip to San Francisco with eighty students. Actually, this year we’re taking thirty fewer students, so perhaps it will be slightly less insane.

I obviously won’t be in the classroom that whole day, and I’m old enough to need the following day off to recover.

About a third of my IB Theory of Knowledge students will be going to San Francisco, and they’ll be back in class on Wednesday.

The sub will be showing the movie, “A Thousand Words” (with Eddie Murphy), which is a fun film for making TOK connections. At the same time, however, students know that the first draft of their TOK practice essay is due next Tuesday. Many wanted the option of working on the essay instead of watching the movie. I was fine with that, but explained that the school has a reasonable rule that substitutes can’t take classes to the computer lab or to the library. A few said that it wasn’t a problem — they could take notes from their book. Others, however, wanted to know if they could use their cellphones.

I reminded students about The Marshmallow Test we had studied as part of our unit on Human Sciences, and how cellphones have become the new marshmallows.

Then, I said that I would be okay with their using cellphones — if they could commit to just using them for working on their essay. I told students I wanted them to think for a moment if they felt like having their cellphone out would just be too tempting for them to use for other purposes and, if they did, I wanted them to raise their hand and I would make a list for the sub so he/she would know who could not use it. I further explained that I would have a great deal of respect for those who were honest and self-aware enough to know their temptations, and we had learned from The Marshmallow Test that a mature and effective way to strengthen self-control was to not put ourselves in positions that would weaken it.

Eight students raised their hand in one class and seven in the other.

In the first class, one student first raised his hand and, after I praised him for his honesty, the others quickly followed. In the second class, I was able to say that eight had put their name on the list in the previous period, and then seven quickly raised their hands.

I told the other students that, if they were going to use their phones when I wasn’t here, I really wouldn’t have any way of knowing if they were following through. However, they had given me their word (during the class I spoke personally with each of them for a moment), and they would know if they were people of their word.

We also talked about what students would do if they were using their phone and gave into temptation — the class response was that individuals should then put away their phones.

I’m quite confident that most, if not all, will keep to their commitments. Their use of cellphones inappropriately in my class is a minimal issue, and it’s been a bigger problem in my ELL Beginners/Intermediate class (where students are younger and some have been out-of-school for years).

I’ve got to say, though, that I think I’d have the same level of confidence with my sophomore/junior ELL U.S. History/World History class, so I don’t think this kind of trust needs to be limited to “advanced” students.

When I return on Thursday I plan on having students respond anonymously about if they kept to their commitments or not (of course, I might also receive an inkling in a report from the sub – if she/she actually leaves me a note). I don’t expect to receive an unpleasant surprise, but who knows? I’ll let you know what I learn.

April 14, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: Study Finds Childhood Self-Control Leads To Better Adult Job Prospects

Childhood self-control linked to enhanced job prospects throughout life is the headline of a Science Daily story on an ambitious study that tracked 15,000 people from age seven to adulthood.

The study itself is behind a paywall, but I do plan on purchasing it to review it further. It carries particular credibility since Roy F. Baumeister is one of the co-authors. I’ve written several posts about his work (and have applied his findings in my own classroom), and interviewed him for my Education Week Teacher column.

Here’s an excerpt from the Science Daily report:


I’m adding this post to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

January 9, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: PBS News Hour Shows A Second Excellent Segment On Self-Control

Marshmallows from Flickr via Wylio

© 2007 rjp, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Three years ago, the PBS News Hour did an excellent segment on self-control (I originally posted about it at Here’s A Video On Self-Control I’m Showing My Students First Thing Next Week and it’s also the second video embedded in this post).

Last night, the did another very good one, focusing on the Marshmallow Test. It’s the first video embedded in this post, and you can see the transcript here.

My only critique of it is a line that is always infuriating to me when people talk about charter schools. The segment mentions that the KIPP school students are selected by lottery and suggests that makes them comparable to students in other public schools. However, it doesn’t mention the fact that families who are particularly invested in their children’s education are ones who would go through the effort of registering and participating in a lottery, which makes blanket comparisons to students in other schools invalid. Of course, I also have other concerns about KIPP’s “character education” program.

Nevertheless, it’s a very good segment that I’ll be showing in class. I’m adding this post to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

December 20, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Sesame Street Video On Self-Control: “Imagine It’s Something Else”

I’ve previously shared Sesame Street videos that have been emphasizing Social Emotional Learning Skills like self-control, and you can see them all at The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control (of course, earlier this week Cookie Monster also decided he was tired of delaying self-gratification).

They just published a new one that models a classic self-control strategy:

September 16, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Self-Control, Grit & All That Stuff

Marshmallows from Flickr via Wylio

© 2007 rjp, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Regular readers know that I’m a big advocate of teaching Social Emotional Learning skills in the classroom (see The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources), but that I also am wary of how it is being viewed by some as almost a cure-all (see my Washington Post piece, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning).

There have recently been some interesting articles and research about the topic that I thought readers might want to know about…

The MindShift blog writes about a new study by “grit” researcher Angela Duckworth that has tried to update the famous self-control marshmallow experiment for the digital age. She calls it a “diligence test” and you can read about it at Measuring Students’ Self-Control: A ‘Marshmallow Test’ for the Digital Age. You can see a demo of the online test here, though it won’t make much sense until you read the MindShift post. The post says she’s going to put the test online for people to take for free, and that might be useful. The key point to remember, though, is to tell students what I tell mine before they take her online “grit” test — it’s just one more piece of information they might or might not find useful and they should feel free to ignore the results if they don’t agree with them.

Speaking of her grit test, I was prompted by the post to see if her diligence test was online yet and found that, other than the demo, it wasn’t. However, I did find that she upgraded her website, and the online grit test is now better designed. In addition, multilingual versions are available.

And, speaking of The Marshmallow Test, The New York Times has published an article about its originator, Dr. Walter Mischel. It’s headlined Learning How to Exert Self-Control.

I’ve previously written a lot about Dr. Mischel, and you can read my interview with him on Sunday in Education Week Teacher.

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning About “Grit” and to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

September 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

How Can A Parrot Help Students Develop Self-Control?

Previous readers of this blog and my blogs are familiar with much of my writing about helping students develop self-control, including lessons using the famous Marshmallow Test (see The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control). In fact, in about ten days you’ll be able to read at my Ed Week Teacher column an interview I recently did with Dr. Walter Mischel, originator of that experiment.

One of the key elements of any of my self-control lessons is highlighting the different techniques that children used to avoid eating the marshmallow (looking away, etc.) and how students can apply them in class. In that “The Best” list, you’ll be able to see a fun Sesame Street video where The Cookie Monster demonstrates those same successful strategies, and my high school students love watching it as a refresher later in the school year after we learn about the Marshmallow Experiment in September.

And this leads me to parrots….

Researchers have found that some parrots, unlike other non-human species, also have a capacity for self-control, and created a version of the Marshmallow Experiment for them. You can read more about it at a Slate article titled A Parrot Passes the Marshmallow Test.

It’s very interesting but, as far as I’m concerned, the most useful part of the article is this short video. I plan showing it to students later in the year as another fun “refresher” — students can watch and identify the strategies used by the children and the parrot to reinforce their self-control.

I’m adding this info to my Best list on self-control.

August 26, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two Of The Most Student Accessible Articles I’ve Seen On Self-Control

I’ve written a lot — both on this blog and in my books — on strategies to help students motivate themselves to develop self-control.

Here are two of the most accessible, if not THE most accessible, pieces I’ve seen for students to read on the topic (both are from Fast Company):



I’m adding both to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

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