Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Great Video: Tavis Smiley On Daily Show Talking About M.L. King’s Final Year

Tavis Smiley has a new book out titled “Death of a King: The Real Story Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year.”

He did a terrific interview on the Daily Show, and I’m adding this video to The Best Resources To Remember Dr. Martin Luther King’s Death (& Life).

Print Friendly

September 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Teachers Should Dress As Students’ Advocate, Not ‘Peer’”

Teachers Should Dress As Students’ Advocate, Not ‘Peer’ is my latest Education Week Teacher post.

In Part One of a two-part series, four educators – Roxanna Elden, Renee Moore, Jane Fung, and Rebecca Mieliwocki – share their thoughts on how teachers should dress.

I’m adding it to The Best (Or, At Least, The Most Interesting) Posts On Teacher Attire.

Here are some excerpts:





Print Friendly

September 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: Potentially Useful TED Talk – “Why ordinary people need to understand power”

TED recently shared a TED Talk by Eric Liu titled “Why ordinary people need to understand power.”

I’ve embedded the video below, and you can access it and the interactive transcript at the TED site.

He says some good things in the video the demonstrates he has an understanding of at least a few community organizing concepts, including:


He’s creating something called Citizen University, which “works with a national array of partners to help Americans cultivate the values, systems knowledge, and skills of effective citizenship” — whatever that means.

More useful, however, is a curriculum Citizen University is creating. Here’s how they describe it:

What is power? How is it exercised in civic life? Who has it and why? Such questions go to the heart of self-government — but most people are fundamentally illiterate in power. That’s why we’ve created an accessible, free curriculum on civic power. Coming soon.

I’m not ready to add any of this to either The Best Posts & Articles On Building Influence & Creating Change or to The Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship, but I might in the future – depending on what Citizenship University comes up with in the future.

Print Friendly

September 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

September’s Infographics & Interactives Galore – Part Two

There are just so many good infographics and interactives out there that I’ve begun a new semi-regular feature called “Infographics & Interactives Galore.”

You can see others at A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Infographics and by searching “infographics” on this blog.

I’ll still be publishing separate posts to individually highlight especially useful infographics and interactives, but you’ll find others in this regular feature.

Here goes:

38 maps that explain Europe is from Vox.

Dizzying optical illusions by Akiyoshi Kitaoka – in pictures is from The Guardian.

Jawbone compares the number of steps people take each day and the amount they sleep in cities from around the world. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures.

I’m adding this infographic to The Best Online Resources For Drivers Education & Car Information:

Keep Your Eyes On The Road

I’m adding this next infographic to The Best Infographics About Teaching & Learning English As A Second (or Third!) Language:

Print Friendly

September 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Useful Resources On Race & Racism

September 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

From The Onion: “Tips For Fixing The Nation’s Education System”


Tips For Fixing The Nation’s Education System is another great satirical article from The Onion.

Here are a couple of them:

Discourage teacher turnover by downplaying the importance of having money and respect

Maybe get some underprepared, overconfident recent college graduates in there to figure things out

I’m adding it to The Best Education Articles From “The Onion.”

Print Friendly

September 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“A Visual History of Kids Being Unimpressed with President Obama” Is Great For English Language Learners


The Atlantic has just published some great pictures at “A Visual History of Kids Being Unimpressed with President Obama.”

They’d be perfect to use with English Language Learners to have them talk and write about them.

I’m adding this resource to The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons.

Print Friendly

September 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Ed Policy

Here are some recent valuable posts and articles on educational policy issues:

Lily Eskelsen Garcia talks to Al Jazeera is a good interview with the new NEA President.

The Coming Revolution in Public Education appeared in The Atlantic. I’m adding it to The Best Articles Providing An “Overall” Perspective On Education Policy.

Usable Knowledge: Connecting Research To Practice is a new site from The Harvard School of Education that looks promising. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

OKC schools head says repeal 3rd-grade reading law is from The Associated Press. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Grade Retention, Social Promotion & Alternatives To Both.

Treating Teachers like Professionals is a good infographic. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The Importance Of Teacher (& Student) Working Conditions.

High-stakes testing, lack of voice driving teachers out is the title of a report on a new study. Eureka Alert published the report. I’m adding it to the same list.

Incentive Pay Programs Do Not Affect Teacher Motivation or Reported Practices: Results From Three Randomized Studies is from Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

Charter-Style Overhauls May Not Improve School Reading Deficiencies is from The Pacific Standard. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Analyzing Charter Schools.

Education Department Proposes Big Changes to School Improvement Grant Program is from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Four School Improvement Grant Models.

TNTP (Once Again) Proves that It’s Anti-Teacher & Anti-Union is a great piece by John Thompson on teacher tenure. I’m adding it to The Best Articles For Helping To Understand Both Why Teacher Tenure Is Important & The Reasons Behind Seniority-Based Layoffs.

The Efficiency Index is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Explaining Why Schools Should Not Be Run Like Businesses.

Strained ties cloud future of Deasy, LAUSD is from The Los Angeles Times. I’m adding it to A Very Beginning List Of The Best Articles On The iPad Debacle In Los Angeles Schools.

Big Year Looms for Common-Core Testing is from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Next Generation” Of State Testing.

Print Friendly

September 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

September’s (2014) Best Tweets — Part Two

'Twitter' photo (c) 2010, West McGowan - license:

Every month I make a few short lists highlighting my choices of the best resources I through (and learned from) Twitter, but didn’t necessarily include them in posts here on my blog.

I’ve already shared in earlier posts several new resources I found on Twitter — and where I gave credit to those from whom I learned about them. Those are not included again in post.

If you don’t use Twitter, you can also check-out all of my “tweets” on Twitter profile page.

You might also be interested in The Best Tweets Of 2014 — So Far.

Print Friendly

September 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Beginning “Best” List On Domestic Violence Resources

With the Ray Rice video bringing attention to the tragedy of domestic violence, I thought it would be useful to bring together a few related resources. These are particularly accessible to English Language Learners, but can also be useful for all students. I hope readers will contribute more:

Domestic Violence: A Global Crisis

The Most Brutal Domestic Violence Awareness Ads is from BuzzFeed.

Here’s a video to use in an ESL lesson on the issue. It’s one in a series. If you click on it and go directly to YouTube, you’ll see the others:

The Minnesota Literacy Council has a unit accessible to ELLs.

Breaking News English has a lesson on violence against women.

Picture Story Four at this link is on domestic violence.

Print Friendly

September 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Around The Web In ESL/EFL/ELL


I’ve started a somewhat regular feature where I share a few posts and resources from around the Web related to ESL/EFL or to language in general that have caught my attention:

Urban Districts Develop Common-Core Guide for Teaching ELLs is from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Common Core Standards & English Language Learners.

I’m adding these next two posts to the same list:

Big-City Districts Delve Into Common-Core Teaching for English-Learners is from Ed Week.

Scaffolding CCSS Instruction for ELLs – New Resource Guides is from Colorin Colorado.

What happens in the brain when you learn a language? is from The Guardian. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning The Advantages To Being Bilingual.

Core and Quirks has some intriguing ways to diagram verb tenses. I’m adding it to The Best Web Tools For Teaching Irregular Verbs & Verb Tenses.

TESOL has a useful blog with regular teacher contributors. Check it out!

Print Friendly

September 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Wondering How To Handle A Controversial Topic In Class? What We Did This Week Worked Out Very Well

As all teachers know, controversial topics can be very tricky to handle in class. Here’s a process I used in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes this past week they went far better than I had expected, and I think this series of lessons might be able to be applied to other classes.

FIRST DAY: I introduced The Belief-Knowledge Continuum from our IB textbook. You can find it the continuum online in many places and it just so happens that our textbook’s version is available at Google Books. I’m not sure who originated it, so I’m wary of reproducing it in this post. But it’s really very simple — a number scale from negative ten to positive ten, with a few labels including impossible, probable and certain. “Probable” is also labeled “Belief” and “Certain” is labeled “knowledge.”

TOK’s definition of knowledge is “justified true belief.” This continuum doesn’t mean that belief is worse than knowledge. It just means that though we might believe something, we just don’t “know” for sure.

Then, our textbook lists a few items asking students to place them on the continuum (Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, Murder is wrong) — you can see the list here.

I have students work in pairs to create their own poster plotting each of those items and providing an explanation of why they placed it there. Students then share their charts and discuss where they agree and disagree.

SECOND DAY: Students read an excerpt from the philosopher Ruben Abel’s book “Man is the Measure.” In it, he lists the different kinds of “evidence” people use to justify their knowledge. You can find that excerpt here (I only use the section following the heading “Good Reasons”). In groups of three, students make a poster ranking the types of evidence from the one they think is most convincing to least convincing; they have to provide an example; be prepared to defend their ranking; and draw a picture representing each type of evidence.

THIRD DAY: In a “speed-dating” style (groups facing each other, and then when one group is done one of the lines moves to the next group while the other line remains where they are), students share and discuss their “evidence” poster. However, they use a specific process for their discussion.

Teach Thought has published a nice “26 Sentence Stems For Higher-Level Conversation In The Classroom.” I adapted them and created a shorter list just showing their “Clarifying,” “Agreeing,” and “Disagreeing” questions. Students used them to guide their discussions with each group. I was the timer, and was flexible in both speeding it up and slowing it down:

  1. First minute: each group read and reviewed the other’s poster
  2. Second minute: one group asked clarifying questions from the sheet
  3. Third minute: the other group asked clarifying questions from the sheet
  4. Fourth minute: one group using the agreeing stems
  5. Fifth minute: the other group used the agreeing stems
  6. Sixth minute: one group used the disagreeing stems
  7. Seventh minute: the other group used the disagreeing stems

Students would then switch to discuss with another group (we did it about three or four times). In addition, I had asked students to keep in mind which poster they liked the best, and which disagreement they found most interesting.

After “speed-dating,” students met in their groups for a few minutes to discuss their favorite poster and which disagreement they found most interesting, and each group then gave a very short report.

After providing the group with the “winning” poster a dried fruit prize, I then gave students a half-piece of paper to write anonymously if they liked the use of the question/sentence stems and to say why or why not. I hadn’t tried using them before and want to get honest reactions. In both of my 35 student classes, everyone except for one or two students like them a lot and felt that without them the discussions would not have been productive.

FOURTH DAY: The warm-up activity was students writing down their response to:

Should we respect people’s racist or sexist beliefs? Why or why not? What might be the reasons they are using to justify those racist and sexist beliefs?

After a short discussion, I introduced a sheet developed by TOK teacher Remi Vicente called “Problems of Knowledge.” Basically, it’s a list of many of the reasons why people often confuse their “beliefs” with actual “knowledge.”

In their same groups of three, students reviewed the list and identified which ones they felt were the five most common “problems of knowledge.”

FIFTH DAY: In their same groups of three, I gave each a first section of that day’s daily newspaper (in one class, we also had access to computers) and distributed these instructions (here they are as a downloadable hand-out):

1) Take out the Belief knowledge continuum and your types of evidence poster.

2) Get with your group that developed the types of evidence poster.

3) Look at newspapers, news magazines and online news sites to identify current events – between two and five of them

4) Where are your chosen current events on the continuum – what is guiding the action of the primary person/people involved in the current events you chose. There may be more than one, and they might need to be “plotted” differently. Explain your decision.

5) Look at the types of evidence poster. Identify what evidence each of the primary people are using to justify their actions.

6) Look at the problems of knowledge sheet and poster you made. What flaws, if any, are the primary people making?

7) Make a simple poster for each current event showing where on the continuum you placed the current event and why, they type of evidence and flaws. Be prepared to share with class.

Students chose a variety of events, including President Obama’s de facto declaration of war against Islamic militants, the Ray Rice controversy, and the killing of Michael Brown. Because of the activities we did earlier, the quality and tone of the discussions was at an incredibly high intellectual level — examining evidence, points of view, and reasoning.

I also have to say that, perhaps for one of the few times in my years of teaching Theory of Knowledge, students really “got” how what they were learning could be applied to the world outside of school.

Admittedly, it took a lot of time. But, with this background, I think we can approach future discussions of current events in similar vein without all the days of preliminary build-up.

Let me know what you think of this series of lessons, and how you think I can make it better!

Coincidentally, Luis Vilson has just published a good post over at Edutopia with additional ideas on how to handle controversial topics in the classroom.

Print Friendly

September 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Hans Rosling Video: “How not to be ignorant about the world”

TED Talks just released a new Hans Rosling video (done with his son) called “How not to be ignorant about the world.”

You can see it on the TED Talk site with all its bells and whistles, including a transcript, but I’ve embedded the YouTube version below.

I’m, of course, adding it to The Best Hans Rosling Videos:

Print Friendly

September 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

1,700 Categorized Links For IB Theory Of Knowledge Course

As regular readers know, I’ve been accumulating teaching/learning resources for the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class ever since I began to teach it a few years ago.

The collection is now up to nearly 1,700 links that are categorized by Ways of Knowing and Areas of Knowledge, and you can access them all here.

Print Friendly

September 11, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Updated UNESCO Infographic On World Literacy

September 8th was International Literacy Day, and I have a lot of related resources at The Best Resources For International Literacy Day.

There’s an infographic from UNESCO on that list from last year, and they’ve published this new one with updated statistics, which I’ll be adding there:

Literacy for Sustainable Development
by unesco.

Print Friendly

September 10, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo

Author Of Newest IB Theory Of Knowledge Textbook Has Begun A Blog


Eileen Dombrowski is the co-author of the newest IB Theory Of Knowledge textbook, and has previously written guest posts on this blog.

She’s now writing her own blog, which is a “must-follow” for any TOK teacher. Here’s her description:

Eileen Dombrowski, lead author of the IB Theory of Knowledge Course Companion (OUP, 2013), has recently launched a TOK blogsite that complements the course overview of the TOK book with regular fresh comments on ideas and events in the news. In the traditional spirit of TOK educational sharing, the blog and associated resources are free. It’s also easy to sign up to follow the blog by email to receive fresh posts as they are added. Check it out: Activating TOK: thinking clearly in the world

Print Friendly