Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 15, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Sites For Learning To Write A Story

I’m doing a unit on writing a story with my Beginning English Language Learners, and, since I’m taking them to the computer lab tomorrow, I wanted to see if I could pull together some useful online interactives for them.

I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list, and I welcome your suggestions.

You might also be interested in The Best Websites To Help Beginning Readers ; The Best Resources For Learning How To Write Response To Literature Essays and A Beginning List Of The Best Folklore & Myth Sites.

Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Learning About Writing A Story:

Elements Of A Story comes from Annenberg.

Brainpop, Jr. has some nice accessible movies, though, of course, you have to pay for them or get a free trial:




The Oswego City School District has a series of nice free interactives:


Find the Character


Setting II

Folk and Fairy Tales comes from River Deep.

Test Tutor comes from Harcourt.

Short Story Unit comes from the Calgary Academy.

Flocabulary has a video on storytelling elements that’s not accessible to English Language Learners, but they do have a simple graphic organizer that could be useful.

Additional suggestions are encouraged, please.

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.

April 27, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning About The Great Depression

As I did a couple of days ago with my “The Best…” list on World War I resources, I’m taking the lazy way out here and just copying and pasting my post on the Depression over at our United States History Class blog. I’m sure readers can figure out the context of the links. And I hope you’ll suggest additional ones.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning About The Great Depression:

Go to FDR and The New Deal. Get the code from Mr. Ferlazzo.

Go to African-Americans and the New Deal. Get the code from Mr. Ferlazzo.


Watch this move about what caused the Great Depression and take the quizzes.

Watch this second movie about the Great Depression and take the quizzes.

Learn more about The Great Depression. Be sure to click on the lower left hand corner so you can read the words as they are spoken.

Look at these color photographs of the Great Depression.

Watch this slideshow about the Great Depression.

Watch these videos about The Great Depression.

Take this test about the Depression.

Watch this movie about Franklin Roosevelt and The New Deal. Take the quizzes, please.

Read about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Learn about the Tennessee Valley Authority.


Read more about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Read more about The Great Depression.

Take this quiz on The Great Depression.


Brainpop Movie

As I mentioned earlier, I hope you’ll recommend more!

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

April 24, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Resources For Learning About World War I

'World War I Marines in a Trench, circa 1918' photo (c) 1918, USMC Archives - license:

This “The Best…” list is a little different from previous ones. All I’ve done is copy and paste my World War I post from our class’ United States History blog (by the way, a large part of my entire curriculum is available for use on that blog — for free). I realized I didn’t have a version here, and was too lazy to provide any additional context to the links. I’m sure readers can figure it out, though. NOTE: I’ve since made a number of new additions at the end of this post.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning About World War I:

Learn about the Failure of European Diplomacy (get the code from Mr. Ferlazzo)


Watch this movie about World War I and take the quizzes.

Watch this movie about The League of Nations
and take the quizzes.

Learn about trench warfare.

This is a movie taken during the war.

Learn more about trench warfare. Be sure to click on the lower-left corner to see the words that are being spoken.

Learn about Europe in 1914

Learn about World War I in 1918.

Watch these videos on World War I.

Play the Over the Top game.

Watch all the videos on this page — if there is time.

Watch this movie about The League of Nations and take the quizzes.


Copy and paste this cloze about World War I on your Posterous blog and complete it.

Play a trench warfare game.

Complete this activity about trench warfare.

Watch this movie from the BBC: A fading past: How America remembers World War I

Read about the Christmas Truce.

See a trench warfare video here.



Poison Gas Videos:


First World War movie

Spanish Language videos

The casualties of the first world war is a chart from The Economist.

Rare Color Photographs from the Trenches of World War I is from TIME.

The BBC has just launched an exhaustive interactive site on the War, which they call the first in a new way they say they plan to rebrand all their content. The new brand is called iWonder, and their World War One iWonder Guide has just about anything you want to know and is presented in an interactive and accessible format. It even appears that all the video can be seen by viewers in the U.S., which is a surprise since often BBC video is blocked here.

The World War I Museum has a useful interactive timeline.

Lions and donkeys: 10 big myths about World War One debunked is from The BBC.

First world war: 15 legacies still with us today is from The Guardian.

Ypres in the first world war … and now – interactive is the first in a series of World War One features from The Guardian.

Astonishing Photo Collection Of Life In WWI Trenches Has Just Been Unearthed. Absolutely Gripping! is from Viral Spell.

World War I: Unseen Images from the front is from The Boston Globe.

World War I in Photos: Aerial Warfare is from The Atlantic.

World War I in Photos: Technology is also from The Atlantic.

The Wall Street Journal has selected 100 legacies from World War I that continue to shape our lives today is from…The Wall St. Journal.

World War I in Photos is from The Atlantic.

The Great War War is from The New York Times.

40 Maps That Explain World War One is from Vox.

Europe 1914 and 2014 is an interactive map from Radio Free Europe.

Here’s a photo gallery from The NY Times.

BBC Made From History World War One

The British Council has a number of lessons related to World War I that are specifically for English Language Learners.

A global guide to the first world war – interactive documentary is an impressive multilingual…interactive documentary.

How to teach… the first world war is also from The Guardian.

The British National Archives have created a useful interactive that they plan to expand dramatically in the near future.

The BBC has produced a very impressive online “interactive episode” — really, a “choose your own adventure” story — about World War One.

Here’s how The Telegraph describes it:

The interactive episode…. tells the story of the 1st South Staffordshire Battalion in one of the most deadly conflicts during the Battle of the Somme – the fight for control of High Wood on 14th July 1916.

Rather than passively watching the action unfold, the viewer is put in control of the choices that Corporal Arthur Foulkes must make to complete his mission. Like in a video game, on-screen buttons will appear when the viewer needs to make a decision to carry the story on.

Some of the situations will pose moral dilemmas and tricky tactical choices. For example, if the Corporal comes across a wounded enemy soldier on the battlefield, the viewer must decide whether to leave him, take him prisoner or shoot him.

Because of violent imagery, it requests that you verify that you’re over sixteen years old before you begin playing it.

What Did World War I Sound Like? is an interactive from the BBC.

WW1: A Short History

What really happened in the Christmas truce of 1914? is an interactive from The BBC.

Then & Now -  An interactive journey around WW1 Britain

From Visually.

The First World War: In Color is a photo gallery from the Atlantic.

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

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

January 1, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2011

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 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 own personal favorite was Teaching 2030: What We Must Do for Our Students and Our Public Schools–Now and in the Future by Barnett Berry and my colleagues at the Teacher Leaders Network.

Here are others readers shared:

John Robinson:

From a school leadership perspective, one of the best books I’ve reviewed for the “not-quite-there” school administrator who wants an overview of educational technology, there is no better book than Lynne Schrum and Barbara Levin’s book Leading 21st Century Schools: Harnessing Technology for Engagement and Achievement. It is simple to read and well-organized. It would make an excellent gift for the administrator who wants or needs an overview of technology, especially Web 2.0. I posted on this book earlier in the year.

dogtrax (Kevin Hodgson):

I have a few books on my list this year (and I look forward to the recommendations of your readers) but in terms of offering teachers a practical and interesting way into using technology in a meaningful way, I suggest Wesley Fryer’s ebook “Playing with Media.” Fryer not only shows how technology can impact learning, but also provides the tools and links and guidance for teachers who know they need to move in that direction, but are not sure where to begin. The ebook format also allows Fryer to embed all sorts of examples.  And he is consistent with the message that I believe in: we teachers need to “play” and create with new media tools before we can envision the possibilities in the classroom for our students.

Steve Owens:

I Used to Think..and Now I Think..: Twenty Leading Educators Reflect on the Work of School Reform (Harvard Education Letter Impact Series) Richard F. Elmore (Author, Editor) Thought provoking essays on education policy that I keep near at hand – a lot of wisdom packed in a thin paperback!

Cindy Zavaglia:

The best education-related book that I read this year is “Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning” by Mike Schmoker. In a time full of so many new forms which are attempting to once again reform our educational system, Schmoker has the courage to suggest getting back to the essentials of deep reading and frequent writing. Our entire faculty read this book as part of our professional development plan this year and many are experiencing increased student engagement and achievement. I can’t recommend this book too highly.

Terry Elliott (Tellio):

I would recommend three books:

1. The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist:

An astonishing, rich feast of a book that finally puts left and right brain research in context. This is a book I read a few pages at a time in my Kindle where I highlighted and annotated it as well. This is a book that yields compound learning dividends.

2. Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldritch:

Every chapter (55 of them, very short) has gems of disruptive beauty that are useful and clarifying. As usual we get our best advice on learning from those outside the field. Aldritch is a games and sims developer who is on the periphery of school.

3. The Living Classroom by Christopher M. Bache:

This is the kind of book that provides brand new thrust for someone whose career is spluttering. New theory, new fuel, new power. I am still working my way through this one. I borrowed it via interlibrary loan via my university and have decided to get it to finish reading on my Kindle.

Good luck and maybe we will meet via highlights and notes in our respective Kindles.

Daniel W. Dyke:

I vote for Abe, as in “Learning from Lincoln – Leadership Practices for School Success,” by Harvey Alvy and Pam Robbins. Eleven well-written chapters are interspersed with leadership qualities from Lincoln’s life and culminate in 10 qualities, attributes, and skills for the 21st century school leader. The authors strive to show not only the need for each of these qualities to be present in our work today, but that they must be practiced as an interrelated whole if we, like Lincoln, are going to achieve success as leaders.

Cynthia Stogdill:

As a school librarian, my top picks for this year are:

Curriculum 21: Essential education for a changing world. This book really got me thinking about how we present information to our students. Are we doing them a dis-service by the methods we use in the classroom. Really turned my thinking upside down. My second choice was Beyond Cut and Paste by Jamie McKenzie. This little book is jammed full of information on multiple literacies and how we best prepare ours students to face all that information.

Beth Redford:

John Medina’s Brain Rules topped my list. With its emphasis on ALL the things our students’ brains require to succeed, including a low stress environment and exercise, this book makes clear, science-based arguments for schools that consider the needs of the whole child.

Nancy Flanagan:

My recommendation: “Someone Has to Fail: The Zero-Sum Game of Public Schooling,” by David Labaree.

If you ever wanted to understand how events and history conspired to get us to the position we’re in now, in terms of public education and policy, this is the book.

Bev Fine:

I liked How the ELL Brain Works by David A. Sousa. It’s thorough, starting with L1 and L2 acquisition, then has chapters devoted to teaching listening, speaking, reading, writing, and content areas, with lots of strategies, guidelines, and tips for teaching ELLs. It’s a well-put together book on a topic that we always want to learn more about.

Trudi Lawless:

My pick is Dealing With Difficult Teachers. It’s a great book for getting some perspective on the system for teachers. An epiphany for me was a passage about us as teachers having to deal with a challenging student for one year while their peers have to deal with them for up to twelve. Lots of good insights into the ‘mechanism’.

Myrdin Thompson:

Steve Perry When Push Comes to Shove-I’ve read the stack of required ed-reform/anti-ed-reform books this year, who hasn’t? But Perry’s book definitely struck more of a chord-perhaps because I’m a parent and advocate on a daily basis for more family engagement in education I was ready to hear a message of it’s time to step up and do more, rather than read another book that listed all the things in the past that went wrong with education reform/transform. I recognize it is important to know the history in order to not repeat it, but it is also important to recognize that for parents, it is the NOW that matters most to them, and what role they have as partners in the NOW and the TOMORROW because far too often they have been neglected in the past.


The Book Whisperer – Donalyn Miller

This book made me question, revise, or ditch some of the long-standing things we’ve done regarding reading instruction and practice. She drove home the point of self-selection by students of reading material and giving students time to read – without test, quizzes, journals, etc attached to it. I can say it has made a tremendous difference in my students ability (and desire) to read.

James McKee:

Yong Zhao,  Catching Up or Leading The Way. Made me realize how much of what we do is based on myth and fear.

Carmen Buchanan:

Unmistakable Impact by Jim Knight

This book is extremely helpful to me as an instructional coach. We are working to be become an impact school. We are partnering within our building and with other schools in order to design a school that focuses on instruction and collaboration. This book is a model to go by!

L. Dijon Anderson:

I am currently reading the book, ‘The Purpose of Boys’ by Michael Gurian. It is a good read so far. Although it is not technically a book on education, some of the features can be applied to teaching. A good read so far.

Beth Sanders:

Teaching Digital Natives—Partnering for Real Learning (Corwin 2010)

This book has became my “teaching bible” for the school year. The idea of partnering is central to my hopes for creating a student-centered, 21st century thinker supporting, community classroom where teachers are learners, and learners are teachers.

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach:

Maybe someone would like to read my new book I co-authored with Lani. We feel like it is a must read:

The Connected Educator:Learning and Leading in a Digital Age

It guides an individual toward becoming a connected educator as well as how to design DIY PD in addition to providing a path to PLCs Next Generation.

Jackie Flowers:

Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers by Debbie Silver

It is a great read for us secondary instructional coaches and teachers who are interested in improving their instructional skills in a differentiated classroom. The book is full of practical strategies.

Karen Vogelsang:

Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov; It’s a resource filled with tools that you can put into action right away. You don’t have to make anything, change your schedule or buy anything to implement. You just do it!

Deb Truskey:

Best book I read was: The Practical (and fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools by Christopher Bugaj & Sally Norton-Darr.

Thanks again to everybody who contributed! Feel free to leave additional recommendations in the comments section.

October 30, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Sites For ELL’s To Learn About Punctuation

I published two posts related to punctuation yesterday — This Is The Best Lesson Plan On Punctuation I’ve Ever Read and Fun Punctuation Video.

They inspired me to make some changes in my lesson plans for this week with my Beginner ELL students, and I wanted to find some sites they could use for reinforcement when we go to the computer lab.

You might also be interested in The Best Sites For Grammar Practice.

Here are my picks for The Best Sites For ELL’s To Learn About Punctuation (it’s divided into a Beginner and Intermediate sections):


Woodlands School has a nice list of punctuation activities.

BBC Dragon Game

Dewi The Dragon Part One

Dewi The Dragon Part Two

Dewi The Dragon Part Three

Dewi The Dragon Part Four

Bitesize Punctuation

Apostrophes Part One

Apostrophes Part Two

Apostrophes Part Three

Apostrophes Part Four

Apostrophes Part Five

Match The Contraction

Brainpop Jr. Commas (paid subscription needed)

Brainpop Jr. Contractions (paid subscription needed)


Bitesize 2 Punctuation

Punctuation and Basic Mechanics

Save The Comma

BBC Skillwise Punctuation Activities

Brainpop Punctuation (paid subscription needed)

Feedback and additional suggestions are welcome.

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You might also want to explore the 800 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

September 19, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Beginner, Intermediate & Advanced English Language Learner Sites


Last week, my classes all of a sudden became more challenging.

Instead of teaching two separate classes of United States History to Intermediate English Language Learners, one double-block period of Beginning ELL’s, and one period of IB Theory of Knowledge, my schedule now looks like this:

First Period: U.S. History to Intermediate ELL’s

Second Period: Prep

Third and Fourth Period: Combined class of Beginners and Intermediates

Fifth Period: U.S. History to Intermediate and Beginning ELL’s

Sixth Period: Theory of Knowledge

It’s all going to work out fine, and I’ll certainly get some new good ideas out of it to add to my upcoming book on teaching ELL’s :)  (Katie Hull, my co-author and colleague, and I just submitted our 90,000 word manuscript to editors over the weekend — it will be published next July, and I’ll have time to make additions in December).

But it did force me to make some changes to my new English class blog.  It now includes a list of accessible links to what, in my opinion, are the Best Sites For Beginners, Intermediates, and Advanced English Language Learners (Katie’s class of advanced students will now also use the site).

I just copied the sidebar from the class blog and pasted it here.  You can find more specific reviews for all of them if you search this blog.  I also included a section from the sidebar where I’ll be adding music and video sites that I’ll be using in the classroom via computer project — those sites are blocked to students, but not to teachers.

Let me know what you think — am I missing something?

Feel free to add suggestions in the comments, and also feel free to visit the class blog, which will be continually updated with new assignments and sites.

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

You might also want to explore the 760 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

September 7, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here Are The Sites I Used In My 9/11 Lesson Today

Yesterday, I posted about my plans for a three-day 9/11 lesson (it’s going pretty well). I thought it might be helpful for readers to see the websites I showed, and in what sequence I used them:

Brainpop 9/11 Movie (It’s available for free)

10 Iconic 9/11 Images

First Plane Crashing Into The World Trade Center

Second Plane Crashing

New September 11 Photos Released

Exploring Ground Zero Ten Years Later

Ground Zero Now

I’ll be using others during the next two days, but these seemed to work well as an introduction.

March 13, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Sites To Learn About Tsunamis

With yesterday’s terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I thought I’d pull together a separate “The Best…” list explaining tsunamis.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Sites For Learning About The Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

Useful Updates On Japan Earthquake — Part Two

The Best Sites To Learn About The Tsunami In American Samoa

The Best Resources To Learn About The Indian Ocean Tsunami (On Its Five-Year Anniversary)

The Best Sites For Learning About The Volcano & Tsunami In Indonesia

Here are my choices for The Best Sites To Learn About Tsunamis:

How Tsunamis Work From How Stuff Works

Here’s a free Brainpop movie on Tsunamis.

The Christian Science Monitor lists the five most devastating tsunamis.

Slate explains why is Crescent City, Calif. is so susceptible to tsunamis.

Tsunamis: World’s Most Devastating is a slideshow from LIFE.

What is a tsunami? comes from CNN.

Tsunami explained is an interactive from The BBC.

What is a Tsunami?

Woods Hole has an interactive.

The Destructive Power of Water is a useful New York Times article.

Go to the “Forces Of Nature” section of this Associated Press interactive.

Here’s a video from Channel One:

These next four resources would have to be modified to be made accessible to ELL’s:

California’s tsunami threat is from The Los Angeles Times

The Awesome Unpredictability of Tsunamis is from The Wall Street Journal.

Lesson Plan: The Science of Tsunamis: Seeking Understanding In The Wake of Tragedy is from PBS.

Tsunamis: A Primer comes from The New York Review of Books

Here’s the TED-Ed lesson that goes with this next video:

Feedback is welcome.

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.

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