Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 13, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners

As I mentioned earlier this week, because of an unexpected substantial increase in our student enrollment and the resulting scheduling challenges, I volunteered to convert one period of my Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learner class into a Geography class. I think Geography is a great tool for language acquisition.

I have a more expansive The Best Websites For Learning & Teaching Geographylist, but I thought readers might find it useful to see the sites I plan to primarily use in this class. I’ll be expanding the number of sites, but these are a good start:

Let me know if you think I’m missing any….

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June 25, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning About The 2012 U.S. Presidential Election

(Ideas for English Language Learners | Election 2012 is my post at The New York Times Learning Network. I think teachers of non-ELL’s might find it useful, too.)

It’s that time again in the United States.

Here’s a beginning list of The Best Resources For Learning About The 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, and I’m sure I’ll be adding tons to it as the election approaches:

Election 2012 comes from Scholastic.

There’s no question in my mind that the National Mock Election Game is the best site for English Language Learners. It has a fair amount of audio support for text. Intermediate ELL’s should be able to play it. (Unfortunately, it appears that they have taken it off-line. The site still has some useful materials, but I wouldn’t rate them that highly. I’ll contact them to see if they are going to put the game back on the site at some point).

Here are a couple of sites that help you determine what kind of President you would be: PBS’ President For A Day and Are You Presidential Material? from Channel One.

All About Electing A President Of The United States is a very simple guide to the presidential election process. Ben’s Guide To The Election Of The President provides the same type of information, as does a summary from Enchanted Learning.

After students develop some background knowledge about how the Presidential elections work, it might be useful to spend a little time on the electoral college. 270 To Win has a lot of information displayed graphically about previous Presidential elections and what polls are saying now about the upcoming election.

I should at least mention an excellent online game developed by Cable In The Classroom called eElections. However, it’s probably only accessible to very advanced English Language Learners.

CNN has a nice comic-book-like interactive called Eight Steps To The White House. It’s an overview of the election process.

Ask A President is also from CNN. Four virtual presidents answer basic questions about the Presidental election process and how the U.S. Constitution works.

An Electoral College Primer is a bit dry, but makes a good attempt at explaining this crazy system of ours.

Time Magazine has a slideshow on The Voting Machines of America.

Cast Your Vote is an interactive where you can simulate casting a vote in a voting machine.

How Design Can Save Democracy is an interactive graphic from the New York Times that shows a sample Presidential ballot and how it can be designed to be more user-friendly.

The Harford Courant has an interactive graphic demonstrating the voting system in that state.

The Best Places To Learn About President Barack Obama’s Life

See a biography of Mitt Romney at The Biography Channel. You can also see a list of his positions here.

Predict a winner: Battleground states is an interactive from the Los Angeles Times.

The Washington Post also has an interactive predictor.

Brainpop has a series of good movies, but you have to either subscribe or register for a trial period.

The Economist has several good “videographics” on the election.

Election 2012: Teaching Ideas and Resources is from The New York Times Learning Network.

10 Tools, Apps, Interactives And Other Projects Around 2012 U.S. Elections is a post at 10,000 Words, and it really is quite an impressive collection.

I Side With is a new cool interactive for learning about the Presidential campaign. Here’s how NPR describes it:

The site’s purpose is to show you which presidential candidate’s views most align with yours by running you through a short quiz that asks your stance on various policy issues, then determines which candidate most agrees with you.

It’s not a new idea — similar quizzes popped up the past few election cycles. But what sets this one apart is the social-media angle: The site allows you to share your results with your friends or to comment via Facebook, and it shows you the states where candidates best match up with the quiz takers.

States of play is an interactive from The Economist.

Candidate Match Game II is from USA Today.

Vote 2012 is a neat interactive map from the PBS News Hour.

Milestones: Paul Ryan is a New York Times interactive.

Race to the White House is an Associated Press interactive.

Timeline: Paul Ryan through the years is from CNN.

Here’s a CNN “Explainer” about political conventions:

Mitt Romney’s Life is an interactive from The Wall Street Journal.

Conventional Wisdom is a WSJ interactive about political conventions.

The New York Times has put together a word cloud indicating the most common words used in speeches at the Republican Convention (I assume they’ll continue to add to it as the Convention goes on). They now have one for the Democratic Convention, too.

The New York Times Learning Network has published an excellent series of lessons on the 2012 elections this week. Most are too challenging to many English Language Learners, but can be modified.

YouTube Politics has video about the elections from multiple networks.

VISUALIZATION: The Most Memorable GOP Convention Moments is a very interesting interactive. The Economist has a good explanation about it.

Where Do You Fit? Introducing The Pew/NewsHour Political Party Quiz is a very accessible interactive from the PBS News Hour.

Play The Election is the newest incarnation of the great Play The News gaming platform. Be sure to click on “Play Games.”

Great Free Web Sites for Teaching Election 2012 is from The New York Times Learning Network.

A comparison of key words spoken by the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates during their convention speeches comes from The Washington Post.

Race to the White House is an Associated Press interactive.

Vote Night lets you use a Google Map to predict the election results. It’s similar to several other sites I’ve previously described. However, Vote Night gives you an embed code for your creation so you can add it to your blog or website. Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

Here are some new additions that are specifically related to campaign ads:

Political Communication Lab from Stanford has what appears to be all the video campaign ads from this and many past elections.

The Museum of The Moving Image has a similar collection.

Getting to Know the Candidates: Analyzing Their Campaign Ads is a simple but decent lesson plan from Education World.

How To Watch A Political Ad is from Annie Murphy Paul.

The Attack Ad, Pompeii-Style is from The New York Times.

Here are “60 Years Of Presidential Attack Ads In One Video”:

The History Channel has a nice collection of related videos.

Watching Debates With Kids is a good piece from Middleweb, and includes a nice downloadable sheet that students could use while watching the presidential debates.

Adomatic is from the National Constitution Center and lets you create your own Presidential campaign ad. Thanks to Richard Byrne for the tip.

Salon has just published this video, along with an analysis of what it shows:

Patterns Of Deception is a page from the site Flack Check, sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

This is how it describes their feature:

The Patterns of Deception page identifies recurrent deceptive techniques in the 2012 campaign season, provides illustrations of each and links to videos that debunk the deceptive content. These materials are designed to help viewers identify flaws in arguments in general and political ads in particular.

Students are encouraged to ask people in the community about the election and post their video to YouTube by the site Engage2012. You can read more about it in an article by educator Esther Wojcicki.

Understanding and Hosting a Post-Presidential Debate is from the PBS News Hour. To tell the truth, I’m not really impressed with most of it. However, I really like this downloadable student hand-out.

Turning Points: Top Debate Moments is an interactive from The Wall Street Journal.

Game Changers is a very ambitious interactive/game from ABC News.

Pearson OLE has a good series called “Breaking Down The Issues.”

Here’s a video from The New York Times on Presidential Debate Moments:

Resources for Designing a Political Ad Campaign Project is from Edutopia.

Teaching With the Presidential Debates is from The New York Times Learning Network.

Presidential Debates Trivia is an interactive from The Associated Press.

Creators of negative campaign ads use neuroscience, skip the facts, go for your emotions is a very interesting newspaper article. Thanks to Frank Baker for the tip.

The New York Times has published a very nice series of “unforgettable” moments from past Presidential debates. You watch the short video clips and then vote for your “favorite.”

History Says, Debate Moments Matter is from NPR, and includes several video clips.

Lynn University has created
a number of debate-related curriculum materials. You can learn more about them at Valerie Strauss’ blog.

The Guardian has created Spin It! Create your own lines from the presidential debates. It shows most of the debate’s transcript, and you can drag and drop words into a box to create your own “soundbite.” Then, you’re given a unique url address to your creation which you can share.

Here are three New York Times resources on the presidential election:

What Romney and Obama’s Body Language Says to Voters

Quiz: Presidential Election History

Wall Street Takes a Beating in Campaign Ads

Here is a neat interactive I learned about from Go Kicker. It’s particularly timely for my Theory of Knowledge class, since we’re learning about Language right now and I just had students do research on their own names. They’re answering the question: “How might your name and the story behind it affect how you see yourself and how others see you?”

TV ads in the 2012 presidential campaign is an interactive from The Washington Post.

Presidential debate: which words did the candidates use? is an intriguing visualization from The Guardian.

Interactive video transcript of Denver debate is from Al Jazeera and lets you “clip” sections and send or post them.

Spin It! Create your own lines from Biden and Ryan’s vice-presidential debate is another cool interactive from The Guardian. It lets you mix-and-match words from the Vice-Presidential Debate and share what you come up with — perfect for English Language Learners.

CNN has a map with videos from around the world providing international perspectives on the U.S. Presidential election. I think it’s one of the most useful sites I’ve seen this year.

Students Create Video Ads for Historical Presidential Elections is from The New York Times Learning Network.

The Associated Press has an interactive showing the percentages of naturalized voters, and their countries of origin, for each state.

The PBS News Hour has a good lesson plan, along with an interactive, where students create their own Presidential ad. However, they require Facebook login to use the interactive. I don’t know what in the world they were thinking — with Facebook being blocked in most schools, how do they expect students to use it?

Here are two resources about the second Presidential Debate:

The Words They Used is a pretty interesting Word Cloud from the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s an interactive
from The Guardian that lets you copy and paste words of the transcript and create your own “quotation” that you can share online.

The Electoral Map: Building A Path To Victory is a New York Times interactive you can use to identify who you think is going to win which battleground state, and then get a link to your prediction.

The Art of Creating The Presidential Campaign Ad is by Frank Baker, and includes a useful student hand-out.

Build Your Own Election Map is an interactive from The Wall Street Journal. I’ve got several somewhat similar tools on this list, but this one appears to be the best of the bunch. It shows the electoral maps from the last two elections, important current data from each state, and new poll information. In addition, you can get a direct link to the map as you predict it to turn out.

Watching U.S. Race, Other Nations See Themselves is from The New York Times.

The US election and your country is from CNN.

Spin It! Create your own lines from the Obama-Romney foreign policy debate is from The Guardian.

BBC poll: Rest of world favours Obama is from The BBC.

Obama-Romney foreign policy debate: Mapping the mentions – interactive comes from The Guardian.

4 Powerful Messages That Stand Out in a Sea of Advertisements is from The New York Times.

Images, Themes and Props in Presidential Campaign Ads is from The NY Times.

The Associated Press has a new interactive.

Teaching the Election in the Final Week: Bellwethers, Unicorns and Attack Ads is from The New York Times Learning Network.

Interactive: Which US candidate suits you? is from Al Jazeera.

Campaign Explorer is a collaboration between Google and CNN.

I Want My Country to… is a New York Times interactive. Here’s how they describe it:

The New York Times and CBS News asked a sample of Americans about their opinions on issues that may affect their vote in the presidential election. Below are six questions from the poll.

Make your choices and see how you compare to those who agree and disagree with you, based on the national sample.

The Best Photos of the Entire Presidential Campaign is from The Atlantic.

The Guardian has published an excellent online “graphic novel” reviewing the 2012 Presidential election. For English Language Learners especially, I don’t think there’s anything better out there on the election.


Here’s the transcript and video of President Obama’s victory speech (you may have to click through to see the video if you’re seeing this in an RSS Reader):

Barack Obama’s victory speech – full text

Here’s an infographic from The Associated Press of the election results.

Here are some interesting cartograms of the results.

Exit Polls: Casting Ballots in 2012 is a Wall Street Journal interactive.

How 3,195 Counties Add Up to an Obama Win is another Wall St. Jrnl interactive.

Here’s a collection of 2012 Election Graphics from The Washington Post.

Here are two very interesting interactive quizzes from the PBS News Hour:

What’s Your Election Report Card? Introducing The Pew/NewsHour Quiz

Where Do You Fit? Introducing The Pew/NewsHour Political Party Quiz

Additional suggestions are always welcome.

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 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 The Best Resources On Punctuation.

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):


Interactive Sites For Education Punctuation Games

Try This

Top Marks Punctuation

Comma Chameleon

Punctuation Paintball

Bitesize Punctuation

Match The Contraction

Woodlands School Punctuation

Brainpop Jr. Commas (paid subscription needed)

Brainpop Jr. Contractions (paid subscription needed)


Bitesize 2 Punctuation

Punctuation and Basic Mechanics

Save The Comma

Sentence Surgeons

TIME for Kids Punctuation Practice

English Maven Punctuation

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.

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