Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

December 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Supporting Student Engagement By ‘Building Community’”

Supporting Student Engagement By ‘Building Community’ is the final installment in my four-part series on student engagement and includes guest responses from Jennifer Fredricks, Aubrie Rojee, April Baker, Beth Donofrio, and Louis Cozolino. In addition, I share comments from readers.

Here are some excerpts:

Student-engagement-is-a1

Engagement-at-its

All-teachers-should-know

One-of-my-favorite

Student-engagement-can

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December 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Articles On The New E-Rate Increase

December 15, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

Update On My Best Of 2014 Lists

As of today, I’ve published sixteen of my annual end-of-the-year “Best” lists, and you can see them all here.

I’ve got several more to go, and they’ll all be published by January 1st.

Here’s a list of the remaining ones I have to compile (they’re in italics), followed by links to each of their most recent lists:

The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2014 – Part Two (The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELLs In 2014 – So Far)

The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2014 – Part Two (The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2014 – So Far)

The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students In 2014 – Part Two (The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students In 2014 – So Far)

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2014 – Part Two (The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2014 – So Far)

The Best Infographics Of 2014 (The Best Infographics Of 2013 – Part Two)

The best and worst education news of 2014 (The best and worst education news of 2014 — so far)

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2014 (The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2013)

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December 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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December’s Infographics & Interactives Galore – Part Three

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:

How Your City Influences Your Spending shows the major ways people living in different cities spend their money. It’s from The New York Times.

Here’s a collection of Infographics and Lesson Sheets from Kids Discover.

What really happened in the Christmas truce of 1914? is an interactive from The BBC. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About World War I.

Biodiversity: Life ­– a status report is an interactive from Nature. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For World Biodiversity Day (& Endangered Species Day).

Here’s how democracy, autocracy and colonialism fared over the last century is an intriguing Washington Post infographic.

Frankenplace is a map-based search engine for Wikipedia. You can read more about it at Google Maps Mania.

I’m adding this next infographic to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures:

Here’s a useful infographic for IB Theory of Knowledge classes when they’re studying perception:

Ways Companies Use To Increase Sales

Designed by: http://alternativesfinder.com/ Author: Kate Stephens

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December 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Articles, Posts & Videos On Education Policy In 2014 – Part Two

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It’s time for another of my annual end-of-year “Best” lists (you can see all 1,400 “The Best…” lists here).

You might also be interested in:

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2014 – So Far


The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2013 — Part Two

All My 2013 “The Best…” Lists (So Far) On Education Policy In One Place

All My 2012 “The Best…” Lists On Education Policy In One Place

The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Articles, Videos & Posts On Education Policy In 2012 — Part One

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2011 — Part Two

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Polcy In 2011 — Part One

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy — 2010

The “Best” Articles (And Blog Posts) About Education Policy — 2009

The “Best” Articles About Education — 2008

The “Best” Articles About Education — 2007

Here are my choices for The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2014 – Part Two (let me know what you think I’m missing):

The Los Angeles Times just published a great article headlined, Can collaboration between schools, unions fix failing campuses?

I Used to Think … That Experts Understood the World is by Rick Hess at Ed Week and he followed that post up with Wait A Minute...

Returns to Teacher Experience: Student Achievement and Motivation in Middle School is the title of a new study at The National Center For Analysis Of Longitudinal Data In Education Research.

How to reframe the education reform debate appeared in The Washington Post.

Teachers Are Not Superhuman is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week.

Gates Scholar, Tom Kane, Continues the Fight to Prove He Is Right is by John Thompson.

Teacher Evaluations Need to ‘Support, Not Sort’ was one of my posts at Education Week Teacher.  In Part One of a three-part series, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, California Teachers Association President Dean Vogel, and 2012 National Teacher Of The Year Rebecca Mieliwocki shared their thoughts on teacher evaluations.

What Education “Reformers” Do Not Understand About Teaching and Learning is by Daniel Katz.

Here’s an excellent video of Dana Goldstein discussing “As if teachers’ jobs aren’t hard enough, they’re asked to fix poverty, too”:

‘The Teacher Wars’: An Interview With Dana Goldstein is another one of my posts at Education Week Teacher.

The Original Charter School Vision is an excellent Op-Ed in The New York Times, written by Richard D. Kahlenberg and Halley Potter.

Education Is Not ‘Moneyball’: Why Teachers Can’t Trust Value-Added Evaluations Yet is an excellent Ed Week piece by William Eger.

For Reformers: An Important Paper on Worker Compensation and Incentives is by Paul Bruno, and is a very important piece.

The Teach Like a Champion Paradigm is a very interesting post about Doug Lemov’s methods. It’s by Ben Spielberg.

Seven things teachers are sick of hearing from school reformers appeared in the Washington Post.

Teaching Is Not a Business is the title of David Kirp’s op-ed in The New York Times .

Educational Movements, Not Market Moments is an important post by Mike Rose.

Gary Ravani has written a great post that appeared in The Washington Post titled School reforms that actually work.

“Stupid, absurd, non-defensible”: New NEA president Lily Eskelsen García on the problem with Arne Duncan, standardized tests and the war on teachers is from Salon.

The New York Times published a column that highlights all of what is wrong about merit pay. However, they talk about it in the context of doctors and the medical profession and not teachers. It’s titled The Problem With ‘Pay for Performance’ in Medicine.

Do Students Learn More When Their Teachers Work Together? is an excellent post by Esther Quintero at The Shanker Blog.

The New Yorker, two months after publishing an excellent article on the school reform fiasco in Newark which made The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy In 2014 – So Far list)  published an extraordinary feature on the Atlanta testing scandal — Wrong Answer: In an era of high-stakes testing, a struggling school made a shocking choice — by Rachel Aviv.

Lily Eskelen Garcia, the National Education Association President spoke at the American Federation Of Teachers Convention.

It’s definitely worth watching:

Donna Brazile announced the formation of Democrats For Public Education at the American Federation of Teachers Convention in Los Angeles. It’s designed to support effective and teacher-supported education efforts.

You’ve got to watch this video of her speech at the Convention:

The Best Resources For Understanding “Personalized Learning”

Gates’ Excuse for Poor Results of Educational Technology: “Unmotivated Students” and A Question for Bill Gates: How Can We Motivate Students When Their Futures Are Bleak? are both by Anthony Cody at Ed Week.

We Need Teachers of Color is from Education Week.

The Best Resources For Learning About Balanced Literacy & The “Reading Wars”

Ten Reform Claims That Teachers Should Know How to Challenge is by Jack Schneider at Ed Week.

America’s Unspoken Education Issue: Black Kids Need Black Teachers is by Melinda Anderson.

When Educators Understand Race and Racism is by Melinda D. Anderson.

Accountability vs. What We Want for Our Children is an excellent post at Education Week. It’s written by Marc Tucker at his Top Performers blog.

Pedro Noguera Defends Teacher Tenure in Wall Street Journal is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

There Is Probably No “Crisis” In American Education is by Paul Bruno.

How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution is from The Washington Post.

The Best Posts & Articles About OECD’s Survey Of Teacher Working Conditions

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December 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Useful Posts & Articles On Ed Policy

Here are some recent posts and articles on education policy issues that I thought were worth sharing:

Charter Schools’ Arbitrary Rules Can Have Dire Consequences is from The New York Times. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles Analyzing Charter Schools.

If teachers know best about professional learning… let’s follow their lead. is by Barnett Berry. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Professional Development For Teachers.

Charts: Common Core Implementation By The Numbers is from This Week In Education. I’m adding it to A Collection Of My “Best” Lists On The Common Core.

How L.A. Unified got its iPad contract is from The L.A. Times. I’m adding it to A Very Beginning List Of The Best Articles On The iPad Debacle In Los Angeles Schools.

What Students Do (And Don’t Do) In Khan Academy is by Dan Meyer. I’m adding it to The Best Posts About The Khan Academy.

Big Drop In Students Being Held Back, But Why? is from NPR. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Grade Retention, Social Promotion & Alternatives To Both.

Burdensome, restrictive, flawed: Why proposed federal regulations for teacher preparation programs are a cause for concern is from The Hechinger Report.

Obama’s Race to the Top loses all funding in 2015 omnibus spending bill is from The Washington Post. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On “Race To The Top.”

F.C.C. Increases Money for E-Rate Program for Internet in Schools and Libraries is from The NY Times.

Did Rudy Giuliani just link Eric Garner’s death to teachers’ unions? is from The Washington Post.

Another Educated Guess about Philanthropy and School Reform is by Larry Cuban. I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Role Of Private Foundations In Education Policy.

An Educated Guess about Donor-Driven School Reform is also by Larry Cuban. I’m adding to the same list.

Teacher Pay Is Poorly Understood is from Ed Week. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The Importance Of Teacher (& Student) Working Conditions.

Is Teaching More Like Baseball Or Basketball? is from The Shanker Blog.

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December 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Today Is The Second Anniversary of The Newtown Massacre — Here Are Related Resources

sandyhookribbon

I’m sure we all remember that terrible day two years ago.

Here are some relate resources:

A Collection Of Resources On The Sandy Hook Shooting (a post I published near the time of the killings)

The Best Resources On The Sandy Hook Tragedy (a post I published on the first anniversary)

The Best Resources On Talking With Children About Tragedies

For Whom The Bells Toll is from Slate.

Developments in Newtown 2 Years After Massacre is from The Associated Press.

“Personal reflection” marks 2nd anniversary of Newtown school shooting is from CBS News.

Newtown debates how to stop a gunman as it builds secure new school is from The Guardian.

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December 14, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Al Jazeera Article On Providing Students With Home Internet Access

jazeera

Al Jazeera has just published an article about New York City libraries providing free home internet access to low-income students and families.

I was interviewed by the reporter and you’ll find a couple of not-particularly-profound quotes from me talking about a similar project our school did with immigrant families.

I’m adding the article to The Best Resources For Learning About Schools Providing Home Computers & Internet Access To Students.

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December 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Five Most Popular Posts Of The Week

Here’s the latest edition of this every-weekend feature . These are the posts appearing this blog that received the most “hits” in the preceding seven days (though they have originally been published on an earlier date).

Here they are:

1. The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2014

2. The Best Social Studies Sites Of 2014 — Part Two

3. The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2014 – Part Two

4. November’s Infographics & Interactives Galore — Part Six

5. The Best Comic Strips For Students & Teachers In 2014

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December 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly In 2014

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This list (a not particularly long one) brings together what I think are this year’s best ways to create online content easily and quickly. These web tools are excellent ways for English Language Learners, and others who might not be very tech-savvy, to have a good experience working with technology.

In order to make it on this list, web tools must be:

* accessible to English Language Learners.

* available at no-cost.

* able to be used to easily create engaging online content within minutes.

* willing to host user-created work indefinitely on the website itself.

* appropriate for classroom use.

* accessible without requiring registration.

You might also be interested in:

The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly In 2013 – So Far

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly In 2012 — Part One

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly In 2011

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2010

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2009

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly — 2008

Here are this year’s choices (not listed in order of preference):

ClipDis a new web and smartphone app that lets you type in any sentence and then provides it to you in a short video with actors from popular movies speaking it. Even better, you don’t have to register in order to create one and be provided a unique url address for linking to it. Here’s one I made.

ClassTools has created Twister, which lets you create fake tweets. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog, and I’ve added it to The Best Tools For Creating Fake “Stuff” For Learning.

Class Tools lets you easily create a Map “treasure hunt” with no registration necessary.

The Rand McNally Trip Maker easily lets you design a trip anywhere in the United States, and you can add sites of interest along the way.

As mentioned earlier, I have a fairly popular The Best Tools For Creating Fake “Stuff” For Learning list. The fake “stuff” I’m referring to includes newspaper articles, sports “trading cards,” iPhone conversations, Facebook pages etc. These can be used for conversation practice, to create reports on historical figures (or on natural disasters or on just about anything) and for numerous other learning activities. Simitator is another one I’m adding to the list. It lets you create “fake” Facebook pages, Twitter threads and more. Unfortunately, though, you have to download your creation — it won’t let you link to it (most of the other tools on my Best list let you save them as Web pages.

Incredibox, the incredibly easy music-creating site that’s been on The Best Online Sites For Creating Music list for years, has just announced its annual update. Version Four has even more sounds to mix, and will only make it more fun for students to use. I have my English Language Learners create their tracks and then describe — verbally and in writing — why they made their particular composition and what they want people to visualize when they listen to it.

The New York Times has created the Chronicle. It’s their version of the Google Books Ngram Viewer, which charts word use over the years in the books they’ve indexed (see The Best Posts To Help Understand Google’s New “Books Ngram Viewer”). The Times, though, indexes word usage in its own history. The image at the top of this post shows the results of my charting “love” and “hate.” It looks like love is winning! The Chronicle is very easy to use and no registration is required. It, and the Ngram Viewer, can be used with English Language Learners and other students in a number of ways, ranging from just being a fun and simple way for them to play with words to being a tool to correlate certain word usage with political attitudes (as I did in a recent column at Education Week Teacher).

The same day The New York Times announced their own version of Google’s Ngram Viewer, the online review site Yelp unveiled their own. It’s called Yelp Trends and you can compare how often different words are used in reviews at cities around the world. It’s very easy to use and no registration is required. You can see two examples below that I created – comparing soccer, basketball and jogging in Sacramento and in London. Obviously, soccer isn’t going to be mentioned much in London since they call it football there. I wonder if I shared these with students how many would figure that out? Have students create their own and then challenge their classmates to explain the reason for the differences (after they figure it out themselves) could just be one fun way to use it in class — that is, if Yelp isn’t blocked by school district content filters. You can read more about Yelp Trends at Slate.

sacto

london

Transitmix lets you easily create a mass transit system for any city or town in the world, including how much it would cost to run. No registration is required, and you’re given a link to your creation. You can read more about it at Gizmodo.

Sketch Toy is a simple and useful online drawing tool.

Thanks to Katherine Schulten, I learned about the Hemingway app, a fun site that will evaluate your writing and tell you how to change it to Hemingway’s style.

It’s A Message lets you send a personal holiday message, along with images of snow falling on the address of your choices.

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December 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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ELLs Will Love “ClipDis”! It’s Text-To-Speech With A Twist

clipdis

ClipDis a new web and smartphone app that lets you type in any sentence and then provides it to you in a short video with actors from popular movies speaking it. Even better, you don’t have to register in order to create one and be provided a unique url address for linking to it.

Here’s one I made.

One of my most popular annual Best lists compiles tool that lets you create web content without registration (see The “All-Time” Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly) and ClipDis will certainly be on this year’s list when it gets published.

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December 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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If You Subscribe To Richard Byrne’s Blog By RSS, Double-Check It’s Still Working….

byrne

Free Technology For Teachers, written by Richard Byrne, is just about everybody’s favorite ed tech blog.

You can read it through many different avenues, but if you subscribe to it with an RSS Reader, there might be a problem that requires you to re-subscribe (there’s not a problem if you read it a different way).

You can read about the technical snafu and how to easily get back on track at Richard’s post, RSS Subscribers – I Need Your Help. You can easily fix it and not miss a post. And, trust me, you don’t want to miss a single post he publishes!

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December 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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December’s (2014) Best Tweets — Part Two

'Twitter' photo (c) 2010, West McGowan - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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 and The Best Tweets Of 2014 — Part Two.

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December 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Student Engagement Is ‘The Act Of Being Invested In Learning’”

Student Engagement Is ‘The Act Of Being Invested In Learning’ is my latest post at Education Week Teacher.

Patricia Vitale-Reilly, Ken Halla, Zaretta Hammond, Barbara Blackburn and Heidi Weinmann share their thoughts in Part Three of this four-part series.

Here are some excerpts:

Engaged-learners-are

One-of-the-hardest

The-way-to-capture

Although-kids-can-be

We-have-all-been-there

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December 13, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2014 – Part Two

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I use short, funny video clips a lot when I’m teaching ELLs, and you can read in detail about how I use them in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them). In short, there are many ways to use them that promote speaking, listening, writing and reading.

I’ve posted quite a few of them during the first six months of this year, and I thought it would be useful to readers — and to me — if I brought them together in one post.

I’ve also published quite a few during the previous seven years of this blog. You can find those in these lists:


The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2014 – Part One

The Best Videos For Educators In 2014 – So Far


The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2013 — So Far

The “All-Time” Best Videos For Educators

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part Two)

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part One)

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2011

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2010

Part Two Of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008

The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development

The Best Funny Videos Showing The Importance Of Being Bilingual Or Multilingual — Part One

The Best Pink Panther Fight Scenes For English Language Learners

The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner

The Best Sports Videos To Use With English Language Learners

The Best Video Clips Of Sneaky Critters

The Best Videos Showing “Thinking Outside The Box” — Help Me Find More

The Best Fun Videos To Teach Language Conventions — Help Me Find More

The Best Funny Videos To Help Teach Grammar – Help Me Find More

The Best Movie Scenes For Halloween

Okay, now here are my choices for The Best Fun Videos For English Language Learners In 2014 — Part Two:

Here are some fun videos that English Language Learners could watch and then describe what they saw in writing and verbally:

This year’s John Lewis Christmas ad tells an story that would be engaging to English Language Learners and it’s very accessible to them. They can watch it and then describe — verbally and in writing — what they saw:

I have a lot of chase scene movie clips in The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development (along with suggestions on how to use them for language-development) and have to add this one to the list:

American’s Funniest Home Videos, whose DVD collections have been a great tool in my English Language Learner classes, turned twenty-five years old, and The New York Times marked the occasion with a lengthy article, A Generation of Unintended Laughs: ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ Turns 25.

The program, which now also has a very popular YouTube channel is a great source of videos to use in the many language-development activities I describe in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL (& How To Use Them).

I do think that some of them are in poor taste and a bit cruel, but the vast majority are good clean fun.

Here’s their YouTube playlist for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday (I still think it’s worth investing in the DVDs, though):

I have a fun collection of videos titled The Best Video Clips Of Sneaky Critters. They’re great to have English Language Learners watch and then describe — both verbally and in writing — what they saw.

Here’s a new one I’m adding to that list:

These two compilation videos would be great for English Language Learners — they’re entertaining and in slow motion, so neither they or the teacher has to worry about it going to fast. Students can easily describe what they are seeing.

I think they’re all appropriate for classroom use though have to admit I didn’t get a chance to watch all of either of them.

I’m adding the two clips to The Best Movie Scenes To Use For English-Language Development.

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December 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Getting The Least Motivated Students More Motivated By Working With The Most Motivated

I’ve been doing an “extra” project with my English Language Learner students the past few weeks that has been going very well, and I thought readers might find it useful/interesting.

As regular readers know, one of the classes I teach is a two hour combination English class for Beginning and Intermediate ELLs (actually, one of those two periods is a Geography class for the Intermediates — I teach two separate classes simultaneously in practically all of my periods).

At the beginning of each of those two periods, students do independent reading for ten-to-fifteen minutes. A few weeks ago, I invited three Intermediate students to participate in a special group that would meet with me daily during that time during the second period to work on their reading and writing. I would assign extra homework that wouldn’t take them more than fifteen minutes to do each night, and we would review it during our time together. My invitation to each of them came in the context of an individual meeting discussing their longer-term and shorter-term goals, and if this kind of group might help them achieve to achieve those goals. I told them that it seemed to me that they were very motivated, and it was clear they felt somewhat honored by the invitation.

After first having them do simple writing assignments (write a paragraph with a topic sentence about themselves; write an introductory paragraph to it; etc.), I decided that it was worth investing a book for each of them. I chose Cloze The Gap: Exercises In Integrating and Developing Language Skills. Unlike most pre-made clozes (also known as gap-fills), the authors created clozes with strategically-placed blanks that had “clue” words somewhere in the text. They were doable for my students and, most importantly, they provided writing opportunities. I use it as a base for many mini-lessons.

It’s working quite while. The three students got to do their independent reading during one period, and then worked with me during the other one.

But having these three students better develop their English skills was and is not the goal of this new project.

The goal was and is to have my other students who might not be as motivated see what is happening, view the activity as something “cool,” and want to be a part of it.

And that’s exactly what has been happening.

First, several Beginner students saw what I was doing and asked me if they could be part of it. We discussed that what we were doing was probably too advanced for them, but that we could do a separate group at the beginning of the other period. So, we started using the book English In Action 2 following the same routine — their doing an “extra” fifteen minutes of homework each night and then our reviewing it in one corner of the classroom at the beginning of the first period. They get their independent reading time during the other period.

Both groups are slowly growing — now over half of the class participates in either one group or the other (including some who I thought would be the last to join — if ever), and I expect that most of the remaining will ask to join within the next couple of weeks. It’s very clear to everyone that it is entirely voluntary, but it’s also clear that students are viewing it as an “in” group — they want to be included.

And, best of all, the energy that the less-motivated students are getting from the small groups seems to be sustained during the rest of the class period.

In my upcoming book on student engagement, I review a lot of the research around its key elements. One is relatedness (doing the activity helps them feel more connected to others, and that they feel cared about by people whom they respect). I think the success of this “extra” activity is due in large part to the connections that students feel they gain through it.

The activity creates a little more work for me, but the pay-off is definitely worth it….

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December 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Articles I’ve Written About Education In 2014

I haven’t written as many articles this year about education as I usually do since I’ve been focused on my next book on student motivation (coming out in March) and the sequel to The ESL/ELL Teachers Survival Guide (coming out a year from now).

However, I have published a few, and thought I’d bring them together in one “Best” list.

Of course, these articles are in addition to the one-hundred-fifty posts I write each week for this blog, the six-or-seven each week I publish at my Engaging Parents In School blog, the two teacher advice columns I post each week at Education Week Teacher, and my monthly posts at The New York Times about teaching English Language Learners.

You can see all the hundred-plus articles I’ve written over at this link, and you might want to explore The Fourteen Best Articles I’ve Written About Education.

Here are The Best Articles I’ve Written About Education In 2014:

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December 12, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Online Learning Games Of 2014

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Time for another annual ”The Best…” list (you can see all of this year’s lists at All My 2014 “Best” Lists — So Far — In One Place).

As usual, In order to make it on this list, games had to:

* be accessible to English Language Learners.

* provide exceptionally engaging content.

* not provide access to other non-educational games on their site, though there is one on this list that doesn’t quite meet this particular criteria.

* be seen by me during 2013. So they might have been around prior to this time, but I’m still counting them in this year’s list.

You might also be interested in:

The “All-Time” Best Online Learning Games

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2013 – Part Two

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2013 — So Far

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2012 — So Far

The Best Online Learning Games — 2011

The Best Online Learning Games — 2010

The Best Online Learning Games — 2009

The Best Online Learning Games — 2008

The Best Online Learning Games — 2007

Here are my choices for The Best Online Learning Games Of 2014:

Destination Unknown is a very slick online geography game using Instagram photos. It’s particularly good because it offers hints. Unfortunately, since it utilizes Instagram, there’s probably no guarantee that all the photos will be classroom appropriate, though I didn’t see anything bad when I played the game. Because of that potential issue, and because it may not be around for the long-term (since it’s sponsored as a promotion by a company), I’m not going to add it to The Best Online Geography Games. But it still might be worth a visit.

Show.me, the popular site that collects interactives from museums throughout the United Kingdom, has unveiled a brand-new (and sorely needed) redesign. You can find many great games there.

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.

Man vs. Wild: The Game is a choose-your-own-adventure story from The Discovery Network.

You can find many games at The Best Online Learning Simulation Games & Interactives.

Smarty Pins is a new online geography game from Google. It’s similar to some of the better ones on The Best Online Geography Games — you’re asked a question, provided a hint, and then have to put a “pin” on your guess for the answer. One of the nice things I found — at least, in the questions that I answered — is that you’re only shown the region of the world where the answer can be found.

Spacehopper is a new online geography game that isn’t easy but, after showing you a Google Street View image of a location, provides clues that make it less difficult. You’re shown a map with various dots on it, as well as the map outline of the country. After three guesses, you’re given the answer along with information on the location.

I’m a big fan of “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories, and have a very lengthy collection of them at The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories.

I recently learned about two new well-done online games in that genre that were nominated for awards at the Games For Change Festival:

The first one is Start the Talk: A Parent Learning Tool. It’s designed as a role-playing exercise for parents so they can practice speaking with their children about under-age drinking. Surprisingly — at least to me — it seems to offer some very good advice, and I can see it being useful to both parents and children. I’ll be sharing it at my Engaging Parents in School blog.

The other game that caught my eye is called Migrant Trail.

It’s from PBS. Here’s how they describe it:

The Migrant Trail is a video game that introduces players to the hardships and perils of crossing the Sonora Desert. Players have the chance to play as both migrants crossing the desert from Mexico to the United States and as U.S. Border Patrol agents patrolling the desert. As migrants, players are introduced to the stories of the people willing to risk their lives crossing the unforgiving Sonoran desert to reach America. By playing as Border Patrol agents, players see that the job goes beyond simply capturing migrants to helping save lives and providing closure for families who lost loved ones in the desert.

Through the use of real-time resource management and by integrating characters, stories, and visuals from the film, The Undocumented, with intense gameplay choices, The Migrant Trail gives players another way to experience and understand the human toll of our border policies.
Citizen Sort creates free online video games where players sort and identify items as part of a serious science investigation. One of their series of games is called “Happy Match” where you have to describe various images. You can see the screenshot above. It appears to me that it could be useful for English Language Learners to learn some vocabulary, plus learn a little science, too. They have some other games on the site, and say they’re coming out with another one that looks particularly interesting called “Mark With Friends” that might also have ELL potential.

Each year for the past two years I’ve posted about a new online “choose your own adventure” U.S. History game created by Mission US, which is funded by the Corporation For Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment For The Humanities. First, there was one on the American Revolution, then on slavery. They unveiled a third one in the series, this one focusing on Native Americans, and it looks great. You can play A Cheyenne Odyssey here, and all the games here. You can read more about the new game here.

 

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