Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 3, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Videos & Lesson On Rube Goldberg Machines From Our School’s Physics Teacher


As regular readers know, I’m a fan of Rube Goldberg Machines (see The Best Resources For Learning About Rube Goldberg Machines).

Earlier this week, I saw some of my IB Theory of Knowledge students showing videos of machines they had created in Physics class, and thought they were pretty neat.

I asked our school’s talented Physics teacher, Arthur Sisneros, if he would mind writing a description of his lesson, and also invited teachers to share their videos.

Here’s Arthur’s description, along with a few student videos (I’ll be adding more as students remember to send them to me!):

The Rube Goldberg project is meant to be a summative assessment for my first semester. Like most physics classes, my first semester of physics is dominated by motion (kinematics, forces, momentum, and mechanical energy). I introduce the Rube Goldberg project at the end as an engineering project. We talk about engineering vs. science (defining problems and solving problems as opposed to asking questions and developing explanations). I also require them to include a theme and to be creative. After the project is built, I require them to isolate a few of the events, measure them (distance, time, mass, or whatever they need to measure), and use those measurements to calculate various quantities (average velocity, acceleration, force, etc.). On the presentation day, I have students do a gallery walk to see the other projects, and I conduct group interviews where I delve a little deeper into the understanding of the major physics topics.


February 3, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Restorative Practices In Schools Is Topic Of My Latest BAM! Radio Show


Rethinking Student Discipline, Punishment and Accountability is the title of my latest ten-minute BAM! Radio Show.

Timothy Hilton, Shane Safir, and Jen Adkins talk with me about implementing restorative practices in schools, which is the topic of my next Education Week Teacher column.

I’m adding it to the nearly eighty other shows at All My BAM Radio Shows – Linked With Descriptions.

February 3, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Super Bowl Commercials Are Here!


One of the best parts of the Super Bowl for everybody are the commercials, and they also provide great opportunities for English language development.

Here are collections of this year’s crop, and I’m adding them to The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn About The Super Bowl. You can find instructional strategies on how to use them there, too.

Watch The 2016 Super Bowl Commercials And Vote For Your Fave is from Forbes.

Here’s everything we know about the Super Bowl ads so far is from Business Insider.

Get a sneak peek at this year’s Super Bowl ads is from USA Today

February 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Issue Of “ASCD Educational Leadership” Is A Must-Read On ELLs


ASCD’s monthly “Educational Leadership” magazine is usually great, but it’s even more special in February with a special issue titled Helping ELLs Excel.

Usually, I provide a brief review
of a few of the articles that aren’t behind a paywall and which I think are particularly worth reading.

However, this month, I’d recommend you go and read all the ones that are freely available AND pay a few bucks to read all the others (if you aren’t already a subscriber).

It’s that good!

February 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Teachers Might Find My “Concept Attainment – Plus” Instructional Strategy Useful


As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of using Concept Attainment as an instructional strategy for writing. You can see examples at Here Are Some Examples Of Using “Concept Attainment” In Writing Instruction.

As I explain in that post, teachers using this strategy place examples, typically (though not always) from unnamed student work, under the categories of “Yes” and “No.” The class then constructs their own understanding of why the examples are in their categories. It’s a great tool for many lessons, and I like it especially for grammar and other writing.

Last week, though, I had a brainstorm, and came up with a revised strategy that I’m calling “Concept Attainment – Plus,” and it has worked very well. I think teachers of English Language Learners and non-ELLs alike might find it useful and, I hope, offer suggestions on how to improve it further….

“Concept Attainment – Plus” has three steps:


I pick an example of student writing that especially illustrates one writing error and put it under the “No” column. In this case, I’m focusing on the tendency for many ELLs to have very long run-on sentences, along with the frequently made mistake of how to write “the United States.”

Parallel to that passage, under the “Yes” column, I re-write the paragraph correctly. Student have to compare the two passages, identify the errors in the student’s writing, and explain why they are mistakes.  After students have completed their review, I call them up to the overhead individually to identify one mistake at a time.

first step


The second sheet contains a short humorous passage in the “No” column that I write and which mimics the errors in the first student passage.

Students have to identify the errors and re-write it correctly on the left under the “Yes” column.  Again, I call students up to the overhead frequently.

step two


I then give students a simple and engaging prompt where they need to write a passage demonstrating their understanding of the writing feature we have learned in the first two sheets.

Step three

Students always like “regular” Concept Attainment, but they have loved this more intensive scaffolded process. It takes about one full class period to do from start-to-finish, and takes me about an hour to prepare it. It’s definitely worth the time.

Let me know what you think of the strategy and, importantly, how you think it can be improved….

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching and to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

February 2, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Three Good Speaking/Writing Prompts – Along With Video Models


Here are three new videos from Soul Pancake that I think provide excellent speaking or writing prompts to English Language Learners and others. Plus, the videos are great models to get students thinking!

I’m adding this post to Best Posts On Writing Instruction.