Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 22, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

MacArthur Genius Awards Announced – Here’s An ELL Connection


I’ve been critical of the MacArthur Genius Awards for their recent tendency to “play it safe” with their choices (and to sometimes clearly picking the wrong people).

They just announced this year’s winners and they all appear to be worthy winners, though it does seem they avoided those working in grass-roots political change arena. Just contrast their winners with those who the Goldman Prize chooses to recognize for environmental work.

One particularly intriguing pick for teachers of English Language Learners, though, is Anne Basting. She’s the founder of TimeSlips, which is designed to assist the elderly but which clearly has an application to the ELL classroom.

I’m just going to reprint here my 2013 post about the organization, which I headlined Looking For Assets, Not Deficits:

I’ve tried to apply the idea of looking for assets instead of deficits throughout my community organizing and teaching careers, and have written a lot about it in my books and in articles. One key strategy to make this work is by eliciting stories.

Of course, this strategy is not limited to community organizing or to the classroom.

Science Daily has just published a fascinating report on the use of this kind of strategy by medical students with dementia patients. Their purpose was to building on the creative assets of patients through having them tell stories based on thought-provoking photographs.

Their strategy, called TimeSlips, seems in many ways similar to TPR Storytelling in second-language classes (at least to my untrained — in both TimeSlips and in TPRS — eye).

I’ve embedded two videos of TimeSlips in action at the end of this post. However, before I end with them I want to point out that I’m blogging about it for more reasons than just the fact it has an interesting connection to teaching a second language (though the fact that dementia is beginning to make itself known in my family also makes it particularly interesting to me).

The TimeSlips website is also perfect for English Language Learners. It has many great images and encourages people to write their own stories about them. In fact, they also provide multiple scaffolded prompts for each image.

I’m adding the post, and their site, to various “The Best…” lists, including:

The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons

The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons

The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”

Here are two videos about TimeSlips:

September 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On The Smithsonian’s African-American Museum


(Earlier this week, I posted about the new Smithsonian African-American Museum. Lot of new resources have come online since that day, so am expanding it into a “Best” list.)

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture has its official opening later this week.

Here are some related resources, including highlights from their website:

How a Museum Captures African American History is from The Atlantic.

The New York Times has an interactive on the museum.

Review: The Smithsonian African American Museum Is Here at Last. And It Uplifts and Upsets. is from The NY Times.

Obama to Ring In Opening of African American Museum is from The NY Times.

The Guardian has a decidedly different “take” on the museum: The Smithsonian’s African American museum – a monument to respectability politics, as does a writer in The Washington Post: The African American Museum tells powerful stories — but not as powerfully as it could.

The website itself is a treasure trove of primary resources – you can examine each object with a little of its background, there’s a section of “stories” about certain objects with much more information about them, and a particularly impressive collection of video interviews with people about their experience in the Civil Rights Movement, along with written transcripts of those conversations.

However, it was disappointing to see no suggestions, tools, or guides for using these treasures with students, so you might want to explore The Best Resources For Using Primary Sources.

The top 36 must-see items at the African American museum is from The Washington Post.

Timeline: It took over 100 years for the African American Museum to become a reality is from The Washington Post.

Tour through the National Museum of African American History and Culture is a Washington Post interactive.

Video: President Obama At The Opening Of The Smithsonian’s African-American Museum (Plus Teaching Ideas)

You might also be interested in All My “Best” Lists On Race, Racism & The Civil Rights Movement – In One Place.

September 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Look Back: Combining An “Assets” Perspective With An Authentic Audience



Next February, this blog will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary! Leading up to it, I’m re-starting a series I tried to do in the past called “A Look Back.” Each week, I’ll be re-posting a few of my favorite posts from the past ten years.

You might also be interested in A Look Back: Best Posts From 2007 To 2009.

I originally shared this series of posts in 2010.

In 2010, I posted about A Lesson Highlighting Community Assets — Not Deficits. It has continued to be one of my favorite lessons each year. English Language Learner students first identify the qualities of the kind of neighborhood where they would like to live. We then take a tour of our school’s neighborhood and Sacramento’s wealthiest area. Students next write a persuasive essay about which they think is better – ninety percent typically choose their existing one. Students then end the unit by designing their “ideal” neighborhood.

The lesson always goes well – even the year when a resident of the rich neighborhood – “The Fabulous Forties” – called the police on us when we were walking through those streets. In fact, the conversations that came out of that occurrence may have made it the best lesson ever!

In 2010 we added another follow-up activity to the regular lesson. There were big concerns in many lower-income communities about residents not completing the Census and being under-counted, which would result in fewer public services and less political representation.

So, after our usual neighborhood project, students researched those Census concerns and decided to make posters they would distribute to their family members and neighbors to encourage them to respond to Census questions.

Here are links to two posts I published about that lesson, and I’ve embedded a slideshow sharing some of the posters (we made copies and students distributed them):

Persuasive Essays, Low-Income Communities & The Census Count

More On The U.S. Census & The Classroom

We’ve done other similar community engagement projects, including students creating bilingual flyers providing accurate information during the initial SARS scare and a class one year organizing a job training fair for themselves and their families.

You might also be interested in these related “Best” lists:

The Best Posts On Looking At Our Students Through The Lens Of Assets & Not Deficits

The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”

The Best Resources To Learn About The U.S. Census

The Best Tools For Analyzing Census Data

September 20, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

New “State Of Our Cities” Education Interactive Looks Intriguing


The Bush Institute today released an interactive on education so you can compare schools in 114 cities.

The State of our Cities project appears surprisingly interesting and objective. It does not appear – at least to me – that they have any ax to grind in the school reform debate, and list useful stats.

You can read more about it at Ed Week’s article, New Website to Compare Cities’ Education Results Makes Debut.

I’m adding this info to The Best Places To Get Reliable, Valid, Accessible & Useful Education Data.

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