Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

September 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Onion: “Teacher Asks Students To Split Into 2 Groups To Simulate Ideal Class Size”

size

You’ll want to read the funny and sad piece in The Onion that’s titled “Teacher Asks Students To Split Into 2 Groups To Simulate Ideal Class Size.”

I’m adding it to The Best Education Articles From “The Onion.”

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning About How Class Size Does Matter.

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September 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Uh Oh, It Looks Like Facebook’s Zuckerberg Now Has His Own Pet Teacher Evaluation Project

Mark Zuckerberg, fresh from his disastrous $100 million investment in Newark schools (The Best Posts & Articles For Learning About Newark’s $100 Million From Facebook) has decided he wants his own piece of the teacher evaluation business.

He’s just become a major (I assume, THE major) investor in an education start-up called Panorama that is promoting the use of student evaluations to evaluate teachers.

The New York Times has just published an article about them — Grading Teachers, With Data From Class.

As regular readers know, it’s unlikely to find another teacher more committed to student evaluations of teachers than me. I regularly have students do them and share online and with administrators and colleagues their results — warts and all. You can see them all at The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers).

In fact, The Washington Post reprinted one of the reports that shared even more warts than usual a year or two ago.

Regular readers also know that it would also be difficult to find another teacher who has stronger negative feelings than me about the idea of using student surveys as an element in a teacher evaluation.

My reasons are numerous, and you can read them in my previous posts on the topic, which you can also find on the previously mentioned “Best” list.

Ordinarily, I’d write a summary of my objections. However, today was the second day of the new school year, and I’m exhausted. It looks like it will be another great set of classes and students, but, as all teachers know, the first week of school is a killer until we get our “teacher legs” back :)

I’ll put a more extensive post on my “to do” list, but thought that — in light of today’s Times’ article — I wanted to get something out quickly….

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September 3, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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All My Ed Week Posts On “Relationships” From The Past 3 Years — In One Place!

My latest Ed Week Teacher column brings together all my posts there from the past three years on the topic of “relationships.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Great-teachers-focus-not12

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On The Importance Of Building Positive Relationships With Students.

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September 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Big Surprise — NOT!: Study Says Students Are More Successful With “Active Learning” Than With Lectures

I’ve written a lot about how active learning is more effective than lectures (see The Best Research Demonstrating That Lectures Are Not The Best Instructional Strategy).

A big New York Times article headlined Active Role in Class Helps Black and First-Generation College Students, Study Says discusses yet another study that reinforces that view.

Here is how it begins:

The trend away from classes based on reading and listening passively to lectures, and toward a more active role for students, has its most profound effects on black students and those whose parents did not go to college, a new study of college students shows.

Active learning raised average test scores more than 3 percentage points, and significantly reduced the number of students who failed the exams, the study found. The score increase was doubled, to more than 6 percentage points, for black students and first-generation college students.

For black students, that gain cut in half their score gap with white students. It eliminated the gap between first-generation students and other students.

I’m adding it to the “Best” list mentioned at the beginning of the post.

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September 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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New “Edu-Messaging” Firm Needs To Work On Their “Messaging” Skills

Education Post is a new “edu-messaging” organization that is backed by the “Broad Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Walton Family Foundation and an anonymous donor” and led by the former spokesperson for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The Washington Post says it has:

the aim of encouraging a more “respectful” and fact-based national discussion about the challenges of public education, and possible solutions.

Then, later, in the article, the more patronizing and accurate purpose behind the organization becomes clear:

“Administrators, school leaders and teachers have papers to grade, schools to run, and they don’t have time to get out and talk about this,” he said. “This is an effort to help spread information about what works both inside the field and outside.”

Education Post also will have a “rapid response” capacity to “knock down false narratives” and will focus on “hot spots” around the country where conflicts with national implications are playing out, Cunningham said.

I suspect that they’ve begun because of the initial success by the PR firm hired by the organization backing the teaching-bashing Vergara lawsuit here in California, which is thankfully now being beaten back in the media by teachers and our allies and ultimately in the courts by the State of California.

I’m sure we’ll soon see their brand of “facts” will be no different than those of their backers, who are no friends of teachers, students, or their families.

Anyway, we should all be wary of people who raise the red herring of supposed “overheated rhetoric” in any kind of public debate, which I’ve written about in a few places previously:

It’s Not About Who’s “Evil” — It’s About Who’s Willing To Make A Deal, which was partially reprinted in The Washington Post.

Why we can’t all get along over school reform was published in The Washington Post.

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September 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The New York Times Learning Network Begins Another Year!

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The New York Times Learning Network, one of the best resources out there for teachers (I said that before I began writing for it, and I’ll continue to say it), just published a useful post describing its upcoming activities for the new school year.

Last year, I wrote a short weekly post about teaching activities for English Language Learners that included a student interactive. The previous year, I wrote a lengthy monthly post sharing a number of ELL teaching ideas. You can see them all here.

This year, I’ll be returning to the more sane monthly posts — each focused on a theme. My first one should appear in a few weeks.

But, if you’re teaching ELLs, you’ve got two years of activities there to keep you busy til then :)

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September 2, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Online Presentation-Creator Powtoon Giving Away 50,000 Classroom Accounts

powtoon

I just learned through Richard Byrne’s must-read blog that Powtoon, a unique online tool for creating presentations that is on a number of “Best” lists (including The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows), is giving away 50,000 classroom accounts to teachers. Each account provides 60 student accounts.

You can read more about it the deal, and about how Powtoon works, at Richard’s post.

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September 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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School Starts Tomorrow!

The first day of our new school year is tomorrow! It should be a great year!

I suspect that there might be fewer posts on this blog than usual over the next few days — I’m usually pretty exhausted at the end of the first two-or-three days of school until I get my “teacher legs” back. And any remaining energy will be devoted to evening basketball and memorizing student names, which will leave little for social media.

However, I’m sure I’ll be back to a normal blogging schedule by the weekend.

For what it’s worth, here is what my classroom looks like today:

classroom5

classroom6

classroom7

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September 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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More Theory Of Knowledge Changes From IB

Over the past year, the International Baccalaureate program has been making lots of changes to the Theory of Knowledge course, and I’ve posted about them all.

The changes continue…

IB just sent out a document to all IB Coordinators sharing even more changes around the TOK oral presentation and the essay.

In regards to the presentation, I’ve already published a number of posts about the new planning documents (Here Is The Simple Outline I’m Having My TOK Students Use For Their Oral Presentation). The additional change, though, is for group presentations:

Please note that each candidate must submit a planning and presentation document. For group presentations, each candidate in the group will submit to their teacher, their own form which will be identical to the forms submitted by the other members of the group.

Of course, that’s a bit inconsistent with the actual IB form, which asks for all group member names and then asks for each group member to sign it. But, hey, Emerson did say, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”

For the essay, IB says students now have to complete something called “Theory of knowledge: planning and progress form” that will be submitted with the essay. I haven’t seen it yet since I find the IB site rather Byzantinian both to log-into and to search.

IB also has now provided a three-part structure we’re supposed to follow in working with students on the essay:

In an initial interaction the candidate and teacher should discuss the prescribed titles with the aim of enabling the candidate to choose the most appropriate title; in an interim interaction the candidate may present the teacher with his or her work (an exploration) in some written form which might resemble a set of notes and ideas once a significant amount of progress has been made; and in a final interaction, towards the end of the process, candidates may present a full draft of the essay, and teachers may provide written comments of a global nature (but is not permitted to mark or edit this draft).

Let me know if you get a copy of the essay “planning and progress form” before I do….

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September 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Two Valuable Labor Day Resources

September 1, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Just Published! 42nd ELT Blog Carnival: Back To School!

'Carnival by the River' photo (c) 2004, Out.of.Focus - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

David Deubelbeiss has just published the 42nd edition of the ELT Blog Carnival (formerly known as the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival) and it’s a great one on back-to-school activities.

Teachers from all around the world have contributed their ideas!

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Planning The First Days Of School.

You can see all the previous Blog Carnivals here.

And you can express your interest in hosting a future edition of one here.

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August 31, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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New Theory Of Knowledge Resources: 2015 Essay Titles & A Cool Diagram

As regular readers know, I have been teaching International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge classes at our school for years, along with many other courses. This year, for the first time, I’m excited to be teaching two TOK classes that also include several of my former English Language Learner students.

Thanks to TheoryofKnowledge.net, I just learned that IB released the May 2015 essay titles. You can find them at the TOK.net site or at our class blog.

In addition to learning about the new titles today, I saw this neat looking TOK diagram on Twitter this morning. It will probably look bizarre to anyone not familiar with TOK. However, to a TOK teacher, it looks pretty impressive:

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August 31, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Great “Animations & Explainers” From The Guardian

explainer

The British newspaper The Guardian publishes a neat series of video “animations and explainers” that you can find on their YouTube channel.

I’m adding it to The Best Online “Explainer” Tools For Current Events.

Here’s an example:

I’m adding that example to The Best Resources For Learning About World Toilet Day & The Issue Of Public Sanitation In The Third World.

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August 31, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“12 million historic copyright-free images” Now Available For Free Online

I’m just going to quote from this new BBC article, Millions of historic images posted to Flickr:

An American academic is creating a searchable database of 12 million historic copyright-free images.

Kalev Leetaru has already uploaded 2.6 million pictures to Flickr, which are searchable thanks to tags that have been automatically added.

The photos and drawings are sourced from more than 600 million library book pages scanned in by the Internet Archive organisation.

I’m adding this post to The Best Online Sources For Images.

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