Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 25, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“BrainRush” Expands Its Learning Activities To Play & Create


A couple of years ago, I posted about a new site called BrainRush.

It was just beginning then, and lets you created flashcard learning activities. Those, of course, are a dime-a-dozen. But what made BrainRush different was that you could create virtual classrooms and monitor student progress in mastering them. Plus, they said they would be adding more activities in the future. And, most importantly, it was free.

Well, today I saw a tweet from Johnny Kissko prompted me to check the site again. I saw that they have indeed added the kinds of activities you can create. Now, in addition to flashcards, you can develop sequencing activities, Buckets (a categorization interactive) and “hotspots” (a naming/placing tool). They all look good, as does the price :)

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July 18, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Learn About Music From Around The World With “World Music Composer”


World Music Composer is a nice tool from the National Museums of Scotland to learn about musical instruments and how they sound from around the world. You can mix-and-match them to create your own collection but, unfortunately, you can save it. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures.

I learned about it from Show Me, the recently refurbished site where many United Kingdom museums share their games and interactives. I’ve added that site to The Best Collections Of Online Educational Games.

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July 8, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two More Tools For Making Online Learning Games


Here are two new addition to The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games:

eQuiz Show lets you easily create online Jeopardy-like games without requiring registration. There are already a number of similar tools on the list, but you can never have too many because who knows what School District content filters will block and what they will let through.

Thanks to Alison Rostetter, I learned about Teachers-Direct. They have two styles of games you can create without registering. One is called Quiz-Busters. The other is sort of interesting. I’m not a big fan of Word Searches, and view them as basically busy work. At this site, you can create a Word Search – with a twist. Instead of listing the words students have to find, you list sentences with a blank and the students have to come up with the word and find it. I wouldn’t spend any teacher time on creating one, but I could see having students use it to create ones for classmates to play now-and-then.

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July 5, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“SuperTeacherTools” Looks Like A Great Site For Creating Online Learning Games


I was searching online today to find simple tools for making online matching games (the ones that, for example, have questions on the left and mixed-up answers on the right) and was pleasantly surprised to find the SuperTeacherTools site.

Not only does it let teacher and students create these kinds of matching games without having to register and very easily, it also has other game-making features. Here’s a quick one I did on a growth mindset.

There were a few others, including Eduplay, but SuperTeacherTools was by far the best one.

Also, if you’re interested, there were a few easy tools that let you create those kinds of matching worksheets for printing out, too, including, The Teachers Corner and Armored Penguin.

I’m adding SuperTeacherTools to:

The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games

The “All-Time” Best 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners

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June 21, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Jigsaw Puzzles As A Language-Learning Activity


I’m a big fan of using games with my English Language Learners (see The Best Ideas For Using Games In The ESL/EFL/ELL Classroom) and, clearly, some games are better than others.

Some of the ones that are near the bottom, in my opinion, are word searches and crossword puzzles EXCEPT for times when, just for a change of pace, having students create their own for classmates to play.

I was inspired this morning of another idea for one of these occasional activities when I saw this tweet:

So, I quickly typed this up to try out the idea:


Then I copied the screenshot and pasted it onto the Paint program; then saved it as a jpg image.

Next, I went to Jigsaw Planet, uploaded the image, and in seconds it created the online jigsaw puzzle that you see in the image at the top of this post and which you can play here. There are quite a few other sites where you can create your own puzzles – Daily Jigsaw Puzzles and Jigidi are just two more.

It seems to me that students creating these for their classmates could be a nice exercise to do now and then.

What do you think?

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June 13, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Online Learning Games Of 2015 – So Far


Time for another mid-year ”The Best…” list.

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 2015. 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 Best Online Learning Games Of 2014

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 2015- So Far:

Johnny Appl is an online trivia game that donates money to plant trees every time you answer a certain number of questions correctly. You can learn more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best “Cause-Related” Online Learning Games.

“Quizizz” Is A Great Game-Playing & Game-Creating Site For Classes!

Sam Chaltain is co-producer of a PBS online series called 180 Days: Hartsville that looks like it’s definitely worth watching. Along with the documentary, Sam and his colleagues have created a “game” called 180 Days: Challenge. In it, you choose the role of a teacher, principal or parent and are then asked ten questions — in effect, problem-based scenarios — that each have very well-thought out potential options as responses. At the end of a game, you’re given a “personalized” analysis based on your answers but, more importantly, a very realistic and sophisticated analysis of how it all fits into the education landscape.

Google Feud would be a super-helpful and fun game for high school English Language Learners if you could be guaranteed of classroom appropriate responses, but that’s never going to happen so it will only be usable in adult classes. You pick a category in the game (culture, people, etc.) and then it gives you a phrase, like “wrestling is.” Then you have to guess the top ten responses that would come up in a Google autocomplete box.

I’ve shared a lot of online “choose your own adventure games” that are engaging for English Language Learners and others (see The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories). Here are two that have recently been created and, even though I suspect students won’t be enthralled by them, nevertheless provide models for teachers to show for student assignments:

Play this game to see what it’s like to be John Boehner is from Vox.

How To Win An Oscar is from The Los Angeles Times.

Magical Moments is a really interesting sort of “choose your own adventure” interactive where you experience a day of school through the eyes of a young student, including making various choices along the way. The audio is in Norwegian, but it has English subtitles.

Traveling The World is an online geography game from Air France that works like a sort of scavenger hunt. You’ve got to register in order to play it, but it takes seconds and, like me, you can log in with a fake name and made-up email address quickly.

The Internet Archive has brought over 2,000 MS-DOS games, including the famous Oregon Trail game. In the past, I’ve had students try-out a poor substitute for the class game. It’s called Westward Trail. But now they get to play the original!

Quizzity is an online geography game where you have to choose the city in which a photo has been taken. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’m adding it to The Best Online Geography Games.

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May 20, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Quizizz” Is A Great Game-Playing & Game-Creating Site For Classes!


I’m a big fan of sites that let you create virtual private rooms where students can compete against each other in learning games and see their constantly changing results. Of course, for these to be successful learning experiences, you have to have helped create a culture that everyone feels like they’re winners. In my English Language Learner classes, I’m pretty confident that we have this kind of environment and students realize that much of people’s success in the classroom is primarily due to how long each person has been studying English — not because anyone is “smarter” than anyone else.

Unfortunately, because of relatively recent changes in our District’s Web filter, most of the sites that I’ve used before and which can be found on The Best Online Games Students Can Play In Private Virtual “Rooms” list are now blocked.

Today, though, thanks to The Edublogger’s Weekly Round-Up, I learned about Amy Kincaid’s post talking about Quizizz.

Quizizz, which is free, lets you access tons of previously-created learning “quizzes” and also lets you create your own. Once you as the teacher joins, which takes seconds, you pick a quiz; are given a code for a virtual room; then give the code to your students, who just log in with the code and a nickname (they don’t have to register with the site). When all your students are set, you click “start game.” You see the leader board as do the students as they’re progressing through the quiz.

In a number of ways, it’s similar to Kahoot. However, the key advantage that Quizizz seems to have over Kahoot is that with Quizizz, students see the questions, answers, and their leaderboard on their devise. With Kahoot (and please correct me if I’m wrong), students’ devices only show the answers and they have to look at an overhead to see the questions. In antiquated computer labs like the ones at our school (and, I suspect, at many others), we don’t have the capability of projecting a screen for students to see it.

I’m hoping that Quizizz is not blocked for students when I try it out tomorrow at school.

I’m adding this post to the previously-mentioned Best list on sites where students can play in private virtual rooms, as well as to The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games.

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May 13, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Simple Game Using Academic Language

Playing gamesCreative Commons License Jos van der Hoek via Compfight

I have previously written an article in Edutopia (along with my colleague, Katie Hull) about English-Language Learners and Academic Language.

One of the strategies included in the article was a short regular activity I do using words from an Academic Word List (there are various versions freely available online). Simply put, I explicitly teach three words a day in a very fun and engaging way, and then students divide into groups to practice using them.

Last week I tried a fun game as a review that worked very well. I’m sure other teachers have used something similar, but — for me — it was an original idea :) .

Students divided into small groups of two-to-four each and their groups were composed of students from the same “level” (I have a combination Beginner and Intermediate class, and each of those two levels learn different academic words. Each group was given a small whiteboard, marker and eraser, along with their Academic Language Notebooks (where they kept track of the words they were learning).

I explained the rules. Students would be given two minutes to write a sentence correctly using academic words they had learned. For every word they used correctly, they would receive one point. So, if they used three in one sentence, their team would receive three points. They would need to underline the academic words in their sentence, and assign a person to stand and read it. Once they read it, I would determine which words were used correctly and award the appropriate number of points. Afterwards, they would be given another two minutes to develop a sentence using new academic words and assigning a new person to read them to the class.

It was a lot of fun and engagement was at a very high (at times, too high) of a level — sometimes it was difficult to get everyone to listen to the group spokespeople. Not only was it an effective reinforcement activity, and was great for formative assessment, too. We did four rounds, and then they were given an opportunity to “bet” the points they had already won and could write two sentences using new words.

Let me know if you have suggestions of other useful games to use with academic language, or ideas on how to make this one even better!

I’m adding this post to:

The Best Ideas For Using Games In The ESL/EFL/ELL Classroom

The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary

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