Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 25, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

New “Open eBooks” App Unveiled By White House Looks Like A HUGE Benefit To Students & Schools


Through a tweet by Katherine Schulten earlier this week, I learned about an announcement by the White House about the new free Open eBooks app and program.

If you teach at a Title One school, on a military base, or are a special education teacher anywhere in the U.S., you can gain access for your students to the Open eBooks app. That app allows students to upload up to ten books at a time, which can continually be replenished. And the book catalog looks extraordinary. Here’s the list:

  • Bloomsbury: Providing unlimited access to over 1,000 of its most popular titles.
  • Candlewick: Providing unlimited access to all relevant children’s and young-adult eBook titles in their catalog.
  • Cricket Media: Offering full digital access to all of its market-leading magazines for children and young adults, including Ladybug and Cricket.
  • Hachette: Offering access to a robust catalog of their popular and award-winning titles.
  • HarperCollins: Providing a vast selection of their award-winning and popular titles.
  • Lee & Low: Providing unlimited access to over 700 titles from this leading independent publisher of multicultural books.
  • Macmillan: Providing unlimited access to all of the K-12 age-appropriate titles in their catalog of approximately 2,500 books.
  • National Geographic: Providing unlimited access to all of their age-appropriate content.
  • Penguin Random House: Committing to provide an extensive offering of their popular and award-winning books.
  • Simon & Schuster: Providing access to their entire e-catalog of books for children ages 4-14, comprised of 3,000 titles.

Students can read them on a tablet or smartphone, and a web version is coming later this year.

This seems to me like an amazing opportunity. You can sign-up for it here and read more about it at Ed Surge’s article, The White House and Michelle Obama Release $250M ‘Open eBooks’ App for Title I and Special Education Teachers.

I’ve embedded a video from Michelle Obama announcing the app at the bottom of this post.

I’m adding this info to:

February 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

A Useful Lesson When Teaching Problem/Solution Essays – & Other Topics


Sequencing activities are great lessons for teaching language and higher-order thinking, particularly if students are challenged to explain their reasons for putting texts or pictures in the order they choose.

Chronological order is the typical sequence that is used, and it works great.

There’s also a different twist on this kind of sequencing, one which I learned from my teaching mentor, Kelly Young.

Instead of cutting-up sections of text and having students put it in chronological order, another option is to list questions, mix-up the answers, and have students have to identify which ones go with the other. The texts can be complex, including having multiple paragraphs making-up the answers, or can be very simple.

Here’s a simple version I used when introducing Problem/Solution essays to my Intermediate English Language Learners. As you can see from the image below, there are a list of problems that are then followed by a list of solutions (that are not in order). Students had to match the problem with the solution (you can download it here).

problem solution

Another fun way to use this list is to call out the items under “Solutions” (without sharing the items under Problems) and have students come-up with different types of problems they could solve.

While I was preparing this post, I realized that, though I have “Best” lists for tons of other kinds of essays, for some reason I don’t have one for Problem/Solution.

However, I do have quite a few related resources at our class blog.

You can find links to lists on the other essays at The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

February 7, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “Close Reading” A Super Bowl Commercial

Carol Jago shared this great video from Poynter from Poynter “close reading” this popular 2014 Super Bowl commercial.

It’s pretty sophisticated, but does provide a nice example of the sort of thing educators can have students do with video:

I’m adding it to The Best Sites Where ELL’s Can Learn About The Super Bowl and to The Best Resources On Close Reading Paintings, Photos & Videos.

January 28, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Fun Videos & Stories About Books & Reading


I’ve previously published a fairly popular post titled The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading.

Today, the Atlantic published a great story headlined Taking Literature To The Streets, and it shares lots of fun ideas where people are “using guerrilla marketing tactics to promote reading.”

One they featured is a Brazilian project that combines subway tickets with books:

That got me thinking that it was time to share a few other fun stories I’ve been collecting for adding to the previously-mentioned “Best” list:

Here’s a Voice Of America story about a vending machine offering free books to children:

It’s not a video, but here a links to a couple of great stories about vending machines in France that offer free short stories.

January 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here’s A New Phonics Activity I Did Today

I have big concerns about how phonics is often taught in schools (see The Best Articles & Sites For Teachers & Students To Learn About Phonics), but I do think it certainly has a role in language teaching and learning.

As I’ve often written, I love the book Sounds Easy and it’s an essential component of how I teach English Language Learner Beginners.

I don’t really follow many of the guidelines in the book about how to use it, but the reproducible sheets are pure gold:


I typically use an inductive model with the worksheets (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching) – after doing a page together, students develop their own categories for the words; then they use a dictionary to add new words that fit into their categories.

Today, I tried a new “twist” that seemed to work well. After students categorized and added new words, I asked them to draw a picture using as many of the objects or actions they had put into their categories. Next, they wrote sentences and, and if they could, a story about the picture.

Here’s an unfinished product of that phonics extension:


Students will next present their drawing and sentences.

It’s by no means a brilliant addition to a phonics exercise, but students seemed to enjoy it and and it made phonics an even more communicative activity.

You can’t go wrong with that….

December 7, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Statistic Of The Day: It’s Good To Have Books At Home

Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves is a short-and-sweet article in today’s New York Times.

It highlights the importance of having a home library, and also includes an interesting discussion comparing having books-in-print with having electronic devices filled with books.

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

October 26, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Oral Reading In The Mainstream & ELL Classroom

I often have both English proficient and English Language Learners read texts to each other in my classroom. I’ve done it for several reasons — it promotes accountability because I can see and hear students doing it, working in partners tends to be more engaging for many, students can practice prosody (reading with feeling), and it prompts students to ask for help in pronouncing words that are new to them.

For me, at least, those are plenty enough good reasons to do oral reading in class.

However, I missed a very big obvious one that was highlighted in a post by literacy expert Timothy Shanahan this morning. I’ve long respected his work, and I would strongly encourage you to read his piece, Fluency Instruction for Older Kids, Really?

Here’s an excerpt:


Every time I think I know a lot, a reminder comes along prompting me to reflect on how much I really don’t…

A caveat: This kind of oral reading is very different from the terrible practice of having English Language Learners read loud individually to the entire class. I have an entire “Best” list devoted to why that’s so bad, The Best Posts On Students Reading Aloud Individually In ESL Class.

What’s been your experience having students read aloud to each other?

Skip to toolbar