Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

December 10, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Posts On The Nature/Nurture Debate

‘Teachers can only ever have a small impact on their students’ results – yet they are judged as if they are 100% responsible’ is a new article at TES that makes a lot of good points, including this one:

Seminal research by the American Statistical Association (2014) concluded that only 1-14 per cent of educational outcomes can be attributed to the “teacher factor” and within that, there are plenty more factors outside of the individual teacher’s control to take into account, such as class size, available teaching resources and budgets. The Coleman study on educational equality concluded that the remaining 86 per cent can be put down to “out of school” factors.

You can read more about this kind of research at The Best Places To Learn What Impact A Teacher (& Outside Factors) Have On Student Achievement.

But, elsewhere in the article, the author raises a troubling point about the nature/nurture debate without providing important context.

He talks about a recent study attributing a sizable amount of student academic achievement to genetics, without also discussing that plenty of research has shown that a person’s environment plays a massive role in determining if that natural genetic talent actually develops. For example, a child living in poverty is less likely to have their genetic benefits realized than a middle-class child with less stress and better nutrition.

If we don’t continually point this out, it seems to me there is a danger of some seizing on the point by saying that genetics is destiny.

Here are my previous posts on the topic – let me know other suggestions you have for additions:

This Is The Most Accessible Piece Out There On The “Nature/Nurture” Debate

Study Finds That Nurture Equals Nature In The United States

New Studies Highlight Blurry Line Between Nature & Nurture

A Look Back: “The Elephant In The Room In The Talent vs. Practice Debate”

December 4, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Reports On The New “Lost Einsteins” Study

Stanford economist Raj Chetty has led a team of researchers that just released a huge new study on innovation in the United States. And it found something that most urban teachers know – there are millions of low-income children who could be brilliant innovators if they had the same resources as middle and wealthy students:

there could be millions of “lost Einsteins”—individuals who might have become inventors and changed the course of American life, had they grown up in different neighborhoods. “There are very large gaps in innovation by income, race, and gender,” Chetty told me. “These gaps don’t seem to be about differences in ability to innovate—they seem directly related to environment.”

Chetty’s research outside of schools is brilliant. Two years ago, he released a related study on the role of geography in economic success (see What Are The School Implications Of New Chetty Study On Geographical Mobility?).

When it comes to school-related research, however, he clearly has a blindspot, as do many economists (see The Best Posts & Articles About The Role Of Economists In Education).  I am always a bit amused when tenured university faculty question how much years of experience should factor in a K-12 teacher’s pay, as he did earlier this year.  Or the time a few years ago when he compared teachers to baseball players and that you need to  let some of the players with lower batting averages go.”

But this new study doesn’t seem to go there. Along with “ammunition” for political arguments against wealth inequality (see The Best Resources About Wealth & Income Inequality ), it reinforces the value of teachers looking at our students through the lens of assets and not deficits (see The Best Posts On Looking At Our Students Through The Lens Of Assets & Not Deficits).

Here are the best pieces on the research that I’ve seen so far:

Lost Einsteins: The Innovations We’re Missing appeared in The New York Times.

America’s Lost Einsteins is from The Atlantic.

Groundbreaking empirical research shows where innovation really comes from is from Vox.

Can Schools Help Uncover ‘Lost Einsteins’ in a New Generation of Inventors? is from Ed Week.

December 2, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Study: “You are more likely to remember something if you read it out loud”

I’ve previously shared research documenting the importance of having students read aloud (see Oral Reading In The Mainstream & ELL Classroom and I Knew Encouraging Oral Reading Fluency Was Important, But I Didn’t Realize It Was This Important….), though not generally to the entire class in a round-robing or popcorn way (that can be damaging and/or ineffective form of instruction).  Instead, I typically have students read in pairs.

A new study has just come out reinforcing that previous research.

Here’s an excerpt from Study finds reading information aloud to yourself improves memory:

Quartz has an even more extensive review of the study at You remember more of what you read out loud.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources On Reading Fluency (Including How To Measure It).

November 28, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Excellent Post On Education Research By Dylan Wiliam

Dylan Wiliam, who may have written the best piece I’ve ever seen on formative assessment (see This ASCD Article By Dylan Wiliam May Be The Best Article You’ll Ever Read On Giving Students Feedback) has just written – if not the best, one of the best – articles on education research.

It’s headlined Getting educational research right, with a subtitle of “Research can guide teachers, but it cannot determine what will work in their classrooms.”

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Understanding How To Interpret Education Research.

November 24, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Research Quantifies The Vocabulary Improvement Generated By Reading – Here’s How I Plan To Use It In Class

To no one’s surprise, researchers found that teenagers reading improved their vocabulary.

Here’s an excerpt from Reading improves teenagers’ vocab, whatever their background, say researchers (thanks to Carl Hendrick for the tip):

After converting the researchers’ findings into an accessible Read Aloud (including putting it into more concrete terms like “that means a reader could know 10,000 words, while a non-reader would know 7,400 words), I’m thinking of asking students to write down as many ways they can think that this kind of deficit would affect them (not looking as good in job interviews, not looking as intelligent on dates, etc. Then, having students share what they came up with. I’m thinking it might provide a little more motivation, and I’m open to hearing other ideas (I might also go the other way, instead – how could knowing those additional 2,600 help them?)

You might also be interested in:

The Best Resources On The Study Finding That Reading Books Makes You Live Longer

The Best Resources Documenting The Effectiveness of Free Voluntary Reading

November 22, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Good NY Times Column On Ineffectiveness Of Note-Taking On Laptop During Lectures, But What About Ineffectiveness of Lectures?

Susan Dynarski has a nice column in today’s NY Times, Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting.  She covers research that you can find in The Best Resources On Effective Note-Taking Strategies – Help Me Find More.

But she misses the far more important issue – the general ineffectiveness of lectures as an instructional strategy.

Check out The Best Research Demonstrating That Lectures Are Not The Best Instructional Strategy for far more information on that topic.

November 14, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Very Useful Article On Resilience

The Secrets of Resilience is a very useful article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

It’s pretty long but, with modifications, could be a good piece for students.

In fact, I’m thinking just this edited section on recommendations for how to become more resilient would be enough, at least for English Language Learners. The rest of the article primarily cites research to back up this list:

So where does that leave those of us who would like to be more resilient? It helps to take on long-form projects that feel like challenges rather than threats. Whether taking up crew or judo, studying for an advanced degree or mastering an instrument, hard things that aren’t emotional or unexpected help us practice for those that are….

Reach out to family, friends or professionals who care. It is a myth that resilient people don’t need help. Seeking support is what resilient people do.

Engage in active coping. Most serious adversities are neither quickly nor easily solved, but taking control where we can is empowering. Make a realistic plan to improve your situation, and work toward it day by day. Progress shores us up and calms us down.

Finally, remember the ways you have been courageous and strong. Too often we remember what has gone wrong in life rather than what we did to survive and thrive. Think back on a time when you were challenged and give yourself credit for how you made it through. You may already be more resilient than you think.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit”

November 9, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning About “Nudges” In Schools

There’s been a renewed interest in the use of “nudges” for education in light of Richard Thaler winning the Nobel Prize last month for his work on that topic.

Here’s how Ed Week defines a “nudge”:

Interventions based on analysis of human behavior, including the habits, routines, and biases in normal decisionmaking

Cheap or free to implement (e.g., sending an email, changing seating arrangement)

Does not require or forbid an action (As Cass Sunstein put it, “Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not.”)

Generally used at the time a person makes a decision

Here are some resources worth considering when thinking about using “nudges” in our classrooms:

Small ‘Nudges’ Can Push Students in the Right Direction is from Education Week.

Here are a couple of related posts I’ve previously shared:

Quote Of The Day: “Nudges” Aren’t Enough

Ways To Encourage Our Students To Get Through “The Last Mile”

Knowing when to nudge in education is from Brookings.

Why ‘Nudges’ Hardly Help is from The Atlantic.

Don’t Nudge Me: The Limits of Behavioral Economics in Medicine is from The New York Times.

Nudging For Kids has some interesting resources.

Behind That Nobel Prize for Economics, an Innovation for Schools? How ‘Nudge Theory’ Is Already Being Tested in Classrooms is from The 74.

Nudges That Help Struggling Students Succeed is by David Kirp.

For Education Interventions, a Little ‘Nudge’ Can Go a Long Way is from Ed Week.

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