Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 6, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Very Good NY Times Video: “The Cost of Natural Disasters”

This NY Times video is barely over one minute, but it’s a very useful one if you, like we do at our school, teach a unit on Natural Disasters.

Here’s how The Times describes it:

Every year, the United States foots a multi-billion dollar bill for the economic and insured losses incurred from natural disasters. In 2014, the costs reached $25-billion with certain regions of the country more prone to calamity than others. So what disasters are the most common and how much do they cost? This video breaks down the natural disasters by region.

I’m adding it to The Best Websites For Learning About Natural Disasters:

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August 5, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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New Resources On Hiroshima Bombing

August 5, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“GeographyHub” Looks Like A Useful New Video Channel For…Geography

Last week, I posted Video: “What if America Was Never Colonized?” It was a video from great YouTube Channel I discovered reviewing alternate history scenarios. They are perfect for use as models when we do our annual “What If?” history projects in class (see The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons).

Today, the creators of that channel announced the addition of a brand new channel called Geography Hub. This new one doesn’t appear to have anything to do with Alternate History. Instead, it looks like it will target interesting Geography-related questions. I think it could be useful in my ELL Geography class – obviously, depending on how their future videos end up looking.

Here’s an introduction to the new channel, followed by its first Geography video:

What do you think of them?

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August 4, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Yes, Schools Should Develop Active Citizens &, No, We Don’t Need Another Test To Do It

There has been a recent movement to making passing a version of the U.S. citizenship test a requirement for high school graduation, and The New Yorker has just written about it (see What’s the Right Way to Teach Civics?).

Considering my nineteen year career as a community organizer, it’s no surprise that I’m a big believer in schools helping to develop the citizenship skills of our students. However, I think making students having to study and pass yet another standardized test is a terrible, and ineffective, strategy to use in trying to achieve that goal. It’s like calling into Talk Radio – it makes some feel like they’re doing something to make a difference when, in fact, they’re doing nothing at all.

When I was organizing for the Industrial Areas Foundation, we organized massive naturalization drives which we called the Active Citizenship Campaign (both Presidents Clinton and Obama later borrowed the term) to make it clear that passing the test was one kind of citizenship, but active citizenship – participating actively in public life – was the real kind of citizenship our country needed.

What would this kind of active citizenship look like in schools?

I wrote extensively about it in a New York Times column, Ideas for English Language Learners | What Does It Mean to Be a Citizen?, which is full of lesson ideas applicable to ELLs and non-ELLs alike.

In addition, here’s a modified excerpt from my book, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work that shares how I make the distinction:

Over a period of two months the class had been concentrating on two different “threads” related to U.S. citizenship. One concentrated on preparation for the official test – students studied the workbook, practiced dictation, used online activities for reinforcement. The other explored what an “active” citizen might look like. That primarily included students doing individual meetings in the school and neighborhood to identify community concerns. Those conversations led to student-led forum at the school with with job training agencies and hundreds of students and adults from the area.

Then, the class reviewed the different activities that were done for each of the two threads and completed a graphic organizer. Next, the class brainstormed answers to the questions:

• What is a good citizen?

• What does a good citizen know?

• What does a good citizen do?

Finally, each student wrote which thread they thought helped prepare them the most to become what they defined as a good citizen and why. Students had different perspectives:

• Toua: “A good citizen is someone who know about their native history, good helper, work hard, and know about the laws in their country….I think studying for the citizenship test help me prepare to be a good citizen more than community organizing because when you learn about the constitution and history you might be a good citizen and leader.”

• Pao: “A good citizen is someone who helps the community and makes the community better…I think community organizing helped me prepare to be a good citizen more than studying for the citizenship text because I learn how to solve the community’s problems and I know how to help the community.”

• Chi: “A good citizen is someone who know a lot about country and history…I think being an active citizen and community organizing helped me prepare to be a good citizen more than studying for the citizen test because it helped me know my family member, friends, neighbors, jobs and learned about power.”

• Mai Tong: “A good citizen is someone who knows about governments and history…I think active citizen and community organizing helped me be a good citizen more than studying for the text, this is because a good citizen need to know how to organize and have community service. This also help me to practice speak English for many people and feel confident.”

I’ll end this post with an excerpt from The New Yorker article:

But-research-Professor

I’m adding this post to The Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship.

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August 4, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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SAS Curriculum Pathways, Just About The Best Online Ed Site, Has Gotten Even Better…

sassas

I’ve previously written a lot about how much I like SAS Curriculum Pathways, a free site with tons of interactive lessons that students can complete and then email to their teacher.

It’s just gotten even better….

One, today they unveiled a big upgrade to the design of their site, and it looks great.

Secondly, they have a nice new feature called Explore Primary Sources, which provides lots of creative lessons for students to access…primary sources.

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August 4, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Anne Frank & Her Family Were Arrested On This Day In 1944 – Here Are Related Resources

Anne Frank and her family were arrested on this day in 1944.

You might be interested in The Best Sites To Learn About Anne Frank.

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August 3, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Is Exploration Good?

In my ELL World History class, I have students consider the idea of exploration and how it pertains to their lives.

Today, the online magazine Aeon published a meandering essay that sort of takes an unusual position on the idea of exploration – a somewhat negative one.

I wouldn’t ask students to read the whole thing because of language challenges and because, as I mentioned, it’s quite meandering, but I am going to have them read this excerpt:

Take the example of an imaginary tribe of people, faced with choosing a spot in a varied landscape to settle. There are likely to be some places where the group will certainly die, some where they will thrive, and a large number of places that are in-between. Having some people in the group who want to explore is useful because, while most of them will not make it, some will return with fresh information about the best places to live.

The key, though, is that there must also be people who don’t want to ramble, who turn their talents and energies to exploiting, to the best of their abilities, the place where they have settled. If there are too many explorers, the group is likely to starve. ‘There’s a tension between those two,’ Shaw says, between explore and exploit. The right mixture of both will make the group more likely to find a better-than-average place to settle and make the best use of it. The explore-exploit dilemma is from game theory, not anthropology. It doesn’t describe what has necessarily happened: it’s just the most efficient route to the best outcome for a group. But it is the kind of thing that might have been generated under evolutionary pressure, and it helps to put a frame around the urge for going.

‘It’s key to realise that the most functional systems are the ones that have a variation,’ Shaw remarks. ‘A good society would be better at letting people know that there is a variation.’

I’d be interested in hearing how other teachers approach the idea of “exploration.”

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