Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

January 1, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

“The Widening Racial Wealth Divide” Is Such An Important – & Accessible – Article

Once of my goals during the winter break has been to catch-up on reading back issues of The New Yorker.

Today, I got to the last issue in my stack – from October. In it, I found an incredibly important, short, and well-written article by James Surowiecki that was headlined The Widening Racial Wealth Divide.

It give a very concise explanation of the reasons behind the “wealth-gap” facing African-Americans.

Here’s an excerpt:

I’m adding it to:

The Best Resources About Wealth & Income Inequality

A Collection Of Useful Posts, Articles & Videos On Race & Racism – Help Me Find More

The Best Articles Showing Why Education Reform Is NOT The Best Way To Fight Poverty

January 1, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Guest Post: Exploring Cultural Values with Students (With Hand-Outs)

Editor’s Note: I’ve shared many resources related to learning about different cultures, including a lesson I do as well as The Best Sites For Learning About The World’s Different Cultures.  Today, Josh Kurzweil shares a related lesson he does with his English Language Learners.

Josh Kurzweil began his teaching career in 1990. He has taught and trained in Japan, Spain, the Republic of Georgia, and the United States. He has been teaching at an intensive English program called the International Education Center at Diablo Valley College since 2004. He is a trainer on the SIT TESOL Certificate Course and is on the faculty of the MATESOL program at Marlboro College Graduate School in Marlboro, VT. He is the author of Understanding Teaching Through Learning, which was published by McGraw-Hill in 2006. Josh also runs an educational consulting business called Berkeley LTC, and has designed instructor development programs for labor unions. His particular areas of interest include experiential learning, reflective practice, and instructional design. Josh lives with his wife and son in Berkeley, California:

Exploring Cultural Values with Students

In my advanced reading/writing course, I have students from different countries who usually 17-20 years old and are preparing to go to college. Recently, my colleagues and I developed a unit on culture, which helps these students look more at the ‘invisible’ aspects of culture such as beliefs, values, and attitudes. The unit is primarily based on the work of Geert Hofstede, a Dutch professor who worked for many years in the business world and developed six dimensions of culture using extensive interviews with people from over 70 countries over the last 50+ years.

The dimensions of culture are scales from 0-100 that measure beliefs about power distance, individualism vs. collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity (i.e. competitiveness vs. cooperation), uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, and indulgence. Hofstede has made a great deal of his research available online for free, and I have adapted his ideas and created lessons and materials for my ELLs so that they can explore their own culture and that of the U.S. The unit culminates in the students producing a compare/contrast essay about the their national culture and the U.S. Below are the steps and materials that I use during the week.

  1. Culture Intro. Students discuss pictures of different greetings from around the world. This leads to a discussion of visible and invisible culture (see worksheet ‘Culture_Intro_Greetings’). Students do a hands-on sorting activity in which they think about the iceberg metaphor of visible and invisible culture.
  2. Compare/Contrast Language. Students brainstorm similarities and differences between their school now and another school. Since my students are all going to Diablo Valley College, we use that and our school. Students then work with compare/contrast connectors (see worksheet Compare_Contrast_Connectors) and review using a Quizlet set.
  3. Country Statistics (Quantifiers). Students work on quantifiers (Ex. almost all, most, many, etc) by making guesses about the U.S. and then discussing their own countries (see worksheet Quantifier_Introduction)
  4. Culture Dimensions Introduction. Students read a simplified description of the culture dimensions and mark on the scales where they think most people in their country would fall and where they feel they are on the scale. I usually assign this as HW. Then they discuss it the next day in class (see worksheet Cultural_Dimensions_Intro).
  5. Introduce Hofstede’s Charts. After students have thought about the culture dimension scales on their own, I hand out charts from Hoftstede’s website that compares their national culture with that of the U.S. These charts can be produced using the free tool on Hofstede’s website.

I print them out beforehand and hand them out so that students can discuss whether they agree or disagree with Hofstede’s results by giving examples to support their ideas. I model this by explaining my ideas about the Power Distance dimension as I thought about the U.S. and India (I spent a year studying in India when I was in college). I tell the students that initially I thought the U.S. would be lower on the Power Distance scale because we value equality so much, but then I thought about how normal it is to ask people about their jobs and where they went to school or where they live. The answers to those questions create a kind of hierarchy of power and privilege, so maybe the U.S. isn’t as egalitarian as it seems to be.

6. Intro Compare/Contrast Essay. After the discussion, I hand out the compare/contrast essay prompt (see worksheet Culture_Writing_Prompt), which asks them to write an essay in which they answer the question: Overall, is your culture more similar to or different from that of the U.S.? The prompt also includes a guide for how to organize the body paragraphs and sample body paragraphs from my essay comparing India and the U.S. (see Sample_Culture_Essay to see a very strong student essay)

7. Intro Hofstede Website. In addition to the charts, Hofstede’s website produces reports that discuss each dimension for the national cultures that are selected. Students can use parts of this report as ‘references’ (i.e. evidence) to support their body paragraphs. I usually do an in-class demonstration of how to use the website and also have a screen capture video on my website. 


Overall, this unit can help students take a much deeper look at cultural differences and move beyond the more obvious visible differences such as greetings, clothing, and customs. While those can be fascinating, it is often the hidden beliefs and values that most challenge students who are living or studying in the U.S. In addition, students often develop a deeper awareness of their own culture as they go through this process of reading and writing.

January 1, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Sites For Learning About The Presidential Inauguration – 2017

Donald Trump will take the oath of office on January 20, 2017 and become the 45th President of the United States.

It’s an opportunity for learning about how the U.S. government works and for critical thinking about what it means to be an “active citizen” in the United States (see my NY Times posts, “Ideas For E.L.L.s: Civics and Citizenship and “Ideas For English Language Learner: What Does It Mean To Be A Citizen?, as well as my Washington Post piece, ‘Dear President-elect Trump’: Immigrant students write letters asking for ‘the opportunity to demonstrate we are good people.’).

I’m eager to hear from teachers about how they will be approaching the inauguration in their classrooms – if at all.

You might also be interested in these previous “Best” lists, which provide lots of additional resources for potential government and critical thinking lessons:

The Best Sites For Learning About The Presidential Inauguration – 2009

The Best Sites For Learning About President Obama’s Second Inauguration

The Best Sites To Learn About U.S. Presidents

The Best Sites To Learn About The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections

The Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship

The Best Posts & Articles On Building Influence & Creating Change

Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Learning About The Presidential Inauguration – 2016:

Here’s the official government inauguration website.

Trump Inauguration Security Planners Brace for Wave of Protesters is from The New York Times.

Organizers Hope Women’s March On Washington Inspires, Evolves is from NPR.

National Geographic has a good article and slideshow about the history inaugurations.

EL Civics has a good lesson for English Language Learners on Presidential Inaugurations.

Inaugural Words from The New York Times, I believe, is one of the more useful resources that were been created for President Obama’s first  Inauguration (it’s still “live,” but I don’t believe it’s been updated).  “Word clouds” highlighting the most-used words in each inaugural address in history can be seen. In addition, words that were used in each address much more than in the other ones given in history are identified. Plus, by clicking on each word you are shown how it was used in a sentence. Comparing the words and even just using them as a vocabulary-building exercise for English Language Learners make this an excellent resource.

Inaugural Firsts is a slideshow from National Public Radio.

The Wall Street Journal has a multimedia feature highlighting inaugurations since 1960, including providing both the audio and text of the speeches, along with “word clouds.”

Latest Inauguration News is from The Washington Post.

10 inaugural moments that mattered is from CNN.

From drunken speeches to dead canaries, a guide to our quirky inaugural history is from MSNBC.

The oaths: From Washington to Obama is from The Washington Post.

Protesters’ Plans Present Challenges for Inauguration Security is from Voice of America.

Videos From CBS News: History of presidential inaugurations and The very first inauguration

Countdown to January 20 is from Teaching Tolerance.

What to Know About Every Inauguration in American History is from TIME.

Beginning of a presidency: inauguration speeches in search is a new interactive tool from Google. You can read more about it here.

Now you can search past inaugural addresses for Donald Trump’s favorite expressions is a Washington Post interactive.

Why Dozens of Congress Members Are Boycotting Trump’s Inauguration is from Rolling Stone.

Why Some Democrats in Congress Refuse to Attend Trump’s Inauguration is from The Atlantic.

The Women’s March on Washington has spread to 57 countries around the globe is from Vox.

The Inauguration of a New President: A Lesson Plan on Predicting and Evaluating the First 100 Days of a Trump White House is from The New York Times Learning Network.

Our School Is Not “Flush With Cash” & Our Students Are Not “Deprived Of All Knowledge”

Photos of the Inauguration of President Donald J. Trump is from The Atlantic.

How Trump’s inaugural address compares to his predecessors, charted is from The Washington Post.

The Worst Presidential Inaugurations, Ranked is from The Atlantic.

How Trump’s inaugural speech differed from past presidential addresses is from The Washington Post.

Where Women’s Marches Are Happening Around the World is a NY Times interactive.
How the world reacted to Trump’s inauguration as US president is from The Guardian.

January 1, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Ellis Island Opened On This Day In 1892 – Here Are Tons Of Resources On Immigration To The U.S.

Ellis Island opened on this day in 1892.

You might be interested in The Best Sites For Learning About Immigration In The United States.

December 31, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

More Resources On New Year Traditions

Here are more additions to The Best Sites For Learning About New Year Celebrations:

Largest U.S. Hmong New Year Celebration Kicks Off in California is from NBC News.

How countries around the world celebrate the end of the year is from Quartz.

Ringing In 2017: New Year’s Traditions You Might Not Have Heard Of is from NBC News.

Five Spanish New Year traditions to bring you luck for 2017 is from The Local.

The History Channel has several videos on New Year traditions and their history, including this one:

December 30, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

More Year-End Collections Of Infographics & Charts

Here are new additions to The Best Collections Of Infographics, Charts & Maps – 2016:

The 52 Best — And Weirdest — Charts We Made In 2016 is from Five Thirty Eight.

The Year in Visual and Interactive Storytelling is from ProPublica.

2016: The Year in Visual Stories and Graphics is from The New York Times.

Dear 2016: A letter from the L.A. Times Data Visualization Department

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