Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

March 23, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

What ‘Scarcity’ Does To The Mind & Why Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough

I’m a big advocate of Social Emotional Learning (see The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources), but I’m also concerned about it being “over-sold” and used to short-circuit needed policy changes.

I’ve written about those concerns in my Washington Post piece, The manipulation of Social Emotional Learning.

I’ve also shared many pieces on those concerns at The Best Resources Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough.

Among those articles are several talking about some specific research finding that poverty causes a lack of self-control and perseverance and it’s not the other way around. In other words, we have just a certain amount of “cognitive bandwidth” which can be overwhelmed by worry and concern related to “scarcity.”

Today, NPR did an interview with one of the authors of that study, and you can read and listen to it at How The ‘Scarcity Mindset’ Can Make Problems Worse.

Here’s an excerpt:

Another quote from the piece – this one from the NPR host – says:

To be clear, it’s not that poor people focus on immediate needs because that’s all they want to think about. It’s all they can think about. Scarcity captures the mind. In fact, the tunnel vision produced by scarcity can actually lower how you perform on an IQ test.

As I’ve said before, SEL has its place, but it also has to be kept in its place. Yes, we should help our students develop self-regulation skills. But we should also organize for better public policies that can Outside Of School Factors That Impact  Student Achievement.

And, of course, want to help equip students with the skills so that they can also effectively advocate for themselves.

March 23, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Everyone Is A Teacher” Is A New Engagement Strategy I’m Using & It Seems To Be Working

We’re going into the home-stretch of the new year, and I’m always trying to figure out new ways to finish strong (see The Best Ways To Finish The School Year Strong).

In fact, On Monday, April 17th, at 8:00 PM Eastern Time, I’ll be hosting an Education Week Facebook Live discussion on this topic, and will share more information as the date grows closer.

Last weekend, I had a brainstorm and tried out something new with my English Language Learner Beginners in order to help everyone get a “second wind.”

It began with me having individual conversations with some students about the question, “Who else (apart from myself) is going to benefit from what I am doing?”  (see Here’s A Great Motivating Question For Students To Consider…).

On Monday, I introduced this question to the entire class and, in the middle of discussion, I thought of the phrase, “Everyone is a teacher.”  I shared that English is hard to learn, they only had a few years of high school left, and that it was going to take more than one teacher to help everybody learn.  So we all had to be teachers. I shared some ideas to illustrate the concept (“I’m a teacher when I speak English because I’m an example”; “I’m a teacher when I come to school because I’m a model for others”) and then invited students to contribute other ideas.   They came fast and furious, and students made posters like the one at the top of this post.

Students have taken it seriously at different levels but there is clearly one huge benefit – It’s far more energizing to students and to me if I say to off-task student “Everyone is a teacher!” than saying “Angela, please get back to work.”

We’ll see for how long it’s effective, but it certainly can’t hurt….

I’m adding this post to

The Best Ways To Finish The School Year Strong

The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates — Help Me Find More

The Best Posts & Articles On Student Engagement

March 22, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

ELL Beginners Jobs & Careers Project With Hand-Out & Videos

My ELL Beginners class is finishing up our unit and jobs and careers with a simple research project on careers of their choice.

They write three simple essays about three jobs of interest using this downloadable essay frame and then pick one to use Adobe Spark (which is on The “All-Time” Best 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners list) and create a video like this one:

You can see more videos at our class blog.

There are some obvious errors that students will fix later this week, as well as making comments on their classmates’ videos. I’ve got to say that Adobe Spark is just about the easiest and most versatile Web 2.0 tool out there. It’s great for speaking practice, and students love showing their videos in class.

March 21, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

“StoryShares” Lets You Create Virtual Classrooms Where Students Can Read & Write Books

StoryShares lets teachers create virtual classrooms for free and offers a collection of books that students can read. Even better, there’s an option that provides audio of the text in a pleasing-to-the-ear-voice.

The best part of the site, though, is that students can also write and publish their own books to share.

Right now, students have to register by their own email. That’s pretty cumbersome, and I’ve suggested to them that they create an option that lets teachers add students, which is how similar sites operate. In addition, they don’t provide the ability for students to annotate text right now, but say they’ll have that up and operating in a couple of months.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites Where Students Can Work Independently & Let Teachers Check On Progress.

March 19, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Good Piece For Reflection On Homework

At a meeting of teachers at our school last week, my colleague Jen Adkins shared an article by Jennifer Orr headlined “Equitable, Purposeful Homework” (originally published at ASCD).

After reading it, she had has jot down responses to these three simple questions:

What is your homework policy?

What is your late work policy?

What parts of the article do you agree with? What parts of the article do you disagree with?

A good discussion followed…

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About Homework Issues.

March 19, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

Canadian Teacher Wins Global Teacher Prize

Canadian teacher Maggie MacDonnell was awarded the annual $1 million Global Teacher Prize today.

You can read more about it at the BBC and at the Associated Press.

Here’s a video about her work:

You might be interested in these posts about previous winners:

Nancie Atwell Wins $1 Million Global Teacher Prize & Donates It To Her School

Three Videos On This Year’s “World’s Best Teacher: A Palestinian”

NY Times Video & Article On Palestinian Winner Of Global Teacher Prize

March 19, 2017
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Benefits Of Students Acknowledging Help They Receive From Classmates

Last week, the most popular post at this blog was Here’s A Great Motivating Question For Students To Consider…. In it, I shared a recent Harvard Business Review article suggesting that people ask themselves the question:

Who else (apart from myself) is going to benefit from what I am doing?

Since that post, I’ve had a few good individual conversations with students about this question, but haven’t done anything class-wide with it.

Then, today, I saw another HBR article.  This one is headlined To Motivate Employees, Show Them How They’re Helping Customers. Like many HBR articles, it’s easy to switch out the word “employer” and replace it with “teacher” and do the same with “customer” and “student.”

In it, the researcher talks about the importance of helping employers see how their work directly benefits their customers:

Obviously, students in class can see those connections directly, whether it’s acting as a model or in other ways (see The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates — Help Me Find More).

However, it did get thinking about how to take it a step further: Perhaps I should do a quick classwide discussion of that “Great Motivating Question,” get students to brainstorm ways what they do could benefit their classmates and, then, a week later, have everyone try to think of at least one way each student has helped them in some way (even if it was not directly and more as a model or inspiration).  A danger, of course, is that some students could get overlooked.  However, I figure I can handle that by asking one or two class “stars” to make sure they come up with something for everyone.

I’m sure other teachers had done this kind of acknowledgment “circle” before.  If you have, I’d love to hear how you did it.

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