Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

June 25, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

What Are Your Ideas For Incorporating the “Maker Movement” In Teaching English Language Learners?


The Maker Movement is growing in popularity (see The Best Resources For Learning About The “Maker Movement” — Help Me Find More).

Teachers of English Language Learners have certainly incorporated “maker” strategies for years — for example, I have had students create simple musical instruments (see The Best Sites For Ideas On Making Simple Musical Instruments).

But a post about string telephones by Ana Maria Menezes (shared by Roseli Serra) got me wondering how other teachers of English Language Learners use “maker” strategies with their students.

In case you’re not familiar with The Maker Movement, and don’t feel like going to the previously mentioned “Best” list to learn about it, here’s a simple description form Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez from their book about it:

The best way to activate your classroom is for your students to make something. This might an amazing high-tech invention or it might take the form of costumes for a historical reenactment, homemade math manipulatives, a new curtain for the local auditorium, toys, a pet habitat, a messy science experiment, or a zillion other things. Best of all, you don’t need expensive hardware, or to start by mastering a programming language. You can begin with found materials: buttons, bottle caps, string, clay, construction paper, broken toys, popsicle sticks, or tape (hint: Google “tapigami” or “duck tape projects”).

What are you having your students “make” to help them learn English?

I’ll put all responses into a future post….

Here’s one other useful resource: The Maker Movement and English Language Teaching

June 24, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Organizing & Maximizing Field Trips – Both “Real” & “Virtual”


I’m a big fan of field trips — the “real” kind, where we take students out of the classroom. I also believe, though, that “virtual” trips can be useful.

Here are resources, including past posts, about how to organize and maximize both types of field trips (and why they’re important):

Fewer field trips mean some students miss more than a day at the museum is from Brookings.

Field Trips Leave Indelible Memories is by Walt Gardner.

Google Expands Its “Expeditions” Virtual Field Trips For Schools (that post includes links to several other pieces I’ve written about Google’s Expeditions program)

The Best Resources For Finding And Creating Virtual Field Trips

The Best Sites Where Students Can Plan Virtual Trips

Why the much-maligned field trip really matters is from The Washington Post.

Successful Field Trips with English Language Learners is from Colorin Colorado.

Skype Connects Classrooms With Field Trips Around the World is from Ed Tech Magazine. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Find Other Classes For Joint Online Projects.

Smithsonian’s “Our Story” Is A Valuable Resource For Teachers & Parents (nice forms to use on field trips to any museum)

Learning from Live Theater is from Education Next and reviews research on the value of taking students on field trips.

English Language Learners Design Their Own “Ideal” Neighborhoods discusses a field trip I do every year.

How Field Trips Build Critical Thinking Skills is a post from MindShift about a recent study.

Here’s What Students Did On Our Field Trip To The Zoo

The Best Web Applications That Lets Multiple People Upload Their Photos To One Place

The Fabulous Field Trip Guide: Mobile Learning and QR Codes is from Shelly Terrell.

What am I missing?

June 24, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

GlassLab Games Could Be Useful To Educators, Especially Now With Adding “Civilization”


GlassLab Games lets educators create virtual classrooms where students can play educational games and have their progress monitored. You can create a free classroom, but only have access to one-or-two of the games, and you can also create a free one with access to all of them for sixty days. For a longer period of time, you need to pay, but the price is not astronomical.

I’m not that impressed with the games they have now. However, the well-known game Civilization is creating a specific education version that will be available on the site in October.

That new feature could make it much more attractive…

I’m adding this info to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

June 22, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Smithsonian Learning Labs Now Lets You Create Free Virtual Classrooms & Assignments


I’ve previously posted about the Smithsonian Learning Labs – when they first opened you could create your own personal online collections of their “objects,” which was why I added it to The Best Ways For Students To Create Their Own Online Art Collections.

This week, they expanded its features to include letting teachers create class rosters, assignments, and monitor student progress. You can even upload non-Smithsonian resources to your assignments.

Using those features don’t appear to be as intuitive as I would like them to be – you can read the instructions here. But, I assume they’ll deal with those challenges as they receive feedback.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

Here’s a video about the Learning Labs:

June 22, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

I Didn’t Learn Much From How Students Evaluated Me This Year, & Here’s What I’m Going To Try In The Future


As regular readers know, I’m a big advocate of having students complete anonymous evaluations of their teachers – though not as part of a formal evaluation system. I’ve written a lot about the topic, and for many years have posted the results of my own evaluations (see The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers)).

Up until this last semester, I’ve provided students a fairly long list of questions specifically related to the class, along with responses they could circle, along with some space for write-in answers. I provided only free-response questions to my Theory of Knowledge classes, but they were questions that – generally – were specific toward TOK.

This last semester, though, I decided to try something different. Instead of my usual evaluation forms, I created one that I used in all my classes that had five questions:

1. What did you like about this class?

2. How could this class be improved?

3. What did you think of Mr. Ferlazzo as a teacher? Give him a grade and make a comment.

4. What class activities helped you learn the most?

5. How would you grade yourself as a student? Did you work hard, help Mr. Ferlazzo, help your classmates? What could you have done better?

I thought it would be interesting to see what students would write without the prompting provided in past evaluations.

Responses to the last questions were interesting and, I thought/hoped, ended up being a useful self-reflective exercise for students.

Responses to the first four, however, were no where near as helpful as the results of past evaluations.

Almost universally, all students said they loved the classes, thought I was a fabulous teacher, and wouldn’t change anything about the classes.

I am very confident in my ability as a teacher, but I am by no means perfect and, in fact, if anything, because of some specific challenges that came up in class this year, I don’t necessarily think I did as good of a job as I have done in the past.

The more targeted questions and responses that I generally use have provided me with much more nuanced and critical responses — generally favorable, but certainly not universally positive.

I still think there’s value in seeing what students can write in response to less-scripted evaluation forms, so I plan on trying-out this year’s form again next year. However, I plan on doing so with two additions:

* One, immediately prior to having students complete the evaluation form, I think it will be worth spending a short time reviewing the different learning activities we did during the year. I think that’s one useful aspect of the more detailed forms — they basically list many of them.

* Second, I will create two examples of completed evaluations — one “good” and one “bad.” The “good” version will include critiques and positive comments with specificity. It will be a version of the the concept attainment instructional strategy.

I don’t know if those two changes will produce a significant difference or not in the quality of student comments and, if not, I’ll return to the old forms.

Any comments or suggestions from readers?

June 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Take This Survey For The NY Times Learning Network


As regular readers know, I write a weekly interactive for English Language Learners at The New York Times Learning Network.

And, as just about every educator knows, The Learning Network is one of the “go-to” sites for free quality learning materials for just about every subject.

They now are inviting educators to take part in a short online survey to help them make plans for the future.

It’s short and sweet, and will be very useful to the folks behind the Network. Plus, it will help all of us educators when they create new and exciting stuff for us to use with our students!

June 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Articles (& Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2016 – So Far


I continue my mid-year “The Best…” lists…

I’ll be adding this post to All Mid-Year 2016 “Best” Lists In One Place.

You might want to explore The Best Resources On Class Instruction – 2015, too.  I’ll be publishing a mid-year 2016 edition of that series soon.

The title of this “The Best…” list is pretty self-explanatory. What you’ll find here are blog posts and articles this year (some written by me, some by others) that were, in my opinion, the ones that offered the best practical advice and resources to teachers this year — suggestions that can help teachers become more effective in the classroom today or tomorrow. Some, however, might not appear on the surface to fit that criteria, but those, I think, might offer insights that could (should?) inform our teaching practice everyday.

For many, the headlines provide enough of an idea of the topic and I haven’t included any further description.

You might also be interested in:

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2015 – Part Two

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2015 – So Far

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2014 – Part Two

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2014 – So Far

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2013 – Part Two

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2013 – So Far

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2012 — Part Two

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers In 2012 — Part One

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers In 2011

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers — 2010

The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice To Teachers — 2009

In addition, you might find these useful:

The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice In 2011

The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice — 2010

The Best Reflective Posts I’ve Written About My Teaching Practice — 2009

Here are my choices for The Best Articles (And Blog Posts) Offering Practical Advice & Resources To Teachers In 2016- So Far:

Here’s a piece I wrote for The Washington Post:  Teacher: What happened when my students’ behavior took a ‘major turn for the worse’

I’ve got to include my BAM! Radio shows and my Education Week Teacher advice column.

“Grit” is all over the news lately, and I’ve previously shared a number of related resources (see The Best Resources For Learning About “Grit”). In fact, there’s been so much written about it, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start or who to believe. But that won’t be a problem anymore because Dan Willingham has clearly written the best (and most accessible) analysis of grit that I have seen – and, believe me, I’ve seen a lot of them! (and this is one day after he gave the best advice you’ll see on students listening to music in the classroom!). It’s in this summer’s issue of the American Educator under the title of “Grit” Is Trendy, but Can It Be Taught? and it’s freely available online. He provides an excellent analysis of the research, along with reviewing common critiques.

The Best Videos About The Importance Of Practice – Help Me Find More

It’s been awhile since I shared this resource – a full (and free) downloadable chapter from my book, Helping Student Motivate Themselves. And it’s titled What Are the Best Things You Can Do to Maximize the Chances of a Lesson Being Successful? In addition to being useful to teachers, I have my IB Theory of Knowledge students read it in preparation for the lessons that they periodically teach their classmates.

The Best Social Media-Created “Syllabuses” About Current Events

The Best Resources On The Importance Of Correctly Pronouncing Student Names

The Best Resources About “Culturally Responsive Teaching” & “Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy” – Please Share More!

I’ve published many useful resources on the musical Hamilton (see The Best Teaching/Learning Resources On The Musical, “Hamilton”). But I don’t thing anything is as engaging as the new Wall Street Journal’s feature, How does ‘Hamilton,’ the non stop, hip-hop Broadway sensation tap rap’s master rhymes to blur musical lines? The multimedia piece compares Hamilton lyrics with those of other musicals and hip hop artists. The kicker is that you can paste your own lyrics in and the site will analyze them for rhymes and repetitions.

Calm Down, Everybody – Group Work & Class Discussions Can Work Just Fine

Updated: Here Are The Sites I’m Using For My Summer School “Virtual Classroom”

“FoxType” Looks Like A Very Versatile Writing Site

How My University Students Evaluated Me Spring Semester

I’ve previously posted about ReadWorks as a source of excellent reading passages for use in classes (see “” Looks Like A Good Source Of Free Reading Passages For Social Studies). They recently unveiled ReadWorks Digital, a free site where teachers can create virtual classrooms for students to interact with their excellent texts online, including digital assessments.

Education Week has just published one of their typically excellent special reports, and the title of this one is Next Draft: Changing Practices In Writing Instruction. It’s composed of eight separate articles, including “As Teachers Tackle New Student-Writing Expectations, Support Is Lacking,” “Remodeling the Workshop: Lucy Calkins on Writing Instruction Today,” and “Students in My Math Classes Next Year Will Do a Lot of Writing. Here’s Why.” I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

“Bloom’s Taxonomy According To The Big Bang Theory”

I have pinned over  16,500 visual resources on my Pinterest Boards, and over 9,500 of them are ones I haven’t shared here on my blog or on Twitter. You might find some of them useful…

I have often shared classroom management advice from Marvin Marshall, and he wrote another gem recently:


I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Classroom Management.

The “Constraints Principle” Revisited

Good Advice On How To “Outsmart Your Next Angry Outburst”

How to create digital homework that students love is an excellent “how-to” post about using TED-Ed with students.

The Best Links For Helping Students Learn How To Write “Leads” or “Ledes”

The Best Ways To Use Stephen Curry & The Warriors For Teaching Social Emotional Learning Skills

Here’s How My Students Taught Their Classmates A Social Studies Unit – Handouts Included

There’s a lot of food for thought in Tim Shanahan’s post, Should I Set Reading Purposes for My Students?

The Peace Corps has a nice collection of lesson plans for all subjects — they’re not about the Peace Corps, but are lesson plans they and their volunteers developed for teaching around the world. I wouldn’t say they’re the most sophisticated ones around, but many seem to offer some interesting perspectives you won’t find elsewhere. Because of that “freshness,” I’m adding it to The Best Places To Find Free (And Good) Lesson Plans On The Internet.

Why Teachers Need To Know The Wrong Answers is an intriguing story over at NPR.

Harvard Business Review Criticizes Trump’s Negotiating Skills & Provides Excellent Classroom Management Advice At Same Time

Kevin Durant On “Hard Work” & How I’m Using It In Class

The Secret of Effective Feedback is the lead article in the new issue of ASCD Educational Leadership, and may be the best article you’ll ever read on giving effective feedback to students. It’s certainly the best piece I’ve ever read. And, it’s not behind a paywall! It’s filled with numerous insights and very practical suggestions – a number that I haven’t read anywhere else. I’m certainly adding it to The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students.

I’ve previously written in my books and here on my blog about writing scaffolds like “ABC” (Answer the Question; Back it up; make a Comment/Connection) or “PQC” format (Point/Quote/Connect). You can see Here’s An Example Of How I Scaffold A Short Writing Prompt for more details. Teacher Meghan Everette recently wrote an excellent post on Scholastic about her school’s version of this kind of scaffold, which they call “RACE” (Restate, Answer, Cite the Source, Explain/Examples). In her post, Responding to Text: How to Get Great Written Answers, she shares helpful examples. I’m adding this info to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

The Best World Poetry Day Resources – Help Me Find More

The Best Resources For Learning About “Deeper Learning”

The Best Resources On Student Agency & How To Encourage It

Adam Grant On Failure & How I’m Using What He Says In Class

New Study Reviews 25 Years Of Research Into What Helps Students Graduate – Here’s What They Found

What Are Creative & Effective Ways You’ve Used Multiple Choice Exercises?

Guest Post: “Walk & Talks” Are Extremely Effective Way To Connect With Students – Here’s A “How-To” Guide

Short & Simple Writing Prompt On Effort & Perseverance

Do Your Students Slouch Back In Their Chairs? Here’s A Writing Prompt On It I’m Using In Class

The “Best” Lists Of Recommendations About What “Effective” Teachers Do

Thoughtful Learning has a great collection of model texts in multiple genres and grade levels. I’m adding it to The Best Websites For K-12 Writing Instruction/Reinforcement, where you can find other collections of writing examples.

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

Student Instructions For How They Can Create A Cloze (Gap-Fill)

I Did A Presentation Today On The Concept Attainment Instructional Strategy – Here Are My Materials

The Best Teaching/Learning Resources On The Musical, “Hamilton”

How My Students Evaluated Me This Semester

Here’s An Example Of How I Scaffold A Short Writing Prompt

Here’s What My Students Think Of A Growth Mindset

I Did My Best Job Teaching A “Growth Mindset” Today – Here’s The Lesson Plan

“Ask A REL” Archives Are Some Of The Most Accessible Education Research Sites Around…

The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of Prior Knowledge (& How To Activate It)


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