Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

April 25, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Here’s How My Students Taught Their Classmates A Social Studies Unit – Handouts Included


As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of students teaching their classmates, and tons of research backs-up the value of that practice (see The Best Posts On Helping Students Teach Their Classmates — Help Me Find More).

This past week was the most recent time I applied this idea in my classes.

I simultaneously teach World History and U.S. History English Language Learner classes (fortunately, this year I have the help of a student teacher – it gets a bit hectic when one is not around). World History students learned about World War I a couple of weeks prior to the U.S. History class getting there. So the World History students divided into pairs to prepare a short unit made-up of a cloze (also known as a “gap-fill” or “fill-in-the-blank” – see The Best Tools For Creating Clozes (Gap-Fills)); a data set, which is a series of short texts that students categorize and supplement with more information they find (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching); and a “Make-and-Break,” a term coined by my friend and mentor Kelly Young to describe a simple sequencing activity.

Here is the entire prep and planning packet used by my World History students, which also included a requirement to prepare teaching “moves” and a lesson plan. The process is easily adaptable to just about any topic or subject area. It’s somewhat similar to a lesson you’ll find in one of my student motivation books.

I gave students four days to prepare the unit, including making a master packet and multiple copies of student hand-outs for when they taught. Here is an example of one of the master packets prepared by a group of students.

Fortunately, we were able to use the library for our three days of teaching. U.S. History students were divided into seven groups, as were the World History students. Each group was assigned to a table, and each day the World History group taught one of the three lessons. At the end of each day, the U.S. History students would do some reading in their textbook for a few minutes while I met with the World History class to review the lesson for the following day.

It all went very well. The U.S. History students are eager now to “turn-the-tables,” and both classes will be using the same process on a historical topic of their choice for part of their final “exam” – a “Genius Hour” version (see The Best Resources For Applying “Fed Ex Days” (Also Known As “Genius Hours”) To Schools).

Here are a few reflective comments by my World History students:

When I teach, I liked to tell what I learn and know about the lesson.

When I teach, I learned be a teacher was not easy so we have to be nice to our teacher.

I learned about to be more patient and pay attention to others.

I like about taught other people what I know. I like the way they focus and hard-working what I’m teaching.

What I liked about this project is that I could help my “students” understand what we were doing.

What I learned about teaching is that it could be hard work if the student does not focus.

Teaching is a responsible profession that you need to carry with you because the future of your students depends on you.

I learned how to explain something to the students.

April 22, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here Are All Tweets From Second Week Of Our #NavCCELL Chat On Our New ELL Book


Our book is coming out on Monday, and we’re sharing excerpts from it during two weeks on Twitter, along with inviting comments and answering questions.

We’ve just completed the second, and last, week of the #NavCCELL Twitter chat. Here is a collection of them.

April 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

We Did A Great ‘Growth Mindset’ Lesson With Our ELLs This Week – Here’s The Lesson Plan


Image via Reid Wilson

As regular readers know, I’m a big proponent of helping our students learn about a growth mindset (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”).

One of my most popular posts this year was about a growth mindset lesson I did with my IB Theory of Knowledge students (see I Did My Best Job Teaching A “Growth Mindset” Today – Here’s The Lesson Plan and Here’s What My Students Think Of A Growth Mindset).

This week, my colleague and co-author Katie Hull (see our new book, Navigating The Common Core With English Language Learners) and I decided to modify it substantially and teach it to our English Language Learners.

Katie had used adapted a growth mindset lesson from one of my three student motivation books earlier in the year with her advanced ELL class. However, I had not yet figured out a good way to teach it to my Beginner/Early Intermediate class. We decided we could spend three days doing a lesson that would refresh her students’ memory, introduce the concept to my students, and provide excellent English language-learning opportunities to everybody.

Here’s what we did:


Katie reminded her students about the growth mindset concept by introducing the graphic at the top of this post and which you can print out at Reid Wilson’s blog. Students reviewed it and then each wrote a short story about when they applied a growth mindset to their lives. She explained that they would help my students the next day learn about a growth mindset, share their stories, and help them write their own. She assigned each of her students to be a teacher to one of the students in my class.


I brought my students over to Katie’s room. They entered one-by-one and were welcomed by their “teacher” to a seat next to them. I then quickly introduced the growth mindset by saying – in English and Spanish:

“Growth mindset means you look at life in a positive way – you look at problems as opportunities to learn and grow and not as obstacles. You also believe that you are not born with a fixed intelligence — that you can be what you want through effort.”

I then explained that we would watch three short videos that would demonstrate an element of a growth mindset. My students job would be to write down what those elements were, and their “teachers” would help them write in English.

The videos were the same I used in my IB lesson:

We paused after each one, asked my students to share (with the help of her students), and Katie wrote down these responses:


Katie then shared the growth mindset graphic at the top of this post and explained the differences to the entire class, with her students helping mine to understand them. She then asked each of her students to share the story they had written about when they had applied a growth mindset in their lives. She asked my students to think about, and tell their “teachers” about a similar incident in their lives. She further explained that they would write about it the next day.

To wrap up the day, I then distributed this positive self-talk sheet that can be found in our ELL and the Common Core book, which the advanced ELLs helped my students to complete and practice.


My students spent twenty minutes in my classroom working on drawing and writing about the story they had told their student “teachers” the previous day. I then brought them over to Katie’s class where their teachers helped them complete writing their story. As students completed them, I would bring them down to the computer lab where they would type them in a Word document.

Here’s a photo of some of them working together:



After school that day, I tweeted about an interaction I had with one of my students:


Today, both classes when to the library where they copied and pasted their stories into the comments section of our class blog. In addition, Katie’s students helped my students leave comments about the stories shared there. You can read all of them here (a few students still have to complete posting them).

It went very, very well. In fact, it went so well that Katie and I are planning to do similar lessons where her advanced ELLs teacher mine every other week. We’re kicking ourselves about not doing this earlier in the year but – better late than never!

April 20, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Resetting” Classroom Management


Behavior in one of my large classes recently took a major turn for the worse.

And I was not happy about it.

It was taking me a long time to get the class quiet when I spoke. During a class discussion, every time someone said something or asked a questions, lots of other students took it as an opportunity to talk to someone else instead of focusing on the conversation. Cellphones were popping up all the time, and it wasn’t for class work.

I “got” that we had just finished a major high-stakes eight-week project, and that some of the behavior was related to feeling relieved that they had completed it successfully, but that wasn’t a good excuse for the behavior I was seeing.

A less-tired teacher – a more clear-eyed educator – would have initiated a structured conversation about how student behavior was making them feel and perhaps ask students to write and share about what they felt was the cause of what was going on.

I was not that “less-tired teacher” or “more clear-eyed educator.”

I was a tired teacher who was frustrated with a group of students who I felt were taking advantage of my flexibility and not fully appreciating how often I had bent-over-backwards to be supportive of them.

So, for two days, I punished.

The students who I considered the worst perpetrators were moved to the front row. Others were given double work. I threatened further consequences. Behavior improved marginally, while the classroom atmosphere – previously almost always positive – worsened.

Then, on the third day, I thought to myself, “What the hell am I doing?”

I began that class by saying that, while I had not been pleased with recent classroom behavior, nor had I been pleased with my harsh reaction to it. I apologized for my lashing out. I then said certain behaviors were important to me and, I believed, important to create a good learning environment.

One, I said, was students not talking when I spoke or another student was speaking. Secondly, cellphones should only be used for class work. Thirdly, uh….I had my Rick Perry moment and couldn’t remember my third point.

Then, after we all laughed, students spontaneously chimed in:

“Not eating after the bell rings.”

“Doing what we’re supposed to do.”

And more.

They all sounded good to me.

I reversed all previous punishments (with class agreement that it would be reasonable to have consequences for future transgressions), and things have gone remarkably smoothly since.

As regular readers know, I’m a big advocate of positive classroom management strategies, and ninety-nine percent of the time I implement them, too.

But, I am also human.

I’m just glad I realized my mistake after only two days.

April 20, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here Are Suggestions On Finishing The School Year Strong


Some of us will be ending the school year next month, while others will be teaching through June. Either way, it’s time to start thinking about how to have a strong ending.

And my popular compilation, The Best Ways To Finish The School Year Strong, is just the place to get some good ideas…

April 19, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Chat Stations, Predictions, and ‘Wingmen’: More Speaking and Listening Activities for ELLs”


Chat Stations, Predictions, and ‘Wingmen’: More Speaking and Listening Activities for ELLs is the headline of the latest excerpt from our new book. It appears in Education Week, who are also sponsoring our free webinar on April 28th.

You read all the other excerpts from our book here.

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