Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 8, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Noise Level Charts

I’m regularly amazed by how much I don’t know…

My colleague and co-author, Katie Hull, is moving to middle school this year, and she attended some trainings last week. She told me that one of the things she learned about and liked a lot was a “noise-level chart.”

Apparently, this is very old-news to elementary school teachers who, by the look of the zillions you can find on Pinterest, have been using them for years.

But I don’t think it’s as well known to high school educators, at least the two of us!

Using something like this could be very helpful in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes, which are very large, and we’re all packed into a very small classroom.

Introducing the chart, practicing it, and then explaining what level the class noise level should be prior to each activity (or, even better, asking them what they think the level should be), could be a very helpful strategy.

Again, it’s probable that most readers of this blog already know about this strategy. I wish somebody had told me about it earlier!

Here’s what I’ve come up with for my classroom – tell me how I can make it better, please:


August 4, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Good Video For Theory Of Knowledge: “Indiana Jones & Pascal’s Wager”

Crash Course has this relatively new video on Pascal’s Wager, and it’s a good one for IB Theory of Knowledge classes.

My big critique of it, though, is the same one I have for all of Crash Course’s videos – he’s speaks so darn fast. Proficient English speakers should be able to get it, but English Language Learners (and I have many in my TOK course) are going to find it tough to access:

August 3, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Fascinating Interactive Comparing How Democratic & Republican Delegates Described Their States


Vox has published a fascinating interactive comparing how delegates to the Republican and Democratic conventions described their states during the roll call vote for Presidential candidates.

You’ll definitely want to check out Republicans and Democrats think their states are great for totally different reasons.

It would be an excellent piece to use when studying Perception in Theory of Knowledge classes. I’m not exactly sure how it could be used in my English Language Learners classes, but it did give me the idea of having students do a fun exercise using it as a model and having them describe what’s great about their home countries.

Other ideas?

I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Learn About The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections.

July 30, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“What Would You Do?” Is A Fantastic Video Series For Theory Of Knowledge Classes


Sometimes, I am amazed by how clueless I can be…

I just learned from a friend about a popular ABC series called “What Would You Do?” It’s basically a much edgier and updated version of “Candid Camera” dealing with important ethical issues. And, apparently, it’s been on TV for years.

It’s absolutely perfect when teaching ethics to IB Theory of Knowledge classes!

Here are three links to their resources:

Here’s the show’s site at ABC. It has a number of videos, as well as short and accessible articles describing a number of the scenarios they use.

They also have a great quiz, asking questions and giving you choices, along with showing video clips of what people actually did in those situations.

And, finally, there’s the show’s YouTube Channel, which has a great selection of their shows. Here’s one example:

July 25, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Dango” Interprets Your Words Into Emojis


Dango is a new online tool that is supposed to “use deep learning to predict which emojis you want to use.”

Type something into it and, as the above image illustrates, Dango interprets what you wrote into emojis.

I’ve previously shared resources and ideas on how to use emojis in language learning/teaching, and I wonder if I can fit Dango into it somehow:

“Emoji Finder” Could Be A Fun & Different Picture Dictionary For English Language Learners

Here’s a nice lesson on using emojis to teach vocabulary.

Any ideas how to use it in class (I also wonder if I could use it in Theory of Knowledge class when discussing emotion?)

July 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Completed Revised Plan For Theory Of Knowledge Essay – With Lots Of Examples & Resources Included

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I’m definitely making progress this summer as I completely revise how I teach my IB Theory of Knowledge course.

I’ve just finished updating my four-week plan for the TOK Essay, and you can find it on our class blog. It’s filled with links to lots of resources and examples – all downloadable.

As always, I’d love to hear suggestions on how I cam make it better!

July 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here Is My Revised Six-Week Plan For TOK Oral Presentations, Including A Zillion Examples & Resources

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I have completely revised and updated my six-week plan – from start to finish – for IB Theory of Knowledge Oral Presentations.

You can find it all here on our class blog at Oral Presentation Schedule.

It includes plenty of student examples, videos, and downloadable resources.

We use much of what’s there the classroom without every student having a device, but I’ve put everything there so I have it in one place.

I’d love to hear feedback on how I can make it better!

July 21, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Mini-Lesson On “Cognitive Ease”


Veritasium published a new video today titled “The Illusion Of Truth.”

It’s about the concept of “cognitive ease,” written about by Nobel-Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. It describes our tendency to make fast and easy decisions.

Here’s how I plan on using it for a short lesson as part of my Theory of Knowledge unit on Human Sciences:

First, I’ll show the video:

Next, I’ll shared edited parts of these three online articles:

Cognitive Ease: The Secret to Great Interviewing

Is Your Thinking Lazy? Or Is It Just a Bad Case Of Cognitive Ease?

Cognitive Ease: The Secret to Great Interviewing Part Two

Then students would answer these questions and then share.

  1. With these definitions as a background, can you think of any times when it might be beneficial for you to experience “cognitive ease”? Why?
  2. Can you think of any times when it might be beneficial for you to experience “cognitive strain”? Why?
  3. Can you think of any times when it might be beneficial for you (and for others) if you created the conditions for them to experience “cognitive ease”? Why?
  4. Can you think of any times when it might be beneficial for you (and for others) if you created the conditions for them to experience “cognitive strain”? Why?
  5. Can you think of any times when you could be experiencing “cognitive ease” – both on your own and when others are manipulating the situation so you are having that experience – and it would not be beneficial to you? Why?

Feel free to help me make it a better lesson!

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