Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

November 6, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Census Report Says Americans Speak 350 Languages


The United States Census Bureau just released their annual report on languages spoken in the United States, and it contains a whole of information.

Here are three accessible summaries:

All 300-plus languages spoken in American homes, and the number of people who speak them is from Quartz.

Multicultural California leads nation in linguistic complexity is from The Sacramento Bee.

At Least 350 Languages Spoken In U.S. Homes: New Report is from NBC News.

Here’s an excerpt from the last link:


You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning The Advantages To Being Bilingual.

November 2, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video Illustrating The Roles Of Emotion & Reason: “President Obama’s Anger Translator”

I have my IB Theory of Knowledge students work in groups to prepare weekly presentations on our textbook chapters that they read for homework. This week, we’re discussing the role of emotion in the search for knowledge.

One of the presentation groups was asked if emotion is sometimes like a voice in our heads that we have to control.

I then showed this clip from the National Press Club, which is a perfect example of that in action.

October 31, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: “Imagination Is More Important Than Knowledge” (Also, The Best “Theory Of Relativity” Videos)

I’ve converted this post in a “Best list on videos explaining The Theory of Relativity

This month is the one-hundredth anniversary of The Theory of Relativity.

Walter Isaacson has written a column about it in today’s New York Times.

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m not sure I entirely agree with Einstein, but it is a useful quotation to use when discussing Imagination with IB Theory of Knowledge students.

By the way, here are a couple of short and relatively accessible videos on the Theory of Relativity:

What Is General Relativity? is from The New York Times.

October 23, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Grammar, Morals & History

Many readers have probably followed the recent story out of Texas where a textbook referred not to slaves, but to “workers” (see The Best Posts & Articles On The Textbook That Calls Slaves “Workers”).

Yesterday, The New York Times published a column headlined How Texas Teaches History. I bookmarked it to read this weekend, and figured it was another article on that recent controversy.

Ted Appel, our former principal and now leader in our District, suggested I read it sooner rather than later, and I’m glad I did.

It provides a fascinating in-depth analysis of how grammar is used in textbooks to manipulate historical meaning.

Here’s an excerpt:

You can see all this at play in the following passage from a textbook, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, called Texas United States History:

“Some slaves reported that their masters treated them kindly. To protect their investment, some slaveholders provided adequate food and clothing for their slaves. However, severe treatment was very common. Whippings, brandings, and even worse torture were all part of American slavery.”

Notice how in the first two sentences, the “slavery wasn’t that bad” sentences, the main subject of each clause is a person: slaves, masters, slaveholders. What those people, especially the slave owners, are doing is clear: They are treating their slaves kindly; they are providing adequate food and clothing. But after those two sentences there is a change, not just in the writers’ outlook on slavery but also in their sentence construction. There are no people in the last two sentences, only nouns. Yes, there is severe treatment, whippings, brandings and torture. And yes, those are all bad things. But where are the slave owners who were actually doing the whipping and branding and torturing? And where are the slaves who were whipped, branded and tortured? They are nowhere to be found in the sentence.

In addition to being an eye-opening read for me, it will be a great one for my IB Theory of Knowledge classes….

Here’s how the column ends:


October 18, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“What If?” Stories From The Scientific American


I’m a big fan of having students create “What If?” history projects (see The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons).

A few months ago, the Scientific American announced a contest inviting readers to contribute short personal “What If?” stories (see Writing Personal “What If?” Moments For Class & For….Scientific American Magazine).

I had never thought of using the concept in that way, and thought it could be a fun writing exercise to use with students.

Now, the magazine has published contributions from the winners. Which means that now we have examples we can show to students!

October 13, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: The Value Of Uncertainty

The Power of Embracing Uncertainty is a short and interesting interview with author Jamie Holmes that appears in Scientific American.

I think it’s particularly useful for IB Theory of Knowledge classes when we discuss knowledge, and it also offers some specific strategies that teachers can use with students to help them develop a greater comfort level with ambiguity.

And, of course, all of us involved in ideological wars of one kind or another could probably benefit from reflecting on it, too.

Here’s an excerpt:


October 10, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

The Best Posts & Articles On The Textbook That Calls Slaves “Workers”

workers slaves

I’m amazed at some of the incredibly dumb things that supposedly very smart people do sometimes, and McGraw Hill’s terrible mistake in a Texas history textbook (see the above screenshot) falls into that category. Of course, in addition or instead of “dumb,” it might also have been an intentional attempt at “revisionist” history.

I also think it offers an excellent opportunity for using the controversy with students to discuss who writes history and for what purpose.

Here are some resources on what has happened:

Mother Shares Textbook Describing African Slaves as ‘Workers’ is from NBC News.

McGraw-Hill Education CEO Says It Has Done Enough To Fix Its Description Of Slaves As ‘Workers’ is from The Huffington Post.

Texas: Publisher Offers Stickers to Cover Erroneous Caption is from the NY Times.

What’s wrong with this picture? is from Marginal Revolution. It offers some useful facts, but also some strange commentary. I think the commentary could provide some good classroom discussion points: Which is worst? Racism or other factual errors.

Texas, Textbooks and Truth is from Teaching Tolerance.

Some Texas school leaders brush off complaints about textbooks that call slaves ‘workers’ is from The Washington Post.

Texas Mother Teaches Textbook Company a Lesson on Accuracy is from The New York Times.

Quote Of The Day: “Teaching Twig History”

Grammar, Morals & History