Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

October 28, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Video: “Argument Clinic – Monty Python”

We’re studying reason and logic in my Theory of Knowledge class.

Here’s a good video demonstrating how it can be abused and not help us in our search for knowledge.

The first video is a shorter Vimeo version useful for schools that block YouTube.

The second link is to a YouTube version that is longer.

Argument Clinic – Monty Python – YouTube from Cumberland University on Vimeo.

Argument clinic video

October 25, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Students Show How Punctuation Can Save Lives

In my IB Theory of Knowledge classes, we’re studying how language can help – and hinder – our search for knowledge.

Here are a few examples students came up today when we were exploring the role of punctuation, using “Let’s eat Grandma” as example:






If you want to see more examples demonstrating the value of punctuation, visit:

Let’s eat Grandma! How Punctuation can Save a Life

16 Unfortunate Misuses of Punctuation

October 23, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

What My Students Say About Teachers Mispronouncing Their Names


I’m a big advocate of teachers making a point to pronounce student names correctly (see The Best Resources On The Importance Of Correctly Pronouncing Student Names).

I always do a lesson on names as part of the Language unit in my IB Theory of Knowledge classes (see The Best Places For Students To Learn About…Their Names) and this year decided to add this question:

Write about a time a teacher mispronounced your name (if that has happened to you) and how it made you feel or about a time a teacher clearly made an effort to learn how to pronounce it and how that made you feel.  You do not have to give the name of your teacher.  If you haven’t had either of these experiences, write about a time you’ve seen a friend have their name mispronounced.  If none of these apply to you, just write that on the paper.

Out of the ninety students in my TOK classes, about a third said they’ve never experienced a problem with teachers mispronouncing their names; another third said they had experienced that problem but it never bothered them; and a third said that it had happened to them and they didn’t like it.

If I am not absolutely confident about how to pronounce a student’s name when I first meet him/her, I ask how it’s pronounced and write it phonetically on my seating chart.  If I think it’s still possible that I might mispronounce it, I apologize in advance, tell them that they deserve to have their name said correctly, and ask them to please correct me.  I usually don’t make the mistake more than once, and students are always respectful in helping me learn from my mistakes.

A third of students is a sizable number.  It’s probable that the percentage is lower in schools where there are fewer students from different ethnicities but, after seeing these responses, I think most readers agree that since this is one action entirely within our control, we should make sure we correctly pronounce student names:

Here are some student comments:

I remember when several teachers mispronounced my name and it made me feel different.  When a teacher tried making an effort in trying to pronounce my name it made me feel like they actually care.

Yes, teachers had made an attempt to correctly pronounce my name when I do inform them that they had mispronounced it.  It made me feel like they are sincere enough to actually want to pronounce it properly, which give me a message that they are showing respect.

Yes, he mispronounced it and it made me feel awkward.

When they make an effort to pronounce my name correctly it makes me feel respected.

Everyday my teachers pronounce my name incorrectly and I feel disrespected.

I didn’t really care if a teacher didn’t pronounce my name right.  But it does feel better when a teacher actually tries to learn your name.

A teacher before mispronounced my name wrong and I got angry because people started repeating it.

My seventh-grade teacher kept on mispronouncing my name and I felt a little bit ashamed.

One of my teachers always mispronounces my name.  It sort of makes me feel sad because I’ve lost part of my identity.  It want to be a soft and kind person, but it’s hard when someone doesn’t pronounce it thoroughly.

It gets on my nerves.  Even when I tell them it’s like they don’t listen.




October 22, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Really Interesting NY Times Column On The Value Of Being “Two-Faced”


Why Hillary Clinton Needs to Be Two-Faced is the headline of a very interesting column in today’s New York Times. It’s a commentary on the alleged comment Clinton made about politicians needing to be “two-faced.”

The important points it makes about achieving change are somewhat comparable to the ones made in my Washington Post column, The importance of being unprincipled.

And what is says about “knowledge” could be very useful in an IB Theory of Knowledge class:

Modern social science makes a related distinction between shared knowledge and public knowledge. Public knowledge is information that is out there in plain and undeniable view, stuff like stock prices, weather bulletins and campaign promises. If knowledge is public, you and I both know it, and you know that I know it, and I know that you know it, and you know that I know that you know it, ad infinitum. If knowledge is merely shared knowledge, by contrast, you and I both know it, but I’m not sure if you know and you’re not sure if I know.

Shared knowledge has a very handy, if somewhat peculiar, trait: Even if we both know it, we can plausibly deny knowing it. Maybe you and I both know we dated the same person at the same time — but if neither of us is sure the other knows, we can both pretend not to know, thereby staying friends.

I’m going to add it to:

The Best Posts & Articles About Compromise

The Best Posts & Articles On Building Influence & Creating Change

October 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Video: “Would you use time travel to kill baby Hitler?” (& How I Will Use It In Class)

Last year, I published a post titled Killing Baby Hitler & Student “What If?” Projects.

In it, I talked about (and linked to) a regular project I do with my IB Theory of Knowledge and ELD History students where they research and present on a “What If?” possibility from history.

I also discussed a recent addition I had made to the lesson that had been prompted by a New York Times project and the reactions to it from several U.S. Presidential candidates – would they go back and kill baby Hitler.

That addition, and how I connected it to ethics, went very well.

Today, Vox published a new video titled “Would you use time travel to kill baby Hitler?” and it’s embedded below. After my students complete their own responses to the question, I plan on showing the first minute of this video and then skipping to 4:30 to the end. It should be a nice way to finish it.

October 1, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Videos For TOK: Is It Art If The Songs Are Created By Artificial Intelligence

Here are two songs that have been composed by Artificial Intelligence.

I’m going to have my Theory of Knowledge students check them out when we study the Arts and respond to the questions: “Is it art if it is created by a machine? Why or why not?”

It’s a good follow-up to a discussion we have on art created by animals.

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