Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 24, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Is The Geography “Final” For My ELL Students

It’s finals time. Here is the final I’m giving to students in my English Language Learner Geography class (you can see other finals I’ve given in that class here and here).

I’ll be giving students a two section packet of short quotations from Geographers saying why learning geography is important, as well as this short piece, 9 Reasons to Study Geography, from Brainscape.

In addition, they will watch this short video from National Geographic:

I’ll ask them to use all that material to respond to this writing prompt:

According to the writers and/or the video, what are reasons why it is important to study geography (you only have to pick four of them)? Do you agree with what they are saying? To support your opinion you may use examples from your own experiences (including what has taken place in our class this year), your observations of others, and any of your reading.

As usual, please let me know your ideas on how to make this better!

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction, where you’ll find a long list of other prompts I use in my classes.

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May 11, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Here Are Some Examples Of Using “Concept Attainment” In Writing Instruction

I’ve written and shared on this blog and in my books about the inductive learning method called concept attainment. Basically, teachers placed examples, typically (though not always) from unnamed student work, under the categories of “Yes” and “No.” The class then constructs their own understanding of why the examples are in their categories. It’s a great tool for many lessons, and I like it especially for grammar and other writing. You can read more about it at The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching.

My exceptional colleague Lara Hoekstra has developed concept attainment charts she looks to model quick-writes for an immigration unit we teach. I’ve written before how we use ABC (Answer the question; Back it up with evidence; Make a comment or connection) and PQC (Make a Point, use a quotation, and make a comment or connection) that we use as a simple paragraph frame for students. These charts reinforce those frames.

Here’s Lara’s chart. There are three of them. Here are the questions each of them are answering:

1. How do you feel about creating a fence? Will it work? Is it worth the money? Can we fence off ALL of America?

2. What do you think is the most interesting or important point made in the passage. Why? Explain your point, use text to support your point.

3. Some feel immigrants are willing to work harder than Americans. Why is that? Do you agree?

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

Let me know if you have similar writing models that you’d like to share….

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April 29, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two Good Pieces Of Simple Writing Advice For Students – Share Your Own

I’ve posted a few times about the twice-yearly writing assessment we do at our school (you can read details about it at this guest post by the talented head of our English Department, Lara Hoekstra: “Instead of seeing students as Far Below Basic or Advanced, we see them as learners.”

We just completed two full-days of all the English teachers reviewing our students’ essays, and I thought readers might be interested in two simple pieces of writing advice I’ve learned from this experience over the years. In addition, I’d like to invite you to share if you have your own simple (and, by simple, I’m talking about a short sentence that both teachers and students can remember) advice that you’ve found helpful in guiding students).

The first is something I learned from Lara Hoekstra a few years ago and has been very helpful to my students and me. She suggested that as we review our students’ essays, we keep in mind the question, “Who is doing the work?” In other words, are we as readers having to connect the dots, or are students taking responsibility to make those connections for the reader? I have uttered the phrase countless times since — both for students’ writing and in helping my IB Theory of Knowledge class keep the same question in mind when preparing their Oral Presentations.

The second is something said yesterday by Roxanne Stellmacher, another talented English teacher at our school. She suggested that we need to ask our students (and ourselves as reviewers of their writing) “Who is guiding the writing?” In other words, is the writer just reacting to a prompt by using a writing formula, or is he/she taking control of the narrative and responding to the prompt in his/her voice?

I think those are two sentences that might be easy for both teachers and students to remember. Do you have any other ones?

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

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April 16, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Simple ELL Writing Assignment On Imperialism

As regular readers know, one of the many classes I teach is World History to Intermediate English Language Learners.

One of the things I try to do is regularly connect what we are studying in the past to what might be happening in the future. We are just finishing studying imperialism in the late nineteenth century, and their chapter “final” was to write an essay on if they thought imperialism still existed today.

I modified a short piece I found online, The Difference Between Cultural, Political and Economic Imperialism, to make it more accessible, and created a very scaffolded writing prompt which you can download here.

This is the actual prompt but, as you can see from the hand-out, the modified text and scaffolds are critical:

What does the author say are the three kinds of imperialism? Do you believe that any exist today? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction, where you can find links to many of my writing prompts.

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April 11, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Important Video & Article On Double-Standard Of Making “government beneficiaries prove themselves worthy”

The double-standard of making the poor prove they’re worthy of government benefits is a great Washington Post article with an accompanying video (embedded below) that I learned about through Ben Spielberg on Twitter.

It discusses recent efforts to hypocritically add more and more “strings” to aid received by low-income people without recognizing the greater amount of government aid that the non-poor receive in this country.

It seems to me that sharing this article and video, along with another Washington Post piece that provides a little of the “other side,” Missouri Republicans are trying to ban food stamp recipients from buying steak and seafood, could be very useful on a number of levels to our students, not least of which could be feeling better – in the face of these kinds of attacks – about the aid their families might be receiving.

After students read the two articles, I’m thinking of providing a writing prompt like this:

What are Missouri Republicans proposing about government aid and why are they proposing it? What do critics of the proposal say? To what extent do you agree (or disagree) with them? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings, including from these articles.

Feedback is welcome!

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction, where you can find many other writing prompts.

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March 22, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“RefME” Makes It Very Easy To Create Citations


There are many free online tools that help make creating citations less of a pain, and you can see the best of them at The Best Resources For Learning Research & Citation Skills.

There’s a new one in town called RefME, and it may be the best of the bunch. Unlike some of the others, though, you do have to create a free account and login before you use it.

Here’s a video describe how it works:

Thanks to Education DIVE for the tip.

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March 15, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

Quote Of The Day: “Teaching Doubt” (& How I’m Going To Use It In Class)

Teaching Doubt is a great column in The New Yorker. It’s perfect for IB Theory of Knowledge classes, and just about every other one, too.

I’m going to be using this simple writing prompt with the article:

What is Lawrence M. Krauss saying about doubt? Do you agree with him? To support your opinion you may use examples from your own experiences, your observations of others, and any of your reading, including his article.

Here’s an excerpt:


I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

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