Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

April 29, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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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
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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
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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
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“RefME” Makes It Very Easy To Create Citations

refme

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
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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:

One-thing-is-certain-if

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

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March 7, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Writing Challenge For Kids” Could Be A Nice Change-Of-Pace For Students

writingchallenge

I’ve previously written several posts describing activities that I’ve been having my Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners do in pairs or small groups, with the Intermediates in more of a “teaching” position, but where they can learn, too.

Another exercise that fits into that category is a collaborative story lesson that I’ve posted about at A Good & Simple Collaborative Storytelling Lesson. I won’t repeat the steps here, but, basically, I give prompts and students work in groups to write and illustrate a story together. It’s a lot of fun, and I can adapt the prompts to the thematic unit we’re studying at the time, current events, student interests, etc.

Today, Edudemic wrote a very clear and positive review of an iPad/iPhone app called Writing Challenge For Kids (if you get it, make sure you get that version and not the one for adults). I’d encourage you to read it. The app basically does the same thing, but with automatically generated prompts, and uses a timer.

I’ve purchased (for $1.99) and downloaded it on my iPhone. It seems to operate just as Edudemic says it does, and I plan on putting it under my document camera this week and using it as a “change-of-pace” from the “manual” collaborative storytelling process I referenced earlier. I’m confident that the “manual” way is a better one, but, as in many situations, a tech version can often be used in place of an “old-fashioned” way to occasionally liven things up. As lots of research shows, novelty works wonders in teaching and learning.

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

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