Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Tools & Lessons For Teaching Information Literacy – Help Me Find More

As a companion “Best” list to The Best Resources For Learning Research & Citation Skills, I thought it would be useful to create this one.

I’m using the term “information literacy” here to describe assisting our students developing critical thinking skills to evaluate both web and content in other media forms. I’ve seen the term used to describe broader skills, too. Let me know if you think I’m off-based with my definition.

So, using that definition, here is a beginning Best list, and I hope readers will contribute more:

Show Me Information Literacy Modules


Sarah Bolanos made a great suggestion – Education Resources For Web Literacy from November Learning.

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July 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Writing Personal “What If?” Moments For Class & For….Scientific American Magazine

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of students writing about “What if?” scenarios in our history classes, as well as in IB Theory of Knowledge courses. I’ve also used it in English when have students write alternative endings of stories. You can read more about this strategy at The Best Resources For Teaching “What If?” History Lessons.

Today, Scientific American published a nice piece summarizing research on the benefits of “What if?” thinking and also highlighting as aspect that I’ve never really considered in the context of teaching — the idea of personal “What if?” moments and stories.

I think that could be a fun writing activity in class.

As part of the article, the magazine is invited readers to submit their own personal “What if?” moments:

Share a couple sentences about a moment from your past that you often revisit and think, “What if…?”

You can submit it here by August 2nd.

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July 27, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“Zoom In!” Looks Like A Good Site For History Teachers


Zoom In! is a new(er) free site that provides some very good U.S. History lessons that use historical documents and are standards-based. Along with in-class instruction, students use the online resources to do close-reading and scaffolded written responses.

Teachers create online virtual classrooms where they can monitor student progress.

Two of their features standout to me:

First, they clearly have been very intentional about choosing primary source documents that are likely to be more accessible to students and then have made them even more accessible with their lay-out and easy ability to look-up word definitions. I haven’t really seen any other site that has been able to do this anywhere near as well as Zoom In!

Secondly, I really like the way they scaffold the writing of written responses/essays. Again, more sites could learn from them.

I’m adding this post to:

The Best Online Tools That Can Help Students Write An Essay

The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress

Here’s their promotional video:

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July 23, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources On Getting Student Writers To “Buy-Into” Revision – Help Me Find More

Many teachers, including me, have experienced the struggle of getting our students to buy into seriously revising their original drafts.

I’ve tried modeling my own writing process, and have met with limited success.

I’ve previously posted this sixth-grader interviewing President Obama. He cut the President off when he began talking about students needing to revise their writing, and that reflects many students’ feelings about it:

I was prompted to think about this by finally getting around to reading a late March New York Times column titled What’s More Important to You: the Initial Rush of Prose or the Self-Editing and Revision That Come After It?

I thought that this excerpt, in particular, would be a good one to share and have my mainstream students (I think it might be too difficult for my ELLs) respond to a prompt along the lines of:

According to Cheryl Strayed, what kind of relationship do original writing and the process of revising it have with each other? Do you agree with her? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.


John Spencer has also written a very helpful post titled NINE WAYS TO HELP STUDENTS EMBRACE THE REVISION PROCESS.

Here’s a great tweet to use:

Reader Tony shared this advice:

One of the best examples of revision is in the appendix of Stephen King’s book “On Writing”. He shows the first page of one of his novels, then shows a scan of his original draft, complete with hand-written revisions and notes. He then justifies each revision.
Could be a good piece to use with students.

What are your other suggestions?

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

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July 12, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

All My “Best” Lists On Teaching & Learning How To Write – In One Place!

I’ve published quite a few posts and “Best” lists related to teaching writing, and I thought it would be useful to me and to readers to bring them all together:

The Best Posts On Writing Instruction

The Best Online Tools That Can Help Students Write An Essay

The Best Websites For K-12 Writing Instruction/Reinforcement

The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online

The Best Sites For Grammar Practice

Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Mindmapping, Flow Chart Tools, & Graphic Organizers

The Best Resources For Researching & Writing Biographies

The Best Resources For Learning How To Write Response To Literature Essays

The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”

The Best Online Interactive Exercises For Writing That Are Not Related To Literary Analysis

The Best Online Resources To Teach About Plagiarism

The Best Resources For Learning Research & Citation Skills

The Best Online Resources For Helping Students Learn To Write Persuasive Essays

The Best Spelling Sites

The Best Sites For Gaining A Basic Understanding Of Adjectives

The “Best” Sites For Helping Students Write Autobiographical Incident Essays

The Best Sites To Learn “Feelings” Words

The Best Sites For ELL’s To Learn About Punctuation

The Best Resources To Help Students Write Research Essays

The Best Sites For Learning To Write A Story

The Best Writing Advice From Famous Authors

The Best Resources On Punctuation

The Best Ways To Use Mistakes When Teaching Writing

The Best Funny Videos To Help Teach Grammar – Help Me Find More

The Best Video Clips On The Benefits Of Writing Well — Help Me Find More

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July 5, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

“They Say, I Say” Is A Great Writing Resource


You may or may not be familiar with the book, They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, but it’s a great resource for writing instruction. You can see its influence in a number of my posts at The Best Posts On Writing Instruction.

You can also read more about it at these two Voice Of America Learning English pieces:

Tips for Writing: ‘They Say, I Say’

Good Academic Writing Doesn’t Have to Be A Struggle

In addition, all you have to do is search “they say i say templates” online and you’ll get a ton of excellent student resources. I just hope they’re posted legally.

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June 29, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Online Tools That Can Help Students Write An Essay

Girl in a classroom World Bank Photo Collection via Compfight

This post was originally one lamenting the lack of good online student essay-writing tools, but I’ve turned it into a “Best” list – even though I don’t think there are any that fit the bill for me.

I’ve got a ton of tools on The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online. Many let you create picture books, create multimedia projects, and write a blog.

But hardly any provide any scaffolded support for a student to actually write a “standard” essay.

John Spencer’s Write About site, which I’ve previously written about in “Write About” May Be The Education Site Of The Year offers some of that.

A site I learned about today called Write Well has some potential, though its scaffolded instructions are pretty meager and there are no models.

Reader “mrsporterdcis” recommends SAS Curriculum Pathways’ Writing Navigator:

My favorite writing tool to recommend for teachers is the Writing Navigator by SAS Curriculum Pathways. SASCP is a free program that has tons of great content, but their writing tools top the list. There are four parts – the Planner, Drafter, Revisor and Publisher. They are great all together, but I particularly like the Revisor if you wanted to use other tools to do the other aspects. Go check it out! I think you’ll love it.

I LOVE SAS Curriculum Pathways and, in many ways, think it may be the most useful education site on the Web (search them on this blog and you’ll see many posts about their features). However, though I should have originally listed their writing tool on this list, I don’t think it works for my students.

What are tools that you use that I don’t know about?

Here’s a Twitter exchange with a good caution and that also shares what I think would be helpful:

“Zoom In!” Looks Like A Good Site For History Teachers

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