"Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day..." - 8 new articles

  1. Resources For The First Day Of Intermediate English Class
  2. What Were The Top Education Books Of The Decade?
  3. Evaluating Student Athletes
  4. “Are Test Scores the Right Measuring Stick for Teachers?”
  5. Book Lamp
  6. Steamdrag
  7. “The Appropriate Use of Technology in the EFL Classroom”
  8. August’s Best Posts — Part One
  9. Search Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day...

Resources For The First Day Of Intermediate English Class

The new school year begins in Sacramento next Tuesday, so I’m beginning to get ready.

My plans for the first day of my Intermediate English class are very similar to what I do in my mainstream ninth-grade class. I shared those details in Answers To “What Do You Do On The First Day Of School?”

I share a lot of ELL resources and hand-outs in my book, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work. But I thought people might find it useful if I shared a few additional materials that I specifically use on the first day of a class.

First, here is a letter I show and read to the class introducing myself. I then ask students to write me one in return. That functions as both an opportunity for me to learn a little more about them, and as a way to assess their English writing ability.

Second, here’s a model I show students to give them an idea what I expect them to write for a weekly journal. I’ve written about how I have students write a weekly journal sharing two positive and one not-so-positive event that happened in their lives, and how studies have shown this activity has a lot of positive academic and non-academic effects.

Lastly, here’s a sheet I use for a “Messenger and Scribe” activity on the first day. Many are probably familiar with this exercise. You cut up several sentences or paragraphs and tape them in different parts of the room. Then, students divide into pairs — one is the “messenger” and the other is the “scribe.” The messenger has to run to the different sheets, read them, and run back and tell the “scribe” what was on the sheet. The scribe writes it down, and the messenger keeps going back and forth. The first few pairs to get all of them correct, including grammar, win. The messenger is not supposed to yell from the sheet, and instead is supposed to run all the way there and back (Right, good luck with enforcing that rule). It’s a great activity!

Do you have any favorite activities or materials for the first day of an ESL class? If you do, please share them in the comments section of this post.

What Were The Top Education Books Of The Decade?

“Education Next” has just begun a poll to identify the top education books of the decade. They let you vote for three that the have on their list.

It’s a very difficult choice. I ended up voting for:

Anthony S. Bryk et. al. Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago. (University Of Chicago Press, 2010)

Charles M. Payne. So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in Urban Schools. (Harvard Education Press, 2008)

Diane Ravitch. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. (Basic Books, 2010)

If you go over there to vote, please leave a comment here sharing either your number one choice or all three that you voted for (or another one that might not be on the list).

I’d be interested in hearing what readers of this blog think….

Evaluating Student Athletes

Some students in my high school face many challenges beyond academic ones. On occasion, an athlete is among them. Since my classes are structured in a way that if students show up each day and try their best, they will pass, I seldom use an academic grade as leverage to gain work from students who want to play on sports teams. However, this coming year, I have made arrangements with our coaches to give weekly unofficial grades to athletes in areas that are equally important in class, life, and in athletics (we worked together to identify these areas): leadership, cooperation, respect, perseverance, and preparation.

Coaches have decided to take these grades as seriously, if not more seriously, than the academic grade athletes will receive in my class. Any teacher who has ever taught a student highly invested in an extracurricular activity knows you can’t top that sort of leverage!

Here’s the sheet we will be using (it has two copies on the same page and we’ll cut it in half). Student athletes will give it to their coach each Friday.

Several other teachers have decided to use this same sheet and process. I’ll let readers know how it goes.

“Are Test Scores the Right Measuring Stick for Teachers?”

“Are Test Scores the Right Measuring Stick for Teachers?” is a good short piece from American RadioWorks.

Thanks to Greg Toppo for the tip.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Value-Added” Approach Towards Teacher Evaluation.

Book Lamp

Book Lamp is a new site that lets you type in a book or author you like, and then it shows suggestions for books it thinks you might also enjoy.

It seems to work well, and has a nice interface. However, even though registration is simple, you still do have to register in order to use it. There are several similar sites on my The Best Places To Get Blog, Website, Book, Movie & Music Recommendations list that do not require any registration, so I’m not adding Book Lamp to that list.


Steamdrag is the newest in a crowded field of sites that allow you to search for songs and then lets you play them off the Web. Steamdrag, like most of them, also let you create playlists you can maintain.

I’m adding it to Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Music Sites.

“The Appropriate Use of Technology in the EFL Classroom”

“The Appropriate Use of Technology in the EFL Classroom” is a nice presentation by Ronaldo Lima, Jr.

I’m adding it to The Best Sources For Ideas On How To Use Technology With English Language Learners.

August’s Best Posts — Part One

I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see back issues of those newsletters here and my previous Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month.

These posts are different from the ones I list under the monthly “Most Popular Blog Posts.” Those are the posts the largest numbers of readers “clicked-on” to read. I have to admit, I’ve been a bit lax about writing those posts, though.

This month’s list is longer than usual. In fact, I think I shared so many excellent resources this month that there are too many for one post. I’ll publish Part Two tomorrow.

Here are some of the posts I personally think are the best, and most helpful, ones I’ve written during this past month (not in any order of preference):

Infographic Series From The New York Times

My Second Guest Piece At The Washington Post

Five Quotes That All Of Us (Including Self-Righteous School Reformers) Should Keep In Mind

“There’s a metacognition deficit”

Excellent Info On The Importance Of Reading For Pleasure

Headline Clues Is A Great Game!

Dropbox Works Nicely

“Children are more likely to do their homework if they see it as an investment, not a chore”

Want A Free (& Good) Curriculum For Geometry, Algebra Or U.S. History (& For Other Classes, Too)?

Do You Keep Plants In Your Classroom?

Does Failure Really “Start To Become Irreversible” At Age Ten?

Additional Simple (But Slightly More Involved) Ways To Introduce Reluctant Colleagues To Technology

How Much Is Technology REALLY Used In Your School?

First Draft Of My New Book Is Done!

“The Power Of Positive Relationships”

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