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"Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day..." - 10 new articles

  1. Create A Private Pictionary Room With “Blädderblock”
  2. Shout Reel
  3. Good Teaching Tips
  4. There Are Now 500 “The Best…” Lists
  5. My New Piece In Washington Post: “Why paying parents to attend school events is wrong”
  6. Iraq War Resources
  7. The Next ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival Is Coming-Up!
  8. The Best Sites For Learning About Polar Bears
  9. “Formula to Grade Teachers’ Skill Gains in Use, and Critics”
  10. Saying “Thank You”
  11. Search Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day...

Create A Private Pictionary Room With “Blädderblock”

Blädderblock lets you create a private virtual room where up to eight people can play pictionary. It’s very easy to use, but its major drawback is that it can only used in the Chrome browser, at least for now.

Even with that shortcoming, I’m adding it to The Best Online Games Students Can Play In Private Virtual “Rooms.”

Shout Reel

Shout Reel is a new site that lets you create “social networks” that you can also keep private.

It seems to have fewer of the “bells and whistles” than many of the other sites on my Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Social Network Sites list have, but I’m still going to add it there.

Good Teaching Tips

Ken Wilson has shared some good teaching tips in a two part post.

I’m not enthusiastic about his title, “Motivating the Unmotivated,” because, as I’ve written before:

Anytime I hear or read about “motivating students,” I cringe a bit.

An organizing truism (one that I learned during my twenty-year community organizing career) is that you might be able to bribe, cajole, badger, or threaten somebody to do something over the short-term (I’ve certainly done my share of that, and I’ve written about the negative results). But I don’t think you can really “motivate” anybody to do anything beyond a very, very, very short timeline, after which the initial enthusiasm quickly dissipates.

However, you can help another person find what will motivate themselves.

But that reservation doesn’t take anything away from his excellent content — ten great teaching tips. Though they are geared towards ESL/EFL teachers, most would be applicable to any teaching situation.

There Are Now 500 “The Best…” Lists

With the posting of today’s “The Best…” list on polar bears, there are now five hundred regularly updated and revised “The Best…” lists.

That’s a lot of lists!

You can find them all listed chronologically here and categorized by subject here.

My New Piece In Washington Post: “Why paying parents to attend school events is wrong”

Valerie Strauss has just published my latest Washington Post guest column: “Why paying parents to attend school events is wrong”

It’s a commentary on new programs being started by some Districts to pay parents to attend parent-teacher conferences.

Iraq War Resources

Here are the newest additions to The Best Web Resources On The Iraq War:

Timeline: Major Events in the Iraq War is from The New York Times.

Drawing Down, Moving Ahead is a slideshow from The Times.

Iraq’s Resting Places is another NY Times slideshow.

The Next ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival Is Coming-Up!

The next ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival will be published on October 1st at Ms. Flecha’s My Life Untranslated Blog. You can read her announcement, and suggestions, here.

The deadline for submissions is September 27th.

This blog carnival welcomes any blog posts, including examples of student work, that are related to teaching or learning English (though, again, Ms. Flecha does offer some suggestions in her announcement). You can contribute one by using this easy submission form. If the form does not work for some reason, you can send the link to me via my Contact Form. You can also send it directly to Ms. Flecha by using the contact form on her blog.

In addition, Anne Hodgson is organizing a special Blog Carnival on November 1st specifically dedicated to teaching Business English (BE) and English for Specific Purposes (ESP). For more information about that carnival, and to use a form Anne has created for submissions to it, please go to her blog.

You can see all the previous eighteen editions of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival here.

The Best Sites For Learning About Polar Bears

This list is a companion to The Best Sites To Learn About Pandas. They’re both endangered, they’re both big, they’re both cute, and I wouldn’t want to get very close to either one of them out in the wild!

You might also be interested in:

The Best Sites For Learning About Animals.

The Best Resources For World Biodiversity Day (& Endangered Species Day)

The Best Sites To Learn About Climate Change

The Best Sites For Learning About Penguins

Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Learning About Polar Bears (and are accessible to English Language Learners):

You can see a short video about the plight of polar bears at The Guardian.

Houghton Mifflin has a science interactive about polar bears.

The BBC has a very accessible interactive giving information about the polar bear.

The BBC also has a much more extensive multimedia site about the animals.

The Polar Bear Plunge is an impressive interactive from the San Diego Zoo. In addition to all of its great resources, though, they also have some games that have no educational value, so you’d want to carefully monitor your students if they go to that site.

If you go to National Grid Floe, and then click on “Befriend A Bear,” you’ll be prompted to register (it will take seconds) and you can begin interacting with a polar bear cub. You can play different games with it — but only after you answer questions related to living more environmentally responsible. The questions are fairly simple, and should be accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners. And that cub is just so darn cute!

The BBC has another very, very simple site on polar bears.

Polar Bear Protection Program is the headline of an article from Scholastic News.

Studying Polar Bears is a slideshow from The New York Times.

Face To Face With Polar Bears is a CNN video.

Polar Bears and Climate Change is another CNN video.

ABC News has several videos on polar bears.

Here’s a multimedia exercise on polar bears for English Language Learners.

National Geographic has a ton of related resources.

Here’s a great lesson from The English Club on polar bears.

Suggestions are welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 475 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free.

“Formula to Grade Teachers’ Skill Gains in Use, and Critics”

Formula to Grade Teachers’ Skill Gains in Use, and Critics is an article in The New York Times.

It seems to me to be one of the better short accessible pieces out there about the “valued-added” approach.

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

Saying “Thank You”

A recent series of studies have found that saying “thank you” can have a very positive and measurable impact. Bob Sutton summarizes it:

… a simple expression of thanks by someone in authority led people to be more likely to volunteer to do extra work. Their research shows that this happens because the simple act of being thanked makes be feel more valued — and in some of these studies — it also increased peoples’ feelings of self-efficacy (essentially, the perception that they were making a bigger impact on the world around them).

In the classroom, I say “thank you” when an individual student does something that I have specifically asked him/her to do — even if it’s something they should be doing anyway. I will also say “thank you” if a student has specifically helped me in some way. There is no question in my mind that not only is it the right thing to do, but it gets the kind of positive results found in the study.

When the class as a whole does something that I ask them to do, I will often say that I “appreciate” their cooperation, but won’t say “thank you.” When I see individual students doing good work — either academically or if they might have been courteous to someone — I offer praise for their effort, but don’t say “thank you.” When I see the class as a whole doing something exceptionally well — academically or behavior-wise — I generally will tell them that, again, I “appreciate” what they are doing, but I won’t say “thank you.”

I don’t know exactly how to explain how these last three situations are not “deserving” of a “thank you” and the first two situation are and, in fact, never really thought before how or why I handled them differently. Can anybody help me explain the difference? And do you have your own “rules” or habits about saying “thank you” in the classroom?

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