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"Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day..." - 9 new articles

  1. The Best “Words Of The Year” Features For 2010
  2. “Fact-Checking the LA Times”
  3. The Best Sites For Collaborative Storytelling
  4. Most Popular Posts Of The Month
  5. We See What We Want To See
  6. Fact-checking “Waiting for Superman”
  7. Grammar Games
  8. “Chinese Top In Tests, But Still Have Lots To Learn”
  9. Excellent Introduction To Twitter
  10. Search Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day...
  11. Prior Mailing Archive

The Best “Words Of The Year” Features For 2010

There are several “words of the year” lists that come out annually. The might be useful for advanced English Language Learners, but I think they can be more effectively used in Theory of Knowledge classes (plus, they’re fun to read for English teachers :) ).

Here are my choices for The Best “Words Of The Year” Features For 2010:

The Words of the Year from The New York Times, which also has links to lists from previous years. The New York Times Learning Network also has a simple lesson plan for using the list.

The Wall Street Journal has an interactive on The Words of the Year.

Merriam-Webster came out with their own Words of The Year. Both NPR and the Christian Science Monitor have articles about Webster’s list, too.

Wikipedia has an excellent section on Words of The Year.

The Top Political Buzzwords of 2010 comes from The Nation.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the nearly 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

“Fact-Checking the LA Times”

Dr. John Thompson has a very important post over at This Week In Education. It’s titled Fact-Checking the LA Times and, instead of going into the details here, I’d just suggest you go over to see some of the important points he makes. I guess it is time to start checking some facts claimed by “school reformers.”

I’m adding the link to The Best Posts About The LA Times Article On “Value-Added” Teacher Ratings.

The Best Sites For Collaborative Storytelling

For the purposes of this post, I’m defining collaborative storytelling as a process where one person begins telling a story, and then various others continue and complete it.

This can be a great in-class exercise just doing it on an overhead or whiteboard, and it can be a lot of fun doing it online, too.

A simple way to do it online is, while students are doing another project on their computers in the computer lab, just keep one computer open where student can take turns writing portions of the story. You can see various tools my students have used to do just that, along with a couple of stories they wrote including illustrations. One of the stories ends with me getting eaten by a tiger :)

There are quite a few online tools that a designed to make this kind of collaborative storytelling much easier to do. However, most of them allow anybody to make additions and offer few controls for inappropriate content.

There are, though, three that let you (or will let you in the near future) create private groups that only let people you choose participate in the story creation.

Here are my choices for The Best Sites For Collaborative Storytelling:

There’s no question that Protagonize will be the best site for teachers — in the near future. The site has been around for awhile (and I’ve posted about the site in the past), and has not had any restrictions on who can add to a story. They are just adding groups now, and they say that shortly after the New Year they will become operational.

Folding Story is a new site, which does not have private groups now. They, too, say that they will be implementing this feature in 2011.

Right now, the only site that says it lets you create your own groups is Storytimed. But they also won’t let you do it until you contribute to at least four of their open stories, and I just haven’t had time to do that yet.

So, for right now, I’d say the best bet is to do it the way I’ve been doing it for years with students taking turns on the same computer. In a few weeks, though, it looks like we’ll all have other options.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the nearly 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

Most Popular Posts Of The Month

I regularly share my picks for the most useful posts of each month. I also have tried publish a list of the month’s most popular posts, based on the number of times they are “clicked-on.” I’m very behind on that one, though.

I also share a list of Post Rank’s analysis of each month’s top posts. Post Rank uses a variety of ways to measure level of “engagement” that readers have with specific blog posts. I have a constantly updated “widget” on my blog’s sidebar that lists these posts, but I thought a monthly post would be helpful/interesting to subscribers who don’t regularly visit the blog itself.

Here are their rankings for the month of December:

The Best Articles & Posts On Education Policy — 2010

The Best Guides For Helping Teachers Develop Personal Learning Networks

My Most Popular Blog Posts Of The Year — 2010

My Book On Teaching English Language Learners Is Now Available For The Kindle

Make A Cool-Looking Message With “Message Hop”

“Speak Truth To Power” Curriculum

The Best Year-End Collections Of Images — 2010

Michelle Rhee Ups Her Arrogance Level

The Best Sites For Learning Beginning Photography Tips

The Best Websites For English Language Learner Students — 2010

Being Present

“Meltinpop” Could Be A Gold Mine For ESL/EFL Teachers

There Are Some Right Ways & Some Wrong Ways To Videotape Teachers — And This Is A Wrong Way

More iPhone Apps

Bitly News

New Study On “The Influence of Positive Framing”

Who Doesn’t Love Pictures Of Baby Animals?

We See What We Want To See

The Truth Wears Off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method? by Jonah Lehrer is an exceptional article, and it was just released from behind The New Yorker pay-wall yesterday.

It reinforces why we need to be data-informed, but not data-driven — everywhere, including in schools.

David Brooks from The New York Times wrote a nice summary of the article:

He describes a class of antipsychotic drugs, whose effectiveness was demonstrated by several large clinical trials. But in a subsequent batch of studies, the therapeutic power of the drugs appeared to wane precipitously.

This is not an isolated case. “But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain,” Lehrer writes. “It’s as if our facts were losing their truth: claims that have been enshrined in textbooks are suddenly unprovable.”

The world is fluid. Bias and randomness can creep in from all directions. For example, between 1966 and 1995 there were 47 acupuncture studies conducted in Japan, Taiwan and China, and they all found it to be an effective therapy. There were 94 studies in the U.S., Sweden and Britain, and only 56 percent showed benefits. The lesson is not to throw out studies, but to never underestimate the complexity of the world around.

It’s also a perfect article for Theory of Knowledge classes.

Fact-checking “Waiting for Superman”

Fact-checking “Waiting for Superman”: False data and fraudulent claims is a great post by Leonie Haimson.

I can’t imagine how much time it took her to investigate some of the film’s more outrageous claims, but I’m sure glad she did.

I’m adding her post to The Best Posts & Articles About The Teacher-Bashing “Waiting For Superman” Movie & Associated Events.

Grammar Games

Interactive ESL Grammar Games comes from ESL Games. In addition, they have a ton of other games on the site.

I’m adding the grammar games link to The Best Sites For Grammar Practice.

Thanks to Ana Maria Menezes for the tip.

“Chinese Top In Tests, But Still Have Lots To Learn”

Chinese Top In Tests, But Still Have Lots To Learn is a very interesting piece from NPR.

Here’s an excerpt of a conversation with a Shanghai principal:

“Developed countries like the U.S. shouldn’t be too surprised by these results. They’re just one index, one measure that shows off the good points of Shanghai’s and China’s education system. But the results can’t cover up our problems,” he says. Liu is very frank about those problems — the continuing reliance on rote learning, the lack of analysis or critical thinking — and he says the system is in dire need of reform. “Why don’t Chinese students dare to think? Because we insist on telling them everything. We’re not getting our kids to go and find things out for themselves,” he says.
As well as the limitations of the Chinese education system, Liu says, it was only students in Shanghai who took the PISA tests, and Shanghai has some of the best schools in China

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Getting Some Perspective On International Test Comparison Demagoguery.

Excellent Introduction To Twitter

Russell Stannard has done it again and created several excellent screencasts to introduce Twitter to new users.

I’m adding the link to The Best Resources For Beginning To Learn What Twitter Is All About.

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