Larry Ferlazzo

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April, 2010 (Part Two)
April, 2010 (Part One)
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March, 2010 (Part One
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December, 2009
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September, 2009
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July, 2009
June, 2009 (Part Two)
June, 2009 (Part One)
May, 2009 (Part Two)
May, 2009 (Part One)
April, 2009
March, 2009
February, 2009
January, 2009 Addendum
January, 2009
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June, 2008 (part two)
June, 2008
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I've begun using a new format for the newsletter.  You can read the July, 2009 issue here.
PART TWO -- JUNE, 2009
With the usual end-of-school year craziness, I haven't had time yet to prepare a complete email newsletter.
However, I did want to send-out links to some new "The Best..." lists because I thought they might be helpful to teachers during the final weeks of school.
Remember, you can subscribe to get more timely updates by email at

The Best Online Videos Showing ESL/EFL Teachers In The Classroom

The Best Online "Chatbots" For Practicing English

The Best Sites To Learn About The California Wildfires

The Best "I Spy" (Hidden Object) Games For Vocabulary Development


The Best Sites For Learning About New York City

The Best Sites To Learn About The Hubble Telescope

The Best "Week In Review" Sites For English Language Learners

The Best Ways For Students To Create Their Own Online Art Collections

My "Verdict" On Twitter

"The "Most Popular" Blogs That Might Also Useful To Educators"

The Best Ways To Make Awards & Certificates Online



Since school is nearing the end of the year for many of us, I thought I'd send a short June edition out early so you'd have these resources to use (especially "The Best." list on the Swine Flu).

Remember, you can subscribe to receive daily email updates by using this form:

You can also see this newsletter and all past newsletters by going here:

Here are some recent "The Best." lists:

The Best Sites Sites For Discussing The Morality of Torture

The Best Resources For Learning About World Malaria Day

The Best Online Examples of My Students' Work

The Best Sites For Learning About The Swine Flu Outbreak


The Best Places To Find New Educational Websites

The Best Places To Read & Write "Choose Your Own Adventure" Stories

The Best Websites For Learning About Memorial Day

Part Thirty-Five Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

What Do You Do To Keep Students (And You!) Focused Near The End Of The Year?


Larry Ferlazzo's Website Newsletter

May, 2009  (Part Two)

As promised, here are sites I've written about in April that I think might be particularly useful to educators.

Also, I've written a couple of more "The Best." lists since I emailed "Part One," and have included direct links to those lengthy posts.

The Best Sites For Learning About The Holocaust

Part Thirty-Four Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

What Do You Do When You're Having A Bad Day At School?

Titatok & Tar Heel Reader For Student Writing - Again

I've posted several times about Tikatok ( and Tar Heel Reader,(  but for some reasons didn't think until now of including them in The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An "Authentic Audience" list.  It's a natural fit, and I've just added them to that list.  (By the way, both are on The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online list).

Titatok a site that is a real find for English Language Learners (and lots of other students). Users can create online books that they write and illustrate (they can also use lots of images available on the site). It has a number of features that really make it stand-out. You can make a book from scratch, or you can use one of their many story frames that contain "prompts" to help the story-writer along. In addition, you can invite others to collaborate online with you to develop the book.

Once the book is done you can email the link to a friend, teacher, or yourself for posting on a blog, website, or online journal and the site is available on Titatok for others to read. You can create the online version for free, but have to pay if you want them to print a hard-copy version.

Tar Heel Reader has two great features: 1) It has 1,000 simple books with audio support for the text immediately accessible to Beginning English Language Learners and 2) It makes it as simple as you can get for students to create their own "talking" books using images from Flickr.

Anybody can read the books on the site.  However, in order to have your students create talking books using their "easy as pie" (and free) process, you need to register and have to have a code.  They're rightfully concerned about publishing the code because of spammers.  Gary Bishop from the site, though, is happy to provide it to teachers.  Just write him at and he'll send it to you.

Wallwisher Is A Winner - Big Time!

Wallwisher ( lets you, with very, very minimal registration, create a "wall" where you can place virtual sticky-notes. You can allow others to also place notes on the board, or keep it so that only you can do so (which is what I would recommend for students). The sticky-notes can include images you grab off the web, videos, or websites, and you can add text to them (you can also just include text without adding anything else). Each sticky has a 160 character limit for text.

Wallwisher appears to me to be one of the most useful Web 2.0 sites I've found in awhile. It can be a great place for students to use higher-order thinking by creating categories of images (and descriptions) or short texts they copy and paste (or write themselves). It can also be used as a site for social bookmarking of websites if you just right-click the website you put inside the sticky-note and then click on "open in a new window."

I've explained in The Best Social Bookmarking Applications For English Language Learners & Other Students more details on how a site like Wallwisher can be used by English Language Learners for categorization and website bookmarking applications, and I'd encourage you to take a look.   The other sites listed there can be used for similar purposes, but Wallwisher appears to be the easiest and most user friendly of the bunch.

I do have to share one caveat - the first couple of times I tried it I couldn't get the sticky-notes to appear.  However, it worked everytime afterwards.  It's a new site, so it's possible there are just a few glitches they're still working out.

"Come On, Our Schools Aren't That Bad."

Come On, Our Schools Aren't That Bad.(  is the title of my newest post in our group blog, "In Practice." It's written by several of us who teach in low-income communities.

The post is about some public reaction to Education Secretary Duncan's recent speech where he said U.S. students should spend more time in school

I Really Like "Next Stop" For Student Writing

Next Stop ( is a new travel recommendation site - people write about places they like near where they live or places they have visited.

I've already included other travel sites where people can write similar reviews in The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An "Authentic Audience".

However, Next Stop has - by far - the easiest writing process among them and, plus, they make it very simple to grab an image off the Web to include in the review.  On top of all that, users can actually create their own online guides comprised of written reviews.  Individual students, or groups of students, can easily create what could, in effect, be an online portfolio.

I've obviously added Next Stop to that "The Best." list.

Note Pub Might Work Great For Publishing Student Work

I'm going to teach Beginning English Language Learners during the summer, and I've been trying to figure out which of the tools I have listed on Part Two Of The Best Sites For Students To Easily Create & Display Online Projects list would be the most simple for them to display their work - urls or embeds from Part Thirty-Three Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly and its previous editions, copy and pasting images and writing about them, etc.

I had seen Note Pub ( before, but ignored it because it required downloading an application to upload photos. But a post in Technology Tidbits prompted me to take another look.

I liked what I found after spending a little more time on the site.

It's extremely easy to register and, it's very easy to write text. Plus, like Posterous, you can just copy and past images off the web. But it seems even easier than Posterous. Of course, it won't look as pretty and it's not really in a blog format. But I think if you're working with students who have very little technology experience, and you just want them to have an easy place where they can paste their work (and where other students can view it, too, after the links to all student sites are posted on a teacher page), Note Pub might just be the web application to use. Obviously, they won't be able to post comments, but that can all happen orally.

I'm going to experiment with it a bit further, and I am going to add it to The Best list I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Intriguing NASA Interactive

Fifty years ago this week, NASA introduced the first American astronauts. To recognize the event, NASA has created an unusual interactive feature.

The 50th Anniversary Of The Mercury 7 Press Announcement ( has two elements.

One just shows video of the press conference, and it also includes closed-captioning. That obviously helps English Language Learners, but not nearly as much as the other element.

It also has what it calls an Interactive Press Conference. It, too, has closed captioning, but instead of just listening to people speak, users can click on a menu of the questions asked and just listen to those responses instead of having to listen to the whole thing.

This second feature makes it much more accessible to ELL's - both for just listening and for other exercises - like having to answer a series of questions developed by an instructor or other students.

Both features are accessed by the main link.

I'm adding it to the Planets and Space section of my website.

Mindopia For Career Exploration

Mindopia ( is the newest addition to The Best Websites For Students Exploring Jobs and Careers.

After clicking on a career you might be interested in, you're led to a page of simple interviews with people working in that profession, along with other resources (including salary projections).

I particularly like that the videos are divided into separate sections answering specific questions, which makes it a lot easier for English Language Learners to follow.  In addition to that, you can see the transcript of the interview right below the video.  Ordinarily, I don't think video transcripts are that helpful to ELL's who also need the visual clues being shown - it's hard to look at both (which is why closed captioning is so much better).  However, these interviews are just "talking heads," so students really don't need to watch the videos and, instead, can just listen to the audio as they follow along on the transcript.

The site is just beginning, so it doesn't have a huge list of careers, but they promise to be adding more.


Even though I haven't gotten a chance to try it yet, PodOmatic ( looks like an extraordinarily easy way to create a podcast. Sign-up and your class has your own channel - all you need is a computer microphone.

I'm adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

I'm also adding it to The Best Places Where Students Can Create Online Learning/Teaching Objects For An "Authentic Audience".

You might also want to check-out the Podcasting Resources section of my website.

I've never had my students actually try podcasting, though it's in the cards for summer school. If you have more experience with it, and have a different opinion about PodOmatic, please let me know.

Extraordinary Photos

The new LIFE site ( shares millions of photos from the LIFE Magazine archives and Getty Images.

What's great about this new site is that, unlike Google's previous hosting of many of the same photos (which are just listed by decades), LIFE's site shows them in thematic slideshows with accessible captions. Plus, they include daily updates of slideshows about current events.  You can also subscribe to a weekly email newsletter that gives you updates on new content.

Both the historical and current slideshows are fabulous. I'm adding the site to The Best Online Slideshows About Current Events, The Best news/current events websites for English Language Learners , and probably to a bunch of other "The Best.." lists, too.

Word Ahead

Word Ahead ( is one of the best vocabulary-learning sites I've seen for advanced English Language Learners and mainstream students.

It uses SAT words, and shows the word and representative image, plus provides audio support for text showing the word being used in context.

I'll be adding it to the SAT Preparation section on my website.

"The Art Of Storytelling"

I could have sworn I had posted about the extraordinary The Art of Storytelling ( site last year, but I was searching through the blog and couldn't find it.

So I'm writing about it today - better late than never!

The Art of Storytelling is a site from the Delaware Art Museum that allows you pick a painting, write a short story about it, record it with your computer microphone, and email the url address for posting on a student website or blog. It's extraordinarily simple, and extraordinarily accessible to any level of English Language Learner.  No registration is required.

Not only will I be adding it to a future Part Thirty-Three Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly list, but I'm also adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

Larry Ferlazzo's Website Newsletter
May, 2009 (Part One)
Hi, Everybody,
I'm sending out two sections of this most recently newsletter.
This one will consist of links to many "The Best..." lists that I've posted over the past month.  Since many of them are very timely, I thought it might be useful to get them out as soon as possible.  I'll follow-up with a few specific sites in a week or two.
Remember, you can also subscribe by email to learn about all the sites I post about by going here:
Here are links to the most recent "The Best...." lists:

The Best Resources For Teaching & Learning About World Water Day (

The Best Sites To Learn About "Earth Hour"


The Best Sites For Learning About Yosemite & Other U.S. National Parks

The Best Sites To Learn About North Dakota Flooding

The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An "Authentic Audience"

Part Thirty-Three Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

The Best Sites For Learning About Planets & Space

The Best Places Where Students Can Create Online Learning/Teaching Objects For An "Authentic Audience"

The Best Sites To Learn About The Earthquake In Italy

The Best Sources For Ideas On How To Use Technology With English Language Learners

The Best Sites For Panoramas

The Best Sites For Learning About Volcanoes & Mount Redoubt

The Best Sites For Teaching & Learning About Cinco de Mayo

( )

The Best Websites For Learning About Modern & Historical Pirates

The Best Sites To Teach ELL's About Libraries

The Best Sites For Learning About Mother's Day

The Best Digital Storytelling Resources

The Best Sites For Learning About The Afghanistan War

The Best Sites To Learn About Mexico's Drug War

The Best Sites For Learning Which Consumers Electronics To Buy

The Best Places To Find Theatrical Movies On Science, Math & History

I hope you find them helpful!


APRIL, 2009

Here are the latest "The Best." lists, along with a few other selected links.

Just as a reminder, you can receive posts about the 200 new sites added to the website each month by subscribing to my blog for free at

The Best Places To Create (And Find) Internet Scavenger Hunts & Webquests

 The Best Sites For Free ESL/EFL Hand-Outs & Worksheets

 The Best Non-Web Resources, Online Tools, & Websites I Use Most Often With My Students

 The Best Sites To Learn About Mardi Gras & Carnivals

 The Best Tools To Make Online Flashcards

 The Bests Places To Find Good Education Blogs

 Have You Ever Taught A Class That "Got Out Of Control"?

 Part Thirty-One Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

 The Best Sites For Learning About Women's History

The Best Sites For Learning About Easter & Passover(

 The Best Sites For Learning About Cesar Chavez

 The Best Online Slideshows About Current Events

 The Best Online Science, Nature, & History Slideshows

 The Best Sites To Learn About Diego Rivera

 The Best Articles That I've Written

 Part Thirty-Two Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

The Best Places To Find Theatrical Movies On Science, Math & History

The Best Tools To Help Develop Global Media Literacy


The Best Sites For K-12 Intermediate English Language Learners

Updated Multilingual Glossary Of Academic English Vocabulary

In The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary, I shared a document prepared by Carolyn Zierenberg, a talented teacher at our school.  It was a simple multilingual (English/Spanish/Hmong) glossary of academic vocabulary. She had given me permission to share it on this blog and website.

The Glossary of Commonly Used English Academic Vocabulary took an incredible amount of work to complete, and now it's been updated.  Here's the most recent version a Glossary Of Commonly Used English Academic Vocabulary - English/Spanish/Hmong. (

I've also added it to "The Best." list I mentioned earlier.

Of course, a list like this is only effective as a supplement and follow-up to multiple classroom activities where these words are used in a meaningful way in context.

Excellent Immigration Graphic

The New York Times has published the Immigration Explorer (  It shows - by geography and time period - where immigrants from various countries have settled in the United States over the past 130 years.

I haven't seen anything that rivals it.

My only disappointment is that, though it includes immigrants from Vietnam, it doesn't have specific categories for others from different parts of Southeast Asia.

Nevertheless, it will be a very useful resource. I'll be placing a link to it on my United States History webpage.

MapBuzz Is An Easy Tool To Use

MapBuzz  ( is the newest addition to The Best Map-Making Sites On The Web.

As I describe on that list, using an easy mapmaking site like MapBuzz  can be an excellent learning activity for English Language Learners and all students. "Markers" or "push-pins" can indicate with text and images places visited and routes taken on a field trip; battles fought in a war; key milestones in the life of a student or a famous figure; highlighting key natural disasters around the world - and these are just a few examples.

MapBuzz lets your draw lines, insert images, write text - all in a very accessible way.

Accessible Multiple Intelligence Test

The Birmingham Grid For Learning has a very accessible test ( students can take to get an idea of their multiple intelligence profile - in other words, which learning styles tend to work best for them. It's simple, audio support is provided for the text, and the results are displayed attractively.

Two Hundred "The Best." Lists!

With the posting of today's "The Best." list, the total number of the lists published has now reached two hundred!

Just a reminder that you can access all of them in a few ways:

"My Best Of Series" ( has all of them divided by categories (Social Studies, Web 2.0, etc.)

Websites Of The Year has them listed chronologically.

You can also find links to both of these compilations on the sidebar of my blog.

I also about twenty of them on a page on my website, The Best Websites. The version listed there is specifically designed to be a little more accessible to to students.

National Curriculum? No Thanks

The Hoover Institution's "Education Next" debates the question "Should the United States have a national curriculum?" in its most recent issue. (

Deborah Meier explains the "no" position very articulately.

Not Bad Advice For Teachers.

Regular readers know that I'm a fan of Marvin Marshall and his writings on positive classroom management strategies.

He included this story in a post today. It's worth visiting his blog to see the entire post, but here's a story I loved:

There's an old story of a young lady who was taken to dinner one evening by William Gladstone and then the following evening by Benjamin Disraeli, both eminent British statesmen in the late nineteenth century.

"When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England," she said. "But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England."

Superb English Site Back Online

BITS Interactive Resources ( has nineteen "sets" of five different excellent reading activities focusing on "signs, details, matching, gist, and gap."  It's on The Best Websites For Intermediate Readers, but the site either went off-line and/or changed its url address several months ago.

Today - by chance - I located it again.  It's a definite winner.

I've placed the link on my website in a few places, including under Favorite Sites.

A Good Collection Of Clozes

I've included resources from the Enchanted Learning site in many of my "The Best." lists. Many of their free materials are very accessible to English Language Learners.

Today I discovered that they have quite a collection of simple clozes (fill-in-the-gap) about nonfiction topics (  They can't be completed online at their site, but they can be printed-out or, as I do in my U.S. History class, have students copy and past them onto their blog.

To be honest, I wouldn't say the clozes are as strategic in their location of "gaps" as I would like, but not many clozes I've found on the Web are, either. But they are decent materials that I don't have to make, provide good vocabulary/reading reinforcement, and offer new expository information.

I don't know if you can reasonably ask for more than that.


March, 2009

Just two quick reminders:

1)    You can receive posts about the 200 new sites added to the website each month by subscribing to my blog for free at

2)    If you no longer want to receive this newsletter, just reply to this email and write "Unsubscribe" either in the subject line or in the body of the email.

Here are links to the latest "The Best." lists:

The Best Sites For Learning About St. Patrick's Day (and April Fool's Day)

The Best Educational Web Resources Worth Paying For.

The Best Sites To Learn About The Recession

The Best Online Games Students Can Play In Private Virtual "Rooms"

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


The Best Places To Buy ESL/EFL Books. Software & Multimedia


The Best Sites To Learn About The Fires In Australia


The Best Sites For Learning About The Hudson River Plane Crash


The Best ESL/EFL Software


The Best Sites To Learn About San Francisco


The Best Places To Find Free (And Good) Lesson Plans On The Internet

Not "The Best," But "A List" Of Search Engines For Social Media

The Best Sites For ELL's To Learn About The Dangers Of Smoking

The Best Sites Where ELL's Can Learn About The Super Bowl

Part Thirty Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

The Best Resources For Chinese New Year

The Best Resources For Groundhog Day

And here are a few new selected websites:

Miniature Earth

Miniature Earth ( is a pretty amazing site. It's slideshow that uses statistics to reduce the world to 100 inhabitants, and shows how that plays out demographically, who uses what resources, etc. They periodically update the statistics.

I've placed the link on my website under Towards The Twenty-First Century.

Awesome Stories Has Just Gotten More "Awesome"

Awesome Stories ( has made it on to many of my "The Best." lists over the past year.

It has an incredibly impressive collection of materials - on just about any topic imaginable - that are very accessible to English Language Learners. Over past few months they've even added audio support to much of their text resources, which made them even more accessible.

They just completely revamped the site, and now have hundreds of resources hosted by the site itself, slideshows, a much better internal search engine, and a bunch of other features.

You do have to register to use the site, but it's free and easy to do so. You can register on behalf of an entire school, or on an individual basis.

Virtual Grammar Lab

I'm adding the Virtual Grammar Lab ( to two "The Best." lists - The Best Sites For Grammar Practice and The Best Sites Where Students Can Work Independently & Let Teachers Check On Progress.

It has over 2400 grammar activities, and teachers can create a free account so that they can track student progress.

Favthumbs Could Be Very Useful To Teachers

Favthumbs ( provides thumbnail images (and links) of bookmarks saved on your account.

Thumbnail images are always useful to English Language Learners, but Favthumbs is unlikely to be used by students because, in order to use it, they have to use, and there are a number of better bookmarking sites for ELL's that don't require any download (see The Best Social Bookmarking Applications For English Language Learners & Other Students)

However, Favthumbs might just be the easiest way for a teacher to create an accessible webpage for students doing an Internet "scavenger hunt" or Webquest, or if they just want their students to focus on a few specific webpages for an assignment.  All a teacher has to do is create a tag on their account and give students this url address - (your username)/ (the tag you gave the links). Students will see thumbnail images and links to the sites you've bookmarked.

I'm Adding "Themes" To Several "The Best." Lists

Themes  (  is a nifty application that has apparently been around for a year, but I just recently learned about it. I'm immediately adding it to The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online, Part Two Of The Best Sites For Students To Easily Create & Display Online Projects and The Best Social Bookmarking Applications For English Language Learners & Other Students.

It allows you to basically create individual webpages (theoretically based on "themes") and very easily add maps, images, documents, text, and even RSS feeds.

It's not perfect, since it doesn't have an embed option, and it doesn't have a "drag-and-drop" functionality for images and webpages that some of the other sites on the best Bookmarking list have, but its ease of use makes it very attractive.  Students could certainly use it to create categories of images or texts, for example, which is something I explain a bit more in the best bookmarking sites list.

Citizenship Quiz

The History Channel has a very nicely-designed Citizenship Quiz ( that lets people try their hand at answering the 96 questions that the Immigration Service draws from for the U.S. Citizenship exam.

Actually, I should say that these are the questions they used draw from, since a new test was recently instituted and only includes some of these old questions.

However, for my purposes the test is still good. I'm using the History channel test site as a small part of the pre-and-post assessments in my two U.S. History classes this year. This is the project I've mentioned before where I'm teaching one class primarily using technology and the other the way I would ordinarily teach it (though I would say that was was very engaging). I'm using a variety of assessments to compare results from the two, including projects demonstrating higher-order thinking skills, self-assessments, and recall of facts.

I've placed a link to the test on my website under Citizenship.

Here's another online civics quiz that's considerably harder designed by  the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Simply Box Might Be A Winner For Research

I had tried out an application called Simply Box (  awhile ago, but once I realized that I would have to install a toolbar to use it, I didn't explore it any further. Any kind of installation makes it problematic for school use.

Today, though, I saw it bookmarked on Langwitches' links, and decided to take another look. I'm glad I did.

I need to experiment with it a bit more, but Simply Box might be one of the very applications out there that I think is useful to download for at least my personal use. It seems to me that it will be a great tool for research on the web.

It's basically a bookmarking program. The key difference, however, between Simply Box and everything else out there is that you can very, very easily just draw a line around anything you see on the web and save it in a virtual "box."

Here's a link to a very good video explaining how to use it. It's actually understandable, which is more than I can say about a lot of screencasts that sites have about how to use their applications.

I'd be interested in hearing from other people if they think this tool can be as helpful as I think it can be, or if I'm overlooking something.

By the way, you might also be interested in The Best Social Bookmarking Applications For English Language Learners & Other Students.

Kid Rex Search Engine

I recently learned about the Kid Rex search engine ( from the Alt Search Engines blog.  It's supposed to be a "kid-friendly" search engine.

I was actually pretty impressed when I tested it out on a few queries (Abraham Lincoln, Roman Gladiator).  The results that it delivered were accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners.

The results are text-only, so it's not as good as some of the search engines on The Best Search Engines For ESL/EFL Learners - 2008 list that provide thumbnail images, but its selective listing does make it a decent option for students.

I've placed the link on my website under Search Engines.

USA Today Weather & Climate Interactives

USA Today has a very good collection of interactive graphics on weather and climate topics.(

This one on global warming is just one example.

I've placed the entire collection on the Science page of my website, but I'm also placing some direct links under Natural Disasters.

Larry Ferlazzo's Website Newsletter

February, 2009

Here are the latest highlights from my blog and website:

The Best Sites For Learning About The Presidential Inauguration 


The Best Sites To Learn About U.S. Presidents

The Best Sites To Teach About African-American History

Not "The Best," But "A List" Of Music Sites

The Best Sites For News & History Videos That Won't Be Blocked By Content Filter (At Least, Not By Ours!)

The Best Collections Of Educational Links

The Best Sites That Use Movie Trailers To Teach English

The Best Sites To Learn About Street Gangs

The Best Resources About President's Day

The Best Sites About Valentine's Day

All 160 plus "The Best..." lists can be found here (categorized by topic):

Screentoaster Is Now Open To The Public

I've posted in the past about how the ability to make easy screencasts - with audio- could be an excellent learning opportunity for English Language Learners (you might want to take a look at that post). The online tool that has been available, Screencast-O-Matic, works okay for this purpose, but seems a little too complicated.

There's now a similar tool called Screentoaster ( that couldn't be more simple to use, and they've just added both the ability to record audio and add subtitles. All you do after you log-in is click on a button, open up the window on your screen that you want to record, and it starts recording your screen.  After that's been recorded, you can provide audio or subtitles.  And it's free.

I've posted about Screentoaster in the past, but it just opened to the public this week.

I've placed it on The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

Shahi Dictionary

Shahi (  is a dictionary that combines simple definitions with quite a few Flickr photos. The combination of the two makes it pretty accessible to English Language Learners.

I'm placing the link on my website under Dictionaries.

Mel Zoo Is An Excellent Search Engine

Mel Zoo ( is the newest addition to The Best Search Engines For ESL/EFL Learners - 2008 and is definitely near the top of the list.  It may  not have all the features of some of the other search engines I've ranked at the top, but its simplicity makes it very attractive for English Language Learners.

After you type in your query at Mel Zoo, you see what appears to be - more or less - the typical kind of text results you'd find in other search engines.  The key advantage the engine has - for both ELL's and others - is that as you move the cursor down the text listing on the left side, the website itself is shown on the right side.

This capability  makes it very accessible to English Language Learners.

You can also find this link, and others, on my website under Search Engines.

Thanks, once again, to Alt Search Engines for the tip.

Simple Technology Guides

I've just learned about Custom Guides . (

These are simple, double-sided "cheat sheets" that can be printed out for many software applications. I really liked the ones I checked-out, though Kelly thought the ones on Macs were a bit outdated. I can't comment, though, since I'm a PC-guy.

I'm adding Custom Guides to The Best Places To Learn Computer Basics & How To Fix Tech Problems list.


Pixcetra ( has a huge amount of photos and slideshows about current news and other topics. It appears to be connected to AOL, but, to tell you the truth, I'm just not sure who's started it. But their images are great and the captions are accessible to English Language Learners.

For lack of a better place, I've put the link on my website under Multimedia Resources From News Outlets.

Pete's PowerPoint Station

Pete's PowerPoint Station ( is a treasure trove of freely available PowerPoint presentations on all subjects, and most of them appear very accessible to English Language Learners.

I'm particularly excited about the ones on United States History. Most of the other sites I've found that have history PowerPoints are much more advanced, and not very accessible.

I'm adding this site to The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About U.S. History.

In fact, I'm also adding it to The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About World History.

FinAid For College Help

I just learned about FinAid ( through an article in the Wall Street Journal. It appears to be one of the most complete, if not the most complete, resource on the web for college financial assistance.

It could be accessible to advanced Intermediate English Language Learners with guided assistance from a teacher, but even then it would be difficult.  However, it's such a great resource that I'm still going to add it to The Best Sites For Encouraging ELL's To Attend College.

Capitol Words

Capitol Words.(  uses the Congressional Record to develop ongoing "word clouds" for each member of Congress, and can show clouds representing each state,too.

For English Language Learners, it would be a great real-world exercise in vocabulary development combined with civics.

I've placed the link on my website under Citizenship.


           LARRY FERLAZZO'S WEBSITE UPDATE -- JANUARY 2009 -- Addendum
I hope your holidays are going well. 
I've prepared quite a few "The Best..." lists over the past few weeks, and thought I'd just send out a quick update on them.  I hope you find them helpful.

The Best Applications For Annotating Websites

The Best Ways To Access Educational YouTube Videos At School

The Best Websites For Learning About Martin Luther King

Part Twenty-Eight Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

The Best Posts Of 2008

The Best Sites For Learning About The Presidential Inauguration

The Best Temporary Email Address Sites For Students (Or Anyone)

The Best Year-End Collections Of Images - 2008

The Best Sources For Advice On Student Blogging

The Best Posts From Other Blogs That Made Me "Think" In 2008

The "Best" Resources For Learning About The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Best "Year-In-Review" Features That Aren't Photo Collections 2008

The Best Education-Related Books Visitors To This Blog Read In 2008

January, 2009 Edition
Before the holiday break, I thought I'd send out a final batch of the newest "The Best..." lists -- with tiny urls this time.  I'll send out the next update in mid-to-late January.
I hope your holidays are restful and enjoyable!

Larry Ferlazzo's Website Update

Holidays, 2008 Edition

I'm sending out this shortened newsletter so that subscribers can get some holiday resources I've written about in time to use them before the Winter Break.

Here are links to some recent "The Best." lists:

The Best Places To Learn About Christmas, Hanukkah, & Kwanzaa

The Best Personal Home Page Creators

The Best Tools To Make Simple Graphs Online

The Best Resources To Teach & Learn About The Terrorist Attacks In India

The "Best" Articles About Education - 2008

The Best Sites For Learning About New Year Celebrations

The Best Map-Making Sites On The Web


Edublog Award Nominees Announced

The official nominees for the 2008 Edublog Awards ( have been announced, and it's quite an impressive list. Check them out and vote for which ones you think are the best. You can only vote once in each category and voting ends on December 21st.

This blog has been nominated in The Best Resource Sharing Blog.(  You can't go wrong, though, by voting for any of the blogs that have been listed in that category or in any of the others.

How Stuff Works History Videos

The "How To" videos on the How Stuff Works (  site made it onto The Best Online Instructional Video Sites list.

I recently discovered that it also has a very extensive collection of short videos accessible to English Language Learners related to History. I'm quite impressed by them, and am finding it useful for my U.S. History class.


December, 2008

Since I published so many new "The Best." lists recently, I thought I'd send out this update a bit early.

As a reminder, you can subscribe (for free) by email to learn, and get more frequent updates, about one hundred or so additional sites each month by going here:

Here are links to "The Best." lists, followed by news about a few other new sites:

The Best Science & Math Sites -- 2008


The Best Search Engines For ESL/EFL Learners -- 2008


The Best Websites To Learn About Veterans Day


The Best Reference Websites For English Language Learners -- 2008


Part Twenty-Seven Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly - October, 2008


The Best Social Studies WebSites - 2008

The Best Sites To Teach and Learn About Thanksgiving

The Best Online Sources For Images

"The Best." Lists Reorganized

I've finally gotten around to creating a page that has all my "The Best." lists separated by topic (Science, Web 2.0, etc).  You can find them at "My Best Of Series" page (

The Websites Of The Year page, on the other hand, has these lists in the chronological order in which they've been written.  Please note that I continually update and revise all of the lists.

The Best Websites page on my website shows versions of these same lists that are designed for student self-access.

Voice Of America Special English - From China

Voice of America Special English is a wonderful resource for English Language Learners. It broadcasts news using a simple and limited vocabulary, and is very accessible to ELL's. Not only does it provide reports on current events, but it also has special series on U.S. History, geography, and many other particular areas of interest.  You can access both the audio and transcript on the Web.

It's made several of my "The Best." lists, including The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About U.S. History and The Best News/Current Events Websites For English Language Learners - 2007.

However, it has two major problems.  One, they only keep a limited number of their programs accessible with audio for a certain period of time before they seem to eliminate the audio portion and, two, their "search" system is terrible so it's difficult to find all the programs in a series in one place.

Different Asian-based websites have tried to rectify these two problems by maintaining their own much-better organized versions of the Special English broadcasts (I don't know, however, if they've done this with permission or not, but I assume VOA doesn't really care either way).  I have had direct links to specific history broadcasts from one Asian site on my U.S. History website for quite awhile, but they seem to go off-line quite a bit.

I just learned about a site that appears much better organized and more technologically advanced called 51 VOA. (  It has all the VOA Special English broadcasts organized well, and they all still have audio.

I don't quite have it in me right now to change the large number of direct links I have on my website to specific broadcasts on the other site, but I will at some point in the future.  For now, though, it's easy enough to direct students to the main page and then to the specific broadcast.

A Good Question For Classroom Management

Marvin Marshall, who writes on positive classroom management strategies and who I have quoted often here, just wrote something in his monthly newsletter that struck me.

I've known that when there's a behavior issue in class asking the student, "Why?" never is helpful. Now Marvin has a better suggestion. Instead, ask the student, ""What do you think we should do now?"

Makes sense to me.

Readers might also be interested in a series of posts I wrote earlier this year about classroom management:

When A "Good" Class Goes "Bad" (And Back To "Good" Again!) - April, 2008

Maintaining A "Good" Class - April, 2008

More About Maintaining a "Good" Class - May, 2008

"Why Do You Let Others Control You?" - September, 2008

Incredible Website Launches Today!

U.S.A Learns (  is an incredible website to help users learn English, and it just launched today (November 7th).

It's free to use. Students can register if they want to save their work and evaluate their progress.

It's a joint effort of the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), Internet and Media Services Department and the Project IDEAL Support Center at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

Tar Heel Reader Update

The Tar Heel Reader ( is on The Best Places Where Students Can Write Online list.  It's a great place where Beginning English Language Learners can read "talking books" and write/speak them, too.

Anybody can read the books on the site.  However, in order to have your students create talking books using their "easy as pie" (and free) process, you need to register and have to have a code.  They're rightfully concerned about publishing the code because of spammers.

Gary Bishop from the site, though, is happy to provide it to teachers.  Just write him at and he'll send it to you.


Shmoop (  is sort of a Cliff's Notes - but a whole lot better.

It has a literature and poetry section, but I'm less interested in those since I'm not convinced that using the "classics" in any kind of class - mainstream or ELL - is the best tool for teaching and learning. However, I like its History section. It's probably only accessible to advanced English Language Learners, but teachers could certainly easily modify parts to create more usable materials. It also offers links to additional good resources.

Another Neat Online "Spelling Bee"

I posted about a new online Spelling Bee earlier this week that I thought would have some value for English Language Learners. Now, I've just learned about another one that looks very good. Marc Tinkler, one of its developers, alerted me about its existence.

It's the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee(

You don't have to register to play, and it automatically adapts to your spelling ability. It remembers which words you got right and wrong and quizzes you periodically on words at your spelling level that you spelled incorrectly in the past. A human voice, and not a computerized one, says the words. Plus, it shows you a diagram of similar words.

It doesn't give you a sentence example using the word, but I guess you can't have everything.

I'll be adding the link to my website under Spelling.

Screentoaster Is Excellent For Speaking Practice

I've posted in the past about how the ability to make easy screencasts - with audio- could be an excellent learning opportunity for English Language Learners (you might want to take a look at that post). The online tool that has been available, Screencast-O-Matic, works okay for this purpose, but seems a little too complicated.

There's now a similar tool called Screentoaster (  that couldn't be more simple to use, and they've just added both the ability to record audio and add subtitles. All you do after you log-in is click on a button, open up the window on your screen that you want to record, and it starts recording your screen.  After that's been recorded, you can provide audio or subtitles.

It's not open yet to the public, but I was able to get an invitation pretty quickly after I requested one. Once it's open to the public I'll be adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English and will probably be adding it to other "The Best." lists, too.



Here are my choices for the best additions to my blog and website over the past month.  As usual, I'm just including links to new "The Best." lists.  After those, I've included more information about specific websites.

As a reminder, you can subscribe (for free) by email to learn about the additional one hundred or so new sites each month by going here:

The Best Sites For Encouraging ELL's To Attend College ( - September, 2008

The Best Online Sites For Creating Music ( - October, 2008

The Best Multilingual & Bilingual Sites For Math, Social Studies, & Science ( - October, 2008

The Best Websites For Learning About Halloween ( - October, 2008

The Best Online Resources About Christopher Columbus ( - October, 2008

The Best "Unusual" Sites To Create Online Presentations
(  - October, 2008

The Best Sites For Making Crossword Puzzles & Hangman Games ( - October, 2008

The Best Online Sources For Images ( - October, 2008

The Best Web Resources On The Iraq War ( - October, 2008

The Best Online Karaoke Sites For English Language Learners ( - October, 2008

Part Twenty-Four Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly ( - October, 2008

Part Twenty-Five Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly  ( - October, 2008

Open Road TV

Open Road TV ( has a lot of nice and short videos highlighting popular tourist attractions in the western United States.

They're pretty accessible to English Language Learners, and you can choose them from an interactive map. The videos don't have closed-captioning, but Intermediate-level students should be able to get their gist.

I've placed the link on my website under The United State and Canada.

Wectar For Recommendations

Wectar ( is a new tool that generates website recommendations. You paste in the url address of one site, and it generates both the addresses and screenshots of similar sites. I found some interesting ESL/EFL sites once I typed in my the address of my website.

It seems similar to other tools on The Best Places To Get Blog, Website, Book, Movie & Music Recommendations,  and I've added Wectar to that list.

Your Disease Risk

I think Your Disease Risk ( is a great site for both teenage and adult English Language Learners. It's from the Siteman Cancer Center, and leads you through simple questionnaires on various illnesses to determine.your disease risk.

I think the best way to teach English is to find-out what people want to learn about, and then help them develop their language skills in the process of learning about that topic. This seems to be a pretty high-interest area to me. Even if it's less personally relevant to teenage students, they can certainly answer the questions playing the role of their older parents.

I'm adding this link to The Best Health Sites For English Language Learners.

Why Do You Let Others Control You?"

This is part four of a series of posts I've written over the past several months on my ongoing efforts at using positive classroom management strategies at our inner-city school. The previous three have been:

When A "Good" Class Goes "Bad" (And Back To "Good" Again!) - April, 2008

Maintaining A "Good" Class - April, 2008

More About Maintaining a "Good" Class - May, 2008

This most recent post is prompted by a major struggle I've been having with my mainstream ninth-grade English class this year, who are with me for two full-hours each day (the rest of the time I teach Intermediate English Language Learners).  My students are very smart, and many come from challenging backgrounds.

I've been trying most of the classroom management strategies I've shared in those previous three posts but, to be truthful, few of them have been particularly effective in creating better classroom management this year.  One thing they have been successful in doing, however, has been in helping me develop strong, trusting relationships with all of my students.  This is the foundation that has allowed me to finally begin to create a more orderly classroom through using some new strategies.  Of course, the primary reason to create this kind of orderliness is to enhance student learning, not for the sake of orderliness.

Here are some of the actions I've taken that have finally begun to work:

"DON'T LET OTHERS CONTROL YOU": I had been spending a lot of time "putting out lots of little fires" - students reacting to what other students would say or do to them (throw little pieces of paper, say something about their mother, etc.)  My reaction had typically been to go over to each student involved and ask them quietly to not repeat the action.  Sometimes I would send a student out of the classroom for a few minutes to "cool down."  Punitive measures would typically just escalate the problem, so I seldom, if ever, implemented them (except in extreme cases).  I also used many of the positive actions I've mentioned in my previous posts, but improvement was minimal.

What I have begun to do now, instead, is when students react to provocations is to just ask them "Why are you letting __________ control you?  He/She is doing it just to get your reaction - don't you want to be in control of you?"  I tell them that I'll deal with the instigator firmly while the reacting student needs to work on his/her self-control.

This strategy has had a profound effect on how students act in the classroom now, and on how I respond to disruptions.  When issues arise, I continue to have short, quiet conversations with those involved.  But now, I don't say, "Please be quiet."  I say, "Why are you letting him/her control you?"  This stance has clearly resonated with students, particularly boys (who are a large majority in my class). I feel much better about my stance, too.  And the number of disruptions has fallen dramatically.

I assume I picked-up this idea from something I read somewhere, so I'm not claiming it as original.  I just can't believe I haven't used it earlier.

I'm also working students to think about how this strategy relates to the rest of their challenging lives.

This first strategy has been, by far, the most important one I've used to get a handle on this class this year.  Here are a couple of others that have helped, too:

"YOU MAY GET OUT OF YOUR DESK DURING CLASS - JUST ASK FOR PERMISSION FIRST: Usually, as long as I'm not talking to the class, I let students get-up to sharpen their pencils, get supplies, throw-out garbage, etc., without asking for permission.  However, with this class, that ability was often an excuse for unhelpful student-to-student interactions (intentionally bumping into each other).  I've begun enforcing this rule very strictly, with students having to be very clear with me what they want to do.

Framing it in a positive way -"You may get out of your desk - just ask for permission first" is something I've learned from Marvin Marshall, my favorite writer on positive classroom management strategies.  It sends a different message than "Don't get up without permission."

"YOU'LL HAVE THE SAME PARTNERS FOR SEVERAL WEEKS, AND HAVE A PERMANENT ASSIGNED LOCATION FOR YOUR PARTNER WORK": I always have a lot of partner work going on in my classes, and, typically, I mix-them-up frequently and let students seat where they want.  This also was problematic with this class, and resulted in more classroom disruptions.

After consulting with students about their partner preferences, I assigned groups that will work together for several weeks, and have a classroom map where everyone knows where they will be when we do work in partners.  The group locations are strategically placed to minimize problems, with certain students far away from others.

I'll keep readers posted as the year continues.

One good week does not a semester make, but at least it's a start.

What A Great Way To Write A Book Review!

The San Francisco Chronicle has been running a great weekly feature called the Three Panel Book Review ( , drawn and written by Lisa Brown.

She develops a book review in three cartoon panels with a short amount of text. They're very funny and creative.

Using her concept as a model, it's a great way for English Language Learners to practice the reading strategy of summarizing.

The Chronicle just today began creating an archive of past Three Panel Book Reviews (I really don't understand why they didn't make them available earlier), but they have a large number still to add.  The link in this post will take you to the archive.

Scribblar Is A Cool Tool

Scribblar ( has immediately joined other applications on The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration list.

It allows you to create a virtual "room" in seconds - without having to register - where you can collaborate for writing or drawing, with the ability to have a text chatboard or audio/webcam communication.  It couldn't be easier to use.  If, and when, we can ever coordinate time zones, it would be a neat tool to use for collaborating with others in the International Sister Classes Project.

Heather Voran contacted Scribblar after she read this post, and learned that there is no limit to users in a room, except what is practical in that type of meeting, and the url does last indefinitely, but you have to bookmark it because it is not retrievable from their website. Thanks, Heather!

Larry Ferlazzo's Website Newsletter

October, 2008

Here are my picks for the best posts from my blog over the past month.  Remember, you can also subscribe and receive free daily email updates here:

As usual, I will just be posting links to recent "The Best." lists since they're so long.  They are followed by additional highlights from my blog:

The Best Sites For Students To Create Budgets  ( - August, 2008

The Best Internet Sites For English Language Learners - 2008 (

The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About New Orleans (  - September, 2008

The Best Resources For Hispanic Heritage Month (  - September, 2008

The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education - 2008 (

The Best Places To Learn Computer Basics & How To Fix Tech Problems ( - September, 2008

The Best Sites To Learn About The U.S. Financial Crisis (  - September, 2008

One Of The Coolest Online Music Tools Ever!

Contrapunctus Variations (what a name!) (  lets you create musical compositions with your computer mouse. It's difficult to explain in a post, but once you go there it will become clear. You can save your composition, describe it, and email the link for posting in a blog or teacher's website.  No registration is required.

Not only can English Language Learners use it to practice descriptive writing, but they can also learn some English names of musical instruments.

I'm very tempted to add this link to The Best Music Websites For Learning English .  However, instead, I think I'm going to create another "The Best." list called The Best Online Sites To Create Music.   Look for it in the coming weeks.

Know How 2 Go

Know How 2 Go ( is really quite an impressive site designed to encourage middle and high school students to attend college. It's been created by the American Council on Education and the Ad Council.

It's quite informative, and accessible to high Intermediate English Language Learners. Part of the site is a very interactive visit to a virtual college campus. While there, the user can collect information for a "notebook" that they can then email to themselves.

I've placed it on my website under Careers.

Great Environmental Teaching Tools For California Students

Next 10 ( is a nonprofit group in our state that has developed some excellent online learning tools that relate to California, particularly related to the environment.

One of them is a Carbon Footprint Calculator ( and a Home Energy Saver (  that includes California data.

They also have an extraordinary tool that lets you discover the carbon footprint of your community based on your zipcode.

I all three of these tools are accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners, and I'm adding them to The Best Sites To Introduce Environmental Issues Into The Classroom.

They also have a California Budget Challenge activity where users make decisions about our state budget (which is several months late already!).  It's a good exercise, but probably not accessible to any but the most advanced English Language Learners.

"Web 2.0 For Dummies"

I thought people might be interested in seeing this short (fourteen slides) slideshow that includes my commentary. It's a presentation I'll be making to some of my colleagues this Wednesday called "Web 2.0 For Dummies"  ( )  (I include myself in that category).

It also includes some of my skepticism about how technology is often used in schools, which is reflected in many of my posts in our group blog, In Practice.

iKnow! Has Extraordinary Potential

iKnow!  ( appears to have the potential to be one of the best online sites for English language learning out there.

iKnow! is free, and offers various learning strategies with a lot of audio support. Their "learning English with English support" is fairly limited right now - it's presently focused on English-to-Japanese and Japanese-to-English - but there is some good stuff for advanced English Language Learners. Once they beef-up that section this site is going to be a real winner and probably a student and teacher favorite.

Cambridge Ventures Arcade

Cambridge University Press has extraordinary online support activities for their ESL/EFL textbooks, and they're freely available to anyone. Several of their sites are on The Best Listening Sites For English Language Learners.

Now they've just come-out with a site for adult learners (which I think would also be fine for high school students).  It's called the Ventures Arcade, (  and it's really top-notch.

I've placed the link on my website under Favorite Sites.

Listen & Read

Scholastic has been publishing excellent "Listen and Read" nonfiction stories (with audio support for the text) for several years on their website. They're accessible to Beginning English Language Learners. It's not easy to find expository text that's accessible to Beginning ELL's.

The problem has been that each story hasn't had a permanent url address - they've kept changing it as they've published the stories in their monthly online newsletters. It's been pretty frustrating.

However, now they've compiled permanent links to all of them on one page. Explore all fifty of them now at Listen and Read.(

I've put direct links to many of them under various sections of my website.

Communicating With Students

My first year in teaching was spent with a self-contained class of retained seventh-graders.  Right above the whiteboard in our classroom I wrote this question on a poster: "Is what you're doing, or is what you're thinking about doing, going to help you get what you want?"  I think periodically reflecting on that question in class was mildly effective.

Today, Marvin Marshall, who is my favorite (by far) writer/thinker on positive classroom management, wrote a different (and, I think, better) question that we as teachers might want to consider asking ourselves regularly. He wrote:

Will what I am about to do or say bring me closer or will it push me away farther from the person with whom I am communicating?

Of course, that's not a bad question for us to consider in all our interpersonal relationships, either.


Pic-Lits (  is an intriguing new site that lets users pick an image from selection and then "drag-and-drop" words onto the image. The user's creation can then be saved with a link posted, or it can be embedded.

It has some elements that might make it particularly useful to English Language Learners.

The words you can choose from are labeled by their parts of speech, and once you drop the word on the image you can see all the different verb conjugations and choose one. You can write a poem or describe the picture.

You also have the option of writing whatever words you want if you don't want to be limited by the words available to drag-and-drop.

Jake Peters from Pic-Lits sent me an email letting me know about the site and saying they are doing a pilot project with a local school using it with their English Language Learners. Given that interest, one would assume the images available on the site will be classroom appropriate -
another advantage of the application

Larry Ferlazzo's Website Update

September, 2008

I'm sending this update out a little early so I can get it "out of the way" before the craziness of preparation for the new school year begins.

As usual, in addition to highlighting specific sites, I'm also just listing the links to some new "The Best." lists I've compiled.

The Best Tools For Making Online Timelines

The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly - 2008

The Best Online Instructional Video Sites

The Best Places To Get Blog, Website, Book, Movie & Music Recommendations

The Best Ways To Shorten URL Addresses

The Best Sites To Introduce Environmental Issues Into The Classroom

Reach The World Geo Games

Reach The World has a couple of Geo Games ( that are a little different from many of the other map games you can find on my Geography page.

In these timed games, which also have various levels of difficulty, you drag countries, continents, and cities onto a globe - not a flat surface.  You can also rotate the globe to find the right place.  In addition, you can ask for, and get, clues.

It's a nice little twist..

Human Footprint Interactive

The Human Footprint Interactive ( is an engaging activity that helps the user determine how much they consume each year, and how that compares with residents of different countries.

The language is accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners.

I'm adding this site to The Best Sites To Introduce Environmental Issues Into The Classroom.

After The Deluge

A.D. New Orleans After The Deluge (  is a pretty impressive multi-part, web-based graphic novel about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

We teach a unit on New Orleans in our ninth-grade mainstream English classes, including advanced English Language Learners. This comic is certainly accessible to ELL's and enticing to reluctant readers as well.

You can find a ton of resources about New Orleans on my website under..New Orleans, including a very quick VoiceThread slideshow I made after my family's visit there four months ago..

Talking Pets

If I had learned about Talking Pets ( earlier, I would have included it on my year-end The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly - 2008.

You can choose a pet picture, or upload your own. Then, using the text-to-speech feature, you can have it say a short message, then email the link for posting on a blog or website.

It's a good activity for English Language Learners to hear what they write.

Green Planet Search

Thanks to the excellent blog Alt Search Engines, I've learned about about a neat new site called Green Planet Search (

It's a search engine for environmental websites, plus the site and its host is solar-powered. It's very attractively designed, and, even though they're just starting, I've been able to find a number of sites that are new to me on it and that are accessible to English Language Learners.

I'm so impressed with it that I'm adding it to my surprisingly (at least to me) popular The Best Sites To Introduce Environmental Issues Into The Classroom.

Planet Science

Planet Science (  has a ton of resources about teaching, learning, and using science in the classroom.

I've put the main link to the site on my Teacher's Page under Science Ideas.  However, it had one interactive activity that I thought was particularly good for English Language Learners called Get Clobbered, and I put that link on my Science page.

In the game,  players have to "dress" the scientist with the appropriate safety equipment he/she needs for the experiment they're about to conduct.  It's an excellent opportunity for vocabulary development, and designed so it's accessible to Early Intermediate English Language Learners.



Here are the latest highlights from my blog and website (many of them are just links to new "The Best." lists I've compiled - the lists are too lengthy to reprint in their entirety here):

For Google Reader & Bloglines Subscribers -Please Re-Subscribe Using Feedburner

Some of the people who receive this newsletter also subscribe to daily updates from my blog through an RSS feedreader.  If you are one of those, you might have stopped receiving posts if you use Google Reader or Bloglines and subscribed prior to January.  If you are experiencing this problem, please re-subscribe using the newer Feedburner feed (  This issue only relates to people who have subscribed prior to January - anyone who has subscribed since then is already using the Feedburner feed and shouldn't be having any problems. Other RSS Readers don't appear to be having any issues, so I think this only relates to "older" Google and Bloglines subscribers. Sorry for the inconvenience, but the problem appears to be out of my control.

The Best Ways To Create Simple Screenshots

The Best Teacher Resource Sites For Social Justice Issues



The Best Websites To Learn About Various Religions & English

The Best Online Learning Games - 2008

The Best Websites For Learning About Natural Disasters

The Best Sites To Teach & Learn About The Olympics

Part Twenty Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

The Broth Is A Great Find!

During the past several months I've been on the "look-out" for a "community" art-making application on the web. I thought it would be neat if students in our international Sister Classes Project could easily share their artwork.

Unfortunately, even though there are quite a few web tools out there that let people cooperate on creating art, I couldn't find one that had safeguards that would allow allow them to be used in the classroom.

Now, though, I've found The Broth.( .

It lets you create password-protected private "rooms" where people can cooperate on creating a piece of art. In addition, it has a chat component that lets you talk with people who are in the room at the same time. With our Sister Classes project, it's unlikely because of time zone differences that we can make that happen. However, the chat messages remain, so students can leave messages about what and why they've contributed to the community art work.


Larry Ferlazzo's Website Update
July, 2008

I'm sending this update out a little early, and it might be the last one for the summer.  The next update might not be sent out until late August.

You might want to consider subscribing to my blog if you'd like to get more frequent updates over the next two months:

Here are the top posts from this past month:

The Best Online Video Sites For Learning English

The Best Ways To Make Comic Strips Online

The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About U.S. History

The Best "Today In History" Sites

The Best Websites To Learn About California

Part Eighteen Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

Part Nineteen Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

I've posted in the past about iCue ( , the new site recently launched by NBC.

They launched an extraordinary new section to the site focused on U.S. History. It's so good that I've added it to The Best Websites For Teaching And Learning About U.S. History that I posted earlier this month.

The enormous number, and quality, of video clips (with transcripts), plus interactive games and exercises, make this a great site for English Language Learners and other students.

I've written before about the excellent free bi-weekly email newsletter from Middle Web called "Of Particular Interest." You can subscribe to it by sending a note to with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.

That was a preface to an interesting piece in the most recent edition.  Quoting John Norton, Middleweb's editor: "A recent "practice guide" from the federal National Center for Education Research ( distills what its panel of scholarly authors believe are seven of the best research-based instructional strategies teachers can use to improve student learning.Don't be put off by the lengthy scholarly introduction - skim and skip to
page 4."

I followed John's advice and thought that page was interesting.  I'll be sharing it with colleagues.

Wordle (  lets you either copy and paste or upload text. It then produces a word cloud that give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently. You choose from different formats about how you want your word cloud displayed, and then have them displayed on the website with its own url address.

This could be a fascinating exercise for English Language Learners and other students. Beginning ELL's could use it to see the importance of learning sight words. Social Studies students could upload speeches by Barack Obama and John McCain and compare the two.

I know there have been other ways to identify high-frequency words from text, but I think Wordle is the easiest and has the most elegant presentation.

The Alt Search Engines blog just posted about a different kind of "search" than they usually do. This one is called Tox Mystery ( , is from the National Library of Medicine, and has the user search for hazardous chemicals within a house.

It's animated, with audio support for all the text, and is an interactive game. It's very accessible to English Language Learners.

I've placed the link under Health on my website.

280 Slides (  looks like it might be the newest addition to my The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows.

I need to explore it further, but I especially like its feature that lets you search for images and videos off the web right inside the slide-show creation process. Except for the wonderful Bookr tool, which is still by far the easiest way to make an online slideshow, all the other sites on my list require that you open up a separate window to search for images in order to get their url address first before you "plug" it in. This feature just makes it easier for English Language Learners and everybody else to create their shows. And 280 Slides has far more "bells and whistles" than Bookr.

You have to register if you want 280 Slides to save your presentation, but the process is simple and quick.

Mingoville (  is an exceptional site from Denmark designed to teach Beginning English Language Learners. There are many interactive exercises and games, it's very colorful, and there are both listening and speaking activities. I haven't explored the site fully, but it has an easy voice recording feature.

You can experiment with it as a guest for a few minutes, but then you have to register. It's completely free, and registration took about twenty seconds.

It's so good I've placed in on my website under Favorite Sites. In fact, if your students are a little intimidated by having 8,000 categorized sites to choose from on my site, going to Favorite Sites is a good place to start.



Larry Ferlazzo's Website Update

June 2008 (Part Two)

I'm not including any of my "The Best..." lists (  in this update, but you might want to check-out the latest ones.

Here are my choices for May (they're not in any order of preference):

Tutpup Math & Spelling Games

Tutpup (  is a new site where students can compete in math or spelling games against other students from around the world anonymously - either with a made-up name or no name at all.

There are a number of sites where users can compete in learning games like these. The problem I've had with them is that there is no way to "level the playing the field." In other words, an English Language Learner might be playing against a native-English speaker. A situation like that does not create much encouragement for an ELLer if they are going to lose all the time.

However, the key difference between Tutpup and these other sites is that Tutpup has multiple levels of play to choose from going from extremely easy to extremely hard. This ability to choose your level helps a lot.

Plus, there's some sort of teacher's option that allows students to sign-up in a class. It's not clearly explained on the website what this means exactly - can students choose to play online with their classmates? If that were the case, my opinion of Tutpup would increase even more. I've emailed them for clarification, and will post their response (assuming I receive one).

Users can register a nickname or they can play without registering. Their spelling game is a good listening exercise, since audio for the word is voiced and the player has to then type the word correctly.

For now, I've just placed the link on my Math page.

More About Maintaining A "Good" Class

This is the third in a series of posts on various positive classroom management strategies and tactics. You can see the rest of the series by clicking here. Though this series is a little different from the rest of my "The Best." series, they have enough in common for me to include these classroom management posts withing that category.

These are just a few more ways I try to keep my classroom as a close to being a "community of learners" as possible. As I've stated in the other two posts on this same topic, I really don't have to devote much effort to classroom management in my high school ESL classes. However, my mainstream ninth grade English classes are a different story.

Teaching ninth-grade mainstream students in an inner-city high school provides different kinds of challenges than teaching English Language Learners - no better, no worse, just different. And class management can be one of them.

Of course, even with my list of over twenty-five different tools I use, sometimes none of them work. I might just not be using them effectively enough, or maybe there are issues beyond my control that are contributing to the problem (for example, my gender). In my five years of teaching, I've had to move two students out to another class because nothing seemed to work. I've also had more than two moved into my classroom because of behavior issues elsewhere, and those have worked out fine.

Here are a few more ideas from my classroom management "toolkit":

HAVING STUDENTS PUT POST-IT NOTES ON THEIR DESKS: For students who have particular challenges, like difficulty focusing or not having much self-control when it comes to speaking without thinking first, I offer the suggestion (which they are free to reject) of their putting a reminder post-it on their desk at the beginning of each class. I have multi-colored post-its that they can choose each day, and they can spend the first two minutes of class (which is usually a time for silent reading) writing and decorating it. Depending on their issue, they might write "FOCUS!" or "THINK!".

Other times, after a discussion, they might decide on another optional use of post-its. One strategy I've used at times is having students write a hash mark on a post-it for every ten or fifteen minutes they feel they've been "on-task" and carrying their weight in class. On occasion, I've felt like I've had to offer a reward of some kind as an incentive, but the vast majority of time this has worked because the student has just wanted to develop more self-control.

SAYING I"M SORRY: It's not unusual for me to show impatience, make a mistake, accuse a student of doing something when he/she did not, or just have a bad day. My sense is that many of my students have not experienced many adults apologizing to them. Not only does my apology depolarize tension, but I think it's good modeling behavior as well.

TRYING TO INVOLVE STUDENTS IN DECISIONS TO CHANGE SEATS: I'm often tempted to arbitrarily change a student's seat because of behavior issues. Sometimes I succumb to that temptation. However, what I try to do instead is engage the student in a conversation about how he or she is doing in class, where he/she wants to be at the end of the school year, and wonder if changing seats might be a tool to help them reach their goal. Generally, after that conversation, they agree, and then I ask them for their suggestions about what they think would be a good place for them to be and why. Usually it works out pretty well.

RECOGNIZING STUDENTS: I don't know if this activity can be correctly defined as part of a class management strategy, but it does help maintain a positive classroom atmosphere. I can't remember where I first read about this idea, but every Friday I have a "What I See In You" time. I pick a student, ask him/her to stand, and spend a few minutes sharing what I see in them, examples of their actions, etc. Every student is recognized during the course of the school year, and they seem to like it a lot.

DEVELOPING STUDENT CONTRACTS: Sometimes, particularly when a student's behavior is worsening, I'll sit down with him/her to discuss what would make the class work better for him/her and, in turn, what he/she could do to make it work better for me. We'll then write out a contract which we both sign.

I hope you've found these ideas useful. Feel free to contribute classroom management suggestions based on your experience, too.

Beat The Clock

Beat The Clock (  is a British Council game where the player has to complete a sentence by choosing the right word before the timer runs out.

The games are categorized by theme, and there are tons of them.  They are also labeled by the appropriate English level (beginner, early intermediate, etc.).

I've placed the link on my Intermediate English page under Word and Video Games.

Listen And Write

Listen and Write (  is a new web tool that I think has a lot of potential for English Language Learners.

A user first chooses a text he/she wants to hear read to him/her. Many of the choices are from the Voice of America, and are both high-interest and accessible. Their levels of difficulty are also indicated.

Then the story is dictated to you, and you have to type it correctly. You can choose the speed of the reading and how often it's repeated. When you type only the correct letters actually show-up on the screen, and you can ask for hints.

I've placed the link on my website under Listening.


Webon ( appears to be, next to Jottit, the easiest website-builder I've come across.   I've emailed some questions to the company about their features, and until I get those answers I'm not ready to say its better then Jottit, but it is certainly easier to make it look attractive.  It's unclear to me, though, if you can embed presentations into it.  I'll let you know what I learn.

(I just heard from Webon, and you can indeed easily used embed codes!)

It's very easy to grab images off the web and write captions.  One of its features that I like a lot is that your images automatically become a slideshow.  It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that other slideshow creators have, but it seems to work well enough.


I wrote a post a few days ago about Middlespot ( , a neat new combination bookmarking and search engine application. I like it a lot, and included a few questions in my post (which I also sent to them) about additional features that would make it great for English Language Learners (and others).

They are planning to add the ability to search and save images, and they hope to do so in the next thirty days. They also are planning on adding an embedding option, so you won't just have to link to the url of your saved screenshots.

They also graciously pointed out that they already had the biggest option I was concerned about - the ability to write comments on each saved screenshot. Scott Brownlee from Middlespot wrote: can also make a personal comment (annotation) on each screenshot in theworkpad. If you place your mouse cursor over a screenshot in a workpad, a small m will appear that provides you with the ability to comment and delete that result.

Assuming their plans to allow images happen, it's a safe bet that Middlespot will be ending up on one of my "The Best." lists soon.


Mapdango (  is called a "mash-up" - a combination of a variety of web applications. It's a neat geographical and map search engine that, after you enter the location you're interested in, will show you the area's weather, areas of interest from Wikipedia, Flickr photos, and other items.

One particularly useful feature is that it shows all of the above connected to its geographical location on a map, too.

It's a easy way to get a sense of a community. My students will be using it tomorrow to learn a little more about the places where our international sister classes are located.

I've placed the link on my website under Sites That Cover Many Areas.

Splashcast & Qlipboard

Ronaldo Lima, Jr., a very talented EFL teacher in Brazil, and my colleague in our growing international Sister Classes Project, wrote a great post in February comparing VoiceThread, Splashcast (  , and Qlipboard ( . These are three web applications that, as Ronaldo wrote, "unite pictures and voice in slideshows."

I'd strongly encourage you to read his comparison of the three sites. I, for one, clearly did not read it very closely.

I say that because I just saw a Splashcast by Sudanese students taught by Hala Fawzi, another participant in the Sister Classes project. It's a great presentation, and I was surprised to find that you could easily leave audio comments on it. Of course, if I had carefully read Ronaldo's post from a few months ago, I wouldn't have been surprised.

I agree with Ronaldo that Splashcast doesn't seem quite as easy to use as VoiceThread, but it's nevertheless another viable alternative. One advantage it does have is that you don't have to be registered with Splashcast in order to leave an audio comment (like you do with VoiceThread). So it's easier to leave comments. However, it also doesn't have comment moderation. You can easily delete comments that are left, but you can't review them before they're posted.

Ronaldo also wrote about Qlipboard. The last time I had looked at the site, it required a download to use. However, as Ronaldo pointed out, and which I missed, they have since added an online version.

In the online version, you can only use one photo. A major advantage, however, is that you don't have to register for the site at all. You can just grab the url of an image off the Web, leave a voice commentary (it has a few other features, too), and you get an embed code and a url. Others can leave comments, too, though it doesn't appear to me to be quite as obvious how to do that as with VoiceThread or Splashcast.

I'll be posting links to both Splashcast and Qlipboard on Examples of Student Work page. Of course, VoiceThread has been there for quite awhile.

Interested In Joining Our Sister Classes Project In The Fall?

I've posted before about our Sister Classes Project ( , where classes of Intermediate English Language Learners ranging from the early teens to the early twenties have exchanged presentations (VoiceThreads, slideshows, etc.) and comments at our Student Showcase blog.  We have teachers from seven countries who participated this semester.

It's been fairly low-key,  hasn't taken up an enormous amount of time and been a great experience for students and teachers alike.

It looks like we'll be starting-up again in the fall, and we'll be open to additional classes joining us.  Let me know if you might be interested.

Gut Instinct

I recently learned, through the blog Primary Teacher UK, about a wonderful new learning game called Gut Instinct ( . It's from the BBC.

It has questions divided into three categories - English, Math and Science, and is accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners, and maybe even Early Intermediates.

But the exciting feature of the game is that students can super-easily create their own virtual "rooms" for between two-and-thirty people where they can compete with their peers. Players also can compete with everyone who's playing at the same time. However, it's probably going to be less energizing for English Language Learners to compete with native English-speakers, so getting to choose to play with their friends is a a great option.

All they have to do is all type in the name of their room (or "league"), choose their avatar and nickname, and the game begins.

I'm placing the link under Word and Video Games on my website.

Explore A Pyramid

National Geographic has an interactive exercise where the "player" operates a robot to remotely Explore A Pyramid ( .

I've placed the link on my World History page under The First Civilized People.

Larry Ferlazzo's Website Update

June, 2008

The craziness of the end of the school year is rapidly approaching, and I thought I'd get this newsletter out early.

I've compiled quite a few new "The Best." lists since the last update went-out, all of which are too lengthy to include in an email.  Instead, below you'll find links to fifteen of the newest "The Best." lists.

I'll try to get out another update later in June that's a more typical update with ten specific new websites I've posted about.

The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games

The Best Sites For Students To Easily Create & Display Online Projects  (

The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL

The Best Sites To Learn About U.S. Presidential Elections

The Best Resource Sites For ESL/EFL Teachers

The Best Ways To Keep-Up With Current Education Issues

The Best Ways To Keep-Up With Current ELL/ESL/EFL News & Research

The Best Sites For Learning Economics & Practical Money Skills

The Best Websites To Teach & Learn Life Skills

The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows

The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Animations

Part Fifteen Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

Part Sixteen Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

The Best Ways For Students To Create Online Videos (Using Someone Else's Content)

The Best Websites For Teaching & Learning About World History



May, 2008

     Here's the latest update sharing what I think are my best blog posts from the past month.  I wrote quite a few "The Best." lists, and since they are too lengthy to include in an email I've just included the url links to them.

     I've also included more information about five additional new sites that I think you'll find useful.

     You can also receive daily updates by email for free if you go here:

     If you would like to stop receiving this monthly email newsletter, just email me back with "Stop Newsletter" in the subject line.

The Best Websites For Learning English Pronunciation

The Best Sites For Developing English Conversational Skills

The Best Websites For Developing Academic English Skills & Vocabulary (

The Best Eleven Websites For Students To Learn About Computers

The Best Online Tools For Collaboration - NOT In Real Time

The Best "Fun" Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too (

The Best Social Bookmarking Applications For English Language Learners & Other Students

The Best Books For Teaching & Learning ESL/EFL (

Part Eleven Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

Part Twelve Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

Part Thirteen Of The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly

The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games

These next two are a little different from the previous "The Best." lists. They include my favorite 21 positive actions I take for effective classroom management:

When A "Good" Class Goes "Bad" (And Back To "Good" Again!)

Maintaining A "Good" Class

YAKIToMe Converts Text To Speech


YAKIToME (  seems almost to good to be true for English Language Learners. It lets you copy and paste pretty much anything you want and the convert the text to speech.

You can choose the type of voice (it uses ATT technology, which I've had a link on my website to for a longtime because it's so good), the rate of speed (there are numerous settings), and even customize pronunciation for certain words. You choose to see the text when you're listening to it being spoken. And you can create private groups if you want.

Most importantly, unlike some other well-intentioned similar applications I've posted about it, it seems to work without any technical difficulties. Plus, it's free.

Tikatok Is Great!

Tikatok (  is a new site that is a real find for English Language Learners (and lots of other students). Users can create online books that they write and illustrate (they can also use lots of images available on the site).

It has a number of features that really make it stand-out. You can make a book from scratch, or you can use one of their many story frames that contain "prompts" to help the story-writer along. In addition, you can invite others to collaborate online with you to develop the book.

Once the book is done you can email the link to a friend, teacher, or yourself for posting on a blog, website, or online journal. You can create the online version for free, but have to pay if you want them to print a hard-copy version.

Zip Code Census Dashboard

The Zip Code Census Dashboard (  is a very simple and informative site that shows you demographic data for any zip code you enter.

It's very accessible to English Language Learners, and would be helpful to my students when they develop their annual project analyzing different neighborhoods. I've placed the link under Student Neighborhood Maps, along with other useful data collection sites.

Play The News

Play The News (  is a new, and continually updated, series of role-playing games about current events. Each game highlights a different news event - the Olympics, elections, etc. A short accessible video is shown with background information. Players then decide, of the different key roles involved in the event, which one do they want to be. After you pick it, you choose from various options about which action you think should be taken. You then see how many other players chose that and the other options.

Then you choose which action you think will actually take place, and see the overall results there, too.

In order to play, you have to register (for free), and an overall leaderboard keeps track of what percentage of the time your predictions were correct.

It's intriguing. I might have my Intermediate English students try it out as a way for them to become familiar with current news. They could also use the game as a model to create their own version with pen-and-paper.

(At the time I'm mailing out this newsletter the Play The News site appears to be down.  I'm sure it will be back up soon)

"Burbank Students Use Blog To Learn English"

Burbank Students Use Blog To Learn English (  is the title of a nice article in The Sacramento Bee today.

It tells about our ESL/EFL Sister Classes Project ( , where teachers from seven countries are having our students communicate with one another.


Larry Ferlazzo's Website Update

April, 2008

Here are the latest "Top Ten" posts from my blog over the past month.  Please remember these are only about one-tenth of the sites I highlight in the blog every month.  You can subscribe (quickly and easily) for free to receive all of them by email if you go to the Feedblitz site ( .  On the other hand, if you no longer want to receive this email newsletter just click reply and write "Unsubscribe" in the subject line.  I promise I won't feel offended!

All the sites highlighted here can also be found, along with 8,000 other categorized links, on my website (

Here are the Top Ten picks (there's actually more than ten this month) for the month (please note that I've written several of my "The Best." lists this past month.  Because they are too lengthy to fit in this email, I've just included the links here):

        The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly (

I've actually created several new parts in this series over the past few weeks.  By going to the above link, you can find over one hundred sites where even Beginning English Language Learner can create engaging online content in a matter of minutes - with no registration, computer knowledge, or even typing ability needed.

         The Best Websites For Students Exploring Jobs & Careers (

         The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration (

         The Best Websites For Learning & Teaching Geography (

         The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English (

         ESL/EFL Sister Classes Project (

ESL/EFL teachers from seven countries (Kuwait, Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Sudan, Hungary, and Romania) have brought our classes together online to correspond and to develop joint projects. You can see some of the first efforts by our students in their introductory slideshows, VoiceThreads, animated movies and videos at our Student Showcase ( . Feel free to leave audio or written comments on the VoiceThreads, and written comments on the blog itself.

We're also open to other teachers of Intermediate English classes comprised of 15-20 year-olds joining us. You can leave a comment or contact me (or any of the other teachers who are now participating) directly if you're interested.

We're exploring a variety of future projects, including creating a Ning-like network (but we can't use Ning since my School District blocks it) and possibly studying and sharing presentations on topics like how our governments work, the effects of globalization on each of our countries, and our countries' histories.

The teachers participating now are Dot MacKenzie, Hala Fawzi, Ronaldo, Ana Maria, Tibor Prievara, Rita Zeinstejer, Mona Bran and me.

         Hospital Connection (

The Packard Children's Hospital has a wonderful site for kids which I've entitled Hospital Connection.(

It's animated with text and audio support (be sure to click on the closed-captioning "on"), and helps children understand how to get ready to go to the hospital and what happens once they're there.

There are lots of games and opportunities for vocabulary development.  It's very accessible to English Language Learners at all levels.

I've placed the link on my English For Beginners page under Health.

         Visual Geography (

Visual Geography (  is a nice site with images, information, and quizzes about 85 countries around the world. .

The text is accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners, and the images are obviously good for students of all levels. I like the quizzes it has about each country, and I also really like a neat feature called "Compare." You can pick any two countries and easily compare their demographic data with a click of the mouse.

I've placed the link on my Geography page under Sites That Cover Many Areas.

         Article About Our School Getting Out Of Program Improvement (

The Sacramento Bee today has a short, but nice, article ( about our school, Luther Burbank High School, getting out of the fourth year of Program Improvement.

You might want to check it out.

         New "Best Search Engine" For English Language Learners (

Pagebull was number one in my The Best Search Engines For ESL/EFL Learners - 2007. However, it looks like Pagebull is the first web application that has appeared on any of my

"The Best." lists to go out of business.

Charles Knight from the excellent blog Alt Search Engines quickly and graciously responded           to my request for suggestions of other similar search engines. Page Bull was great because it displayed screenshots of the search results and not just text, which works so much better for English Language Learners.

Charles recommended viewfour ( , which does as good of a job as Pagebull did, if not better.

         Home Computer Project Update (

TechLearning has just published an update on our Family Literacy Project, where we provide home computers and Internet service to recent immigrants.  Check out the article, entitled Even More Success With English Language Learning.(

         The "Digital Vaults" Are An Incredible Find! (

I just discovered an unbelievable resource from the National Archives called "The Digital Vaults." ( I know the year is young, but, so far at least, this is the Find Of The Year!

It's an entry into the vast resources of the National Archives, and allows you to use those resources to create your own movies, posters, and what it calls "Pathway Challenges" to. challenge others to find connections between a series of images, documents, and other resources you put together.

It's such a huge resource I haven't quite yet figured out where I'll put it on my website - probably in multiple pages and sections. You just have to check it out!



Larry Ferlazzo's Website Update

March, 2008

Here's the latest update highlighting what I think are the best posts from my blog ( in the past month.  Remember, if you want to receive daily updates, since these "Top Ten" are just a small fraction of the new content I add to my website (  each month, you can subscribe for free to receive all of them at .

Several of the Top Ten posts for this month are more of my "The Best.."  Lists ( .  In those cases, I've just included the link in this newsletter since including the list would make this email much too long.

Here they are:

1)    The Best Art Websites For Learning English (

2)    The Best Music Websites For Learning English (

3)    The Best Websites For Intermediate Readers (

4)      The Best Ways To Create Online Content Easily and Quickly (

This is actually a four-part series.  The link will take you to all four parts.

5)  "What Are You Doing In The Computer Lab?"  is the title of an article ( I wrote for TechLearning.  In it, I discuss guidelines that I use and that I recommend to other teachers for how to effectively work with students in computer labs.

I thought readers might find it helpful for me to quickly summarize them here:

*  Use computers more to reinforce key concepts, and less to teach them.

* Students can be producers of content and not just consumers.

* Computers can be used to help student develop and deepen relationships with each other, not just with the computer screen.

* Use time in the computer lab to help develop leadership among students, and not just have them be your followers.

* Spend less time being the controller and more time helping students develop self control.

I elaborate more on these points in the article.

 6)   Pixton Comic Strips (  I really like this new site I recently discovered called Pixton.  It allows you to very easily create comic strips with dialogue.  You can also group a series you make into a virtual "book."

 They seem to have a very pro-active policy about keeping inappropriate                               materials off the site, too.

7)    Plagiarism.    I've placed two links about plagiarism on my English Themes For Intermediate/Advanced page.

The first one, called Plagiarism ( , is from Acadia University, and should be accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners.  It's an animated slideshow reviewing the problem.

The second one, called Academic Integrity ( , is from Ryerson University.  It's very well put together, and is basically a series of animated stories with text and audio support.  The language, though, might only be accessible to advanced English Language Learners.

 8)    Teacher Book Wizard. Scholastic has recently started the Teacher Book Wizard ( .  It's a data base of over 50,000 books that's searchable by keyword, title or author.  You can also  type in the title of book and indicate if you are looking for similar books at the same, lower, or higher level.

I typed in the keyword "immigration" and was able to find quite a few that I know my students would consider "high-interest" ones.    I certainly got a better selection that I did when I typed the same word at Amazon's site.  I think this might end up being quite useful to teachers of English Language Learners.

9)   The Breathing Earth. Breathing Earth (  is an intriguing visual representation of the effect each country has on climate change.  You move the cursor to a nation on a world map, and then see the number of CO2 emissions that country makes each minute.  It also shows total population, and the birth and death rate of each country.

With guidance, English Language Learners could certainly use this website to make some comparisons between countries and draw conclusions from the data.

I've placed the link both on my World History page and my Geography and United States page.  It's with a group of other links related to global warming near the bottom of each page.

10)    Create An Online Scavenger Hunt With Zunal.   Zunal (  is an easy way for teachers (and students) to create webquests.    I know there are some specific parameters involved in using the term "webquest,"  so  you can also use Zunal to create much simpler "online scavenger hunts." 

    At their most basic, it can be a series of questions students have to answer,             along with links to websites where the information can be found.

Zunal also acts as the host for the webquest or scavenger hunt after its been created.



Larry Ferlazzo's Website Update

February, 2008

I hope the New Year has begun well for everyone.  Here is my usual "Top Ten" list of the best links I've written about this past month in my blog.  This month is a little different though.  I'm going to be listing my "Top Ten," but five of them will be links to some additional lists of "Websites of The Year" I've created since I sent out the last "Website Update."  If I shared the links to each of the individual sites I wrote about in these lists now this email would be far too long.



The Best Of The Best - 2007/08  ( I thought I would put the number-one ranked sites from all of my Websites Of The Year
(  into one list of their own.  Links to each entire list are also included in this post.

The Best Websites For K-12 Writing Instruction/Reinforcment

The Best Websites For Learning About Civic Participation & Citizenship

The Best Health Sites For English Language Learners

The Best Places To Learn Web 2.0 Basics - 2007


Make a Face (
Mr. Picassohead ( been a fairly well-known and acclaimed web application for quite awhile.  However, everytime I had tried it in the past the ability to save and email my creation wasn't working, so I never put a link to it on my website. I'm happy to report that the last few times I experimented with it I was able to save and email the url of my "masterpieces."  So I've now put a link to it on my Examples of Student Work
( Let me give a brief explanation of what Mr. Picassohead is for those of you who haven't heard about this wonderful web tool.  Basically, you can create a face in the style of Pablo Picasso and then email the link to their creation. It's an excellent tool for beginning English Language Learners to become familiar with face-related vocabulary .   

Spelling City ( I learned about an excellent new site called Spelling City  ( through receiving an email from its creator, John Edelson. You can use sample lists on the site, or you can develop your own lists of words to learn.  The site will convert the lists into different stages - learn, play, test.  It provides audio support as well as text. One of the exceptional features of the site is that it teaches the words in the context of an audio sentence instead of in isolation.  I'm continually amazed at technology - the site came up with appropriate sentences for all the words on the list I came up with. The site stores the lists that you make.  It's free, and he says he plans to keep it that way.  John also writes, "I'm aiming to create the most useful and entertaining set of language learning games yet seen."

Scribble States Game (
You can find lots of geography-related games on my
Geography ( page.  You sort of figure that there are only so many ways you can design a map-related game, right? Well, a very creative game designer just developed a new map game that is amazing.  I don't how how people can come up with stuff like this. In
Scribble States  ( you first are shown numbered dots that you have to connect.  Then, after you've connected them all, you have to choose which U.S. state your drawing shows.  You're timed, and after you finish one it shows another.

TechLearning Article on ESL & Video Games
( TechLearning has just published an article I wrote about using online video games with English Language Learners as a language-development activity. They've titled it Free Online Games Develop ESL Students' Language Skills

Traveler IQ Challenge ( I learned about a great series of geography games called the Traveler IQ Challenge  (  and they're different from any other geography games I've seen on the Internet. You're given a location, you click where you think it is, and you get points depending on how close you are from its accurate location. This description, however, doesn't get near to giving justice to the games.  Just check them out and you'll see what I mean. I've placed the link on my
Geography (  page under Sites That Cover Many Areas .  


Larry Ferlazzo's Website UpdateJanuary, 2008

Obviously, this edition is being sent out a little early.  I thought it would be helpful to people before everyone left for Winter Break.  Have a great vacation! Here are the latest Top Ten additions to my website (

Excellent Web 2.0 Guides ( I think Sue Waters' blog, Mobile Technology in TAFE, consistently provides the best and most simple instructions for using various Web tools. Today she wrote about a series of one-page guides  ( to applications like VoiceThread, wikis, blogs, Google Earth, etc.  They've been written by Tim Davies. They're well-worth reading.

Wordmaster (
Wordmaster ( is a wonderful site from the BBC.  You're shown a sentence with a word missing (indicated by a blank).  Then you have to click on an on-screen keyboard to type the correct word "hangman" style.  You can ask for clues, and you're competing against the clock.  You can also choose various levels of difficulty, and the game has thousands of words. The best thing about the game is that after you've either guessed the correct work or the timer is up, you can have the sentence read to you. It's great for all levels of English Language Learners, though even the "easy" version might be challenging for Beginners. I've placed the link on several areas of my site, including Bilingual Exercises (it's designed for Chinese speakers learning English but can be played by anyone) and on my English Themes For Intermediate under Favorite Sites.

Physics Life & Instructify
Physics Life
 ( is a surprisingly accessible site about..physics.  It's a series of interactive cartoons where students can learn about the role of physics in their everyday lives.  The basic language is accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners.  If users want, they can click on areas to find out more detailed information, but that info is probably beyond all but the most advanced English Language Learners. I've placed the link on my Science page. I learned about it from a newer blog that I like a lot called Instructify.  It's a project of LEARNNC, which is a University of North Carolina-based program that develops a lot of online resources.  I've mentioned Instructify before, and it's been on my blogroll, but I wanted to highlight it more explicitly today.  I also want to thank Alice Mercer for bringing it to my attention. Instructify posts about online resources useful to educators.

Daft Doggy Does It Again! ( I've posted twice in the past about Daft Doggy, the super easy-to-use site for English Language Learners (and others) to create online webpage tours and to make voice recordings.Now, one day after I made a suggestion to Joe Thompson, the site's creator, he has made it even easier for English Language Learners to use Daft Doggy to practice their speaking skills.Now, if you go to Daft Doggy Voice Recording ( , not only can students record very lengthy comments, but now it has an automatic email option so they can send the url to a teacher for posting on a blog or webpage. You don't have to log-on or register to be able to use recording function.  It's great!You can find the link on my Examples of Student Work page under Student Audio Messages.

Animated Idioms ( In2English has an excellent series of
Animated Idioms (  exercises.  They include an animated cartoon with text and audio explanations of each idiom.I've placed the link on my Intermediate English page under.Idioms.

Show Beyond Audio Slideshows Again
Show Beyond is a great web application, and they fixed their audio problem.I posted a few weeks ago about Show Beyond, (  a free web application that allows you to create slideshows with audio.  I wrote about how it seemed like an absolutely extraordinary web application - one of the best I've seen for English Language Learners.   However, I commented at the time that the recorded audio was very low quality, and that I couldn't recommend it because of that problem.Now that the audio problem has  been fixed, I can't wait to have my students start using it.It's very similar to VoiceThread.  However, there are two big differences.  The main reason I'm so excited about Show Beyond is that you can easily use images straight off the web when creating a slideshow - that's a huge advantage over Voice Thread.  For the life of me, I don't understand why they don't add that feature.One advantage that Voice Thread still does have, however, is that it allows you to leave audio comments. Show Beyond doesn't have that feature yet, though.  I'll ask them if they might be planning to add that in the future.  Show Beyond does allow you to leave written comments, though.Give it try and let me know what you, and your students, think.

Flashback History Movies ( Flashback Movies (  are very short animated movies about historical events from a company called Flash Ones.   Each well-done movie is followed by a brief text explanation of the event. They have a small collection now, which they expect to increase.Right now the movies are accessible to Intermediate English Language Learners.  I've made several suggestions to the creators of the site about how they could make them even more accessible, and they say they're considering them.These movies have the potential of being very helpful - sort of a free series of Brainpop Movies.I've placed the link on my World History page under Sites That Cover Many Periods of World History.

Neat Music Sites ( I've recently added two very neat sites to the Students Songs section of my Examples of Student Work page.  They were both created by a creative designer named Luke Whittaker.His latest creation is an amazing online video game called Sound Factory. (   It's very hard for me to explain.  Basically,  you role-play a man in a factory who get to create music.  That description, however, does not in any way do the game justice.  There are a lot of instructions given in simple English, and students can email their final musical creation after they've finished the game.  I also have listed the "Walkthrough" (answers) to the game on my website so students can doubly use it as a language development exercise.In Sound Factory, and the next game I'll describe, in addition to posting their musical creation students can write a description of it.In A Break In The Road (  students can again create their own musical composition.  It's not quite a game, but I won't even attempt to describe it.  Check it out for yourself.

To Filter, Or Not To Filter? Is That The Question?
The title of this post is the topic of a post I've just written for In Practice ( , the blog written by a group of us who teach in lower-income schools.As always, any feedback is welcome.


  Larry Ferlazzo's Website UpdateDecember, 2007

Here are the "Top Ten" posts from my blog over the past month.  Remember, if you want to subscribe to a daily update by email, just go to  and subscribe.  It only takes a few seconds.  I add well over one hundred new links each month, and only highlight ten of them in each monthly newsletter.Here they are:

Browser Books Again
posted ( in the past about Browser Books
( , a great online resource of "talking books."  Canadian teacher Kathy Cassidy developed them. A couple of months ago I found that the original link was broken, so removed it from my website.  This week, I learned through Teachersfirst about the new url, and have now put it back on my English For Beginners page under Stories. (   It's near the bottom of that section. While you're there, you might want to check out the links to several hundred new stories I've placed there over the past month, but haven't gotten a chance to post about in this blog.

Translating and Listening
( I have multiple links at the top of most of my websites that allow students to "copy-and-paste" words that they either don't understand or aren't sure how they are pronounced.  These sites will then either translate the words or passages; or they will "speak" the words or passages.I've just added two more helpful links to those lists.  Both have "twists" that make them a little different from the ones that are already there.One is called Lingro.(   You first paste the url of a webpage into it.  Then, as you read that webpage all the words on it become "clickable."  In other words, when you find a word that you don't understand, you click on it and its translation in the language of your choice pops-up.  In addition, if you register (for free), the site will keep a list of all the words you click on every time you use the site and will convert them into a flashcard word game you can use to study.  I learned about this site through a listserv posting by Nik Peachey.Another helpful link I've added is called VozMe.(  This site, like others on my pages, will provide audio for the words you paste into it.  This site, though, will also convert it into an mp3 file if you want.  That could be useful to upload into a number of the Web 2.0 slideshow applications I've blogged about, though there are obviously a number of other ways to create those kinds of files.

 Kid-Friendly Simon Sez Santa
( I
posted over the weekend about the great Simon Sez Santa site, where you type in a command and Santa performs the action.  I'm happy to say that the site creator, Charles Marshall, liked my suggestion that the "Kid-Friendly" section have its own url, and quickly implemented it.  You can now link directly to the Kid-Friendly Simon Sez Santa.(

Another Fantastic Service From Daft Doggy
I've posted about
Daft Doggy (  the fantastic web application that makes it as easy as possible for students and teachers to create tours of webpages - while leaving comments on them, too.  It has numerous uses, including creating Internet scavenger hunts.It's now gotten even better, and will become even more so in a couple of weeks or so.Joe Thompson, the site's creator, has built a feature that allows you to super-easily make a voice-recording, provide you with a url, and then post it for others to listen.  It's called Daft Doggy.01 (  and, not only is it free and easy, but the audio quality is excellent. It'll be great for English Language Learners.But, now, for the best part.  He estimates that in two weeks or so he'll have the two features connected so that people can make voice comments (along with the text they can leave now) on the website tours.

Newspaper Article On Our Home Computer Project
The Sacramento Bee ran a good and substantial story (  today on our effort to provide home computers and DSL service to immigrant families.  This Family Literacy Project has been quite successful.Students were quite excited today to see their pictures and read their quotes in the story.   It's well-written and gives an excellent sense of the project.  

One True Media (
I learned about another easy online slideshow creator, It's called One True Media ( and you can see a sample slideshow:
( I made in about a minute. You can include as many slides as you want, and can use images off the Internet just by pasting in their url.  You can easily insert text slides.  Plus, you can choose music to accompany it, which my students will love.I've placed it under Student Slideshows

Does Using Technology Add Value To The Classroom?
The title of this post is also the title of a new post
I've written for our In Practice blog.  It shares some questions, reflections, and plans I have about approaching this question.  You might find it interesting, and I welcome any feedback.

Tumblr ( I had been aware of Tumblr (  and microblogging for awhile, but hadn't paid much attention to it, even when I recently heard about Tumblr's upgrade.Then I read Doug Noon's post in Borderland sharing a little more about it, and was intrigued.After checking it out further, it's clear it has a lot of potential for the classroom.  I'm going to start by having my "mainstream" students in Ninth Grade English start using it for their online journals (you can read more about that in a post (  I wrote for In Practice). It will replace their using YourDraft ( The problem with using Your Draft is that control over comments and images left by others is limited, and that can be exploited by mischievous students.  With Tumbr I'm just going to have students choose a few "buddies" at a time and with whom they can share their passwords and leave comments. I can then monitor them.I want students to be able to very easily use images and other media, along with writing, and I don't necessarily want to have to check everything they write before its posted.  Tumblr might do the trick

.Maps Of The World
The Field Museum has an impressive online exhibit on Maps of the World. (  It combines a world map with a timeline, and you can see various versions of maps from different periods and of different parts of the world.The museum also has a section called All About Maps (,  which is a guided tour through the exhibit.I've placed both links on my Geography page under Introduction To Maps ( In addition, as part of the online exhibit, you can send an eCard of a map with a message and then post its url on a website or blog. I've placed the link under eCards ( .

Launchball (  is an online activity from the British Science Museum.   You can create a sort of video game, title it, and then email the url to be posted on an online journal or blog.I'm looking forward to trying this with my English Language Learners.  There's a fair amount of vocabulary that is needed to design the game, and I'm amazed at how quickly my students can pick that up when it's video-game related.  Posting this url on a site, along with an explanation they would write about how to play it, would be another added language development activity.I've placed it under Student Video Games. (


Larry Ferlazzo's Website NewsletterNovember, 2007

Here's the latest list of  "Top Ten" posts from my blog over the past month.  Again, though, I was only able to keep it down to twelve.  There are a lot of good sites out there for English Language Learners. Even with twelve, though, that means over one hundred sites I wrote about in my blog are not included in this newsletter.  You might want to consider subscribing to the blog itself, either via email or RSS feed.  Either one is free, and you can find easy instructions on how to do it on the sidebar at my blog: (

Amazing New Webquest Tool ( A new web application called Daft Doggy.(  allows you, or your students (including Beginning English Language Learners and above) to easily create a tour of websites.  On this tour you can also leave notes that appear on the screen with instructions or comments.  Each trail then has its own url. 
The message (  in the discussion group explains it better and has a link to an example. My students could also easily use it to create a tour of their favorite links on my website.I've placed the link on my Examples of Student page under Student Webquests ( .I let the creator of the site know I was going to post about it, and here's his response:
But what will make it *really* useful is after you've initially recorded a session. The, go back and edit it.  When you put something in the description, on playback this will appear as a lightblue box at the bottom of the page. If you have filled in the comments section then, when somebody puts the mouse over the blue box, then the comments will appear as a translucent screen over the page you're showing. So you can tell people why you want them to see this page. Agree or disgree with what it's showing etc. This week I'll be putting up an FAQ for the site, plus forums.

Joe Thompson

Free Rice Game (
I just learned about an intriguing vocabulary game called Free Rice ( .  If you choose the correct definition of the word, the next word you're given is "harder."  If you answer incorrectly, the next word is supposed to be "easier."  In addition, for every word you get correct, ten grains of rice are supposedly donated to an international aid agency.I'm assuming the donation plan is legitimate, but don't know for sure.  One thing I do know, though, is that this is the first time I've seen a game that adjusts its difficulty level based on the answers the player gives.This link is now on my Intermediate English page under Word and Video Games
( .

Problem/Solution Essays (
I've posted ( about the wonderful web application called Bookr before.My Intermediate English students have recently begun a unit that will culminate in their completing a Problem/Solution essay.  As part of that unit, they've used Bookr to create slideshows illustrating their thesis statements.They've given me permission to post them on my Examples of Student Work page under Student Photo Books ( .  Look under "Intermediate English."

Kindersay (

Kindersay(  is a new free site that offers an excellent multimedia experience where Beginning English Language Learners can learn about 500 basic words.I wish the examples included sentences where the words were used in context, but I guess you can't have everything.I've placed the link on my English Themes For Beginners under Favorite Sites
( .

"In Practice" Post ( How Did A Guy Like Me End Up Blogging In A Place Like This? (  is the title of a post I've just written for the blog In Practice.  In Practice is a collective effort by a number of teachers in lower-income schools, and is being spearheaded by Alice Mercer.The first line in my post goes:My name is Larry Ferlazzo, and I 'm a Luddite.You might find it interesting.  I'll look forward to any and all feedback.

News For English Language Learners
Darby Patterson is producing ESL World News Report ( , a weekly series of articles about current events geared towards English Language Learners.  I'm looking forward to using it with my students. I've placed the link under News (  on my English Themes for Beginners page.

Another Ecological Footprint Calculator
Here's another link, accessible to English Language Learners, where students can calculate the impact that they have on the environment.  Ecologic Games ( , through the use of symbols, pictures, and words, is an excellent site.I have the link on my Science (  page. 

Everyday Life ( Today I learned through some ESL listservs about a site called Everyday Life ( .  It's sponsored by a North Carolina-based organization called GCF Learn Free.There are seventeen excellent interactive lessons with images, text, and audio that help English Language Learners with.everyday life.These lessons include ones about ATMs, jobs applications,  reading a bus map, etc.You have to register for it, but it only takes seconds.  If you have trouble getting the cursor to write in the boxes, just use the tab key to move down.  That seemed to do the trick.I've placed the link on my English Themes For Beginners under both Favorite Sites and Life Skills.

Create A Talking Picture
Blabberize (  allows you to upload a picture of a person or animal and record a message that the picture speaks.  The lips on the image move in an exaggerated way as your message is being played.It's just another fun way for English Language Learners to practice speaking, and hear what they say.I've placed the link on my Examples of Student Work page under Student Talking Pictures ( .It would be great if they add a feature allowing you to access pictures that are on the web, and not just ones that are on your computer.  I've sent an email asking if they are planning on adding that capability.  I'll let readers know how they respond.(Well, they responded to my question about two minutes after I emailed them.  Here is their response:"Yes! We did have that in mind. Currently the way we use the site is to do an image search on google and save off the pictures we want to use. But we were thinking that we'd allow for people to search through flickr photos as well and import them in the site. Thanks so much for the suggestion! It's interesting you mention you're an ESL teacher because we had another ESL teacher in France who used the site with her students. She had her class read english compositions and give voice to animals. *smiles* Let us know how you use the site and if there are other ways we can make it a better utility for you."I can't expect a better answer than that!)

Wonderful Panoramas
I just learned about ViewAt (  from the Webware blog.  It offers extraordinary panoramic photographs from around the world, and lets you use a special application that shows a 360 degree view. These images are great for any Geography class, and are especially good opportunities for English Language Learners to describe them verbally and in writing.  Some of the photos might even be from their native countries, which makes it doubling appealing.I've placed the link on my Geography page under Sites That Cover Many Areas ( .

Sketchcast (
I learned about Sketchcast(  from Google Blogoscoped.  It's like "drawing" a video (you can also type text) that can be replayed.  In some ways it's similar to Imagination Cubed ( .  The big difference, however, is that in Sketchcast you can easily provide audio narration to your sketch.  Your completed work has a unique url, and visitors can leave comments.So it works on several different levels for English Language Learners.Sometime this week I'll place the link on my Examples of Student Work (  page.  It'll be in a new category called Student Sketches.

Excellent Online Language Program
LiveMocha (  is a new online free (at least, for now) language learning Internet program.  It looks surprisingly good.You can learn a number of languages, including English.  Students "enroll" in classes and can track their progress. You can "browse" several sample lessons before you register.  English Language Learners who are just beginning can explore lessons here ( .  High Beginners can try these ( . 
Early Intermediates can check out these exercises (  and
these samples ( . I'm going to put the link under
Favorite Sites (  on my English Themes For Beginners, at least until and if they start charging for it.I've asked them if they'll be able to add a feature that would allow teachers to monitor student progress.  It would be an excellent tool for homework, and would be great to include in our home computer project.


Larry Ferlazzo's Website NewsletterOctober, 2007

This month I couldn't narrow it down to the "Top Ten" posts.  Instead, I've got the "Top Twelve" posts.  I hope you find them helpful.Home Computers & English Language Learning

Home Computers and English Language Learning (  is another short article I've written at TechLearning's (  request.  It expands on some blog posts I wrote last week about the latest news about our home computer project.

Extraordinary Research Site

ZIPskinny (  is an amazing research site.  All you have to do is type in a zip code for anywhere in the United States, and you immediately get information from the 2000 Census, along with a map of the area.Not only that, but you can also compare the data with neighboring zip codes.My English Language Learner classes usually do demographic studies, and Intermediate level students should be able to access this site. I've placed the link on my Examples of Student Work  ( page under Student Neighborhood Maps.  It may seem like a strange place to put it, but that's where I've put another site they use to create neighborhood demographic maps.  So, I figure, for now that's a good place for this link, too.

Trading Cards

Big Huge Labs (  has an incredible number of web tools to use with images from the web.One of my favorites is the ability to quickly and easily create virtual Trading Cards.  Students can find the url of any image on the web (preferably, of course, one with a Creative Commons license) and, along with a text description, turn it into a baseball-like trading card.  Here's an example of one I created in 30 seconds of Abraham Lincoln ( .Students can create the card, email it to a teacher, and then post the url on a blog or website.There's a fair amount of space to write text, so students can use the cards to make mini-reports - about English, Science, or Social Studies subjects. I've placed the link on my Examples of Student Work page under Student Trading Cards

Online ESL Journals

I thought readers of this blog might find it useful to hear about the free online ESL journals I read regularly.  I also have them listed on my Teacher's Page (  under the Online Journals section.These include Humanising Language Teaching (my personal favorite)( ; The Internet ESL Journal ( , sponsors of the most extensive list of ESL resources on the Web; The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching ( ; ESL MiniConference ( ; The ELL Outlook ( ; CAELA Currents ( ; Teaching English As A Second Language (  and the OELA Newsline ( .

A Zillion More Talking Stories

I have links on my website to literally thousands of "talking" stories that use simple English, provide audio and text support, and also show animated illustrations.  You can find most of them on my English For Beginners ( page under the Stories section.I recently added a whole lot more.  A site called KidsFlash has hundreds of these talking stories.  I have them listed near the bottom of the Stories section and title them Flash Stories 1( , Flash Stories 2, etc.

What Do You Do In The Computer Lab?

What Do You Do In The Computer Lab? (  is the title of another article I've written for TechLearning.  It won't be appearing for a few months, but they've again given me permission to post it on my website now.The article shares five key guidelines that I think have helped our ESL Computer Lab be so successful.  Our Special Education Department is modeling several labs they are starting this year on the same ideas.  And the Sacramento Mutual Housing Association, a large non-profit housing organization, is starting computer labs at all their developments using a similar structure.  It's also what I do when my native English speakers go to the lab.


I only put links on the Favorite Sites  section on my English Themes For Beginners page that I think are very superior English language development activities.  I've just placed a new site in that section.Wordbuilder ( ) is an excellent spelling, vocabulary, and phonics site from Houghton Mifflin.  Students are told a word, in the context of a sentence, and then have to spell it.  It's designed as a game, and there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities to play.  It's appropriate for beginners through Intermediate English Language Learners.  Audio and text support is provided.

Bite Size Math and Literacy

I just learned from the Primary Teacher UK about the BBC's new version of Bite Size Math and Literacy ( has a lot great learning games for Beginning English Language Learners.  The Math site also has audio support for text.I've placed the Literacy link on my Favorite Sites ( section on the English Themes For Beginners page, and the Math link under Math on the same page.

HippoCampus For History, Government & Math

HippoCampus ( is a great site from the Monterey For Technology and Education.   It's recently been substantially revised.It offers multimedia content from several textbook publishers and the University of California - none that I've seen before.The non-AP United States History and Government sections are accessible to higher Intemediate English Language Learners, and are surprisingly extensive.The Algebra series offers even more audio support for its text, and would be accessible to Early Intermediate English Language Learners.The site also provides teachers with the ability to set-up their own pages with the specific chapters and exercises they want their students to review.I've recently found a ton of new links I want to place on my webpages, so I probably won't actually link to this site until the weekend.  I'll be putting the link on my Geography and United States History (  page, and to the Math section of the Themes for Beginners page.  I'll also probably add a few direct links from some activities to my World History (  page.

Another TechLearning Article

TechLearning has just published a short article I put together for them called "You've Got Mail - A Dozen Educators' Newsletters."

Fantastic Cambridge Sites!

I found "gold" while reading a recent post in the Readable Blog. I learned about the online support sites for three Cambridge EFL/ESL textbook series -
Interchange (,  Touchstone ( , and
Connect ( There are a ton of excellent activities on these sites, I especially like the What Do You Hear?
(  and
What Do You See? (  games (and there are probably well over one hundred of these alone).I'm actually still in the process of placing the links to these great sites on my webpages.   Some will go on the English Themes for Beginners under Favorite Sites while others will go on my English For Beginners page under Vocabulary.

Awesome Stories

Awesome Stories   has been a great source of information, particularly about history, for English Language Learners and other students since it began in 1999.It has thousands of very accessible stories about countless subjects.  Schools can subscribe to it for free, and the log-in process takes seconds.  And you can access a fair amount of the content even without registering, but it's free and easy so you might as well subscribe.Now, however, Awesome Stories has become..really awesome!  They have just begun having the audio available for stories so students can both read and hear the text being spoken.  They only have done this for a few stories so far, but they say they "are adding audio versions to every story."I've placed links to Awesome Stories on several of my webpages, and have links in the appropriate places directly to their new audio stories.Their new audio stories include ones on the
Star Spangled Banner (,
Pirates of the Caribbean
The Perfect Storm (, and
Thomas Jefferson ( .


Larry Ferlazzo's English Website NewsletterSeptember, 2007

I hope everyone has had a good summer.  Here's my latest "Top Ten" blog posts about new additions to my website.  I hope you find them helpful.

Daily Activities ( Learning Line
from Colorado Public Television, is the latest addition to the Favorite Sites
 ( section on my English Themes For Beginners page. Once you click on the link, next click on the "Activities" section.  Then you can choose from five different categories, including Health, Employment and Basic Communication.Each of these five sections has many good audio and text activities for all levels of English Language Learners.  They are designed to help students learn basic living skills

.International Reading Association Award
( 2/) Reading Today, the journal of the International Reading Association, recently came out with an article announcing that I was named the Grand Prize Winner of the 2007 International Reading Association Presidential Award For Reading and Technology.Reading Today is not available online, and many of you have asked me how they can read what they wrote about our program. I've just posted ( the article on my website.
Using Online Video Games For ESL(

Pointing and Clicking For ESL: Using Video Games To Promote English Language Development
( is the title of a new article I've written for Techlearning. It probably won't appear until January, but they gave me permission to post it on my website now if you'd like to read it sooner.

More Talking Stories

Marshall Adult Education has created
Reading Skills Stories
an excellent resource of original short stories with expository text (and audio support) that cover many different topics, including life skills. Their stories are divided into various levels of fluency.I've placed links to their two sites in the
Favorite Sites
 ( section of my English Themes For Beginners and Early Intermediate page

Computers and Relationships Article
( Language Magazine just published an article I wrote about our school's use of computers with English Language Learners.  It focuses on how we use technology to build and deepen face-to-face relationships.You can't access the whole article at the magazine's website, but you can read it in its entirety on mine.  My original title was Computers, Relationships, and English Language Learners. (


The Best Online Slideshow Creator Yet!
( Two days after I wrote a post saying how wonderful a new slideshow web application was, I learned from Webware about an even better one that began operation today.  It's called Vuvox. ( English Language Learners, and anyone else, will be able to quickly find images online by using "tags," pick one of numerous presentation styles, and add special effects.  It seems to me it's about as easy to do as it can get. However, there is one big problem with it (that's supposed to be temporary) in terms of using the application for language development activities.   The site has an icon to use for writing captions, but also says it's not available yet but will be soon.  As soon as they implement that capability, I'll have my students start using that service.  Until that time, use the two slideshow services I wrote about in my previous post.
I've placed the link on my Examples of Student Work page under Student Slide-Shows


Great New Slideshow Creator
(  in the past about MixerCast and how easy it is for English Language Learners to make online slideshows using that web application. Well, I've found a new site that does all the same things (and more!) and has an even easier interface for students to use.
It's called
ImageLoop ( .  You can easily access other photos on Flickr by just searching with a "tag," you can write captions, and you can add all sorts of special effects.  You can also test it out first before you register (for free). I've placed the link on my Examples of Student Work page under Student Slide-Shows.(

Top Ten Tools
( Jane Hart has an excellent blog called Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day.  She highlights technology tools that are helpful to educators.She also has a section where her readers periodically highlight their top ten tools.  You might find it useful to see my list ( that I shared with her.I've found it very interesting to see what her other guest writers
have recommended, too. You might want to consider sending in your Top Ten, too.  I'll certainly highlight ESL teachers
who get on Jane Hart's list. 

Nishi School Games Nishi School in Japan has developed a number of excellent interactive English-learning activities.  They're great for Beginners.The link is on my English For Beginners  ( page under Other Mixed Activities
It's near the bottom, and called
Nishi Games.
The list includes games for teaching phonics, vocabulary, and the alphabet.  I was particularly impressed by a creative exercise using a maze to teach "up, down, left, right.

Embedded Learning Portal
( In the United Kingdom the Department For Children, Schools and Families has a great site called the Embedded Learning Portal
It has one hundred excellent interactive exercises on a variety of useful topics, ranging from the alphabet to using reading strategies. The exercises use audio, text, and visuals.  I have individual links to most of them scattered throughout my webpages, particularly under the
Reading (  section on my English For Beginners page.I thought, though, that people might find it useful to know the address of the main site.


I hope your summer is going well.  Here are the latest Top Ten new sites you'll find on my website and my blog.

Great Site For U.S. History Projects ( Footnote (  is an incredible site for students to create projects about U.S. History.  It provides access (free) to thousands of primary images and documents, which students can easily include in an online report.  The report will then be hosted by Footnote.  You can see a very rudimentary sample I made in five minutes here. ( It's easy to differentiate projects based on the English level of your students. I'll certainly be using it in my U.S. History, Government, and World History classes next year.I've placed in on my Examples of Student Work ( under Student American History Reports

.Musical Game Room ( I recently discovered the wonderful New York Philharmonic Game Room.(    It has eleven games and activities that are accessible to English Language Learners.These eleven include the Minuet Mixer ( , where students create and play their own minuets.  The url for their compositions can be emailed and posted on a blog or online journal.  One thing I hope to try is to have student compose them, and then have them write what they visualize when they listen to their minuet and the minuets that others have posted.Musiquest is another great activity (there's no direct link to the game, so you have to go the Game Room's central site).  It's another one of those online video games that my students and I are so fond of - the player is given several tasks to do via text, and then "points-and-clicks" on things to accomplish the task.I've placed the Game Room on the bottom of the Music and Art  ( section of my English Themes For Beginners page.

Amazing Karaoke Site ( I recently learned about a fascinating site called SingShot ( SingShot you can first pick any of a zillion popular songs.  Then, the site will play the instrumental music and show the lyrics on the screen.  Each word is then highlighted during the appropriate time in the recording to sing it.  Next, you sing it into a microphone on your computer and it's recorded on the site.  You can email the url and post it on a teacher's webpage.  Students can sing it alone or in a group.  If you're ambitious, you can create your own slideshow that goes with the song.Even better, though, instead of showing a slideshow with the song, when others play your recording the screen can then show the words that are being sung.If you don't have a mike, or if students are feeling a little shy, they can also just listen to the other karaoke recordings made by others.  They can listen to a person singing and see the lyrics on the screen.The extraordinary benefit to English Language Learners is incredible.  They can practice pronunciation in the less threatening vehicle of a song; they can do it in a group if they want; and they can listen to other native speakers singing it as a comparison.The songs on the site range from nursery rhymes to popular music, so even students with low-levels of English can participate.I've placed the link on my Examples of Student Work page under Student Songs.(

Back-up Storage ( This post doesn't quite fit into the pattern of ones I usually write, but I thought it would be helpful to other teachers.I don't know about you, but I'm fearful of my computer going sometime going kaput and losing all my data - lesson plans, articles, class hand-outs, etc.   Of course, I copy files onto CD's or flash drives, but not as often as I should.I recently learned about two companies that will allow you to back-up all your computer files, for free, on their own site.   I use Mozy ( , and it also automatically updates new data from my computer regularly. The other company is Mediamax. ( I've placed them both on my Teacher's Page under the new category of Online Back-Up Storage of Files.( Being able to back-up files this easily online may not be news to most of you, but it certainly was a pleasant surprise to me.

New TechLearning Article ( Techlearning has just published a short article I wrote entitled Keeping Up-To-Date on Web Resources.(   It lists a number of people and organizations that send out email newsletters reviewing new websites useful to educators

Literactive ( Literactive ( is a new addition to the Favorite Sites (  section on my English Themes For Beginners page.It has some great phonics activities and talking stories, and is particularly suitable for early beginner English Language Learners.  You have to register to be able to use the activities, but it just takes a few seconds to do so.The only problem with the site is that it's a little difficult to initially navigate for English Language Learners (even I was a little confused at first).  Once you show your students the section for stories, or the section for phonics, then they can easily access many of the activities on their own.  However, it might be difficult for some students to find where they should begin. 

Twenty Questions Game (

Many of us have played the old party game of "20 Questions."  In it, one person thinks of something, and you can ask up to twenty "yes/no" questions in an effort to guess what it is.There's an entertaining version of this 20 Questions Game ( online that Intermediate and Advanced English Language Learners would enjoy.  You think of something, and the computer asks you questions (in addition to "yes/no" you can answer "sometimes/doubtful/unknown") in an attempt to guess what you're thinking of.I thought of "Bangkok" and it took the web application 23 questions to determine it correctly.After students played the game online, they did it in class.  It was excellent speaking and listening practice then, and the online game was a great warm-up.

I've placed the link on my Intermediate/Advanced page near the bottom of the
Word Games ( category.

 What Was There? ( What Was There? ( is a series of games from Games For the Brain.  They show a picture, then you change the screen to a question asking you something about the picture.  For example, one picture shows a series of billard balls.  You are then asked if the eight ball was on the upper-right of the picture.This kind of game is great reading practice for English Language Learners.  Obviously, in order to answer the question correctly they have to work to understand the question to begin with.I've placed in under the Word Games  ( category on my English For Intermediate/Advanced page. 



Summer, 2007 Edition The school-year is just about over, and I thought I'd send out a list of the Top Ten Websites I've written about during late May and early June.I'll continue to update my website during the summer, and write in my blog  (  about new content, but I won't be doing either in the same quantity as I do during the school year.  I also don't anticipate sending out another issue of this email newsletter until late August.  You can subscribe to the blog for free if you'd like to get updates prior to that time.Here is my latest Top Ten list (as usual, they're not listed in any particular order):

1) Talk Dog (

Talk Dog (  is an excellent site from BT Education designed to teaching speaking and listening skills.  Talk Dog, a cartoon character, is the student's guide.  It also provides good vocabulary development opportunities to English Language Learners.Talk Dog has six "modules" that each have multiple interactive activities.  These modules include ones on Describing, Listening, Being Fair, Understanding, All About Communicating, and Finding Out More.I've placed the link to Talk Dog on the bottom of the Non-Fiction ( section of my site.

2) Screencasts & ESL (

A new Web 2.0 product called Screencast-O-Matic allows you to very easily create free screencasts, which are audio-narrated "tours" of what you see on your computer screen (they don't have to narrated, but it works much better if they are).   These would then be hosted by Screencast-O-Matic and easily accessed online.Screencasts that I have seen are primarily used to show how to use various computer applications.  They are wonderful teaching tools, especially for technological dummies like myself.Seeing this new online tool got me wondering about how it could be adapted specifically to English Language Learners, and some experiments we could try during summer school.It seems to me that my students could use Screencast-O-Matic in a number of atypical ways.  One way could be to "click" on a number of different pictures online, have them displayed on the screen, and then have the student describe them for a screencast.  There's another way that's particularly intriguing to me because of my recent interest in using online video games for English language development.  I'm going to have students play video games using "walkthroughs" (instructions and hints about how best to "win") and create instructional screencast "walkthroughs" that would teach other students how to play the game.I have the link to Screencast-O-Matic on my Examples of Student Work page under Student Screencasts (

3) Another Online Video Game (

I'm becoming more and more intrigued by selectively using online video games for English Language development.  In previous posts I've written about some that I've put at the bottom of the Word Games  ( section I've found another one that requires the player to click on simple text commands and read simple dialogue to make the character in the story take action.  And, believe it or not, the video game tells the story of Don Quijote! Sancho's Island ( is now with the other video games. 

4) Favorite Game Sites (

Techlearning this month published a short article I wrote listing my favorite eight sites for learning games.  It's called Playing Around: Favorite Educational Game Sites (  All of these sites are linked in multiple places on my web pages.  Let me know if you have difficulty finding them.


5) Create a Medieval Tapestry (

I'll be teaching two World History classes to English Language Learners next year, so I'm keeping my eyes open for online sites that I can use.  One thing I've done is make a World History   ( page.I've also found two sites that allow students to create their own stories and make versions of the famous Bayeux Tapestry, which tells the story of the Battle of Hastings in Great Britain.  Both links allow students to tell their stories in text and pictures, which can then be accessed online.One is the Historic Tale Reconstruction Kit (  and the other is the Bayeux Tapestry Interactive (  .  You can find both on my Examples of Student Work page under Student Historic Tales. Both of these activities can also be used effectively by English Language Learners even if you're not teaching World History.   The Historic Tale Reconstruction Kit in particular would be easy to use by English Language Learners to tell any kind of story they want.


6) E-Cards (

I have links to literally thousands of E-Cards on my Examples of Student Work (  page under Student E-Cards.  English Language Learners can send these E-Cards to their teacher, who can then post them on a class website, or students can post them on their online journals or blogs.Of course, E-Cards are not particularly difficult to find on the Web.   However, many of them "expire" a short time after they have been viewed.  I've tried to only place links to sites that will host the E-Cards either indefinitely or, at least, for a very long time. There are E-Cards for about every occasion and every theme one would teach in an ESL class, along with history and science classes.Some have audio, all have pictures, some allow you to send virtual flowers ( .  You can draw ( one, or send one with music ( .  Send one with a picture from just about every American historical era ( .  The choices, while not exactly limitless, are pretty darn big.


7) Student Trips (

Several travel-planning websites have cropped up recently, where you can look at itineraries other people have developed and also easily develop your own from scratch.   I've found them helpful to me on my personal travels. They are also great learning opportunities for English Language Learners to develop knowledge about reading, writing, and geography.  Student can use these sites to develop their own travel itineraries (real or imagined) and allow others to see their plans on the web.TripWiser ( and TripTie (  are two easily navigable sites to make these types of travel plans.  Yahoo! Travel ( is another one.I've put links to these sites on my Examples of Student Work ( page under Student Trips.


8) Online Talking Stories

I've put a new link at the bottom of the Favorite Sites section of my English Themes For Beginners and Early Intermediate (  page.  It's Online Talking Stories ( from Woodlands Junior School (who, by the way, have lots of other interactive educational activities on their site).I already have all the stories shown on their site listed individually and scattered throughout the Stories (  section on the English For Beginners page.  However, since they have so many of them displayed attractively on their page, I thought it would be worth posting separately.

9) Picture Sentences (

Pimpampun creates many activities that can be used with Flickr photos.  I have several of them on my site because they're great for English Language Learners.Today, I'd like to highlight Phrasr ( .  In this application, students write a sentence, and Phraser will come up with pictures connected to each of the words in the sentence.  Students can change the pictures if they want.Then, their picture sentences can be emailed to a teacher who can post the url on a website.  Or the student can paste the url on their blog or online journal.I've placed Phrasr on the Examples of Student Work  ( page under Student Picture Sentences.


10) Be a Detective (

I recently put links to two pretty neat online games that would definitely function as English language development opportunities.  In both of these games, the player is a detective who has to solve a crime.  The player has to determine each move of the detective, and all the dialogue is both text and audio.They are both made by Pinhead Games.  One is called A Case of the Crabs (  and the other The Goat in the Grey Fedora (  (strange names but fun games).

The links are at the bottom of the Word Games section of my English For Intermediate/Advanced page


  Larry Ferlazzo's English Website June, 2007 Newsletter

I try to send out a newsletter each month to people who don't necessarily want to receive daily updates from my blog about new content on my website (  If you'd like to easily and quickly subscribe to the blog itself to receive free updates on a lot more new content, you can click on this link: These top ten sites are not in order of priority, though.  It was hard enough to pick ten, much less to try to prioritize the ones I chose!The top ten sites for June are:1) Create Video Quizzes

ESL Video (  is a new site (to me, at least) that allows teachers and others to easily place videos from other sites there and create a quiz related to the video. It seems to me like an ingenius idea and, as technologically illiterate as I am, this Web 2.0 stuff always seems like magic.  Teachers can do this, but, of course, students can as well.  Registration is free.  You can find it on my website at

Temporary Student Email Addresses (

In order to use a number of the activities on my Examples of Student Work (  page, students need to show that they have email addresses.  Often times they can just use mine, but quite a few of the Web 2.0 activities require registration of a unique address.  Usually a link will be sent to that address that you then have to click on in order to open a free account.However, many of my students don't have their own email addresses and, even if they do, may not want to give it out to these websites.  What can they do?Near the top of the Examples of Student Work page, I have two links where students can register for email addresses that exist for ten or fifteen minutes.  Students can receive and send email from that address during that period of time. These two links are 10 Minute Mail
( and
Guerrilla Mail

3) FOSSweb Online Science (

FOSSweb (  is the online component of the exceptional Science curriculum developed by the University of California.  It has a series of great science experiments that English Language Learners can explore online.  The activities are based on grade levels - from kindergarten to middle school.  You need a password to access the middle school exercises, but you can obtain that in less than a minute.
I have it listed on my
(  Page (just above "Planets and Space").

4) Free E-Mail Newsletters on Education (

Techlearning has just published an article I wrote listing the
Ten Best Education E-Mail Newsletters
(  It lists free email newsletters that provide excellent resources for my teaching, including policy news, lesson plans, materials, etc.  You can also find it on my website under Published Articles (

5) Make a Slideshow Online

There are a ton of free online applications you can use to make slideshows.  You can find links to many of them under
Student Slideshows
In order for such an application to work easily for my English Language Learner students and for me, I think that such a slideshow-maker has to meet three criteria:1) The interface is relatively simple to understand.2) It's easy to use pictures from other Internet sources so we don't have to deal with uploading photos from school computers.3) Students have a place to write about the slideshow itself in the presentation.Unless I'm missing something, which may very well be the case, I have only been able to find one slideshow maker that meets all three criteria -
MixerCast ( . 
I'd encourage you to check it out.  Registration is quick and free.  It's one of the links in the Student Slideshow section.

6) Profile America

I just discovered Profile America
( , a daily one minute podcast from the United States Census Bureau.  It highlights moments in American history in very simple language.  In addition, you can read the text while you're listening to it. I'm very impressed with this program.  It's professionally done.  I wish more podcasts would have the text online, too.
It's under
Sites That Cover Many Periods
on my United States History page.

7, 8, and 9) Make a Virtual "You"

Oddcast is an extraordinarly creative company that develops interactive online activities for a variety of corporations.  Many of the activities you'll find on my Examples of Student Work page have been made by them.I'm writing here about three specific activities they've created that allow you to create a "virtual" you online.  They're listed under
Student Virtual Hosts
In all three of these links you can choose the physical characteristics of "you" and have "you" speak, using a text to speech feature.  You can also email "you" and post "yourself" on the Web.
The first one,
The V Host Workshop ( , is the one with the fewest features. 
The second one from
(  has several additional things you can do with it.  But the final one, Voki ( , has just been released by Oddcast and is in an entirely different class from the other two.  You have to register for Voki, unlike the first two, but registration just takes a few seconds.There are several ways these activities can benefit English Language Learners.  They can design themselves, post their url in an online journal or a blog, and describe what their "virtual" selves look like and why.  They can use the text to speech feature to write what they want to say and then listen to it.  They can comment (positively) about their "virtual" classmates.

10) Making Faces

Making Faces
(  is an excellent game to teach vocabulary related to feelings and emotions.  You're given the word for a particular emotion and then have to create a face accurately demonstrating it.   You can find it on the Feelings
( section of my website.


 Larry Ferlazzo's English Website May, 2007 Newsletter

I try to send out a newsletter each month to people who don't necessarily want to receive daily updates from my blog about new content.  I'm going to make these newsletters a "Top Ten" of the fifty-to-one-hundred new links I highlight in my blog monthly.  I'll also make this Top Ten list a blog entry.  Since this is my first Top Ten list and it covers both March and April, I'm going to cheat a bit and have a few more than ten highlights.If you'd like to easily and quickly subscribe to the blog itself to receive free updates on a lot more new content, you can click on this link: I will not list the top ten sites in order of priority, though.  It was hard enough to pick ten, much less to try to prioritize the ones I chose!The Top Ten (actually, twelve) are:1) "Creating" Online Videos with English Language Learners

I put quotation marks around "Creating" in the headline of this post because, even though my students use online videos to develop their language skills, it's mainly through adapting other people's creations.   I know that there are certainly benefits to students making their own from scratch, but it requires equipment and technical know-how that I don't have (and I don't necessarily feel like I need to know).  I think they can learn as much English by doing it this way, especially with the advent of the many online video sites that are linked to the
Student Videos ( section of my website. 
These links include
BubblePLY (  allows students to create text "bubbles" on existing online videos.  Cuts (  does the same, but goes one better - you can actually "cut" scenes from online videos and edit them, along with adding captions and sound effects.Mojiti (  is one of the newest one of these online applications, and may be the best and easiest one, though I haven't spent much time with it yet.  Overstream (  is another one with similar features. Vuvox (  is yet one more.  All these applications host your creation so they can be viewed on the web by others.

2) Hello World English (

Hello World English  ( is a site I highlighted in my last email newsletter, but I wanted to highlight again for new readers.  The site has an excellent series of audio and visual activities that is great for someone who is just beginning to learn English.  In fact, I'd say that if you have a beginner student, you couldn't find a better site to start him/her on than this one.  It covers a lot of the "basics" in a fun way.I've put the link to the site under the Favorite Sites (  section of my website.I list it as "Hello English."

3) Easy Online Film-Making (

There are several excellent sites that allow students to easily and quickly make animated films.  The best one is D.Film Moviemaker ( , and you can see many examples of films my students have made using this online application under  Student Movies   (  The creators of this site have also announced that a new version will be released soon.Under the same category you can find other links to sites that allow you to make online movies.  My students haven't tried those yet, but they, too, look easy enough for English Language Learners to use.

4) Two Best Beginning To Read Sites (That Are Free!)

( I've just found another great site, in addition to the wonderful Starfall. ( .  It's apparently been around for a few years, and, I've got to say, with all of the time I spend "surfing the Net" I'm pretty surprised I haven't heard of it earlier.  It's a site based in Spain and called Childtopia. (   It has hundreds of audio, along with text, stories and games for the beginning English reader.  You can find it in the Favorite Sites ( category on my site.

5) Easy Geography (

Google Maps (  has just unveiled a "My Maps" feature that makes it very easy for people to create their own maps with placemarks.   If you're unclear what that means, you can see an example (not done with Google, though) of what I'm talking about by going to Student Maps  (  on my website.Google's "My Maps" feature, though, makes it a whole lot easier to create these kinds of maps. Their url's can then be shared and posted.  There are many ways this kind of tool can be used with English Language Learners and others, including writing about field trips, their native countries, places they're learning about and places they want to visit.

6) Face Match (

Face Match (  is a new game from the British Council, which is a source of great ESL activities.  In Face Match a student reads and hears the audio of a description of a person (you can choose to have just the audio on if you want).  They then have to choose who that person is from a series of pictures. I've put the link to this game under the Descriptions ( category.

7) Many Math Activities (

I've recently added a number of new links to the Math ( category.  The ones I've added all, in my opinion, contribute both to math and English language development.  In addition to being interactive, most of the new links also show text and have audio of that same text.  A few don't, but I included them anyway because they just seemed like a lot fun! The new links are at the bottom of the listings under that category.

8) Mixing Colors (

Mixing Colors    (  is a nice little online activity using audio, text, and animation to teach students how to mix colors to develop different ones.  It's located at the bottom of the Colors  ( category on my site. 

9) Citizenship (

 I'd like to highlight a whole category of links on my site and not just one.  Over the past few weeks I've added many new links to the Citizenship ( category .  These new links include ones for online dictation practice and on the proposed new application fee increases. Students in my Government classes have been focused on preparing for their Citizenship tests and helping their family members do the same.

10) English 180 (

I've added a new link to the Favorite Sites  
( )
section called
English 180 ( It's a neat site with well-produced text, audio and animated lessons for both Beginner and Intermediate students.The lessons are graduated - beginning with vocabulary and building to sentences using the learned vocabulary.

11) Talking Stories (

There is a new, at least to me, site called Scribd (  that I have just discovered, and I'm very excited about it.   This site allows you to type a document on your computer, easily upload it to Scribd in seconds, and then the site immediately posts your document on the Internet with audio speaking the text.This, I believe, is an extraordinary site for English Language Learners.  They can easily post what they write and listen to how it sounds.  They can use pictures and text or just plain textI've put this link under
Student Talking Stories
( .  You can also see student examples there.

12) Samuel L. Jackson, My ESL Students, And Me

Samuel L. Jackson, My ESL Students, And Me 
( is the title of an article I wrote that's  just been published in the April issue of TechLearning's Educator's eZine.   It shares ideas about how to use viral marketing and Web 2.0 applications effectively with English Language Learners and other students

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