#10 Modeling and Scaffolding with Larry Ferlazzo

Larry Ferlazzo 

English and Social Studies Teacher (Luther Burbank HS — Sacramento, CA), Larry


January Contest: Win a Copy of Carol Jago’s With Rigor for All by emailing me a lesson that worked (email)


 Segment I – Background and Inspiration

Tell your story. Where are you from and how long have you been teaching? What classes have you taught? 

– Larry teaches at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California… Sacramento’s largest inner-city high school. He has taught there for 10 years. Prior to that he spent 19 years of his life as a community organizer.

 Who has helped you in your journey to become a master teacher?

– Larry finds inspiration from experienced teachers, especially Kate Hull a colleague and author. Her patience and understanding have been an inspiration to him.

It is important for other teachers to know that we all have had setbacks in the classroom. Identify an instance in which you struggled as a teacher and explain what you learned from that experience.

– He has had his fair share of lessons that have fallen flat… and even gone worse. One clear reason has been a lack of preparation and a failure to model appropriately.  

Why teach English and the Language Arts?

– He has found success is agitating his students to think about how and why they should learn the elements of English or Social Studies. 

What is one thing that you love about the classroom?

 – Larry loves that every day is different and the challenges and potential gifts are also different. He believes that if you are relational as a teacher, the next day is always a fresh start. Students will forget the bad lesson but they will not forget if you treat then badly or disrespectfully. 


Segment II — Digging into the Teacher Bag of Goodies


 What book do you recommend to a developing teacher?

— A critical book for teachers to read is Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
by Daniel Pink. So many teachers focus on extrinsic motivation to the detriment to them and their students. That motivation will be effective on tasks that require no higher-order thinking skills. Instead, we have to help students get in touch with their intrinsic drive because extrinsic factors just won’t cut it. 

What is one thing a teacher can do outside the classroom that can pay off inside the classroom?
 –2 ways: 1. Being connected to other educators through social media. PLN is a personal learning network, and there are so many educators around the world willing to offer their experience and expertise. 2. Making home visits to family. It is something that his district does to connect with parents, families, and kids to develop the relationships than are necessary to success.   

 Is there an internet resource that you can recommend which will help teachers grow professionally?

–Be less site focused and more person focused. Find people that are reputable and worth following. Yet, if you want to follow sites, Edutopia and Education Week are two websites that he recommends.  

What can a teacher can do to make students better writers?

 – Larry believes that modeling is critical. The other thing is to scaffold with graphic organizers. Finally, take the time to listen to student experiences and students stories.

Update the cannon. What new work should be included in the school curriculum?
— For a book, his students have always had a great response to Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. by Luis Rodriguez.

For Social Studies, two things: 1. Students have to identify an alternate history to an important event. 2. Students first identify what qualities of a neighborhood are important to them. Then they take a tour of the wealthy neighborhood in Sacremento and then the one around the school and realize that the qualities that they listed are right by their school.