Andrew Petrolito

Re-thinking learning for the 21st Century

I believe they will challenge themselves, and they do!


How might we engage Native French Speakers, and FSL speakers alike, in a manner that challenges both, while attending to and respecting each’s level and need in the Advanced Placement classroom?


This has been my challenge for the last little while and I have looked to approach this with a sort of Project-based learning style, while not completely abandoning the traditional classroom. I never really fully jump into one style of teaching or engagement as I do believe that every method, including the traditional learning classroom, has its advantages! 


I chose to implement the idea that each student will challenge themselves inherently. I am aware that this requires supervision, but I always believe in the people around me, including the students until they give me a reason otherwise. Within my novel study unit. Students were given a series of tasks or mini-projects to complete. Each task requires students to use the teacher as a check in order to ensure that each student is challenging themselves. These projects decentralize learning and force the student to push themselves to engage in the lesson. Gone is the boredom of comparing themselves to others. Students now work knowing their peers are working on the same project in a different context. This eliminates students from comparing themselves to others.


Thus far, engagement in lessons has increased tremendously, and students are so focused on their own work that they don’t seem to really worry about others and their progress. The unit concludes this month with an in-class essay. We will see how it goes…


  1. Thanks for this @apetrolito !
    I definitely want to loop in @NShayan @HFransen @estewart @CGaffney @JBairos who all are interested in this and as fellow language teachers will have some insights to share.

    This sentence stuck me “Students now work knowing their peers are working on the same project in a different context. This eliminates students from comparing themselves to others.”

    How do you know? It would be great to get some student feedback to validate it and post some quotes to your blog. You are on to something here. It would be powerful to hear from the students how they are taking it up (in their own words).

    This is really taking shape!

  2. Would love to hear more about how you (or your students) determine what projects they’ll complete, and the “teacher-check” process to ensure they’re appropriately challenging. The FSL/FFL situation you have in your class can certainly pose challenges, but perhaps has the potential to be a great opportunity to have students bring their varying strengths and experiences to the table, and maybe even for inherent leadership/mentorship opportunities within the classroom based on the varying levels they’re at. Great to hear kids are engaged and focused on where they’re at, instead of everyone else!

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