Being freed from the matrix

Using personalized learning approaches in Modern Language classrooms is like freeing yourself from the confines of the grammar driven lessons, and allows us to bank on our most valued asset – student interest and curiosity. Of late I have been using Google Moderator to form flexible groups, Padlet formerly Wallwisher to explore topics of interest and what I will call sharing pods for lack of a better term where students come together to share their learning.


In addition to the personalized approach, I have incorporated some flipped classroom aspects particularly with the grammar concepts that are needed to communicate one’s ideas in a sophisticated manner. I handed the students the curriculum again and they were asked to put a check mark beside the structures they understood and could implement into their communication in speech and in writing. They were then asked to put a circle beside the ones they wanted to review but had an idea of, and a circle with a line through it if they had never heard of or seen the structure before. This turned out wonderfully! They were thinking about their gaps and based on this information, I could prepare the next Google Moderator – for which two structures were offered via video and students voted on the one they wanted to work on. Afterward, they created a dialogue to demonstrate that they fully understood the situational use of the structure. They presented these in front of the class and they students who were not a part of that group were exposed to the proper or improper use of the structure. This lead to even greater learning and student participation.


Initially I wanted to create my own videos and this is still something I would like to pursue, however this part of the action research will be put on hold for the time being so I can focus on fostering this style of learning in more of my classes.

Students initial informal reaction to this approach has been positive, they are excited to be in the drivers seat of their learning. One of the challenges, is ensuring that they move beyond the surface and start to critically explore topics instead of simply restating what they read. More direct practice exploring effects and the why of what we’re learning is definitely needed and I am open to hearing what some other people are doing.


Stay tuned as we’re just starting a new unit and there is much more to come!


Bringing it all back to the group to share the learning and ask questions.

3 Replies to “Being freed from the matrix”

  1. Yes, freeing yourself from the matrix of grammar driven lessons is amazing isn’t it! I love your use of technology to help give the students choice and voice too! To deepen the engagement, can you not have your students create grammar videos for you as they explore their own learning. For example, if a group is exploring travel in France, can you not get them to write a travel brochure, or even a commercial using the appropriate grammar tense. If you get them to make it, it can then serve as an example.

    If you go ahead with this idea, you’d have to address how the commercial is going to be made for a French Grammar Class audience, not a travel audience. By shifting the audience, you then can emphasize the grammar portion in the commercial, not just the travel, bells and whistles! Thus, the focus will be on grammar lessons (i.e. they can use closed captioning). I hope that this makes sense!

    What I am really impressed with, and interested in, is the student engagement piece. I love the pics of your students, but what about getting some quotations, or examples of student work as well, to demonstrate the HOW, and the results.

    Derek, you’re doing a fantastic job exploring a new approach within your classroom, and being active of sharing with the Cohort 21 group as well. Thanks for this engagement!


  2. Derek, from your description of the personalized learning model and the resulting differentiated activities, your classes sound amazing. No wonder your students are engaged! I hope others in your department able to observe this creative process. Well done!

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