Teaching Through Critical Literacy & Social Justice Themes

Learn to plan units that integrate Critical Literacy, Social Justice Themes, Technology, & Community Partnerships
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  • Lectures 52
  • Length 4.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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About This Course

Published 7/2014 English

Course Description

Calling all teachers, leaders, and youth group facilitators! This series of lectures will allow you to learn steps to planning an effective and authentic unit of study that challenges students to develop their Critical Literacy skills. Throughout the lectures, you will be able to track the steps that we are learning through a model unit that I will share. I will share a variety of entry points in the unit where media, critical questions, differentiated instructional styles, and technology are integrated in lessons so that students can connect with the deeper understandings that we all want out students to acquire.

There are a series of lectures that include: videos, resources, links, and opportunities to share ideas, ask questions and revisit key concepts.

Why take this course? We as educators face the challenge each year of engaging our students in meaningful ways while delivering the curriculum. Throughout this unit, you will see clear evidence of both the delivery of curriculum as well as the various stages of that higher order thinking. Above all, you will see a level of collaboration and student engagement that would make any teacher proud, which is something that keeps me motivated to continue creating in my classroom.

What are the requirements?

  • Knowledge of your local education curriculum
  • Access to curriculum documents
  • Experience planning lessons or activity sessions for young people
  • A lesson plan template could be helpful

What am I going to get from this course?

  • By the end of this course, you will be able to use questions to prompt and sharpen Critical Thinking skills in your students
  • By the end of this course you will also be able to plan a unit that guides students towards applying the knowledge that they've acquired through the lessons and create some sort of action that leads to positve change

Who is the target audience?

  • Teachers
  • Youth Group Leaders

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Why is this course valuable?
Course Goals:

In this lecture, we will begin to share ideas about what makes "Successful Teacher of Critical Literacy." If you are curious, I started this mind map in a program called Smart Ideas.


This lecture is designed to give you a sense of the design of this lecture series and the direction that content will be presented in. Where you take the learning will be up to you!


The objective of this lecture is to share a sample student anchor that I use in my classroom to integrate critical thinking through questioning. We will begin to explore ideas about the importance of Critical Thinking Questions in the classroom.


This lecture is comprised of a classroom walk around where you will see samples of Critical Thinking Anchor Charts that I use in my classroom as well as hear a brief description of how they are used throughout the course of the year.


The objective of this lecture is to share and explore a math resource that supports the importance of Critical Thinking questions in Mathematics as well as Literacy. Note that the resource here was shared freely online and not created by me. Its a good example of one way to engage students in "Math Conversation."


The objective of this lecture is to share a model lesson that involves the use and exploration of critical thinking skills by students. The exploration of this lesson provides an example of what the planning for this type of learning could look like as well and providing ideas about what the student evaluation pieces could look like.

Quick Review
2 pages

The objective of this lecture is to share ideas about how we can build a community in our classroom that accommodates open discussion. I will share ideas about what I do in my classroom and a successful resource that is widely used. I have posted the Amazon link for the Tribes Learning Community Teacher resource in case you are interested in having a look at it.


The objective of this lecture is to share discuss the importance of choosing critical content for classroom learning that is relevant to students. You will have the opportunities to see models, and share a resource that I have used with great success.

I have uploaded a copy of my debate topic list that I have used in my class previously. I do augment the list from year to year to reflect the changes in my age demographic, current events, and student interests.

Would any of these topics appeal to your student groups? What are topics that you've debated in class?

Shared Resource: In the Newz
Quick Review
2 pages

In this lecture, I will share with you a model outline for a project that was planned in my class. You will see how this was only the starting point for learning that was directed by multiple stakeholders.

3 pages

I have imported the slides into a word document in case you'd like to download them for your reference.

Quick Review
2 pages
Section 5: PLAN WITH STUDENTS - Provide opportunities for LEADERSHIP
The Importance of Including Student Input in Planning

This is the link to my 2012 iM Project Padlet wall that I used for planning with my students!

Model: Collecting Ideas for the iM Project (2013) from My Students

This is the Learning Log Writing Prompts that my students use on a monthly basis to guide them in their reflection journal. This is just meant to a starter for them. They are free of course to communicate on other issues. Feel free to use and improve this as you like.


What I've shown was one of the pages from my classroom website. I have used my classroom website as an interactive teaching tool over the years as it takes advantage of the technological inclination of many of the students. As well it is a great way to share with parents and the community at large what is happening in our classroom.

I will provide the URL for main page of my website also. Please feel free to ask questions or offer feedback!


Here is a news article that I used to stimulate critical thoughts on a real world social justice issue. This discussion followed other courageous conversations by the students.

I have also provided a link to the Toronto Star Article for your reference.

Quick Review
2 pages
Section 7: Make Sections 2 - 6 a Regular Part of Your Classroom Instruction
Are we doubling our planning efforts?

In this lecture, we continue our discussion about the efficacy of integrating the strategies shared in previous lectures as a "regular" part of your classroom instruction. I will be using models of tools that I have used in my classroom to describe the potential positive outcomes.

I have provided for you a pdf with the Media Literacy Critical thinking questions which I provide to my students as an anchor that they can use when deconstructing media.

Feel free to ask questions, provide feedback or adapt it as you like for your classrooms.


The objective of this lesson is to provided a discussion via a model of how the iM Project was planned to allign with curriculum expectations. Here is a draft of the outline of how I planned my classroom language program to guide students towards success in the iM Project.

Also remember what we talked about earlier in terms of RESPONSIVENESS & RISK TAKING. If you get a chance, have a look at the pieces of media that I chose to analyze.

What are your intuitions? What media pieces do you feel would captivate the students in your classroom?

Section 8: Engage Community Partnerships

Through this lecture, you will here and see how I planned enhanced classroom learning experiences that involved using (short-term) community partnerships to extended critical learning and its impacts beyond the classroom.

I have uploaded the Food Donation / Math Lesson for you in case you wanted a copy for yourself.


The objective of this lecture is to share with you the real impacts of the community partnerships that I formed over a longer period of time (iM Project). This lecture will demonstrate evidence of the positive impacts on student engagement and the impact on student development.

I have provided you with a link to the Major Move Community Services website.


In this lecture we follow the initial steps of the iM Project to see how the program progressed from the classroom curriculum content towards the dynamic application of the deeper understandings acquired by the students.

Section 9: Start the Learning with An Authentic Problem + Have Discussion about the effects

In this lecture, you will see how real life problems set the stage for enriching discussion forums. You will have the opportunity to observe this throughout the models from the iM Project that I share.


In this lecture, you will have the opportunity to observe a sample of authentic discussion happening within the iM Project in my classroom. Take note of the honest and open commentary between the students. You can hear and see that many of the ideas are contentious but it does both provide insight into the stage of development of the students, as well as providing direction for where to go next with the module programming!

Quick Review
2 pages

In this lecture and the ones following, you will see demonstrations of the strategies discussed in the previous sections implemented in the classroom through the iM Project.


In this lecture, you will see a model discussion activity on Gender Issues.


In this lecture, you will see a model challenge where students were engaged in a humorous way to come to critical understandings regarding gender based beliefs about ability.


In this lecture you will see a model group based challenge where students complete a task that leads to more critical ideas about how we see our abilities.


In this lecture, I will be sharing a model of an inferencing exercise that really allowed me to assess student beliefs and ideas about gender issues.

Section 11: Explore the Issue Outside of the Classroom - use Historical & Current Events

In this lecture, I will discuss the effectiveness of using technology as a platform for students to explore critical issues. You will see a demonstration of this practice using the classroom blog.


In this lecture, you will be introduced to a model lesson that I gave to my students to work with them with the objective of making connections between our classroom learning on Social Justice Issues (Gender Equity) and current events.


In this lecture, you will see a a screencast for the Model lesson that I used when I lead our Professional Learning Community. Take note of the Learning Goals for both the Students and the teachers. Do you feel they've been successfully targeted in this lesson?

Remember also that I have provided links for your review. My purpose is only to provide you with access to resources that have been created by other teacher authors. Whether you choose to download a file or not, taking a walk through the stores can be a great way to stimulate your own unique ideas! Happy hunting!


In this lecture, you will see a lesson that models how technology was used to connect classroom learning to current events. You will see how technology is not an end on to itself but rather enhances the analysis of relevant critical content.

Section 12: DESIGN YOUR ASSESSMENT & EVALUATION PIECES (track student learning)

In this lecture I will discuss the importance of designing assessments that give students the opportunity to reflect on their own thinking and learning. You will see how these types of assessments can be both informative for you and empowering for your students.

Here is the Critical Analysis Self Reflection graphic organizer that I shared in my screencast. You are free to download it and you use it in your classroom if you choose.

Be great!


The objective of this lecture is to share ideas about evaluating the effectiveness of your program by observing changes in student attitudes and beliefs. In this lecture, you will see a concrete example of new beliefs being formed in students as well as how technology is incorporated as a platform for students to express themselves.

3 pages

The objective of this lecture is to reflect on the importance of validating the efforts of students in partnership with teacher and community facilitators.

I have provided this document that has links to videos of the final deliverables from the iM Projects I've worked through. You can see the level of critical thought that went into creating the main messages off the film.

My students took leadership of numerous aspects of the film projects and I am extremely proud of all of them. Of note, my student Trisha from my class this year was responsible for most of the filming of our piece. She really took charge of directing her peers which is wonderful to see as she is a fairly soft spoken person.


In this lecture, I discuss evaluating the future impacts of your classroom programming on the community. Keep in mind that if you are teaching to develop active citizens, then having ideas about how you follow up on the impacts of your classroom instruction can be both informative and empowering!

Quick Review
2 pages
Section 13: Celebrate Student Success

The objective of this lecture is to explore different ideas with respect to celebrating student success. Specifically, you will see models of different levels at which to recognize student achievement.

Section 14: Recap & Be Great

In this lecture, we will reflect on the ideas that were shared in the previous lectures and use the to build a more complete picture of "The Successful Teacher of Critical Literacy."


In this lecture, I will share my closing remarks.

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Instructor Biography

Ryan Richards, Learn! Teach! Inspire!

I have very much enjoyed my own journey as a life long learner and I take that same passion and model it in my classroom with the hope of inspiring my students along their journey. Inspiring students is a lofty goal that requires dedication, energy, and a whole lot of patience. The rewards (small or great) are worth it. In addition to my role as a Classroom teacher, I have also had the responsibility to support and drive professional learning for my fellow teachers. I am and have been both a "classroom teacher" (for my students), and a "Learning Classroom Teacher" (for my fellow teachers). Currently, I serve in the role as a Learning Coach for a cluster of schools within the school board.

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