Beginnings in Social Justice Instruction

The book Words and Actions: Teaching Language Through the Lens of Social Justice by Cassandra Glynn, Pamela Wesely, and Beth Wassell gave me new insight for when I decided to write an original social justice unit. AF_carles-694x1024After consulting the publication, I chose to write a unit centered around the social justice theme of gender, which I think is a rather easy, entry-level theme. There is an obvious tie-in as this summer, in June and July 2019, the Women’s World Cup is being hosted in France. As such, there are many articles on gender equality in the French press right now, so it was easy to find authentic documents to support the unit that I have decided to call “Le foot est un sport de garçons ET de filles”.

The small steps that I learned from Words and Actions provided great gains. The first was defining a takeaway. When deciding on a theme and essential question, it is advised to define a social justice takeaway, much like an enduring understanding. My theme is “Le foot est un sport de garçons ET de filles” and my essential question is, “How is access to and experience with playing soccer influenced by gender?” So, after thinking it through for a while, the understanding that I wanted my students to have at the end was “Preconceived ideas of gender impact girls’ access to sport”.

AF_daghigh-694x1024As I mentioned, there are currently many authentic documents available on this theme, so I chose a couple ads, an article on a web page, an infographic, a few posters, a clip from a film, a few television reports and a music video, which are all shared with you via the link below. Words and Actions helped me think through how to integrate the posters into my lessons through three steps. The first step “Setting the Stage”, helped me ask students to analyze messages from the culture by paying attention to images as well as words on the posters that promote women’s soccer. Then through the “Critical Thinking and Discussion” step, I learned to have students share their initial impressions and interpretations through discussion of the posters with their peers. I gave my students sentence starters to encourage them to engage with their classmates. For the final step, “Digging Deeper in the Topic”, I was able to have students identify their own messages and make posters themselves.

AF_heidemann-694x1024I am sharing with you all of the activities for the unit in this folder, to inspire you to try this on your own. A good place to start is with the teacher slides presentation. Don’t miss the notes in the notes section. If any parts of the unit work for you or if the whole unit does, please use it. I would love it if you would comment below to tell me what you were able to incorporate.

4 thoughts on “Beginnings in Social Justice Instruction

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I don’t know why, but I still get very frazzled when I need to create a unit, and your post is a great narrative for how you do this. Thanks for being inspirational.

    1. Your comment taps into something that I have been thinking about. While most of us have MEds or MATs, have lived in the target culture, are well versed in SLA and have years and years of experience, we have seen very few examples of proficiency-based units. One way for us to get better at what we do is to share extensively so that we all see more models. We can take pieces of what works for us personally from others and then make better units by bringing our own style to the further writing of the unit. Thanks for your comment. Obviously it struck a chord. 😉

  2. I have been dabbling in creating full units like this for the past several years. Since I am personally not much interested in sports, this is a them I often struggle with. Your description of how you arrived at the essential question and then designed a social justice unit was inspiring to me. I am spending the summer in France and hope to have time to read the local papers, talk to lots of people, and contemplate and formulate some essential questions myself from my experiences. You reminded me that sometimes it’s as simple as asking yourself “who is impacted by this?” and working from there. Good reminder for everyone interested in social justice questions. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    1. Yes! It took me a while to understand what Social Justice is and your question “who is impacted by this” gets right to the heart of it. Hmmm… I am going to try thinking like that too.

Leave a Reply to sundayriverskimom Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s