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Lesson Plan

Crit Lit for Kids: From Critical Consciousness to Service Learning

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Crit Lit for Kids: From Critical Consciousness to Service Learning

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Nine to eleven 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Deborah Kozdras, Ph.D.

Deborah Kozdras, Ph.D.

Tampa, Florida


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



Students are introduced to concepts of social justice, such as diversity, tolerance, equity, and equality, through a literary text, class discussions, and guided research. Students plan a service-learning project, then work in small groups using Photo Story software to produce a multimedia presentation designed to foster community support for the project. Students also use the Printing Press to create informational fliers about the project. The lesson concludes—and the service-learning project begins—with a showing of the Photo Story productions for parents and other community members.

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  • Persuasion Map: Students can use this easy tool to visually break down their ideas for their service projects by sorting their information into reasons with supporting details.
  • ReadWriteThink Printing Press: This handy tool allows students to publish their ideas in a variety of formats, including newspapers and booklets.

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Johnson, H., & Freedman, L. (2005). Developing critical awareness at the middle level: Using texts as tools for critique and pleasure. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • Using literature students enjoy, teachers can help students develop critical awareness and discuss social justice issues.

  • Through the literature students read and subsequent discussions, teachers create the opportunity for middle-level learners to investigate themselves and their connections to the world.

  • Literature about other cultures and other times provides a venue for both students and teachers to question their assumptions about themselves and the world.


Sangiuliano, G. (2005). Books on tape for kids: A language arts-based service-learning project. In R.A. Karchmer, M.H. Mallette, J. Kara-Soteriou, & D.J. Leu, Jr. (Eds.) Innovative approaches to literacy education: Using the Internet to support new literacies. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • A successful service-learning project involves "a great deal of preparation by the teachers and volunteers, motivation from the students and parents, and support from the community." (p. 14)

  • The Books on Tape for Kids project provided previously reluctant readers with an intrinsic motivation to improve their literacy skills.

  • Introducing a service-learning project to other students and community members offers additional opportunities for students to develop skills in "new literacies," through authentic use of information technologies.

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