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Lesson Plan

Critical Literacy: Women in 19th-Century Literature

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Critical Literacy: Women in 19th-Century Literature

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 45- to 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Elizabeth Nolan Conners

Weston, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Introduce students to fundamental ideas of critical literacy through a reading and critical analysis of two pieces of literature from the 1800s, focusing on each author's intent and intended audience. Students first read and discuss two chapters from a story by Louisa May Alcott. Each student then chooses a literary piece for individual analysis from the online archives of a popular magazine from that era. After reading and studying the two selections, students write an essay in which they compare each author's purpose and voice.

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  • Interactive Venn Diagram: This handy online tool allows students to easily sort information into a visual aid.

  • Compare & Contrast Map: This map provides an additional way to visually plot out the information students find within the text.

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McLaughlin, M., & DeVoogd, G. (2004). Critical literacy as comprehension: Expanding reader response. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(1), 52Ė62.

  • Critical literacy helps teachers and students expand their reasoning, seek out multiple perspectives, and become active thinkers.

  • Critical literacy focuses on issues of power and promotes reflection, transformation, and action. It challenges the ideal or commonplace for the purpose of relieving inequity and injustice.

  • Critical literacy recognizes the complexity of problems, rather than accepting simple explanations or solutions.

  • By examining texts from a variety of viewpoints, students learn to appreciate multiple points of view and develop their ability to read from a critical stance.

  • Students can learn to become active, critical readers and thinkers.

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