Professional Readings


Community Service or Activism as an Identity Project for Youth

Harre, N. (2007). Community Service or Activism as an Identity Project for Youth. Journal Of Community Psychology35(6), 711-724.

About: This article looks at the connection between youth involvement in activist projects and their identity development.  Being involved in projects that better students’ communities helps their psychological growth!  Nikki Harré’s research found that it increased students’ sense of belonging and encourages educators and other community members to create time and spaces for youth to become involved.

How Tasjian and Le Guin Encourage Social Activism in Young Adults

Raymond, S., & Boreen, J. (2006). How Tasjian and Le Guin Encourage Social Activism in Young Adults. National Council of Teachers of English95(3), 69-73. Retrieved from

About:  This article discusses the use of young adult literature and literature circle groups to “understand the lives of disenfranchised people, not only in the present but throughout history and in imaginary worlds,” (p. 69).  As the title shows, it focuses specifically on Janet Tasjian and Ursula Le Guin’s work.  Yet another resource for specific ideas on how to start classroom dialogue.

What Do We Say When We Hear ‘Faggot’?

Gordon, L. (2007). What Do We Say When We Hear ‘Faggot’?. In Rethinking Schools (Ed.), Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching For Equity and Justice(Vol. Vol. 1). Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.

About:  In this article, Leonore Gordon guides us through her journey teaching students about speaking out when they hear anti-LGBTQ bullying in the schoolyard.  They talk about what lesbian and gay mean, what the stereotypes are about those orientations and their invalidity, and what to do when they hear hateful speech.  I think it is really important with students to have lessons like this wherein students create their own “personal scripts” for how to handle new situations such as this so that they are able to stand up.



Planning to Change the World: A Plan Book for Social Justice Teachers

Mack, T., & Picower, B. (2012). Planning to change the world: A plan book for social justice teachers 2012-2013. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.

About:  This is actually a planning book for teachers and gets re-released and updated annually.  There are calendar pages, resource lists, activity ideas, quotes and questions to inspire classroom conversation and more.  From the introduction to the book: This plan book is designed to help teachers translate their vision of a just education into concrete classroom activities. It is both a daily reminder of the importance of teaching for justice and a collection of tools to help you do just that. 

Reading, Writing, and Rising Up

Christensen, L. (2000) Reading, Writing, and Rising Up. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.

About: This book is Linda Christensen’s second book about using language arts education as a tool for student empowerment and, as a result, social change.  While much of the book focuses on writing, there are some sections such as Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us: Critiquing Cartoons and Society that focus on taking a critical lens to the world around us.  Also, the section Tea Party: Enticing Reluctant Readers to Read is about the method she used in her high school Language Arts room: students are each given a piece of paper with a snippet of the book they are about to read and then mill around and discuss what they think their text is about.  Although Linda Christensen taught high school, many of her practices can be adapted for middle school and intermediate students — if you’re really creative you could probably even bring it down to primary!  She’s also written a more recent book, Teaching for Joy and Justice with more of a focus on the use of writing as a tool for social change.

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