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Continuing Education

Using Literature to Connect to Contemporary Social Justice Issues

Date: 9:00am - 4:00pm PDT March 14 Location: South Chapel, Lewis & Clark Graduate School

South Chapel, Lewis & Clark Graduate School

This workshop is for English/Language Arts teachers who hope to use literature as a tool to engage with issues of social justice, in addition to teaching literary analysis.

We will first examine how text selection impacts the diversity of contemporary social issues that a class can explore. While some teachers may have agency in their text selection, we will develop strategies for identifying contemporary connections when the syllabus is already set. For teachers who are considering teaching a controversial novel, such as The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, we will discuss the pros and cons of selecting a particular text.

We will explore the use of tools, such as Anticipation Guides, Socratic Seminars, and using supplementary texts (articles, film clips, podcasts) to help students connect works of literature to contemporary issues. We will also look at how to create a summative assessment, such as persuasive writing, that utilizes this connection.

The afternoon of this workshop will be devoted to giving teachers time to identify a work of literature that they’d like to use in the next school year, brainstorming possible contemporary connections their students could make, and building a unit plan.

Participants will leave the class with:

  • An identified work of literature that they plan to use in class next year as a vehicle for exploring issues of social justice, including possible connections that students could make between that work of literature and contemporary issues
  • A new unit plan (or additional lessons for a book the teacher has taught in the past), utilizing the tools taught in the course to make connections between a work of literature and contemporary issues of social justice 

Following this workshop, participants will have the ability to:

  • Examine how text selection impacts the diversity of issues a given class will explore
  • Develop strategies to identify contemporary connections when a teacher does not have much agency in text selection
  • Discuss the pros and cons to picking certain controversial texts
  • Explore the use of tools and supplementary texts to help students connect works of literature to contemporary issues

Workshop Details & Registration

Date: Saturday, March 14, 2020, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Instructor: Emily Keller, MAT 
Cost: $125, by 2/20, $150 after. includes 6 PDUs. Lewis & Clark Alumni save 20%. Student rate: $50 

Lewis & Clark School-based Mentors and Supervisors: 20% off

Register now

  • We are committed to making our events accessible to all needs and abilities. When registering, let us know your access needs. Please contact us at 503-768-6040 or with questions.

    Please note: Student registrations are for current students only and do not include continuing education credit (CEU/PDUs)


About the Instructor

Emily Keller, MAT is in her eighth year teaching at Jesuit High School. She teaches English to freshmen and juniors and her passion is helping her students to discuss issues of social justice as they read works of literature. She also feels privileged to have lead groups of Jesuit students on 5 international service trips to Latin America with the nonprofit Courts for Kids. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling.

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