Social Justice Planning Templates

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How the Templates Were Developed

To help you incorporate social justice themes into your language classes, CARLA has developed three interrelated planning templates for creating curricular units grounded in target language texts: a curricular unit overview template, a lesson planning template, and a summative assessment template. The planning templates and accompanying user’s guides were developed by the Social Justice in Language Education initiative leaders in collaboration with expert consultants and experienced curriculum developers. Each underwent a rigorous process of development, review, piloting, and refinement over a period of 1.5 years. Learn more about this process by watching the video at right and by reading a journal article by the initiative leaders.

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How to Use the Templates


Each user's guide explains how the templates are structured and provides tips for using them. You can learn more about how to use the templates by watching the video at the right. 

Although these templates contain stages and checklists to help you implement social justice in language education, we do not wish to suggest that teaching for social justice can be achieved only through checklists, planning templates, or sample materials. Indeed, according to gender-just scholar Kris Knisely, this “is a desire that’s rooted in Whiteness and in normativity." The use of these resources “alone does not and cannot guarantee [social] justice. What they can do is offer support in your ongoing commitment to and investment in equity and justice” (Knisely, 2022). We thus encourage you to use and adapt these resources in ways that meet your needs and those of your students as your understanding and enactment of social justice in language education approaches evolves over time.


The three planning templates will help you enact two complementary critical pedagogies that support the teaching of social justice topics: the multiliteracies framework (Cope & Kalantzis, 2015; New London Group, 1996) and the five components of social justice education (Hackman, 2005). The templates also incorporate social justice standards from the domains of identity, diversity, justice, and action (Learning for Justice, 2021).

Multiliteracies pedagogy focuses on students’ critical engagement with target language texts of various types. This entails the ability to interpret and create texts, identify and explain form-meaning connections expressed in texts, and analyze cultural products, practices, and perspectives represented in texts. Four activity types–experiencing, conceptualizing, analyzing, and applying–put these goals into practice and provide teachers with a structure for building students’ foreign language literacies as they develop their language proficiency and learn about and question cultural products, practices, and perspectives. You can learn more about multiliteracies pedagogy through CARLA’s Foreign Language Literacies initiative.

Social justice pedagogy includes five components: content mastery, critical thinking and analysis, action and social change, personal reflection, and multicultural group dynamics. These components work together to build students’ understanding of social justice topics and to cultivate their ability to analyze factual information, question systems of power and inequity, act in ways that challenge systems of oppression, and think critically about the impact of one’s thoughts, words, and actions. You can learn more about the five components of social justice education by reading Heather Hackman’s (2005) article on the topic.

Social Justice Standards provide a second framework for centering social justice in language teaching materials and student learning outcomes. These standards span four domains: identity, diversity, justice, and action. You can learn more about these standards, including a full list of standards in each domain, on the Learning for Justice website.


The user’s guides have a CC-BY-NC-ND license, meaning that you can use, copy, and share them as long as you give appropriate attribution, don’t use them for commercial purposes, and don’t redistribute a modified version. The templates have a CC-BY-NC-SA license, meaning that you can use, copy, adapt, and share them as long as you give appropriate attribution, share them using the same or similar license, and don’t use them for commercial purposes. This added flexibility in the licensing of the templates allows you to personalize them to meet your needs and those of your students.


Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2015). The things you do to know: An introduction to the pedagogy of multiliteracies. In B. Cope & M. Kalantzis (Eds.), A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Learning by design (pp. 1-36). Palgrave Macmillan.

Hackman, H. W. (2005). Five essential components for social justice education (PDF). Equity & Excellence in Education, 38, 103-109.

Knisely, K. A. (2022, May 11). The gender-just language education project: Benefits, challenges, and strategies for engaging with trans knowledges [Webinar]. CERCLL, University of Arizona. 

Learning for Justice. (2021). Social justice standards. Southern Poverty Law Center.  

New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multilitercies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-92.


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