YPP Network Description

The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

Albert's Lesson Plan: Social Justice Through Parody

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In the video below, Albert describes his “Social Justice through Parody” project. As he explains, he tries to go beyond teaching the “traditional supply and demand” in his Economics class and tries to “infuse it with the social justice themes that our students are really receptive to.” As part of a unit that deals with globalization’s implications on communities of poverty. Albert implemented a lesson plan in which students made parody videos to call attention to social justice issues. He used a DREAMer video found on BAMN that plays with the idea that VapoRub is seen as a ubiquitous cure-all within Latino communities and juxtaposes the humor with sobering facts about the lack of healthcare options for undocumented immigrants.


Below you can find a range of materials Albert has been using for the project. His full write up and reflection are not yet available on Digital Is, as he is still implementing the project, but readers should find these materials helpful in detailing it. Included are a worksheet with a project introduction and possible topics, an outline of project elements, and a rubric for grading the various elements. Below is his rationale in his own words:


Counterstories and Our Students

Our students have lived experiences that often leave educators in awe of their resilience and courage. Being from a predominantly black and brown community in South Los Angeles, the narratives and unique experiences of my students can get lost in the larger scope of problems facing the community. As I sought to infuse my district mandated curriculum with elements of social justice and an authentic appreciation for the voices of my students, I looked to Critical Race Counterstorytelling to help my students not only identify issues close to them, but move towards action against a dominant narrative that devalues their voices. 


Paolo Friere first identified critical race counterstorytelling as a way of socially marginalized people to reflect on their lives and bring critical awareness surrounding social and racial injustices (Friere 1970). In Critical Race Counterstories along the Chicana/Chicano Educational Pipeline (2006), Professor Tara Yosso identifies these counterstories as “valid and valuable data” that “challenge majoritarian stories that omit and distort the histories and realities of oppressed communities.” This notion of somebody’s experience and storing being actual “data” with real meaning is what not only captivated me but lent weight to my students’ voices.


The first step in advocating for change is bringing light to an issue. Internet sharing and social media allow causes to go viral and spread the call to action. The juxtaposition of a ludacris misconception or stereotypes to the harsh and often depressing reality of a situation creates lasting images that can spark a desire to get involved. I wanted to take my students’ counterstories along with an interests in a modern day political or social topic and have them advocate and become activists in their own way.


Introducing Counterstories to Students

In order to have students fully bought into the power of counterstorytelling and the idea that their own voices can spark change, I first had to introduce them to the concept of counterstory telling. We started by looking at a traditional examples of counterstorytelling as told in Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales’ legendary poem, I am Joaquin. After having students break down the narratives that “Corky” Gonzales is challenging, we then look at a different version of a counterstory that combines today’s media and satire to challenge the dominant narrative. We used archived videos from the MAPP project, By Any Media Necessary to understand how the purposefule use of satire and counterstorytelling can raise critical awareness and promote action. Once students have the initial buy in, they can now move towards identifying issues close to home.


Selecting Issues

Having students select their own issues is key to this activity because it allows them to voice their true experiences. After all, a counterstory cannot exist if it doesn’t come from a students’ lived experiences. Because undocumented people represent a growing number of community members, my group of students gravitated towards that as their topic. It’s important to note that tackling issues within a struggling community can force us to cross paths with some rather controversial issues. Keeping in mind that the issues will be initially satirized as part of the counterstorytelling process in this activity, it’s important that students have a clear vision for their counterstory as to prevent this from solely becoming a parody or spoof. It is at this point that students must also identify the action they will be asking the audience to take. Will they be asking for viewers to support legislation or rally in support of a cause?


Counterstories and Satire Project

Goal: Create a satirical counterstory video bringing to light an economic or social issue that remains unsolved or problematic. Your counterstory should challenge stereotype or misconception perpetuated by the dominant culture.



An issue or problem in society can’t be addressed until the public becomes aware of it. Citizenship is more than just voting. Citizenship is about identifying and working towards solutions on some of our biggest societal problems. It’s about addressing how our decisions impact the larger world around us. Using your knowledge government and economics (thus far), you will create a counterstory that uses your experiences and satire to bring a serious issue to light. Although you will be using satire to get your point across, your whole message should lead the audience to an understanding of a more serious issue in our society and call viewers to action. For an example, watch this parody on healthcare and undocumented people in the United States. No Healthcare? No Problem 


Possible Topics

Water Privatization

Income Inequality

Predatory Lending

Gender Gap

Labor Rights


Health Care



Prison Industrial Complex

Racial Profiling

Other (must be approved)


Project Timeline/Sequence

  • Identifying Topic – Pick a topic that your group wishes to bring attention to and encourage action or social change. Topics can range from community specific issues, nationwide problems, or global concerns.
  • Identifying Action – What type of action is your commercial advocating? Are you asking the public to get involved through protest? Are you asking them to vote a certain way? What can people to get involved?
  • Researching Evidence – It’s not enough to say a that something is problem. What proof (data, statistics, numbers) exist to demonstrate the seriousness of your issue? How can you use those statistics to grab people’s attention?
  • Planning the Commercial – Using the provided template, map out every detail of your commercial. Think about the people, locations, materials, and everything else you will need to make this happen.Remember, your commercial should follow the following sequence:
    • Satirizing the issue
    • Attention grabbing statistics
    • Call to action
  • Filming and Production – Cameras are available through Mr. Vazquez. You can also use phones, mp3s, or anything else for producing your media. Plan out the details carefully and assign specific tasks for each teammate. Resources: Sound RecordingVideo RecordingStill Images 
  • Presentation – You’ll be presenting to the class on your topic. Be prepared to share out on the following: What was your rationale for picking this specific issue? Why should people care? What was your teams approach to satirizing such a serious issue?
  • Reflection – Each member is responsible for completing a project reflection sheet.


Project Rubric



All Elements  Present

Most Elements  Present

Some Elements  Present

No Elements Present

Use of Satire





Credibility of Statistics





Call to Action





Project Format