Activity Introduction

Still from 2040 documentaryQuick summary: 2040 is an innovative feature documentary that looks to the future, but is vitally important NOW! Director Damon Gameau embarks on a journey to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shifted them rapidly into the mainstream.

In this lesson, students explore the emotions that climate change evokes and examine the tones used in messaging around climate change. Students compare and contrast headlines and videos that use a range of tone. In doing so, students evaluate the effect that different tones have on the audience. Students then create their own messaging around climate change. Students use class data, through surveys, to find out which messaging was most effective.

2040 is only available in cinemas until later in 2019. You can make a group booking for your class at your local cinema during the film’s theatrical release commencing from May 23. These lessons have been designed with a media library to support teachers. Find out how to see the film in cinemas here. The Schools Version of the 2040 DVD is now also available for pre-order! School-based screenings can commence from September 1st – pre-order now to get your copy before the end of August. The Schools Version includes an educational license, allowing you to play it in class as a learning tool or even host on-site screenings for your school community.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand how tone is created through author choices
  • Students will understand that tone impacts on audiences in different ways
  • Students will create their own messaging with a variety of tones

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 7 English

  • Understand how language is used to evaluate texts and how evaluations about a text can be substantiated by reference to the text and other sources (ACELA1782)

Year 8 English

  • Identify and evaluate devices that create tone, for example humour, wordplay, innuendo and parody in poetry, humorous prose, drama or visual texts (ACELT1630)

Syllabus outcomes: ENe-7B, EN4-1A.

General capabilities: Literacy. Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability. 

Relevant parts of Year 7 achievement standards: Students demonstrate understanding of how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary affects meaning. Students understand how the selection of a variety of language features can influence an audience. They understand how to draw on personal knowledge, textual analysis and other sources to express or challenge a point of view. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using language features to engage the audience.

Relevant parts of Year 8 achievement standards: Students create texts for different purposes, selecting language to influence audience response. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using language patterns for effect. When creating and editing texts to create specific effects, they take into account intended purposes and the needs and interests of audiences.

Topic: Sustainability, Climate Change, Learning Through Film.

Unit of work: 2040 – English – Years 7 to 10

Time required: 75 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a video to the class. 

Keywords: 2040, documentary, tone, text analysis, persuasive writing, group work, climate change.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Cool Australia, GoodThing Productions and Regen Pictures would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of Good Pitch Australia, Shark Island Institute, Documentary Australia Foundation, The Caledonia Foundation and our philanthropic partners in the development of these teaching resources.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand how tone is created through author choices
  • ... understand that tone impacts on audiences in different ways

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... identify tone in written and multi-modal texts
  • ... identify examples of author’s choices that create or contribute to the tone
  • ... evaluate the varying effect of differing tones
  • ... create their own messaging with a variety of tones

Teacher content information: A 2018 study by The University of Melbourne on the thoughts and concerns of young people from Generations X and Y found the number one concern across both groups was lack of action around climate change. In particular, "Generation X worries what climate change will mean for their own children, while Generation Y is concerned about the impact on future generations" (The Educator). The report indicates that young people have a serious mistrust in the Government's ability or willingness to tackl

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: How does tone affect an audience?

Examining Tone

1. Climate change is a very emotive issue. Many people feel very strongly about it, but many of us feel different emotions.

You will now watch a clip from the 2040 documentary that explains more about climate change and which may help you to connect with your emotions around this topic:

Exploring the Themes Password: 2040_EDU (

Once complete, reflect on your experience of this clip by completing the table below:

THINK - What does the clip make you THINK about? FEEL - How do you FEEL about this clip? WONDER - What do you WONDER about the clip? What questions does this clip leave you with?

2. Write down your definition of ‘tone’:

Tone is ... 

Can you think of a sentence where a 'tone' is used? 

3. Have a look at the table below. Write down what tone you think the author is using in each headline in the table below. Record your responses in Column C. In Column

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