Activity Introduction

AFI_2021 Photoframe_English lessonQuick summary: In this English lesson, students revise key visual techniques such as size, ratio, salience, colour and symbolism. They use these strategies to analyse the emotional impact of a variety of film stills from the feature documentary ‘A Fire Inside.’ Students then analyse the combination of stills in the form of a short film clip.

Learning intentions:

  • Students can identify visual techniques such as size, salience, colour and symbolism
  • Students can analyse the combined effects of these visual techniques.

21st-century skills: 

      CommunicatingCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingCultural UnderstandingDigital LiteracyEmpathyEthical UnderstandingGlobal Citizenship      

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 7 English:

  • Compare the ways that language and images are used to create a character, and to influence emotions and opinions in different types of texts (ACELT1621).

Year 8 English:

  • Interpret and analyse language choices, including sentence patterns, dialogue, imagery and other language features, in short stories, literary essays and plays (ACELT1767)

Year 9 English:

  • Analyse and explain the use of symbols, icons and myth in still and moving images and how these augment meaning (ACELA1560)
  • Explore and explain the combinations of language and visual choices that authors make to present information, opinions and perspectives in different texts (ACELY1745).

Year 10 English: 

  • Analyse and explain how text structures, language features and visual features of texts and the context in which texts are experienced may influence audience response (ACELT1641).

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-1A

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical Understanding, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability, Literacy, Personal and Social Capability.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability

Relevant parts of Year 7 achievement standards: By the end of Year 7, students understand how text structures can influence the complexity of a text and are dependent on audience, purpose and context. They demonstrate understanding of how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary affects meaning

Relevant parts of Year 8 achievement standards: By the end of Year 8, students understand how the selection of text structures is influenced by the selection of language mode and how this varies for different purposes and audiences. Students explain how language features, images and vocabulary are used to represent different ideas and issues in texts.

Relevant parts of Year 9 achievement standards: By the end of year 9 students evaluate and integrate ideas and information from texts to form their own interpretations. They select evidence from texts to analyse and explain how language choices and conventions are used to influence an audience. They listen for ways texts position an audience.

Relevant parts of Year 10 achievement standards: By the end of Year 10, students evaluate how text structures can be used in innovative ways by different authors. They explain how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary contributes to the development of individual style.

Topic: Visual Language and image analysis

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work: A Fire Inside: Feature Documentary – Years 7 to 10

Time required: 80 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion

Resources required:

  • A4 copies of the selected images
  • A device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Powerpoint presentation: Fire Inside: Visual Language
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student.

Keywords: Bushfires, visual language, film, photography, documentary, language conventions, cinematography.

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


Teacher Worksheet

AFI_2021 Photoframe_English lessonTeacher Preparation

Before teaching the lessons, ensure you have watched the feature documentary “A Fire Inside” rated M15+ and have gained approval from parents and guardians before viewing the documentary or specific clips produced for Cool. Consider completing the first lesson: Viewing The Film to ensure students have a clear understanding of the feature documentary and how to apply their knowledge and critical thinking skills. 

To view the film you can rent or purchase an online copy from Google PlayApple TVPrime Video, or Ritz at home.
Students may develop heightened emotions and discomfort during the film. It is recommended that you direct students to a school counsellor if they require additional support and read through the Handling Sensitive Topics and Issues Template document.

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ...identify visual techniques such as size, salience, colour and symbolism
  • ...analyse the combined effects of these visual techniques.

Success c

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Student Worksheet

Student Worksheet

1. Visual Techniques

Match the terms with the correct definition: 

Background The area that appears closest to the viewer
Foreground A mark or sign that represents something else - usually something abstract
Framing How large or small something is
Salience The area that appears furthest from the viewer
Size What is and isn’t included in a shot and where each part is included
Symbolism How noticeable something is

2. Word associations:

Brainstorm the words and connotations for the following: 

Word Association


3. Reflection:

How important is a visual: capturing or creating the right image?

4. Refer to the image below to complete the table:

Think about how the image uses the various techniques and what effect might it have on the audience?

A Fire Inside_2021_Analysing Imagery_Enlgish lesson

Technique Evidence from the image/film Effect
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