Activity Introduction

blue_ocean_untitled_1-676-1_photoframeQuick Summary: This lesson incorporates clips from Blue The Film as learning inspiration. In this lesson, students will consider verbal and non-verbal communication choices, and how they persuade audiences. They will watch two short videos exploring perspectives about the ocean and environmental issues. Students will further build their understanding of using language to persuade by studying the verbal and non-verbal communication choices in these videos and how they are used to influence audiences. Students apply this knowledge to practise and demonstrate their own use of persuasive language choices to create a text that addresses the issue of plastic pollution, ocean health and marine ecosystems.

blue-white-logo-120pxBlue is a feature documentary film charting the drastic decline in the health of our oceans. With more than half of all marine life lost and the expansion of the industrialization of the seas, the film sets out the challenges we are facing and the opportunities for positive change. Blue changes the way we think about our liquid world and inspires the audience to action. Find out how to screen or download the film here. Along with the film is an ambitious global campaign to create advocacy and behaviour change through the #oceanguardian movement. To become an ocean guardian, see the website.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand that speaking persuasively about topical issues requires a combination of verbal and non-verbal communication techniques to engage and appeal to audiences.
  • Students will be able to evaluate the effect of persuasive speaking.

21st century skills:


Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 9 English

  • Investigate how evaluation can be expressed directly and indirectly using devices, for example allusion, evocative vocabulary and metaphor (ACELA1552)
  • Listen to spoken texts constructed for different purposes, for example to entertain and to persuade, and analyse how language features of these texts position listeners to respond in particular ways (ACELY1740)
  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements for aesthetic and playful purposes (ACELY1741)

General capabilities: Literacy, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-1A, EN5-2A

Relevant parts of Year 9 English achievement standards: Students analyse the ways that text structures can be manipulated for effect. They analyse and explain how images, vocabulary choices and language features distinguish the work of individual authors. Students 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. Students understand how to use a variety of language features to create different levels of meaning. They demonstrate how manipulating language features and images can create innovative texts. Students create texts that respond to issues, interpreting and integrating ideas from other texts. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, comparing and evaluating responses to ideas and issues.

Topic: Blue The film, Ocean conservation, Water, Sustainability.

Unit of work: Blue The Film – English – Year 9&10.

Time required: 90 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – facilitate class discussion and assess student work.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one per student. Device capable of presenting a website to the class. Persuasive Language Factsheet (one per student). Rhetorical Devices Factsheet (optional). Corporate Responsibility – Transcript. How Do We Combat Our Plastic Addiction – Transcript.

Keywords: Blue The Film, ocean conservation, marine ecosystems, rhetoric, plastic pollution, persuasive writing.

Cool Australia and Northern Pictures would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of GoodPitch² AustraliaShark Island InstituteDocumentary Australia FoundationThe Caledonia Foundation and Screen Australia in the development of these teaching resources.

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

© 2017 Northern Pictures and Cool Australia


Teacher Worksheet

blue_bird_feeding_chick_untitled_1-317-1_photoframeTeacher preparation

Learning intentions: Students will understand that speaking persuasively about topical issues requires a combination of verbal and non-verbal communication techniques to engage and appeal to audiences. Students will be able to evaluate the effect of persuasive speaking.

Success criteria:

  • Students can explain the different types of persuasive language devices.
  • Students can identify and evaluate the effects of verbal and non-verbal communication choices on audience engagement.
  • Students can demonstrate their own verbal and non-verbal communication choices.


Teacher content information: From space, our planet appears as a tiny blue dot in the vastness of space. No matter where you live on our blue planet – you’re connected to the sea.

But the seas are under threat. The industrialisation that has occurred in the oceans over the last century, mirrors the events that triggered mass extinctions on land. Industrial scale fishing, habitat destruction, species

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Why do some people speak more effectively in public than others?

 Part A. How to Speak Persuasively

1. Watch the following video and then complete the 'Think-Pair-Share' visible thinking routine below in response to the spoken presentation skills used. 

How to sound smart in your TEDx Talk - Will Stephen (

What comes to mind while watching this video?
What can I add after discussing with my partner?
What can I add after hearing from the the class?

Part B. Identifying and Evaluating Persuasive Speaking

1. Read through the information on the Persuasive Language Factsheet. Then, watch the following videos from Blue The Film and of Leonardo DiCaprio’s speech to the United Nations. Pay attention to the verbal and non-verbal communication choices.

We owe the ocean (

Marine sanctuaries (

Leonardo DiCaprio (UN Messenger of

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