Activity Introduction

Subject: Design and Technologies
Year level: Years 7 & 8
Topic: Sustainability, Sustainable Design, Bushfire Resistant Housing, Fireproof Safe Housing

Quick summary: In order to design solutions to help people who have been affected by bushfires, students must first understand the extent of the impact of bushfires.

This set of resources challenges teachers and educators to expand their practice by utilising the design process methodology – an engaging, self-directed learning structure that guides students towards becoming experts so that they can ultimately design solutions that have a positive impact on people and communities.

This lesson guides students through the experiences of people and communities who have been affected by a bushfire event and the challenges they face in the aftermath. Students will create a powerful emotional touchpoint for the impact of bushfires on people and communities, which they can draw upon as motivation when designing effective solutions in later phases.

In partnership with The Conversation, the Beyond the Bushfires series brings the words of scientists who are actively involved in research and science communication into classrooms throughout Australia. Students will explore evidence-based research embedded in the context of real-world practice.

Additional thanks to the Ian Potter Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts and The Myer Foundation, for generously supporting the development of these lessons.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand the impact of bushfires on the lives, property and possessions of individuals.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCommunity EngagementCreative ThinkingEmpathyGlobal CitizenshipProblem FindingSocial Skills

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Years 7 and 8 Design and Technologies

  • Investigate the ways in which products, services and environments evolve locally, regionally and globally and how competing factors including social, ethical and sustainability considerations are prioritised in the development of technologies and designed solutions for preferred futures (ACTDEK029)

Year 7 English

  • Identify and explore ideas and viewpoints about events, issues and characters represented in texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1619)
  • Compare the ways that language and images are used to create character, and to influence emotions and opinions in different types of texts (ACELT1621)
  • Recognise and analyse the ways that characterisation, events and settings are combined in narratives, and discuss the purposes and appeal of different approaches (ACELT1622)
  • Compare the text structures and language features of multimodal texts, explaining how they combine to influence audiences (ACELY1724)
  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas (ACELY1725)

Year 8 English

  • Understand and explain how combinations of words and images in texts are used to represent particular groups in society, and how texts position readers in relation to those groups (ACELT1628)
  • Identify and evaluate devices that create tone, for example humour, wordplay, innuendo and parody in poetry, humorous prose, drama or visual texts (ACELT1630)
  • Analyse and evaluate the ways that text structures and language features vary according to the purpose of the text and the ways that referenced sources add authority to a text (ACELY1732)
  • Explore and explain the ways authors combine different modes and media in creating texts, and the impact of these choices on the viewer/listener (ACELY1735)
  • Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that raise issues, report events and advance opinions, using deliberate language and textual choices, and including digital elements as appropriate (ACELY1736)

Syllabus outcomes: T4.1.2, T4.1.3, T4.4.1, T4.6.2, EN4-8D, EN4-1A, EN4-6C, EN4-4B, EN4-8D, EN4-3B

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability

Relevant parts of Years 7 and 8 Design and Technologies achievement standards: Students explain how social, ethical, technical and sustainability considerations influence the design of innovative and enterprising solutions to meet a range of present and future needs. Students explain a range of needs, opportunities or problems and define them in terms of functional requirements and constraints. They collect, authenticate and interpret data from a range of sources to assist in making informed judgements.

Relevant parts of Years 7 English achievement standards: 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. Students understand how the selection of a variety of language features can influence an audience. They create texts showing how language features and images from other texts can be combined for effect.

Relevant parts of Year 8 English achievement standards: 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. Students understand how the selection of language features can be used for particular purposes and effects. They explain the effectiveness of language choices they make to influence the audience. 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.

Topics: Climate Change, The Conversation, Beyond the Bushfires, Sustainability.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work Beyond the Bushfires: Bushfire-Resistant Housing.

Time required: 85 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Facilitate class discussion, support student thinking, scaffold students through tasks and resources.

Be aware that the Design Process challenges the traditional roles in learning of instructors as the main disseminator of information and students having reduced agency. In this model, the instructor’s task is to challenge students’ pre-conceived ideas, foster their curiosity, pose challenging questions, and provide support and guidance to students as they are self-directed in pursuing knowledge.

Resources required:

Keywords: earthships, conversation, Ian Potter, design, research, mudbrick, bushfires, creative, community, rebuild, empathy

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


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students understand...

  • the impact of bushfires on the lives, property and possessions of individuals.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... critically evaluate the impact of text structure and language choice on the emotions of an audience
  • ... create texts which communicate the experience and emotional impact of being part of a bushfire event.

Teacher content information:

The design process

The design process is an approach for creating solutions to practical, real-world problems by breaking down the project into manageable chunks and thoroughly working through the challenges framed by each unique phase to arrive at a refined idea.

These phases are:

  • The empathise phase
  • The define phase
  • The research phase
  • The ideate and prototype phase
  • The evaluation phase

Architects, engineers, scientists and other thinkers use the design process to create livable solutions for people, but the process can also be a way to explo

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