Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students negotiate criteria for assessing the effectiveness of the designed solutions for bushfire-resistant housing. They take ownership of their efforts of trying to effect practical, real-world change for people, communities and places impacted by 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 both educators and students through the process of negotiating success criteria before helping students to effectively present their work via a communication piece and reflect critically on feedback in order to identify areas of improvement.

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 benefits of reflecting and receiving feedback on their work in order to learn and grow.
  • Students understand how to effectively communicate their ideas to an audience.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingDigital LiteracyEntrepreneurshipEmpathyFlexibilityProblem FindingProblem SolvingSocial SkillsTeam Work

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Years 7 and 8 Design and Technologies

  • Generate, develop, test and communicate design ideas, plans and processes for various audiences using appropriate technical terms and technologies including graphical representation techniques. (ACTDEP036)
  • Select and justify choices of materials, components, tools, equipment and techniques to effectively and safely make designed solutions (ACTDEP037)
  • Independently develop criteria for success to evaluate design ideas, processes and solutions and their sustainability (ACTDEP038)

Year 7 English

  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements to promote a point of view or enable a new way of seeing (ACELY1720)

Year 8 English

  • 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)

Visual Arts

  • Experiment with visual arts conventions and techniques, including exploration of techniques used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, to represent a theme, concept or idea in their artwork (ACAVAM118)
  • Practise techniques and processes to enhance representation of ideas in their art-making (ACAVAM121)
  • Present artwork demonstrating consideration of how the artwork is displayed to enhance the artist’s intention to an audience (ACAVAM122)

Syllabus outcomes: T4.3.1, T4.3.2, T4.6.1, EN4-4B, VAS4.1, VAS4.3, VAS4.4, VAS4.5, VAS4.2

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

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

Relevant parts of Years 7 & 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.  Students generate and document in digital and non-digital form, design ideas for different audiences using appropriate technical terms, and graphical representation techniques including algorithms. They develop criteria for success, including innovation and sustainability considerations, and use these to judge the suitability of their ideas, solutions and processes.

Relevant parts of Years 7 English achievement standards: Students make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using language features to engage the audience.

Relevant parts of Year 8 English achievement standards: Students make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using language patterns for effect.

Relevant parts of Years 7 & 8 Visual Arts achievement standards: Students explain how an artwork is displayed to enhance its meaning. They demonstrate use of visual conventions, techniques and processes to communicate meaning in their artworks.

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: 130 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 benefits of reflecting and receiving feedback on their work in order to learn and grow
  • ... how to effectively communicate their ideas to an audience.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... critically evaluate and reflect on their work
  • ... provide constructive feedback to their peers
  • ... construct and employ a rubric for the purposes of consistent and comparable evaluation
  • ... identify and implement improvements to their work.

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

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