Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students develop a deeper understanding of rhetoric, while finding out more about the topic of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. They are introduced to the idea of a viewpoint in a clip from the documentary film Dying to Live, then build on that idea by viewing a clip that explains the origin and purpose of rhetorical language. Students create a mind-map of their understanding of rhetoric, then apply their understanding by analysing the use of rhetoric in a news story.

Dying To Live is a documentary feature film that examines organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Australia through seven different stories that highlight the social, physical and emotional effects of being on the organ donor waiting list. The film also aims to dispel myths about organ and tissue donation while encouraging family conversations so that family members are aware of their loved ones’ donation intentions. Find out how to screen or view the film here.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand rhetoric and some key rhetorical devices.
  • Students understand how rhetoric is used to change minds.
  • Students understand more about organ and tissue donation, and the impact it can have on people’s lives.

21st century skills: 


Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 7 English

  • Analyse and explain the ways text structures and language features shape meaning and vary according to audience and purpose (ACELY1721)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret, analyse and synthesise ideas and information, critiquing ideas and issues from a variety of textual sources (ACELY1723

Year 8 English

  • 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)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret and evaluate texts by reflecting on the validity of content and the credibility of sources, including finding evidence in the text for the author’s point of view (ACELY1734

Syllabus outcomes: EN4-3B, ENLS-10B, EN4-2A, ENLS-5A, ENLS-6A, ENLS-7A

General capabilities: Literacy, Ethical understanding

Relevant parts of Year 7 achievement standards: Students demonstrate understanding of how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary affects meaning. They explain issues and ideas from a variety of sources, analysing supporting evidence and implied meaning. They select specific details from texts to develop their own response, recognising that texts reflect different viewpoints.

Relevant parts of Year 8 achievement standards: Students explain how language features, images and vocabulary are used to represent different ideas and issues in texts. Students interpret texts, questioning the reliability of sources of ideas and information. They select evidence from the text to show how events, situations and people can be represented from different viewpoints.

Topic: Social Issues, Learning Through Film

Unit of work: Dying to Live – English – Year 7 & 8

Time required: 90 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student. Web-enabled devices – at least one per pair. Device capable of presenting a video with sound to the class. Seed Discussion Organiser – printed, one per student. Rhetorical Devices Factsheet – printed, one per student. Article: Organ Donation ‘Opt Out’ Petition

Related Professional Development: Exploring General Capabilities: Ethical Understanding

Keywords: Organ and tissue donation, rhetoric, rhetorical devices, persuasive language, using language to persuade, Dying to Live

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

Cool Australia, Aquarius Productions and Intrinsic Story would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of GoodPitch² Australia, Shark Island Institute, and Documentary Australia Foundation in the development of these teaching resources.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions:

Students will...

  • ...understand rhetoric and some key rhetorical devices.
  • ...understand how rhetoric is used to change minds.
  • ...understand more about organ and tissue donation, and the impact it can have on people’s lives.

Success criteria:

Students can…

  • ...explain the viewpoint presented in a documentary excerpt and a news story.
  • ...create a mind-map that creates links between ideas presented in a short clip about rhetoric.
  • ...identify and analyse the use of rhetorical language in a news story.

Teacher content information: Organ and tissue donation are not always easy topics for discussion. However, with an average of 1,500 Australians on the transplant waiting list, increasing rates of donation is vitally important: a donation can both save and improve lives.

Although the majority of Australians (69%) are generally willing to become organ and/or tissue donors, only 1 in 3 have registered to become donors. And becaus

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: A donor can change the lives of up to 10 people. 

1. After watching the clip from Dying to Live, what do you think the filmmaker is trying to say about organ and tissue donation?

2. Analyse how rhetoric is used to change minds in the news story "Organ donation 'opt-out' petition led by teenager who received two kidney transplants" supplied by your teacher. Use the table below to complete your analysis.

Ethos – Builds trust, supports the author’s credibility and earn respect for the opinions shared.  
Rhetorical Device/Persuasive Language Technique Examples from article Purpose/effect
(describe how it is being used to change the audience's mind)
Credible sources such as experts, academics, people in the field etc    
Language that reflects the mode or genre of the text and respects the audience    
Use of tone that matches and appeals to the audience and context    
Humility and showing a humble attitude    
- or - to view worksheets

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