Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will apply what they have learned about how stories change minds to plan, draft, edit and publish their own story to change people’s minds about the topic of organ and tissue donation. Students watch a short clip from Dying to Live that features the story of Woody and evaluate how their view of organ and tissue donation is affected. They use a range of questions to imagine a character and a setting, and apply their understanding of the dramatic arc to write their own story. Students publish their story and take steps to put their stories into the public domain so that they achieve their goal of changing people’s minds.

Note: This lesson is the second of two that explore how stories can change minds. Click here to find the first lesson.

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. You can purchase a DVD of the film at The Education Shop or you can stream the film on YouTube or Google Play for minimal cost or via DocPlay. 

Learning intentions:

  • Students will be able to plan, draft, edit and publish a story that features the dramatic story arc.
  • Students will be able to use descriptive language to engage the reader.
  • Students will understand more about organ and tissue donation.

21st century skills: 

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 9 English

  • Create literary texts, including hybrid texts, that innovate on aspects of other texts, for example by using parody, allusion and appropriation (ACELT1773)
  • Experiment with the ways that language features, image and sound can be adapted in literary texts, for example the effects of stereotypical characters and settings, the playfulness of humour and pun and the use of hyperlink (ACELT1638)
  • Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that present a point of view and advance or illustrate arguments, including texts that integrate visual, print and/or audio features (ACELY1746)
  • Review and edit students’ own and others’ texts to improve clarity and control over content, organisation, paragraphing, sentence structure, vocabulary and audio/visual features (ACELY1747)

Year 10 English

  • Create literary texts that reflect an emerging sense of personal style and evaluate the effectiveness of these texts (ACELT1814
  • Create literary texts with a sustained ‘voice’, selecting and adapting appropriate text structures, literary devices, language, auditory and visual structures and features for a specific purpose and intended audience (ACELT1815
  • Create sustained texts, including texts that combine specific digital or media content, for imaginative, informative, or persuasive purposes that reflect upon challenging and complex issues (ACELY1756
  • Review, edit and refine students’ own and others’ texts for control of content, organisation, sentence structure, vocabulary, and/or visual features to achieve particular purposes and effects (ACELY1757

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-6C, EN5-4B, EN5-1A, EN5-2A, EN5-5C, EN5-3BENLS-12C, ENLS-13C, ENLS-11B 

General capabilitiesLiteracy, Ethical Understanding

Relevant parts of Year 9 achievement standards: Students understand how to use a variety of language features to create different levels of meaning. In creating texts, students 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 edit for effect, selecting vocabulary and grammar that contribute to the precision and persuasiveness of texts and using accurate spelling and punctuation.

Relevant parts of Year 10 achievement standards: Students show how the selection of language features can achieve precision and stylistic effect. Students create a wide range of texts to articulate complex ideas. They demonstrate understanding of grammar, vary vocabulary choices for impact, and accurately use spelling and punctuation when creating and editing texts.

Topic: Social Issues, Learning Through Film 

Unit of work: Dying to Live – English – Year 9 & 10

Time required: 160 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – guide students through the creative writing process and facilitate class discussion.

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a video to the class. Dramatic Arc Factsheet . Tips and Tricks for a Great Story Factsheet – printed, one per student. Narrative Writing Peer Assessment Rubric – printed, one per student. Freytag’s Pyramid Worksheet – printed, one per student.

Related Professional Development: Exploring General Capabilities: Ethical Understanding

Keywords: Organ and tissue donation, changing minds, ethics, health, wellbeing, social issues, stories, narrative, changing minds, persuasion, 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...

  • able to plan, draft, edit and publish a story that features story arc.
  • able to use descriptive language to engage the reader.
  • ...understand more about organ and tissue donation.

Success criteria:

Students can…

  • ...write a story using the story arc as means of engaging the reader.
  • ...use descriptive language to engage the reader.
  • ...integrate information they have researched into their 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 because families have the final say about whether someone donates their organs or ti

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: If you'd say yes to receiving a life-saving transplant, should you say yes to becoming an organ and tissue donor?

1. Complete the sentence stems below:

  • In regards to organ and tissue donation, I think…

  • After watching Woody’s story, I now think…

2. Did your view change? If so, what might have influenced that change? If not, why not?

3. You will now plan and write a story to change people’s minds about the value of organ and tissue donation and encourage them to register as an organ and tissue donor if they can. Use the following prompts to generate ideas to plan your story. 

Character development

  • Character’s Name?
  • Character's Age/Birthday?
  • What does your character look like?
  • Tall or Short?
  • Hair colour and length?
  • Eye colour?
  • Any scars or birthmarks?
  • Does your character have a physical disability?
  • What actress or actor would you have play the role of your character if it was a movie?
  • What style of clothes does your character
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