Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will consider poetry, and how this form of writing explores our human experience. They will watch a short clip from Life After The Oasis that features Haley, who writes poetry to better understand her own life experiences OR Owen who writes music lyrics. Students will view a TEDed video that digs deeper into poetry as a writing form, then read through a list of poetic devices. Students will apply their understanding by viewing a spoken word poem and identifying the poetic devices in the poem. They will then plan, draft and write their own poem, before reflecting on the lesson by responding verbally to a set question.

Life After The Oasis is a 75 minute documentary that explores the issues, interventions and mindsets associated with youth homelessness in Australia. The film revisits characters and stories from the original 2008 documentary The Oasis, and how opportunities and experiences have shaped their lives over the last ten years. Find out how to screen or view the film here.

Warning: The documentary and the clips contained in this lesson, contains explicit language, images of drug use and confronting scenes and may upset some viewers. Teachers should use their personal discretion when showing the documentary. This resource deals with the rising problem of youth homelessness and its associated social and personal issues. There may be students in your class who have experienced some of the issues discussed. You are encouraged to arrive at a set of agreements and ground rules for discussion with your class about the best way to approach the issues being covered in a way that recognises the dignity of our fellow classmates. Click here for tips on setting ground rules for class discussions and here for advice on how to handle sensitive topics and controversial issues in your classroom.

Learning intentions:

  • Students understand the purpose of poetry and how it explores our ‘humanness’.
  • Students understand what poetry is, as well as some poetic devices used to create meaning in poems.
  • Students understand how to use poetic devices to share a human story and to create an image in the reader’s head about that story.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 9 English

  • Understand that authors innovate with text structures and language for specific purposes and effects (ACELA1553)
  • Explain how authors creatively use the structures of sentences and clauses for particular effects (ACELA1557)
  • Identify how vocabulary choices contribute to specificity, abstraction and stylistic effectiveness (ACELA1561)
  • Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (ACELT1635)
  • Investigate and experiment with the use and effect of extended metaphor, metonymy, allegory, icons, myths and symbolism in texts, for example poetry, short films, graphic novels, and plays on similar themes (ACELT1637)
  • 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

  • Analyse and explain how text structures, language features and visual features of texts and the context in which texts are experienced may influence audience response (ACELT1641)
  • Compare and evaluate how ‘voice’ as a literary device can be used in a range of different types of texts such as poetry to evoke particular emotional responses (ACELT1643)
  • 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)
  • 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: EN5-2A, EN5-3B, EN5-1A, EN5-7D, EN5-4B, EN5-5C.

General capabilities: LiteracyEthical Understanding, Critical and Creative ThinkingPersonal and social capability,

Relevant parts of Year 9 achievement standards: By the end of Year 9, 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. They evaluate and integrate ideas and information from texts to form their own interpretations. 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.

Relevant parts of Year 10 achievement standards: Students evaluate how text structures can be used in innovative ways by different authors. They explain how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary contributes to the development of individual style. They develop and justify their own interpretations of texts. They evaluate other interpretations, analysing the evidence used to support them. Students show how the selection of language features can achieve precision and stylistic effect. They develop their own style by experimenting with language features, stylistic devices, text structures and images. 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

Unit of work: Life After The Oasis – English – Years 9 & 10

Time required:  90 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion.

Resources required: Student Worksheets – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a video to the class. Handling Sensitive Topics And Controversial Issues Factsheet (Optional). Poetic Devices Factsheet (Optional). 5-10 dice (Optional). 

Keywords: Homelessness, homeless, lived experience, youth, poetry, poetic device, human experience, communication, writing, The Oasis.

Shark Island Productions and Cool Australia would like to acknowledge the generous contribution of The Caledonia Foundation to the development of these resources.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will ... 

  • ... understand the purpose of poetry and how it explores our ‘humanness’.
  • ... understand what poetry is, as well as some poetic devices used to create meaning in poems.
  • ... understand how to use poetic devices to share a human story and to create an image in the reader's head about that story.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... describe what a poem is.
  • ... identify at least two poetic devices in a poem, and suggest how they contribute to the meaning of the poem.
  • ... write their own poem, using one or more poetic devices.

Teacher content information: On any given night in Australia, 1 in 200 people are experiencing homelessness. This alarming statistic raises many questions about homelessness in Australia and what is being done by government and non-government institutions to combat the problem. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines a person to be homeless when they do not have suitable acc

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Poetry comments on what it is to be human in a way that only humans can.


Complete the Think-Pair-Share visible thinking routine in response to the prompt below:

  • "Poetry “... comment[s] on what it is to be human in a way that only humans can”. What does this mean to you?"
Think Pair Share

Poetic Devices

Read through the following information on poetic devices and their meanings to gain a deeper understanding of how poetry creates meaning for readers.

Alliteration: the repetition of consonant sounds, particularly at the beginning of words.
For example: ". . . like a wanderer white.”

Allusion: a reference to a person, event, or work outside the poem or literary piece.
For example: “Shining, it was Adam and maiden.”

Assonance: the repetition of similar vowel sounds.
For example: “I rose and told him of my woe.”

Contrast: Closely arranged things with strikingly different characteristics.
For example: “He was d

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