Activity Introduction

PK Hero Image 8Quick summary: After viewing the documentary Paul Kelly – Stories of Me, students explore how personal context shapes interpretation of texts, how reading critically into a text can deepen and extend its meaning and how public perception of texts are represented in critical reviews. Students reflect on and respond to a set of key questions about the connection of personal context to interpretation of texts. They deepen their understanding of how silence is used in the documentary in an active rating activity, then demonstrate their mastery of the concept in a written piece. Students critically assess a review of Paul Kelly – Stories of Me and then plan, draft and publish a review of a text of their choice.

 Key points to explore:

  • Personal context and experiences can influence the way individuals understand a text.
  • Reading deeply into a text can enhance the meaning for the viewer.
  • Reviews are a reflection of how a text is received by the public.

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 9 English

  • Investigate how evaluation can be expressed directly and indirectly using devices, for example allusion, evocative vocabulary and metaphor (ACELA1552)
  • Analyse and explain the use of symbols, icons and myth in still and moving images and how these augment meaning (ACELA1560)
  • Present an argument about a literary text based on initial impressions and subsequent analysis of the whole text (ACELT1771)
  • Reflect on, discuss and explore notions of literary value and how and why such notions vary according to context (ACELT1634)
  • Analyse how the construction and interpretation of texts, including media texts, can be influenced by cultural perspectives and other texts (ACELY1739)
  • 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)
  • Use a range of software, including word processing programs, flexibly and imaginatively to publish texts (ACELY1748)

Year 10 English 

  • Understand that people’s evaluations of texts are influenced by their value systems, the context and the purpose and mode of communication (ACELA1565)
  • Evaluate the impact on audiences of different choices in the representation of still and moving images (ACELA1572)
  • Reflect on, extend, endorse or refute others’ interpretations of and responses to literature (ACELT1640)
  • 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)
  • Identify, explain and discuss how narrative viewpoint, structure, characterisation and devices including analogy and satire shape different interpretations and responses to a text (ACELT1642)
  • 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)
  • Use comprehension strategies to compare and contrast information within and between texts, identifying and analysing embedded perspectives, and evaluating supporting evidence (ACELY1754)
  • 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)

Year 11 English

Unit 1

Investigate the relationships between language, context and meaning by:

  • explaining how texts are created in and for different contexts (ACEEN001)

Examine similarities and differences between imaginative, persuasive and interpretive texts including:

  • explaining the ways text structures, language features and stylistic choices are used in different types of texts (ACEEN005)

Analyse and evaluate how responses to texts, including students’ own responses, are influenced by:

  • personal, social and cultural context (ACEEN009)
  • the use of imaginative, persuasive and interpretive techniques. (ACEEN010)
  • using appropriate form, content, style and tone for different purposes and audiences in real and imagined contexts (ACEEN011)
  • using evidence-based argument (ACEEN014)
  • using strategies for planning, drafting, editing and proofreading (ACEEN016)

 Unit 2

Compare texts in a variety of contexts, mediums and modes by:

  • analysing the style and structure of texts including digital texts (ACEEN022)

Investigate the representation of ideas, attitudes and voices in texts including:

  • evaluating the effects of rhetorical devices, for example, emphasis, emotive language and imagery in the construction of argument (ACEEN025)

Analyse and evaluate how and why responses to texts vary through:

  • the impact of language and structural choices on shaping own and others’ perspectives (ACEEN028)

Create a range of texts:

  • using imaginative, interpretive and persuasive elements for different purposes, contexts and audiences (ACEEN032)
  • selecting and applying appropriate textual evidence to support arguments (ACEEN035)
  • using strategies for planning, drafting, editing and proofreading (ACEEN036)

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking, ICT Capability.

Topic: Social issues.


Time required: 120 minutes (or 2 x 60 minutes)

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate student discussion, coordinate student movement around classroom.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet. Device capable of presenting a website to the class. Enough devices to view Paul Kelly – Stories of Me (teachers are required to create an account to view and invite students to view the film) in pairs. or mindmeister (optional). 

Digital technology opportunities: Digital sharing capabilities, using ICT to visualise thinking.

Keywords: silence, film techniques, story text, interpretation, critical assessment, review, critique, Paul Kelly.

Acknowledgements: This resource has been adapted from ‘Paul Kelly: Portrait of an Artist’ written by Eva Gold, Mel Dixon, Ann Small, Bradley Merrick with Appendix from Victorian teachers by Monika Wagner.

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


Teacher Worksheet

PK Hero Image 5Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will recognise the impact that their own personal context has upon their response to texts. They will be able to read texts critically in order to understand implied meaning and engage with texts more deeply. Students will be able to discuss their ideas around the documentary's exploration of 'voice' both verbally and in a written piece using evidence from the text. They will be able to assess public reception of texts and construct their own critical review.

Teacher content information: This lesson is based on the film Paul Kelly - Stories of Me, which charts the many lives, loves and losses of Paul Kelly, one of Australia’s most gifted singer-songwriters. His songs have been marking out the Australian landscape and its people through words and music for almost 40 years. The stories and the music of Paul Kelly explore and reflect the Australian experience, life and culture.

The film is a contemporary music documentary that all

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: "We wanted to discover the man behind the words and music..." - Ian Darling, Director, Paul Kelly - Stories of Me

Part A: Personal Response to the Documentary

Use the table to chart your journey from an initial response to Paul Kelly - Stories Of Me to a response that recognises social and cultural influences that can shape your attitudes and tastes:

Key questions: Details to consider in your response: Reasons or elaborations:
Am I able to identify or connect with a character or situation in the documentary? Who do I identify with?
What situation do I identify with?
What elements of the documentary allow me to identify with it?
What parts of me, my personal context and experiences influence the connection I have to (parts of) the documentary? My experiences?
My current situation?
My age?
My gender?
My cultural heritage?
Needing to respond for an English lesson?
How has the way I listened, read and viewed practices influenced my re
- or - to view worksheets

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