Activity Introduction

PK Hero Image 2Quick summary: Through exploration of the documentary Paul Kelly – Stories of Me students discover the ways that music reflects Australian society and culture. This lesson includes three sections that focus on a range of Paul Kelly’s songs. Students begin by exploring Paul Kelly’s songs about place through a Socratic-circle style discussion. Students then focus on Paul Kelly’s songs about social change, which are explored through commentary on the Aboriginal Land Rights claim and evaluating the effectiveness of two different protest songs. Students then explore Paul Kelly’s songs about relationships. Language devices and their meaning are explored in a matching activity and applied to Paul Kelly’s song “Careless”.

Key points to explore:

  • Songs can reflect the culture and societal values of a country.
  • Paul Kelly’s songs are a commentary of what he sees and experiences.
  • Music and songs can transform an audience’s viewpoint.

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)
  • 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)
  • Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (ACELT1635)
  • Create literary texts, including hybrid texts, that innovate on aspects of other texts, for example by using parody, allusion and appropriation (ACELT1773)
  • Use interaction skills to present and discuss an idea and to influence and engage an audience by selecting persuasive language, varying voice tone, pitch, and pace, and using elements such as music and sound effects (ACELY1811)
  • Interpret, analyse and evaluate how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups are constructed to serve specific purposes in texts (ACELY1742)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret and analyse texts, comparing and evaluating representations of an event, issue, situation or character in different texts (ACELY1744)
  • 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)

Year 10 English

  • Understand how language use can have inclusive and exclusive social effects, and can empower or disempower people (ACELA1564)
  • Compare the purposes, text structures and language features of traditional and contemporary texts in different media (ACELA1566)
  • Analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of a wide range of sentence and clause structures as authors design and craft texts (ACELA1569)
  • Refine vocabulary choices to discriminate between shades of meaning, with deliberate attention to the effect on audiences (ACELA1571)
  • Compare and evaluate a range of representations of individuals and groups in different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1639)
  • 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)
  • Evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in texts (ACELT1812)
  • 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)
  • Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)
  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements to influence a course of action (ACELY1751)
  • 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:

  • analysing how language choices are made for different purposes and in different contexts using appropriate metalanguage; for example, personification, voice-over, flashback, salience (ACEEN002)

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

  • evaluating the impact of description and imagery, including figurative language, and still and moving images in digital and multimodal texts. (ACEEN007)

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)

Create a range of texts:

  • using appropriate form, content, style and tone for different purposes and audiences in real and imagined contexts (ACEEN011)
  • drawing on a range of technologies in, for example, research, communication and representation of ideas (ACEEN012)
  • combining visual, spoken and written elements where appropriate (ACEEN013)
  • using evidence-based argument (ACEEN014)
  • using strategies for planning, drafting, editing and proofreading (ACEEN016)

Reflect on their own and others’ texts by:

  • questioning responses to texts (ACEEN019)

Unit 2

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

  • explaining the relationship between purpose and context (ACEEN021)

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

  • analysing the ways language features, text structures and stylistic choices shape points of view and influence audiences (ACEEN024)

Create a range of texts:

  • using imaginative, interpretive and persuasive elements for different purposes, contexts and audiences (ACEEN032)
  • experimenting with text structures, language features and multimodal devices (ACEEN033)
  • developing and sustaining voice, tone and style (ACEEN034)
  • using strategies for planning, drafting, editing and proofreading (ACEEN036)

Reflect on their own and others’ texts by:

  • evaluating the effectiveness of texts in representing ideas, attitudes and voices (ACEEN039)

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

Cross-curriculum priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures.

Topic: Social Issues.


Time required: 180 minutes (or 3 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. Copy of Paul Kelly – Stories of Me (teachers are required to create an account to view and invite students to view the film). Note paper/workbook, sticky notes and pens, Language Devices activity print out (print and cut out before commencing the activity).

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

Keywords: Songs, place, social change, relationships, 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 6Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will understand how an author (songwriter) can create a sense of place through the language they use. They will be able to analyse the rhetorical qualities of different text types and how those qualities achieve the text's purpose. They will understand language devices and how they can create meaning in texts. In the music section of the lesson, students will be able to identify and understand different concepts of music and how they are used in the featured songs.

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 th

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: “Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought” - E.Y. Harburg

Part A: Songs About Place

1. Watch the section of the documentary that features "Adelaide" (31:26)

PK 'Adelaide' image

2. List at least five questions that you have about the song. You could use the words/phrases/concepts below to prompt your thinking:

  • childhood
  • imagery
  • description
  • language techniques
  • repetition of words
  • nursery rhymes
  • verse
  • chorus
  • persona
  • emotion
  • story
  • places

You could supplement your discussion with internet searches around specific details in the song, such as what a wisteria is, where Kensington Road is, what the statue of Colonel Light is or any other detail referenced within the song. Understanding the finer details may help you to better understand the context of the song, and thus its appeal to an Australian audience.

3. Think about an experience that you feel strongly about or that had an i

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