Activity Introduction

PK Hero Image 10Quick summary: Students explore biographies as a text type through exploration of the documentary Paul Kelly – Stories of Me. Focusing on childhood, family, place and memory, students complete a number of visible thinking routines to develop their understanding of biographical elements. They then apply their understanding of the nature of representation in biographical texts by interviewing a person about their experiences growing up, and represent the information in their own biographical text.

This lesson uses sections of Shark Island Production’s Paul Kelly – Stories of Me as learning stimuli. Teachers are required to create an account on the film’s website to view the film. Upon registration you will be given a code – give this to your students so that they can access the film too.

Key points to explore:

  • A biography is the representation of someone’s life.
  • It is generally accepted that biographical accounts are based in the truth, however it is interpreted through the biographer.
  • There are different elements in a person’s life that make up their biographical story.

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 9 English

  • Analyse how the construction and interpretation of texts, including media texts, can be influenced by cultural perspectives and other texts (ACELY1739)
  • 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)
  • 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 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

  • 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)
  • Use organisation patterns, voice and language conventions to present a point of view on a subject, speaking clearly, coherently and with effect, using logic,imagery and rhetorical devices to engage audiences (ACELY1813)
  • 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)
  • 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:

  • 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:

  • 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)

Unit 2

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)

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

  • the interplay between imaginative, persuasive and interpretive techniques, for example, how anecdotes are used in speeches to amuse, inform or influence, or the use of characteristation in advertising (ACEEN030)

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)
  • selecting and applying appropriate textual evidence to support arguments (ACEEN035)

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

Topic: Social issues.


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

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

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student (this lesson works best if the worksheet is printed). 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). Venn Diagram print out, Question print-outs (linked here, hereherehere and in the Teacher Worksheet), Blu-Tack, sticky notes, recycled scrap paper for students to sketch on.

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

Keywords: Biography, story, childhood, place, memory, 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 3Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students will learn about biography and its various textual elements. They consider the subjective nature of biographical texts, and will understand that a biographical account is not the raw truth; instead it is being told through a creator - in this case, a filmmaker.

Teacher content information: This lesson is based on the documentary 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 allows students to explore popular culture, storytelling and how people are represented in texts. It highlights different aspects of the Australian experience and showcases how art reflects and

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: "Biography is history seen through the prism of a person" - Louis Fischer

Part A: Childhood, Growing up and Family
Start by watching the documentary Paul Kelly - Stories of Me up to 5:50

Vimeo-look screenshot opening title

1. Circle your view on the statement below:

Paul Kelly's life is influenced by his family's link to singing
Disagree Don't Know Agree


2. Draw (or print out) and fill in this Venn diagram to describe the differences and similarities between Paul Kelly and his Nonna's singing.

PK Venn Diagram dumb things/opera comparision

3. Have your ideas changed from what you thought at the start of this activity? Complete this activity again to illustrate whether your opinion has changed or stayed the same:

Paul Kelly's life is influenced by his family's link to singing
Disagree Don't Know Agree

Have a go at describing why you changed your response if you did, or why it stayed the same:

Part B: Place

1. Have a look at these images from the documentary and consider the effect that moving cit

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