Activity Introduction

PK Hero Image 7Quick summary: Students will explore the documentary Paul Kelly – Stories of Me and focus on the nature of representation, including how documentary makers construct a representation of their subject. Students will collaboratively brainstorm their ideas, questions and puzzlement around three prompts, and make their thinking visible by noting their ideas down on butcher’s paper. They will apply their new understanding by describing the different ways that Paul Kelly is represented throughout the documentary.

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 person can be represented in different ways through selection of detail, form and medium of the text.
  • The representation of a person can be affected by the nature of a text.

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)
  • Interpret, analyse and evaluate how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups are constructed to serve specific purposes in texts (ACELY1742)
  • Explore and explain the combinations of language and visual choices that authors make to present information, opinions and perspectives in different texts (ACELY1745)
  • Analyse and explain the use of symbols, icons and myth in still and moving images and how these augment meaning (ACELA1560)

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)
  • 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 and analyse implicit or explicit values, beliefs and assumptions in texts and how these are influenced by purposes and likely audiences (ACELY1752)
  • Evaluate the impact on audiences of different choices in the representation of still and moving images (ACELA1572)

Year 11 English

Unit 1
Analyse and evaluate how responses to texts, including students’ own responses, are influenced by:

  • purpose, taking into account that a text’s purpose is often open to debate (ACEEN008)
  • 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)
  • using evidence-based argument (ACEEN014)

Unit 2
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:

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

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

Topic: Social issues.


Time required: 90 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). Butcher’s paper, textas and Blu-Tack. Mind-map webtool such as mindmeister or

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

Keywords: representation, artist, text, documentary, filmmaker, director, Paul Kelly.

Acknowledgement: 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 9Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students understand how specific documentary text conventions are used by filmmakers to create a representation of their subject. They will be able to explain that the meaning of texts (including written and visual) is open to interpretation and that personal experiences, culture and context influence how they understand what they are watching and reading.

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 allows students to explore popular culture, storytelling and how people are represented in texts. It highlights diffe

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

Thought starter: An artist takes in the elements from the world around them and reinvents that world.

Vimeo-look screenshot opening title

1. Recall the different representations of Paul Kelly in the documentary.

Describe the part of the documentary when you saw Paul Kelly as:

an everyday person

a performer

a story teller

a family man

a ‘loving’ man

a celebrity

an Australian

2. Can you see other ways that Paul Kelly was represented in the film? Describe them here:



What did you used to think about how true to real life a documentary was?
Now what do you think? Describe why you think that way.

- or - to view worksheets

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