Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students will explore the purpose and intention of the news. They will then analyse and evaluate various news items to identify sensationalist elements in the reporting, and work on creating a more helpful, informative, and supportive newspaper front page.

Subjects: English.

Year Level: 6.

Teaching Time: 60 minutes.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work Resilient Australia: Building Resilience To Natural Disasters – Primary.

Related Professional Development: We encourage you to undertake the free PD Course How to teach a unit on fire and flood resilience for tips on how to best deliver this lesson.

If you’re concerned about the challenging nature of these topics, consider the free PD Course How to approach trauma in the classroom for information on how best to support your students.

21st-century skills: 

CommunicatingCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingDigital LiteracyEmpathyEthical UnderstandingProblem FindingProblem Solving

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 6 English:

  • Identify and explain how analytical images like figures, tables, diagrams, maps and graphs contribute to our understanding of verbal information in factual and persuasive texts (ACELA1524)
  • Compare texts including media texts that represent ideas and events in different ways, explaining the effects of the different approaches (ACELY1708)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret and analyse information and ideas, comparing content from a variety of textual sources including media and digital texts (ACELY1713)
  • Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting with text structures, language features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1714)

Relevant parts of Year 6 English achievement standards: 

Students understand how the use of text structures can achieve particular effects. They analyse and explain how language features, images and vocabulary are used by different authors to represent ideas and events. Students understand how language features and language patterns can be used for emphasis. They show how specific details can be used to support a point of view. They explain how their choices of language features and images are used. Students create detailed texts elaborating on key ideas for a range of purposes and audiences.

Syllabus outcomes: EN3-2A, EN3-3A

General capabilities: Literacy, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability, Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical Understanding.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High: some concepts will need to be explicitly taught. Teachers may need to demonstrate some ICT skills to ensure the lesson’s success.

Resources required:

Keywords: media literacy, content, bushfires, sensationalist, responsibility

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


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • … understand the impact the news media from the 2020 bushfires had on Australian citizens
  • … understand that news items simultaneously present and withhold information.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … offer ideas on how they think the media on the 2020 bushfires affected people through it’s reporting of events, and the words and imagery used
  • … analyse and evaluate news items to gauge what information is offered and what is withheld 
  • … create examples of more balanced, helpful media.

Teacher content information:

Handling Sensitive Topics:

While presenting the lesson, you may notice that students could develop heightened emotions as you uncover the physical and psychological effects of hazards and disasters. Resilience, rebuilding and hope are essential learnings from the lessons. Therefore, it is vital to create a psychologically safe place for students to discuss and debrief, shall they need to. The t

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: "Bad news travels at the speed of light; good news travels like molasses."

Part A: How do you feel in response to these news items?

Think about how you are feeling in the moment viewing the images. If you cannot find the face that reflects how you are feeling, just circle the one that would be the closest. Add a number next to it to show which slide it refers to. For example, if Slide 2 makes you feel ‘lonely’, you’d circle the 'lonely' face and put a ‘2’ next to it.

Source: Why Do I Feel So Worried? A Kid's Guide to Coping with Big Emotions - Follow the Arrows from Anxiety to Calm by Tammi Kirkness

Part B: How do news articles inform and impact?

Study these three images. Draw arrows and make notes on each one about what is helpful about it.

Think: In what ways does it help the reader understand something about the fires? 

Also make a note about what helpful information is missing.

View and save the full Minderoo infographic on the story of bushfires so

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