Activity Introduction

Minderoo_lesson_frame_lesson 09Subjects: English 

Year Levels: Years 7 & 8

Topics: Fires, floods, letter to the editor, writing, text analysis.

Teaching Time: 90 mins.

Quick summary: 

In this English lesson, students will explore examples of how a young person has used their voice to enact social change. From this inspiration, students will learn about the components of Letters to the Editor, before choosing their own topic from the content of this unit, to craft a persuasive response. Students can choose to send their letters to the newspaper, existing programs, projects or to their local MP, to have their voices heard.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand their options in making their voices heard
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of what changes need to be made in Australia’s disaster response.

21st-century skills: 

CommunicatingCommunity EngagementCritical Thinking   Digital LiteracyEmpathyGlobal CitizenshipInitiativeProblem Finding          

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Years 7 English:

  •  Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas (ACELY1725)

Years 8 English:

  • Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that raise issues, report events and advance opinions, using deliberate language and textual choices, and including digital elements as appropriate (ACELY1736)

Syllabus outcomes: EN4-4B.

General capabilities: Literacy.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

Relevant parts of Year 7 achievement standards:

Students understand how the selection of a variety of language features can influence an audience. They understand how to draw on personal knowledge, textual analysis and other sources to express or challenge a point of view. They create texts showing how language features and images from other texts can be combined for effect. Students create structured and coherent texts for a range of purposes and audiences.

Relevant parts of Year 8 achievement standards: 

Students understand how the selection of language features can be used for particular purposes and effects. They explain the effectiveness of language choices they make to influence the audience. Through combining ideas, images and language features from other texts, students show how ideas can be expressed in new ways. Students create texts for different purposes, selecting language to influence audience response.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – teacher will need to facilitate a discussion about the power of young people to enact social change, and guide students through the Letter to the Editor checklist.

Resources required:

  • A device capable of presenting a video to the class and projecting a document to the class.
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student.

Keywords: Social change, resilience, community, letter to the editor, rhetoric, persuasive writing, student’s voice.

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


Teacher Worksheet

Minderoo_lesson_frame_lesson 09Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • …understand their options in making their voice heard
  • …demonstrate their understanding of what changes need to be made in Australia’s disaster response.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • …identify the different elements of a Letter to the Editor
  • …write a persuasive letter arguing their point of view
  • …use persuasive language and devices to communicate their contention to an audience.

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 tasks can be activating for some students and could trigger old memories that some students may find challe

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Student Worksheet

Thought-starter: One child, one pen, one teacher and one book can change the world — Malala Yousafzai

1. Writing letters to invoke change

What is a Letter to the Editor?
A Letter to the Editor is a powerful tool for sparking conversation and gives you the means to discuss topics that you are passionate about. People write Letters to the Editor all the time, and, since the mid-18th century, they have been published in newspapers, reflecting the key topics that individuals felt they needed to respond to. Even now, when many newspapers have transitioned to digital, they still publish letters written by their readers. If you write a Letter to the Editor, and it is published, it will be read by a wide variety of people and could spark some change.

How to write a Letter to the Editor:

Here is a checklist of what to include when planning a letter to respond to an issue. See if you can find each of these elements in the sample letter below.

  • Outline the issue and consider various reaso
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