Activity Introduction

Quick summary: We have a complex relationship with our mobile phones that is more than screen deep. Mobile phone use and the impact it has had upon society is a contemporary social issue with far-reaching effects on our community’s safety, health and wellbeing. In this lesson, students will complete a ‘Think-Pair-Share’ visible thinking routine to become familiar with Pathos – a rhetorical device used to persuade. They will watch Phone Etiquette – a clip associated with the documentary It’s People Like Us – and identify examples of when Pathos is used to persuade the audience. They will then apply their understanding by writing a caption for an image from the While No one Was Watching photo essay using emotional appeals to change people’s minds about mobile phones. 


It’s People Like Us is a documentary film created as part of the Transport Accident Commission’s (TAC) Towards Zero road safety strategy. It explores society’s relationship with mobile phones – especially the use of them while driving – and the responsibility that we all have to keep ourselves and each other safe on the roads.


Learning intentions:

  • Students understand the rhetorical device Pathos and how it works to persuade an audience.
  • Students understand the impacts of mobile phones on their own lives.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 9 English

  • Interpret, analyse and evaluate how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups are constructed to serve specific purposes in texts (ACELY1742)

Year 10 English

  • Evaluate the impact on audiences of different choices in the representation of still and moving images (ACELA1572)

Relevant parts of Year 9 English achievement standards: Students understand how to use a variety of language features to create different levels of meaning.

Relevant parts of Year 10 English achievement standards: Students make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, building on others’ ideas, solving problems, justifying opinions and developing and expanding arguments.

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

Topic: Social Issues.

Unit of work: It’s People Like Us – English.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – teachers will be required to facilitate active listening and responding in class discussion.

Resources required: Student Worksheets – (printed) one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a video to the class. Rhetorical Devices factsheet, web-enabled devices – one per student.

Related Professional Development: Teach Persuasive Language Using Documentaries 

Keywords: pathos, empathy, social issue, road safety, smartphone, emotions, It’s People Like Us.

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 understand the rhetorical device Pathos and how it works to persuade an audience.
  • Students understand the impacts of mobile phones on their own lives.

Success criteria:

  • Students identify examples of how pathos is used to persuade in a short clip.
  • Students write a caption for an image using Pathos to persuade.

Teacher content information: By the end of today, most of us will have checked our phones over 150 times: on the toilet, in the car or at the dinner table. But, have we ever stopped to ask ourselves - is there a time and a place? Is our mobile phone use affecting our health and wellbeing?

It’s People Like Us is a 22 minute documentary that follows five real Australians who, just like us, have found themselves drawn into their screens, sometimes at the expense of common sense and self preservation.

The documentary forms part of the TACs ‘Towards Zero’ vision for a future free of deaths and serious injuries o

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Student Worksheet

Thought Starter: “We are human beings...but that’s fading away…” - June Dally-Watkins, Etiquette Expert and Coach

1. Complete the ‘Think-Pair-Share’ visible thinking routine in response to the question:

“The most powerful emotion is...because…”

Think to yourself and write down your thoughts below.

Pair with another student and discuss your thoughts. Write down any extra points you discussed below.

Share what you discussed with your class, and write down some of the main points below.


2. Watch Phone Etiquette. It features June Dally-Watkins, etiquette expert and coach. She is a former fashion model and TV personality and has used her notoriety as Australia’s first ‘it’ girl to establish the Southern Hemisphere’s first school of Deportment. Today she is the nation’s foremost etiquette coach and expert.


It's People Like Us | Phone Etiquette (

3. Describe an emotion you felt while watching the clip:

What did

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