Triggering a Conversation Using Current Affairs

Since launching in March 2011, The Conversation has grown to become one of Australia’s largest independent news and commentary sites.

Its founders believe in open access and the free flow of information making this a perfect resource for teachers and students to investigate independent, high-quality, authenticated journalism. We have partnered with The Conversation team to create simple, self-directed lessons incorporating news content on The Conversation site.

Bringing The Conversation into the classroom through Cool Australia lets educators introduce suitable content for each year level helping students to better understand current affairs and complex issues.

Education Resources and Topic Focus

These lessons are designed to be self-directed, encouraging independent learning and supporting teachers to bring topical content into the classroom.  Whilst activities can be completed in isolation, lessons should stimulate collaboration and discussion within a classroom.

Lessons are organised by topic or theme rather than subject to allow you to focus on key issues.  In our latest releases, our Australian Bushfire series cover both Science and English curriculum. Follow up with the Beyond the Bushfires series, looking into the effects on our flora and fauna after the bushfire season. The COVID-19 series of activities are mapped to the English and Health curriculum. 

COVID-19 Across the Globe : English & Health

Anything Like Coronavirus Before? –
English – Years 7 & 8

Explore the language of comparing and contrasting and complete activities that explore the similarities and differences between past pandemics and COVID-19. 

Communicating Clearly About COVID-19 –
English – Years 7 & 8

Create an informative brochure directed at an audience of their peers. Students gain a greater understanding of COVID-19, conduct quick research and reflect on their own response.

COVID-19 Expository Essay – English – Years 7 & 8

Look at connectives, conjunctions and sentence types that will assist in improving writing by making it more interesting. Students will complete a planning template and write an informative or expository essay.

Fictional Friends – English – Years 7 & 8

Students are supported to write a text that includes their favourite fictional character. They will be encouraged to create literary communities, through discussions with friends, surveys and tips for starting a book club.

The Persuasive Power of Leaders –
English – Years 7 & 8

Students will be guided through an article arguing that Jacinda Ardern is showing exceptional leadership skills and then write their own text about a leader they admire.

COVID-19 – Creative Writing – English – Years 7 & 8

Using articles focusing on India as a case study, students will complete a set of activities to develop deeper thinking and put together a narrative based on COVID-19 in India. 

Debunking Myths – English – Years 7 & 8

What are common misconceptions around zoonotic diseases? Students will read an informational text, be supported to understand specialised vocabulary and to identify ways that authors use synonyms.

COVID-19 Exit Strategy – English – Years 7 & 8

Research articles on coping with anxiety caused by the stress of COVID-19 and its impact on their lives. This activity includes sensory & reflective work & encourages students to focus on their own mental health.

Keeping Anxiety At Bay During COVID-19 – English & Health – Years 9 & 10

Look at connectives, conjunctions and sentence types that will assist in improving writing by making it more interesting. Students will complete a planning template and write an informative or expository essay.

One Size Does Not Fit All – English & Health
– Years 9 & 10

How does culture affect the impact of messages? These activities encourage student to generate ideas about the collective and individual benefits and risks in relation to government policies during this pandemic.

Making A Profit In A Pandemic – English – Years 9 & 10

Consider the ethical dilemmas inherent in advertising during a pandemic. Students make connections between their own ethical beliefs and the authors, to evaluate a range of real-world advertisements.

Safe Houseparty – English – Years 9 & 10

How has COVID-19 is impacted the way we interact socially with friends and family? Identify the safety considerations when using social technologies such as Houseparty to connect.

The Deadly Sins Of Thought – English – Years 9 & 10

Learn more about effective reasoning by focusing on ineffective reasoning during the pandemic. Using their own experiences as a springboard, students will consider ways they can respond when faced with poor reasoning.

Coronavirus As A War- English – Years 9 & 10

Understand the reasons for language and the powerful consequences of the use of militarised language to describe the COVID-19 pandemic. Students will evaluate the framing of simple statements , and judge the appropriateness of the framing.

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The Australian Bushfires: Science & English

Bushfires Wrecked My Holiday! – English – Year 7

Read a short article from The Conversation about the convergence of bushfire and holiday seasons in Australia. Students will consider persuasive techniques and draft a persuasive letter expressing their own point of view on this current issue.

Comparing The Facts About Bushfires –
English – Years 7 – 10

Think about the similarities and differences presented about bushfires in Australia. Activities explore the language of comparing and contrasting so students can formulate their own complex sentences to determine the similarities and differences.

How Animals Respond to Bushfires – Science & English – Years 7 -10

Use open-ended questions to reflect on information, develop questions and research a chosen conceptual, open-ended question. Students will be asked to write a letter to a person of their choice to explain their question and their research findings.

Bushfires & The Ecosystem – Science – Year 9

Use an article and short video about bushfires and ecosystems to gain an understanding. Reflecting on the connections between the clip and the article students will be asked to answers a series of questions on how both help them to understand ecosystems.

What Can You Do to Help Our Flora & Fauna – English – Years 9 & 10

Consider the impact summer bushfires had on our flora and fauna. Students will read an article and answer questions which will encourage them to think and reflect on the content guiding them through each part of the activity.

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Beyond the Bushfires: Science, English, Visual Arts and Design & Technology

[email protected] – How Do Plants Live With Bushfires? – Science & Visual Arts

Students explore how desert species flourish in the advantageous conditions present after a rainfall, and, conversely, how they have adapted to survive long periods of dry weather.

[email protected] – How Do Animals Live With Bushfires? – Science & Visual Arts

Bushfires have long been a part of the Australian landscape. Our plants and animals have had to find ways to live with bushfires. Our animals have developed both structural and behavioural adaptations to help them survive bushfire events.

Mystery Spiders – Science & English – Year 4

A creative writing exercise, using descriptive language to describe the spider’s in its natural habitat and its harrowing encounter with the bushfires, in order to encourage people to empathise and care for this crucial little critter

Desert Rain – Visual Arts & Science – Year 4

Students explore how desert species flourish in the advantageous conditions present after a rainfall, and, conversely, how they have adapted to survive long periods of dry weather.

Designed Adaptations – Design & Technology – Year 5

Students will be challenged to build upon natural fire-resistant adaptations to develop solutions that help plants and animals survive and thrive in difficult conditions.

Survival Habitats – Science – Year 6

Students will study the impact of bushfires on the habitats and way of life of species that call them home. They will then apply this understanding in the creation of a temporary habitat.

Horse Hooves –
Science – Year 6

Challenge students to take real social action, researching and critically evaluating both sides of the argument and the persuasive efforts of passionate writers, before putting their own thoughts and convincing strategies to work in a written piece.

Tuning In –
Science – Years 7 to 9

Students are introduced to the topic of bushfires and the Flora, Fauna, Fire resource from The Conversation. Students begin by thinking about the term ‘bushfire’ and completing a CSI activity to tune them into the topic.

Being a Fire Scientist – Science – Years 7 to 9

Students will look at how they understand science and the work of scientists before using the Flora, Fauna, Fire resource to explore the ways that different scientists work to explore the impacts of bushfires on flora and fauna.

Bushfires & Foodwebs – Science – Years 7 to 9

Students model the impacts of bushfires on flora and fauna through the use of food webs. They begin by refreshing their understanding of food webs before looking at how the loss of a flora species might affect their food web. 

Preventing Destructive Bushfires
– Science – Years 7 to 9

Students explore the role of traditional fire management practices in preventing destructive bushfires. 

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With Thanks to our Partners

These lessons have been developed in partnership with The Conversation. The Conversation’s mission is to be known as a prominent and trusted publisher of new thinking and evidence-based research, editorially independent and free of commercial or political bias. The Conversation hopes teachers will use their content as a source of truthful information, and that teachers can show their students the importance of trusted, evidence-based information in understanding the world around them and making informed decisions about their actions. Please follow the republishing guidelines when using The Conversation’s articles.


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