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. 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?


Communicating Clearly
About COVID-19


Expository Essay



English – Year 7 & 8   English – Year 7 & 8   English – Year 7 & 8   English – Year 7 & 8

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


Create an informative brochure titled, ‘Understanding and Coping with COVID-19’ directed at an audience of their peers.

In this lesson students gain a greater understanding of COVID-19, conduct quick research and reflect on their own response.


Complete a set of activities that look at connectives, conjunctions and sentence types that will assist in improving writing by making it more interesting.

Using their learning students will complete a planning template and write an informative or expository essay.


Learn the value of fictional characters in social and emotional health.

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


Creative Writing




Exit Strategy

English – Year 7 & 8   English – Year 7 & 8   English – Year 7 & 8   English – Year 9

What is good leadership and how can words be used to influence our perception?

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.


What are the challenges COVID-19 presents in a country other than Australia?

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. 


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. 


Using articles from The Conversation,  learn about how the author uses academic techniques to build credibility.

Students will think critically about the benefits and drawbacks of citing different kinds of evidence and choose a piece of evidence to research and share with others.


Keeping Anxiety At Bay
During COVID-19


One Size Does
Not Fit All


Making A Profit
In A Pandemic



English & Health  – Year 9 & 10   English & Health  – Year 9 & 10   English – Year 9 & 10   English – Year 9 & 10

Research articles on coping with anxiety caused by the stress of COVID-19 and consider how COVID-19 is impacting on life.

This activity includes sensory and reflective work and will encourage students to focus on their own mental health.


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..


Consider the ethical dilemmas inherent in advertising during a pandemic. 

Students will make connections between their own ethical beliefs and those of the author, to evaluate a range of real-world advertisements. 


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.

Reflecting on their own experiences students will create an informative brochure titled, ‘Safe User Guide’.



The Deadly
Sins Of Thought


As A War





English – Year 9 & 10   English – Year 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. 


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 about the coronavirus and judge the appropriateness of framing.





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The Australian Bushfires: Science & English


Bushfires Wrecked
My Holiday!


Comparing The Facts
About Bushfires


How Animals Respond
to Bushfires


Bushfires & The

English – Year 7    English – Year 7 to 10   Science & English – Year 7 to 10   Science – Year 9

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.


Use articles from The Conversation and 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 between the articles.


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.


Use an article and short video about bushfires and ecosystems to gain an understanding of ecosystems.

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 – Year 9 & 10            

Consider the impact summer bushfires had on our flora and fauna. Create an informative brochure titled, ’What you can do to help 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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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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