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Living with trash: How are our lifestyles shaping and changing the planet?

Cartoon of people exiting a shopping centre with loaded trolleys, which they are then emptying straight into a garbage dump.

Above: Shopping, illustration by Jan Gillbank

About this unit:

This is a thematic inquiry-based unit in which students will explore how the concept of rubbish, garbage or trash has inspired authors and artists to use it as a setting in stories or as a social and political topic of blogs and articles, thematic documentaries and works of art. More

Duration and sequence pathways:

This unit is designed to be taught over eight weeks, with suggested pathways that could be moved to allow the unit to be taught in six weeks (two sequences per week). More information

Resources used:

See the list of resources used in each sequence, plus additional teaching resources.

Unit writer:

Erika Boas

Australian Curriculum: English Year Level Year 8

Sequence 1: How do we quantify and conceptualise trash?

Sequence 2: How do we bring this issue closer to home?

Sequence 3: How has trash been used as a setting in fiction?

Sequence 4: What are the realities of living with trash?

Sequence 5: What does sustainable living really mean? 

Sequence 6: How have people made their lifestyles more sustainable?

Sequence 7: What can we learn from Brennan Bird?

Sequence 8: How has e-waste become the waste of the 21st century?

Sequence 9: How do I find the right angle to a story?

Sequence 10: How do I write an effective feature article?

Sequence 11: How do I add credibility when writing informative texts?

Sequence 12: How are our lifestyles shaping and changing the planet?

Australian Curriculum: English Year Level Year 8

How cross-curriculum priorities relate to this unit

This unit of work is connected closely with the Cross-Curriculum Priority: Sustainability, with a strong sustainability thread permeating the sequences. Students will interrogate a range of texts to shape their decision making in relation to sustainability. They will also participate in activities aimed at drawing out different opinions about how humans are shaping and changing the planet. They will develop the understanding and skills to act responsibly and create texts that inform and persuade others to take action for sustainable futures.

In Sequences 3 and 4, students will explore texts that discuss Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia. Texts will present the interrelationship between sub-groups in focus – in Asian contexts, and the connections of these groups to their local environments.

Australian Curriculum: English Year Level Year 8

How General Capabilities relate to this unit

As the students explore the key concepts and big ideas in this unit, a number of General Capabilities come into play – namely Literacy, Information and Communication Technology and Critical and Creative Thinking (a focus in all sequences).

In Sequences 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 the students will explore Personal and Social Responsibility as they participate in group activities, share personal opinions and manage the completion of assigned tasks.

In Sequences 5, 6 and 7 students are encouraged to apply an ethical outlook, with regard to Ethical Understanding, as they explore their own personal values and the attributes of ethical decision making. In Sequences 3 and 4 students are encouraged to adopt Intercultural Understanding of different cultures as they explore a range of texts and stories with an intercultural perspective.

Curriculum summary for this unit:

See the summary table, which includes the three strands of Literature, Literacy and Language as well as sub-strands and links to elaborations in sequence content.

Rich assessment tasks:

The two key summative assessment tasks for this unit involve student participation in a critical reading assignment (Assessment task 1) and the creation of a written feature article (Assessment task 2).