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Duration and pathways: Using this unit in the classroom

This unit is designed to take up to between four and six weeks of Year 9 English classroom time, although to allow students sufficient time to capture and produce the life story required by Assessment task 2, it may be useful to extend this time frame. An alternative, creating additional out-of-class interaction time between students and their subjects, would be to insert another short English unit after Sequence 10 and then returning to Sequences 11 and 12 after a short interval has allowed all students to complete Assessment task 2.

Such a break may be useful to those students who interview subjects who wish to withdraw from the project or become unavailable, and those who need more time to master technology or who rely on more intensive teacher support. While not necessary, the extended time frame may support stronger achievement standards across the cohort of students, from the most independent and adept to those with particular learning, social or access needs.

While this unit, presented as a whole, encompasses close analysis and appreciation of life stories (receptive mode) and the production of a print or digital life story (productive mode) across 12 sequences, alternative pathways through the sequences are offered. While you can pick and choose to suit the students’ context, suggestions are made based on taking out a stand-alone sequence or combining two or more sequences to create smaller sub-units.

For a stronger information and communication technology focus, students could instead be required to construct a biopic trailer for their subject: the focus here would be on getting to really know that character and creating just the trailer to enthral an audience. 

Some suggested options for using sequences in this unit

Number of sequences Possible pathways Teaching and learning focus


Sequence 1: What is a life story?

The life stories used in this sequence might be any used across the unit – especially if you wish to focus on a cross-curriculum priority such as a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or Asian perspectives, or sustainability issues. See digital stories used in Sequences 7 and 9 for possible options here, or the Resources.


Sequence 5: What are the differences between the techniques, features and impact of print versus video texts?

Using this sequence provides a basis for comparing print and digital modes, techniques, limitations and strengths, according to audience and access. In this case the subject of the life story is Kylie Kwong, a Sydney-based celebrity chef.


Sequence 8: Breaking down stereotypes and exploring the unexpected

This sequence begins with students using a photo as the medium for drawing conclusions about characters, in this case a photo of two ‘emos’. The purpose is to evaluate and challenge how easily we judge people by their appearance, dress, mannerisms and so on. After this discussion, students are given additional, fictional details in print. See Emo lives. From all of this data, their challenge is to construct a brief but interesting life story, using print language to establish connections between the young men and the reader. It is an exercise in critical and creative thinking.

Double sequence

Sequences 2 and 4: Privacy, disclosure and Facebook

Bringing these two sequences together gives students an opportunity to consider contemporary debates around privacy, access to data and ethics. Print and digital life stories are used as a basis for discussion, and once again, alternative or additional life stories might be drawn from the Resources. After contextualising privacy and disclosure in relation to life stories, and Who can say what about who? the focus shifts to Facebook. Students are asked to consider both sides of some statements, such as Facebook is my life story!  This is not an attempt to undermine social networking, rather to make connections from within the classroom to open up the strengths and benefits of Facebook with some consideration of the identities we construct online and any risks of disclosure in public spaces.

Series of seven sequences (approximately three weeks)

Sequences 1–7: Analysis and comparison of print and multimedia life stories

The initial seven sequences could be regarded as a complete unit in itself, if the focus remains on analysis and interpretation, and not on the creation of life stories. Stories chosen can be substituted or extended in order to capture the interests of cohorts of students.

Series of nine sequences

Sequences 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12

This shortening of the long unit reduces the time spent on analysis in order to provide enough time for students to understand the language and multimedia features and techniques of life stories, and to understand the ethics of capturing and sharing life stories. The analytical assessment task is removed and the focus is on the creation and sharing of a life story in a rich assessment task that addresses achievement standards in the productive mode.