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3 — Questions and finding the angle in a story

In this sequence, the students will focus on developing rich and open questions for their subjects. They will also do some forward planning for Assessment task 2.

Activity 1: Open and closed questions

In pairs, students should try out open and closed questions on each other. For example:

Discuss the kinds of questions most likely to elicit the richest answers.

Consider Demander 24/7 Roller Derby Queen and determine some open questions considered by Amanda to create her story, such as:


Activity 2: Developing a line of inquiry

A short life story does not attempt to tell everything about a person. The students’ stories will be short, so they must find an angle (the point or theme of a story) or interesting dimension to a life, and focus on that.

The students will view a news segment ‘Pets help to heal wounds of Fukushima’ about Turo Oki, who rescued stray, ill dogs after Japan’s 2011 tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear incident that followed it. Oki’s goal is to alleviate post-tsunami suffering through the use of these dogs, which he is training as therapy dogs. Before viewing the news segment, students will consider possible angles for the story, learn the difference between closed and open questions and explore the value of preparing open questions for an interview.

Image of battered houses at the foot of wooded hills with the rubble and bricks of destroyed houses in the foreground

Above: Devastation after tsunami in Iwaki, Fukushima, Japan, photo by Ryuki A G CC-BY-2.1 JP

What aspect of Turo Oki’s personality or life most interests the students as a potential angle for a life story? For example:

Ask the students to create the outline for a short life story of Turo Oki. In small groups, challenge the students to: 

Further to this, the students should:

Photo of a man being photographed by a young woman holding a phone

Above: A father being photographed by his daughter, public domain image, no copyright


Activity 3: Preparing for Assessment task 2

Ask the students to start thinking about their subject (the person at the centre of the life story) for Assessment task 2. This may be an opportunity for them to interact with other members of the school community. For those who find organisation or multitasking particularly challenging, this may be a beneficial option.

Introduce the Life story proposal worksheet, to be submitted by Sequence 5ACELA1551ACELT1633

Always ensure that you have written consent to obtain and use any person’s image. Try a search for relevant images using Creative Commons.