Exploring timeless messages in traditional and modern stories

SubjectEnglish YearYear 9 CurriculumAC v8.4 Time350

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In this set of interconnected learning experiences, students engage in reading folktales to discover the powerful messages they contain. They explore the ethical concept of kindness and how acts of kindness can bring unexpected rewards. They explore modern stories to find the messages they contain and to discover the techniques storytellers use to create tone and mood and to evoke emotions. Students also examine how folktales and stories are structured and create meaning. They demonstrate their learning by creating a modern day narrative or audio story with a moral for young people.

By engaging students with stories that have a clear moral message, these learning experiences support students to develop ethical understanding. Students explore the nature of ethical concepts and how these concepts can contribute to humanity. They develop an awareness of the influence that acts of kindness can have on themselves and others.

These concepts are foundational for students to become active and informed citizens.

Australian Curriculum or Syllabus

Achievement standard

Receptive modes (listening, reading and viewing)

By the end of Year 9, students analyse the ways that text structures can be manipulated for effect. They analyse and explain how images, vocabulary choices and language features distinguish the work of individual authors.

They evaluate and integrate ideas and information from texts to form their own interpretations. They select evidence from texts to analyse and explain how language choices and conventions are used to influence an audience. They listen for ways texts position an audience.

Productive modes (speaking, writing and creating)

Students understand how to use a variety of language features to create different levels of meaning. They understand how interpretations can vary by comparing their responses to texts to the responses of others. In creating texts, students demonstrate how manipulating language features and images can create innovative texts.

Students create texts that respond to issues, interpreting and integrating ideas from other texts. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, comparing and evaluating responses to ideas and issues. They edit for effect, selecting vocabulary and grammar that contribute to the precision and persuasiveness of texts and using accurate spelling and punctuation.

Content descriptions


Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (ACELT1635).

Analyse text structures and language features of literary texts, and make relevant comparisons with other texts (ACELT1772).


Use interaction skills to present and discuss an idea and to influence and engage an audience by selecting persuasive language, varying voice tone, pitch, and pace, and using elements such as music and sound effects (ACELY1811).

Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that present a point of view and advance or illustrate arguments, including texts that integrate visual, print and/or audio features (ACELY1746).

Review and edit students’ own and others’ texts to improve clarity and control over content, organisation, paragraphing, sentence structure, vocabulary and audio/visual features (ACELY1747).

Use a range of software, including word processing programs, flexibly and imaginatively to publish texts (ACELY1748).

Teacher resources

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Quotes visualiser

The wealth of sharing


The North Wind and the Sun

Deconstruction visualiser

The North Wind and the Sun

Focus questions visualiser

The act of giving and meaning of wealth


It’s all in the tone

Student learning resources

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The trouble with helping out

Graphic organiser

Structure of a short story

Assessment task

Year 9 short story writing task

Suggested activity sequence

This sequence is intended as a framework to be modified and adapted by teachers to suit the needs of a class group. If you assign this activity to a class, your students will be assigned all student resources on their 'My learning' page. You can also hand-pick the resources students are assigned by selecting individual resources when you add a work item to a class in 'My classes'.

For this activity you will need post-it notes. 

Part A: Exploring ethical principles

Solo and pair thinking

  1. Display the quotes on kindness and giving on the quotes visualiser and invite students to think about what they mean.
  2. Students share their thinking with a partner and decide on a real-life example, or an example from literature that exemplifies the meaning of each quote. Students write their example on a post-it note to display on the classroom wall.
  3. Students read the examples of other students.

Exploring folktales

Explain the following:

All cultures have stories that are shared. A story from one culture may be similar to the story of another culture. These stories are known as folktales which include fables.
In folktales the characters are not well developed, nor the location clearly described. What is more important to the story is that there is usually conflict between good and evil with good usually being rewarded and evil being punished. Often, the purpose of these stories is to teach a lesson or to describe characteristics of one’s culture. The stories are also entertaining.

Discussing ethical concepts

  1. Read the fable The North Wind and the Sun aloud to students.
  2. Ask:
    • What human qualities does the North Wind have?
    • What human qualities does the Sun have?
    • Why is kindness more powerful than force?
    • Can you give an example of the power of kindness?

Part B: Deconstructing stories

Modelling deconstruction

  1. Read the fable The North Wind and the Sun using the deconstruction visualiser. As you read the story, give students time to answer the questions on each page and share their answers.
  2. Discuss the moral and how it relates to students’ own experiences. Possible prompts include:
    • the difference in your behaviour when you are treated kindly compared with when you are treated harshly
    • the difference an act of kindness has made to your behaviour
    • how you have felt when you have carried out an act of kindness.

Deconstructing a story in groups

  1. Use a grouping strategy to organise students into pairs.
  2. Explain that the story they are about to read is an African American (Suriname) Tale.
  3. Ask students to search for ‘trouble with helping out tale’ in their browsers or display the story The trouble with helping out on a screen for students to read.
  4. Students use the graphic organiser to identify the structural elements of the story.
  5. Pairs of students connect with another pair to compare their responses on how the story is structured.
  6. Display the trouble with helping out slide on the focus questions visualiser.
  7. Groups discuss responses to the questions on the visualiser.
  8. Discuss group responses.
  9. Brainstorm stories (such as fairy tales) from other cultures with a similar message.

Part C: Exploring modern stories

Solo and pair thinking

  1. Display the quotes on the meaning of wealth from the quotes visualiser and invite students to think about what they mean.
  2. Students share their thinking with a partner, decide on a real-life example and write it on a post-it note to display on the classroom wall.
  3. Students read the examples of other students.

Responding to an audio story

  1. Play: It’s all in the tone. This is a story of life in a mining camp.
  2. Display the slide it’s all in the tone on the focus questions visualiser.
  3. Use a grouping strategy to organise students into groups of 4.
  4. Groups replay the story as many times as they need to discuss responses to questions on the visualiser.
  5. Display the final slide on the focus questions visualiser.
  6. Groups discuss each statement.

    Choose a discussion strategy to promote collaboration and participation, such as talking cards.

  7. As a class, discuss group responses.

Part D: Independent writing

Writing a narrative

Students complete the short story writing task. They should be given at least 2 lessons to write their stories and one lesson to publish their stories using information and communication technology (ICT) or record them as audio stories.