Learning Through Story: Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia

5. Modelling and Co-Constructing: U.N Address

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • To plan, rehearse and deliver a presentation that raises issues and advances an opinion
  • To interpret the stated and implied meanings in spoken texts
  • To explore and share opinions and arguments about literary texts

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can plan, refine and deliver an effective presentation
  • I can explain the difference between stated and implied meaning
  • I can develop, revise and share my opinions about a text

This stage focuses on modelling the text structures and language features used in spoken presentations, and on the co-construction of an address to the United Nations or to a school or local community. The address will be written in response to the big ideas and issues explored by the authors in ‘Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia’.

It is strongly recommended that teachers view all suggested stimulus texts prior to their use to ensure their cultural appropriateness and to enable rich, respectful discussion. For guidance on text selection refer to the Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy.

In addition, it is suggested that teachers refer to the guidelines around establishing a safe & culturally respectful classroom in the ‘Before you use this sequence’ section of the resource.

Consider creating a modified Ways Things Can Be Complex concept map for your class before commencing this stage or sequence, which can be revisited as appropriate. The map encourages the consolidation of critical thinking as students’ knowledge of a topic develops.

1. What do you really mean?

Introduce a spoken stimulus text that addresses the big ideas, issues or themes raised in ‘Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia’. A list of themes can be found in the teaching notes for the text.  For example, Meyne Wyatt’s Monologue from City of Gold video and transcript (mild language warning) (available on ClickView, log in using your Department credentials), Briggs – ‘The Children Came Back’ ft. Gurrumul and Dewayne Everettsmith or The National Apology to the Stolen Generations, would work well. Whilst viewing, ask students to record their responses using a graphic organiser like a ‘Listen and Respond’ table.

Discuss student responses, ensuring that evidence from the material is provided to illustrate ideas and inferences.

Introduce students to the concepts of denotation and connotation. Make a word or phrase visible to students by writing it on a white board or pasting it on a digital collaboration tool to enable digital interaction. Invite students to reflect on what the word means, probing for both literal and symbolic/implied meanings. For example:

Unpack the concepts of denotation and connotation further by asking students to work in small groups to identify the literal and implied definition of a range of other words, using a graphic organiser to record their ideas. For example, students could consider the words woke, unique, confident or cheap.

2. Taking it back to the text

As a whole class, review one of the spoken texts that has been viewed. Pause the material at key moments to allow students to reflect on their viewing, or create an interactive ClickView video that includes prompts to scaffold understanding (sign into ClickView using your Department credentials). Students consider:

  • the key point/s being made by the speaker
  • the tone of the presentation
  • how the tone of a presentation might affect its message
  • the use of denotative or connotative words or phrases (what did the speaker say? What might the speaker have meant?)

As a whole group, identify one instance where meaning is implied in the spoken text.  Examples from the sample texts listed in this phase could include ‘I'm the dead heart’s heartbeat’ (Briggs) or ‘I don’t want to sit down’ (Meyne Wyatt).

Invite pairs of students to transform the selected excerpt into a statement, using the following prompts:

  • The speaker said…
  • The speaker may have been suggesting…

If applicable, offer students the opportunity to experiment with the tone of the speaker, using a tone table to modify possible meanings.

Invite each pair to share their translations and tonal experiments with the class, encouraging students to clarify their ideas by providing evidence from the stimulus material.

It is important to discuss the idea that an individual’s personal values and beliefs have an impact on their interpretation of a text. Encourage students to understand that their interpretation might be different to others, and to reflect upon and clarify their own responses using evidence. A Sticking Points exercise may be useful in this context.

Enable students to understand the concept of implied and stated meaning by using a listening exercise with multiple choice questions like those on the Cambridge English Assessment page. Further resources for teachers can be found on the ‘Literal, inferential and evaluative levels of comprehension’ section of the Literacy Teaching Toolkit, which also  includes guidance about supporting EAL/D to develop comprehension skills.

Extend students by providing them with further connotational words and inviting them to explore potential meanings. For example, students could unpack words such as reconciliation or tolerance.

1. Modelling effective presentations

Students view a spoken word stimulus related to the themes of ‘Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia’ before engaging in a close examination of the presentation, with a focus on the following features:

  • tone (humorous, solemn, angry)
  • formality
  • choice/impact of vocabulary
  • sequencing of ideas
  • voice modulation
  • use of multimodal elements.

Pay explicit attention to the language choices of the presenter as well as the use of voice and tone to communicate a point of view. It is important to take notes on the board or to use a digital tool so that students can view the results of the close reading once it has occurred. If a transcript of the presentation is available, you may also wish to annotate it with your class.

A list of Inspirational Indigenous Australian TedX talks would be a useful resource for this exercise, as would examples of young people addressing the United Nations or their communities, like Dujuan Hoosan, Malala Yousafzai or Greta Thunberg.

Materials that explore the use of rhetorical devices in spoken texts can be found in the Practically Persuasive learning sequence.

2. Collaborative research

Collaboratively brainstorm about the big ideas or themes explored in ‘Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia’. Choose a theme or an issue to use as the focus for an address to the UN, or to the school or local community. Tamika Worrell’s essay The Aboriginal Equation and Ambelin Kwaymullina’s Growing up, grow up, grown ups provide multiple provocations for this task. The Uluru Statement from the Heart would also work well as a complementary text.

Check student understanding of the stories you have read by using the Conversation Stems in Practice outlined in the Literacy Teaching Toolkit.


“I noticed…”


“I wondered…”


“I appreciated…”


“I made a connection…”


“I learned…”


“I was surprised by…”


 Once an issue has been selected, decide on a stance as a class and then brainstorm a range of possible arguments to support it. Students draw on the testimony of the authors in ‘Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia’ to support their arguments.

Students form small groups and each group is assigned one argument that has been generated by the class. Provide time for independent research, reminding students to give consideration to the credibility of their sources.

Tasks for each group:

  • create a statement summarising the relevant argument
  • brainstorm supporting points & arrange points from strongest to weakest
  • provide evidence for each supporting point
  • create a conclusion or suggest a recommended action (students may wish to experiment with modal verbs).
  • write a headline that summarises the group’s argument (and which can be revised after consultation with other groups)

Provide groups with a variety of graphic organisers to help record and organise their ideas, such as brain droplets, a funnel or a hierarchy chart. 

3. Guided composition: an address to the UN

Come back together as a class and allow time for each group to summarise their position. Decide as a class which two arguments are the strongest/have the most compelling evidence and then use them to jointly construct one or two paragraphs of a speech to the UN, or an address to the school or local community.

Suggested process for joint construction:

  • collaborate to devise a strong opening sentence to summarise each argument

brainstorm supporting sentences with an emphasis on:

  • the sequencing and cohesion of ideas
  • utilising effective vocabulary
  • developing an effective tone
  • creative expression of ideas, for example experimenting with implied and stated meaning

Once the paragraphs have been jointly constructed, facilitate a discussion about the importance of voice modulation. It may be useful to provide some examples of effective and ineffective communication in this context, and to allow students time to experiment with performing the paragraphs you have created together. Some useful examples might be Stan Grant’s presentation at the IQ2 Racism Debate or Meyne Wyatt’s ‘Monologue from City of Gold’ on Q+ A (language warning).

Students experiment with increasing or decreasing the volume of their voice, altering the speed of their speech or changing the tone of their voice. Students may also wish to discuss whether multimodal or visual elements would strengthen their presentation.

Areas for further exploration

Use the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission – ‘Bringing them Home’ Education Module to investigate the recommendations made during the Inquiry. Ask students to focus on those specifically related to their State or Territory. The interactive map on the Bringing Them Home website may be useful for this task.

As with many other resources in this sequence, it is critical to alert your class to the fact that this website may contain images, videos and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have passed away. Please also note that many of the stories and images on the Bringing Them Home website may cause sadness or distress for visitors; teacher guidance is advised if students are engaging with further materials on the site.

It is strongly recommended that teachers view all suggested stimulus texts prior to their use to ensure their cultural appropriateness and to enable rich, respectful discussion. For guidance on text selection refer to the Teaching and Learning Resources — Selecting Appropriate Materials policy.

Students begin preparation for the independent construction of a speech to the UN, or to their local or school community. Consider:

  • deconstructing some key speaking and listening skills
  • creating a task checklist with your class based on the joint construction undertaken in the ‘Go deeper’ phase of this stage
  • providing an explicit context or focus for an address to the UN Human Rights Council or United Nations Youth Assembly such as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • ensuring students understand the role of the United Nations and providing some examples of youth addresses
  • providing resources to support students to develop a policy to address racism within their school community. The ‘Getting Started’ and ‘Community Mapping’ activities on the Centre for Multicultural Youth website are all useful resources for students
  • introducing activities that enable students to identify the causes/effects of key issues and to identify potential solutions
  • ensuring students incorporate a quote, excerpt or anecdote from ‘Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia’ in their address
  • providing opportunities for students to engage in peer feedback using or adapting a thinking routine like Compass Points
  • encouraging students to consider creating a multimodal presentation.

It is recommended that teachers spend time creating a task outline and rubric with their students to support this work, and that sufficient class time be given to students to allow them to complete this task. It is also suggested that students be provided with opportunities to present their work outside their school communities, for example via Model UN conferences.

Further resources to support students and teachers in the independent construction of a persuasive speech can be found in Stage 4 of the Practically Persuasive learning sequence. 

Enable students who require further support to engage with the task by inviting them to work in strategically constructed groups or pairs. Work one-on-one with groups, checking understanding of the components of the task checklist. Provide graphic organisers to help students to generate and structure their ideas. Consider offering students who experience significant discomfort with public presentations alternative options, such as addressing a small, self-selected audience of peers.

Extend students by inviting them to incorporate targeted, explicit suggestions for policy or constitutional change in Australia as it relates to their chosen issue. Students should ensure they are aware of the current policies relating to their area of interest before they proceed.

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