The Lives of Animals: Lesson Set 2 (Animals and the News)

Animals and the News

The Lives of Animals text refers to a number of contemporary animal issues. In this activity, students produce a media report on one topical animal protection issue. Their report is based on their own research, including factual information and a fictional response from Elizabeth Costello and another character.

Time Allocation

Four lessons.

It is assumed that students have read the text prior to the activity. Some of the tasks could be completed as homework.


Download the accompanying PowerPoint presentation for this Lesson Set here.

Key Inquiry Questions

  • How can texts influence the audience though design, language and imagery?
  • How do beliefs about animals differ between different groups of people?

Learning Activities

1. PRE-TEST (Ask)

Ask students to brainstorm some of the issues relating to animals that are raised in The Lives of Animals and write these on the whiteboard. 

These could include:

  • Animals used for food and fibre;
  • Animals used in entertainment (e.g. rodeos, circuses);
  • Live export of farmed animals;
  • Animal experimentation;
  • Animals held in captivity (e.g. zoos, aquariums);
  • Hunting of wild animals.

Extension: Students could add other animal protection issues they have heard of.

2. EXPLORE (Investigate/Create)

Ask students to select a topic relating to animals for their media report. 

Before starting, ask students to design their own questions around the topic to be answered by their research. 

Instruct students that in researching their topic, they should use at least 3 sources of information that offer differing points of view.

Emphasise that they should also note how each of the sources uses format, language and imagery to influence the audience.

If students require more support, either for constructing questions on the topic, or reflecting on the audience influence, remind them of “Who, What, Where, When, Why and How”.

3. DISCUSS/SHARE (Discuss)

In groups, ask students to discuss different techniques they identified in the information sources and how they have been designed to influence the audience. What did they think was the most influential and why? How does this differ between other members of the group?

Collate and clarify their responses on a whiteboard or a shared document.

4. REFLECT (Create/Reflect)

Ask students to prepare a media report on their animal issue topic. The format could be a magazine article, news website article or video piece.

As part of the media report, students should include fictional responses from Elizabeth Costello and one other character from The Lives of Animals. These should support a particular argument in keeping with the character in the text. 

Students should consider:

  • Multiple perspectives on the issue;
  • What sort of language to use;
  • What images will be used;
  • What information will be included and excluded, and how this will affect the tone and message;
  • How they will persuade the audience.

Students can use the Quizlet: The Lives of Animals- Animal Issues to explore different issues that face animals in Australia.

Voiceless would be delighted to receive any completed student work to feature on the Voiceless website. Please email any work or feedback to [email protected]