The Lives of Animals: Lesson Set 3 (Fact as Fiction)

Fact as Fiction

The Lives of Animals uses a fictional text to present various arguments and philosophical stances indirectly. This activity enables students to explore how fictional texts can be persuasive, and to understand how they differ from non-fiction texts. 

Note: This activity follows on from Lesson Set 2 (Animals and the News) with students using the research from this task to complete this activity.

Time Allocation

Two lessons.

It is assumed that students have read the text and completed Lesson Set 2.


Download the accompanying PowerPoint presentation for this Lesson Set here.

Key Inquiry Questions

  • How can fictional texts be persuasive?
  • Do fictional and non-fictional texts influence the audience differently?

Learning Activities

1. PRE-TEST (Ask)

Begin with a general discussion about where to find factual information to support an argument. What types of texts and which sources would students consult? What values and judgements do students apply to different texts and why?

2. EXPLORE (Investigate)

Ask students to review the post-lecture dinner scene (pp. 38-45 in the 2016 Princeton Classics Edition ) from the text and identify different arguments supporting and refuting the eating of animals.

Some points for students to consider:

  • How is the scene constructed?
  • Which characters comment on each side of the argument? Do they switch positions? What does this tell us about each character?
  • What language devices are used?
  • How does this influence the audience? Is it more/less emotional?

3. DISCUSS/SHARE (Create/Discuss)

In pairs, ask students to discuss how the fictional text can be persuasive and how this differs from non-fiction texts. In addition, ask the students to reflect and discuss their own preferences between using fiction and non-fiction structures for persuasive writing.

Ask students to share their ideas in class discussion.

A Venn Diagram template can be used to record similarities and differences.

4. REFLECT (Reflect)

Based on the research from Lesson Set 2 on an issue facing animals, ask students to compose a 500-word persuasive text that is also a fictional narrative.

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