A Fire Inside - Investigating the reasons why humans help and the meaning of altruism

A Fire Inside - Investigating the reasons why humans help and the meaning of altruism

Lesson 4 of 8 in this unit

  • Secondary
  • Year 9 - 10
  • English
  • Environmental
  • Disaster resilience
  • Social
  • Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • ...

Lesson summary

In this English lesson students investigate the meaning of altruism. They make connections between this theme and the characterisation of various key people in the feature documentary ‘A Fire Inside’. These inferences are then used to make larger statements about what it truly means to be altruistic.

Learning intentions:

Students will...

  • make connections between characters and themes
  • compare and contrast characters’ actions and dialogue
  • analyse the theme of altruism.

Success criteria:

Students can...

  • find examples that relate to a theme
  • find similarities and differences between characters
  • synthesise prior knowledge and case studies to create a sustained response about a theme.

Lesson guides and printables

Lesson Plan
Student Worksheet
Teacher Content Info

Lesson details

Curriculum mapping

Australian curriculum content descriptions:

Years 10 English:

  • Evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in texts (ACELT1812)
  • Use comprehension strategies to compare and contrast information within and between texts, identifying and analysing embedded perspectives, and evaluating supporting evidence (ACELY1754)
  • Create sustained texts, including texts that combine specific digital or media content, for imaginative, informative, or persuasive purposes that reflect upon challenging and complex issues (ACELY1756)

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-1A, EN5-2A

General capabilities: Critical and Creative ThinkingEthical UnderstandingInformation and Communication Technology (ICT) CapabilityLiteracyPersonal and Social Capability

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability

Relevant parts of Year 10 English achievement standards: 
By the end of Year 10, students evaluate how text structures can be used in innovative ways by different authors. They explain how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary contributes to the development of individual style.
They develop and justify their own interpretations of texts. They evaluate other interpretations, analysing the evidence used to support them. They listen for ways features within texts can be manipulated to achieve particular effects.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work A Fire Inside: Feature Documentary Years 7 to 10

Time required: 80 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion

Resources required


This lesson is designed to build students’ competencies in the following skills:

  • Community engagement
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Digital literacy
  • Empathy
  • Initiative
  • Problem solving
  • Social skills
  • Collaboration    

Additional info

Before teaching the lessons, ensure you have watched the feature documentary ‘A Fire Inside’, rated MA15+ and have gained approval from parents and guardians before viewing the documentary. 
To view the film you can rent or purchase an online copy from Google PlayApple TVPrime Video, or Ritz at home.

Students may develop heightened emotions and discomfort during the film whilst learning about the psychological effects and impact the fires had on animals, people, families, communities, and the country. It is recommended that you direct students to a school counsellor if they require additional support and read through the Handling Sensitive Topics and Issues: Handling Sensitive Topics and Issues.

About the feature documentary - A Fire Inside:
When a volunteer firefighter drives his car to almost certain death, he does it during the worst fires in Australian history because he ‘has a job to do’. Three months later, the fires are out, but his fight is just beginning.

Turning a sensitive lens on the unprecedented devastation of Australia’s 2019/2020 ‘Black Summer’ bushfires; from a country-wide emergency to the astonishing stories of help that emerged, A Fire Inside presents an inspirational look at how people respond to crisis and the impact it has on the human spirit.

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