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Duelling poets and visual representations

Students will learn about A. B. Paterson and his contemporary, Henry Lawson. They will engage in a poetic battle, before analysing the visual features of illustrations from the 1970 picture book ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and designing their own illustration for their own poetry.
Focus text #1: 
Original illustrations for the picture book ‘Waltzing Matilda’ by Desmond Digby 1970

Text Type


  • Biography  


  • Poetry 
  • Visual  


  • Visual grammar 

Learning intention

Students are learning to: 

  • play with language to express an opinion 
  • understand how visual features convey meaning 

Success criteria

Students will be successful when they can: 

  • express a perspective through poetry 
  • recognize visual features in an illustration 
  • connect the use of visual features with the effect on meaning 

Background notes for teachers and students

Glossary of terms:  

Framing: The way in which elements in a still or moving image are arranged to create a specific interpretation of the whole. Strong framing creates a sense of enclosure around elements while weak framing creates a sense of openness. 

Gaze: The directed look of either a viewer or figure in an image, including demand and offer. 

Reading path: The manner in which the eye of the viewer is led round an image, usually by drawing the viewer to the most salient or important elements in the composition. 

Salience: A strategy of emphasis, highlighting what is important in a text. In images, salience is created through strategies like placement of an item in the foreground, size, and contrast in tone or colour. In writing, salience can occur through placing what is important at the beginning or at the end of a sentence or paragraph or through devices for example underlining or italics. 

Vector: An item that directs our eyes towards a focal point, for example when the subject in a visual text is pointing or looking in a certain direction. As the reader or viewer, our eyes will follow the direction in which they are pointing or looking 

Visual features: Visual components of a text for example placement, salience, framing, representation of action or reaction, shot size, social distance, and camera angle. 

Visual language: Language that contributes to the meaning of an image or the visual components of a multimodal text and are selected from a range of visual features like placement, salience, framing, representation of action or reaction, shot size, social distance, and camera angle. Visual language can also include elements, for example symbol, colour, scene and frame composition, setting and landscape, lighting and the use of editing. 

Visual literacy: The ability to decode, interpret, create, question, challenge and evaluate texts that communicate with visual images as well as, or rather than, words. Visually literate people can read the intended meaning in a visual text such as an advertisement or a film shot, interpret the purpose and intended meaning, and evaluate the form, structure and features of the text. They can also use images in a creative and appropriate way to express meaning. 


From: NSW Education Standards Authority Glossary  

Student Activities

Poetic duels

Students will find out about A.B. Paterson and his poetic duelling with Henry Lawson, before evaluating who they believe won the city vs. country debate. They will then participate in their own poetic duel with a partner.  

Number of set tasks: 3

Visual representations

Students will examine the picture book illustrations for Waltzing Matilda and engage in a visual analysis. They will then make deliberate choices when illustrating their own poetry.  

Number of set tasks: 3

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum: English K-10

A student

  • responds to and composes texts for understanding, interpretation, critical analysis, imaginative expression and pleasure EN41A 
  • effectively uses a widening range of processes, skills, strategies and knowledge for responding to and composing texts in different media and technologies EN42A 
  • makes effective language choices to creatively shape meaning with accuracy, clarity and coherence EN44B 
  • thinks imaginatively, creatively, interpretively and critically about information, ideas and arguments to respond to and compose texts EN45C 


  • use increasingly sophisticated verbal, aural, visual and/or written techniques, e.g. imagery, figures of speech, selective choice of vocabulary, rhythm, sound effects, colour and design, to compose imaginative texts for pleasure 
  • respond to and compose imaginative, informative and persuasive texts for different audiences, purposes and contexts for understanding, interpretation, critical analysis, imaginative expression and pleasure 


  • reflect on ideas and opinions about characters, settings and events in literary texts, identifying areas of agreement and difference with others and justifying a point of view (ACELT1620)   
  • use processes of representation, including the creative use of symbols, images, icons, clichés, stereotypes, connotations and particular aural, visual and/or digital techniques  
  • understand and use bibliographies, citations (including web citations) to acknowledge sources and avoid plagiarism  


  • combine visual and digital elements to create layers of meaning for serious, playful and humorous purposes   
  • experiment with particular language features drawn from different types of texts, including combinations of language and visual choices to create new texts (ACELT1768, ACELT1805)  
  • experiment with text structures and language features to refine and clarify ideas to improve the effectiveness of students' own texts (ACELY1810)  
  • analyse how point of view is generated in visual texts by means of choices, for example gaze, angle and social distance (ACELA1764)  


  • compose a range of visual and multimodal texts using a variety of visual conventions, including composition, vectors, framing and reading pathway 
  • Critical and creative thinking  
  • Information and communication technology capability 
  • Literacy  
  • Personal and social capability 

In each Year of Stage 4 students must study examples of

  • print texts 
  • visual texts 
  • media, multimedia and digital texts. 


Across the stage, the selection of texts must give students experience of: 

  • texts which are widely regarded as quality literature 
  • a widely defined Australian literature, including texts that give insights into Aboriginal experiences in Australia