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The Importance of Anzac Day and the Gallipoli Experience to Australians

Year 7 English and History Module

Learning Module


This learning module is about the experiences of Australian soldiers during the campaign at Gallipoli and the importance of Anzac Day to all Australians. Students explore primary and secondary documents, analysing their language and visual features, before writing a letter as a soldier on the front.


Gallipoli, ANZACS, Australia, Empathy, Language Features, Visual Features, Slang, Letter Writing

Knowledge Objectives

As a result of completing this learning module, students will be able to:


  • Read effectively and view a range of information texts
  • Gather evidence on a visit the Australian War Memorial about the experiences of soldiers at Gallipoli
  • Contribute to group effectiveness by:
  • Display concentration and flexibility in allocating and undertaking varying roles and tasks in groups
  • Act in ways that respect and support the ideas and feelings of others
  • Use effective strategies to achieve clarity of communication


  • Read effectively by:
    • understanding slang terms, military and other terms associated with war and commemoration
    • defining primary and secondary evidence
  • Write effectively by:
    • developing code breaking skills through word study
    • finding out about, discussing and evaluating historical genres, sources and evidence
    • taking notes from print and electronic media, and selecting and synthesizing relevant information from a number of sources
    • understanding how writers draw on their knowledge, experiences, thoughts and feelings, and on subject matter and text forms


  • Understand about Australia and Australians by:
    • analysing the impact of Anzac Day for Australians, past and present
    • understanding and learning about the factors that can influence and perpetuate identity
    • understanding and learning about the values reflected in national celebrations
  • Reflect on the importance of letters to and from soldiers at war
  • Read and write effectively by:
    • understanding and learning about language features and structural features used by authors to engage the reader and express the author’s opinions and to write argument and information texts
    • recognizing technical terms and subject-specific words in information texts and using resources to check meanings
  • Critically interpret and construct texts by
    • looking at ways in which recruitment posters influenced people’s views
    • analysing how the creators of recruitment posters selected ideas and information to support their position and purpose


  • Write effectively in PEC paragraphs
  • Critically interpret and construct texts by:
    • selecting aspects about life at Gallipoli to portray people, places and events in ways that will appeal to the audiences back in Australia.

These objectives are based on the ACT Curriculum Framework: Every Chance to Learn

1. Why have Anzac Day?

For the Student

Why did we have a public holiday on 25th April? What happens each year on that day? What do you know about Anzac Day? What was Anzac Day for?

Using a placemat, each group member writes their thoughts about those questions into their section of the placemat. Share your ideas and in the centre write down five important ideas. Report back to the class.

Copy this note taking chart into your workbooks. Using a double page in landscape style, write some points in each section.

When? Why go there? What happened?Battles/ weapons/ facts re deaths, etc
How we commemorate? What does the day look like? What happened?Soldiers/ living conditions
Fig.1: Many Australians make pilgrimages to Anzac Cove in Turkey.

For the Teacher

Students’ prior knowledge of Anzac Day

Using a placemat, students draw on their prior experiences and knowledge about Anzac Day. This will engage them in the task as everyone has something to talk about.

In the centre of the placemat, students synthesise their discussion by identifying the five most significant ideas about Anzac Day. Encourage students to come to consensus rather than compromise.

Using the chart support students who need help to make notes from the discussions.

Students will return to this chart to add notes at various stage of the learning element.

2. Shared Reading

For the Student

Your group has been given some information about Gallipoli or Anzac Day commemorations. Using the strategies of Reciprocal Reading, you will identify, discuss and make a summary of the main points to be gained from your information.

Share these points with the class by having a reporter or reporters to present the main points. Whilst listening to each group, add some notes to your note taking chart.

Fig. 2: Simpson and his Donkey

Whilst touring the Australian War Memorial, gather evidence about the categories listed in the retrieval chart. Sketch any item you think is important or take a photo.

Soldiers uniforms/ weapons
Soldiers living conditions/ food
The environment (physical surroundings)
Turkish soldiers
Loss of life
Other interesting and relevant facts
Fig. 3: Remembrance Wall

For the Teacher

Reciprocal Reading

To build on existing knowledge, use other texts about the Gallipoli campaign to deepen their engagement with these texts and their knowledge, use the Reciprocal Reading strategy. This involves predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising. Use the Four Resources role cards at MyRead to scaffold students’ questioning.

Students read some samples of information texts about the campaign at Gallipoli and the commemoration of Anzac Day. Use different texts if possible. After reporting back students add new information to their note taking chart (see previous activity).

Students participate in an excursion to the Australian War Memorial where they gather information about life and conditions at Gallipoli using a retrieval chart. It is essential to visit the War Memorial at the beginning of the learning element because it gives students access to primary and secondary sources that record the Gallipoli experience. From the excursion they have first hand knowledge of Gallipoli and this will set them up for the rest of the learning element. On the return to the classroom, students can compare their charts and fill in gaps. This strategy supports students who did not have the opportunity to make notes on some items and means that they feel successful in the task.

3. Gathering Information

For the Student

Look at the retrieval chart and sketches or photos gathered from the War Memorial. Identify which items were original/actually came from 1915? What items have been written or made by others since that time? Mark each item, using a key to distinguish between the two.

Consider this data set of items. One is a set of primary sources, the other is not. Using a think, pair, share, answer this question:

What do you think a primary source is? Each group reports back.

In the same pairs, what do you think secondary sources of information are? Report back.

Write a definition for primary and secondary sources in your books. On your retrieval chart, identify and label the two types of sources.

Choose one example of each source in your chart and make a list of points in the table below that each reveals (or tells you) about the life as a soldier/ the Gallipoli campaign/ Anzac Day.

Item description: What is it? How used? Colour? Material?
What it tells about the life of a solider? (Eg food supply, weapons, fighting, living conditions)

Return to your first note taking chart and add new information.

Fig. 4: Primary or Secondary Source?

For the Teacher

Primary and secondary sources

Students use the information gathered from the War Memorial excursion as well as data sets to discuss and identify primary and secondary sources. This is about taking the experiential learning from the museum further to deepen their knowledge of Gallipoli and the importance of artifacts in museums.

Students classify each item from the War Memorial. They then write their own definitions of primary and secondary sources.

Using one item from the War Memorial excursion, students consider and list what this item might reveal about the life of a soldier or how Anzac Day has been commemorated.

4. Why do We Use Primary and Secondary Sources?

For the Student

In your groups and using a PMI chart, discuss and assess the reasons for using primary and secondary sources of information when studying an event from the past such as the Gallipoli landing. Why is it good to look at/ examine/handle primary sources? How do they help you…?

Each group selects their best idea for each section and reports back.

Individually answer the question in a Point, Explanation, Conclusion (PEC) paragraph in your books.

Fig. 5: War Recruitment Posters are Primary Sources

For the Teacher

The importance of primary and secondary sources

After doing the Plus, Minus, Interesting (PMI) on primary sources, deepen students’ understanding of primary and secondary sources by repeating this activity with secondary sources and comparing the PMIs.

Alternatively half the class does primary sources and the other half does secondary sources; they then compare and contrast their PMI charts.

This activity helps students understand the importance and purpose of these sources and enables them to connect what they have learned to their own lives.

5. What has Anzac Day Meant for Australians, Past and Present?

For the Student

In your groups think about the importance of Anzac Day in the past and today. Using a PCQ chart and with your assigned ‘time and role’, list points in each section.

The roles are: veterans, politicians, families and Australian society.

Consider each role in the PCQ chart for 1919 and then 2007. This will mean you have two separate PCQ charts to display.

Fig. 6: Anzac Day Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial

For the Teacher

Looking at the importance of Anzac Day from different viewpoints

This enables students to begin to think about different perspectives and thereby develop empathy.

Groups doing the same role can share information and then add points to their charts if they find some relevant points. Display charts for reference in the next activity.

Example of a Pro Cons Question (PCQ)Chart

Role: Families Year: 1919
Pros Cons Questions

6. What are Australian Values and Which are Important?

For the Student

Follow through the list of nine values as the teacher reads and explains them.

Individually, highlight or underline the values that you think are valued in the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli and are recognised in Anzac Day commemorations. Explain your choice by writing some dot points next to at least two values.

Fig 7: Nine Values for Australian Schooling

For the Teacher

Understanding Australian values

Provide each student with a sheet titled ‘Values for Australian Schooling’. Reference: National Framework For Values Education in Australian Schools.

Read through the list and explain, discuss and clarify the meaning of each value. This activity enables students to define and develop a metalanguage for the values of the National Framework For Values Education in Australian Schools and to make connections to Gallipoli.

7. Why Anzac Day?

For the Student

Write a PEC paragraph answering the question:

Why is Anzac Day so important to Australians? Discuss the importance in 1919 as well as the present day.

Fig. 8: Poppies - Symbols of Remembrance

For the Teacher

Reflecting about the importance of Anzac Day

This is a synthesis of all they have learnt so far in the learning element.

Before students write their paragraph, encourage them to plan what they will write by:

  • discussing their thoughts about what they will write about with a peer
  • looking over their prior work and make links to the values, to the PCQ activity and everything else they have already learnt in the learning element.

8. Activity 2: A Soldier’s Life

For the Student

Think about the difficult aspects about life as a soldier on any battlefield, past or present. With a partner, talk about your ideas. Now with another pair, discuss the question.

Now in your original pairs, draw a concept map to represent the difficult aspects about life as a soldier. Share the map and then place your concept map on display for others students to read.

For the Teacher

Activity 2: Prior knowledge of the hardships of battle

Students use the knowledge gained from the previous activity as well as the students’ general knowledge to discuss the difficult aspects about life as a soldier on any battlefield, past or present. This will enable the students to link the discussion to current overseas military engagements.

Use a think, pair, share strategy first. In pairs, students make a concept map to represent the difficult aspects about life as a soldier on any battlefield, past or present. Model how to create a concept map first to scaffold this for the students. You might encourage students to write a comment or a reflection on concept maps on display using small sticky notes.

9. Watching a Documentary: What is Your Reaction?

For the Student

Watch a documentary about the landing at Gallipoli. During viewing, you need to take notes/write points that identify hardships for soldiers at Gallipoli.

What is your reaction to the documentary? What did you learn? What impressed you most? How do you feel about the fighting/organization of the battle/soldiers?

Fig. 9: Australian 4th Battalion troops landing in Anzac Cove, 25 April 1915

For the Teacher

Viewing: Note taking and personal response

As students view a documentary about Gallipoli, eg Andrew Denton’s Gallipoli, encourage them to record notes and points about the hardships faced by the soldiers. You could pause it at different points to give them time to record.

This will present a new perspective not experienced previously. To address diversity also ensure that you give students the opportunity to respond individually to the documentary at the end.

10. What was the Worst Hardship for Soldiers?

For the Student

Brainstorm a list of hardships for soldiers. Try to have 16 points in your list.

Using a tournament prioritiser, identify the worst hardship for soldiers at Gallipoli. Your group must present your decision to the class and have reasons for your choice.

Fig. 10: Life in the Trenches for Australian Soldiers in 1915

For the Teacher

Identifying hardships for soldiers at Gallipoli

In groups, students use the information from the video to compile a list of at least 16 hardships for soldiers at Gallipoli. This will develop knowledge of the hardships for soldiers by naming them. To scaffold the discussion, use a tournament prioritiser at MyRead so students come to a decision about which one was the worst. They must justify this decision.

11. Which is Worse?

For the Student

In groups, use a placemat to answer this question:

Which is worse: modern war or war of 1915?

Write your ideas down, then share with the group. Now write down one or two points in the centre that summarises your group’s opinions.

Report back to the class.

For the Teacher

Modern warfare compared to the war of 1915?

This activity will further deepen students’ knowledge of the hardships at Gallipoli.

12. Personal Response

For the Student

After listening to the other groups report, individually write a PEC paragraph to answer the question: Which is worse: modern war or the war of 1915?

Fig. 11: The Charge of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade at the Nek, 7 August 1915 by George Lambert, 1924.

For the Teacher

Personal reflection about war

Students can share their completed reflections with each other. Then ask a few students to read their reflections to the class. This allows for diversity for individual responses and enables students to show what they learned.

13. Images of War

For the Student

Study th images of the First World War and some recruitment posters. Ask questions about the images and listen to any explanations.

Write a personal response about the images you have seen.

How did you feel?

What did you learn about the war or conditions for soldiers?

Fig. 12: Anzac Truce, 24 May, 1915

For the Teacher

Responding to visual images of war

Images can also be found at the Australian War Memorial site.

The use of visuals is a powerful tool for student engagement.

14. Looking at One Image in Detail

For the Student

Study this image carefully. As a class, we are going to complete a retrieval chart that describes how certain elements are used in it. What’s it about?

Now choose another image to describe in the same way.

Mode Image 1: Class study Image 2: Your study
Examples from the Field Examples from the Field
Gestures(if applicable)
Shot type and angle

For the Teacher

Visual features: mode and field

Model the examination of one image with the whole class with students completing one column of the retrieval chart as you do. Students then select an image of their own choice and complete the same task.

If appropriate you can introduce the metalanguage of mode and field.

The mode is the mode of communication. It may be linguistic, visual, audio, gestural and spatial. The posters are presented in the visual mode.

The field includes the action, what’s going on, the characters, themes, topics, setting and processes. This varies according to the genre. In analysing the mode, students will provide examples from the field.

This activity makes the students look closely at the poster to describe what they see and gives them a language to talk about the ‘grammar’ of the texts.

15. Why Use These Techniques?

For the Student

Add another column onto the end of your retrieval chart and include the heading of tenor. In that column, think about the two images you have studied and ask yourself:

Why use that? How did it affect you? For example, how did those colours make you feel?

Why use a close up shot? Where did that position you in relation to what was in the image?

What effect does the gaze in this photo have?

The teacher will ask some students to share their ideas with the class. Add some ideas to your chart during the reporting back.

Fig. 13: Postcard Issued by Army in World War 1

For the Teacher

Visual techniques: tenor

Students need to add another column to the retrieval chart. The last column requires the students to think about the effects of these techniques. This is the tenor.

Tenor involves evaluating the text to understand how it impacts on an audience, especially how it might position an audience or make them respond with feelings such as empathy, suspense, judgment and humour.

16. What did Soldiers Write in Their Letters?

For the Student

Read copies of authentic letters written by soldiers at Gallipoli. You are to read at least two examples. As you read, highlight words and phrases that are unfamiliar or unknown to you, or you do not know the meaning of.

Add some details about Gallipoli into your note taking chart.

Fig. 14: Soldiers wrote their letters in trenches such as this one at Lone Pine.

For the Teacher

Letters from the front

Students read and respond to copies of authentic letters (see Appendix A as well as other letters on the Australian War Memorial site written by soldiers at Gallipoli by highlighting new words and phrase and writing notes into note taking chart. This will give students exposure to a personal perspective of life at Gallipoli.

17. Being a Code Breaker

For the Student

Using the highlighted words and phrases, complete the chart below to help you explain their meaning.

Word Any help given with meaning? Your explanation Dictionary help if needed

Which words or phrases in your list are slang words? Find other words in the letters that are examples of slang.

Construct a chart as below, choose six slang words or phrases to place in the chart and then work with a partner to try and work out an explanation for how these slang words were created/ came about?

Slang word Your explanation Original Explanation

From the list of Anzac Slang terms, write in the original meaning. Indicate in some way which of your explanations were the same or very close to the original.

For the Teacher

Decoding Aussie slang

These activities involve students looking at the function of language.

Students use the new and unknown words and phrases highlighted in the previous activity. Using an Interesting Words chart (reference: First Steps Reading Resource Book page 67). Teachers may need to explain contextual clues (Any help given with meaning?) and could select some words from the letters as examples.

Students then identify slang words in their list or elsewhere in the letters. Students work in pairs to try to work out an explanation about six of the terms and place their predictions into a chart.

Give students are given a list of Anzac Slang terms in which they are to locate the origin of each term and write into the chart. You can find more terms at the Australian War Memorial site. 

18. Slang and Australian Identity

For the Student

Put the following eight sentences in the correct order to show how the use of slang by Australian soldiers contributed to Australian identity.

  • Others praised the Australian soldiers for their bravery.
  • Using the slang made the soldiers feel like they were a unique group (the English soldiers couldn’t understand them).
  • Soldiers made up slang to describe what was happening at Gallipoli, eg ‘he came a gutzer’.
  • Feeling like they belonged to a unique group encouraged the soldiers help and support each other, eg they shared rations when they were scarce.
  • Using slang made the soldiers laugh and humour helped them to bear the hardships of war.
  • After the war Australians recognised the importance of the qualities of bravery, ‘having a go’ and mateship and adopted them as their own so that they became part of the Australian identity.
  • A large number of Australian soldiers used these words in speech and in writing so it became a common language for them.
  • Australian soldiers developed a reputation for bravery, ‘having a go’ and mateship, eg when an Australian soldier was injured, another Australian soldier would act bravely to rescue him even in the face of gunfire.

Do you agree with these statements? Why or why not? Discuss in your groups and add the key points from the discussion to your notes.

Watch this YouTube video on Australian Slang.

Fig. 15: Australian Slang

For the Teacher

Language and identity

This activity looks at the impact of slang upon the Australian soldiers and in the long term Australian identity.

In groups, students sequence statements about the links between slang and Australian identity. Encourage students to think about how a common language becomes part of the identity of certain groups, eg skaters, musicians, sportos etc. Parallel this to the use of slang by Australian soldiers as a part of their identity and how this has continued to the present times.

Cut up the sentences into strips and ask students to work in groups to sequence them correctly. Once they feel they have in right, ask them to see if they work in a different order. This will enable them to discuss the statements in more detail.

19. What’s in the Letters?

For the Student

In pairs, look over the soldiers’ letters again and make a list of the type of things they included in their letters, eg Asked about…? Told about….? Wrote to? Compare your list with another pair and then report back your findings.

A class list of topics included in soldiers’ letters will be produced.

Fig. 16: Soldiers writing letters from Gallipoli

For the Teacher

Examining the field

This activity provides knowledge about soldiers’ experiences.

Students look over the copies of the letters as seen previously and make a list of the general topics soldiers wrote about, asked about and who they wrote to.

After students report back, a class list of topics will be compiled.

20. Analysing the Language and Setting Out of Letters

For the Student

Linguistic Features - Mode Examples - Field Effects - Tenor
Personal endearments
Statements of sentiment
Informal tone
Signal words to show time
Questions/statements of inquiry
1st (I/we) & 2nd (you) pronouns
Concise language
Simple past tense
Action verbs

For the Teacher

Examining the mode

This activity is essential in supporting students’ writing of their own letter in the Applying activity.

Students study an annotated letter to identify structural and language features. Reference: First Steps Writing Pp.128-129

Using another example, students annotate using the terms identified in the first example.

Letter Structure

Orientation - greeting, time and place

Body - details of the communication)

Prompt - parting/ farewell

21. What do We Gain from the Letters?

For the Student

What is the purpose of letter writing? What is its purpose during wartime? Groups report back their ideas after discussion and record the main ideas in your workbooks. Then in your group, complete the chart to look at who gains from letters.

What is Gained?

Using the information in the chart, write a PEC paragraph that answers the question: What is gained from the letters written home by soldiers?

Fig. 17: Propaganda at Home

For the Teacher

Examining the Tenor of the Letters

Students use a placemat for the discussion of the purpose of letter writing, especially in war time. This will deepen students’ understanding of the importance of letter writing.

22. Writing from Gallipoli

For the Student

Imagine you are a young soldier at Gallipoli in 1915. Write a letter home to a family member, friend, girlfriend or wife, about your experiences. An alternative to a letter could be a postcard. On one side you could draw an image with a careful choice of angle, framing and colour; on the reverse, write a shorter message from a soldier at Gallipoli. Both must include some slang and details about the food, living conditions and the fighting.

Fig. 18: Writing Letters Home was Important

For the Teacher

Letter from Gallipoli

This final activity is the culmination of students’ learning.

Remind students to use their note taking chart for accurate details and remember the items they saw at the War Memorial. Also tell them that it is important to look back at the types of things they identified that soldiers placed into their letters and to remember the purpose of letters. The project rubric will also guide them.

Project Rubric

23. Acknowledgements

The original version of this learning module was written by Anne Dunn, Rita van Haren, Prue Gill, Jessica Klein, Rachael Radvanyi, and Christian Riley.

Title: (Source); Fig. 1: (Source); Figs. 2 & 3:Original photos by Lanyon High Teachers; Fig. 4: (Source); Fig. 5: (Source); Fig. 6: (Source); Fig. 7: (Source); Fig. 8: (Source); Fig. 9: (Source); Fig. 10: (Source); Fig. 11: (Source); Fig. 12: (Source); Fig. 13: (Source); Fig. 14: (Source); Fig. 15: (Source); Fig. 16: (Source); Fig. 17: (Source); Fig. 18: (Source).