Dossier of Discovery: M-O-T-H-S!

article by Louise Molloy , illustrated by Fifi Colston

Learning Intention:

I am learning to differentiate between objective and subjective language so that I can identify bias in media articles.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify objective and subjective language.
  • I can identify biased language in media articles.



Draw a T-chart on the board. Explain to students that you will be putting adjectives (describing words) for Bugs Bunny on the board (note: rather than Bugs Bunny, you can choose a character you know your students are familiar with, such as the protagonist of the current class novel or a famous movie character). Tell the students that the categories the adjectives are being sorted into are a secret. If students figure out the categories, they can offer a suggestion to add in one of the columns.


For example:

Column A Column B




Three-foot-three (height)







See if students notice that both the words “interesting” and “boring” are in Column B (if you are using a different character, ensure there are two opposite words in Column B). Guide students towards what that might mean for the category. When enough students are correctly sorting adjectives into the columns, reveal that Column A is using objective language (or facts) and Column B is using subjective language (or opinions). Explain that if something can be measured or proven, it’s objective.


Understanding text:

Read through M-O-T-H-S! as a class or listen to the audio recording if you have a digital subscription. Have students make note of objective and subjective language as they read, recording it into their own T-charts. They may need time afterwards to check for words they’ve missed, as there are a lot.

Example subjective words: weird, wonderful, amazing, fantastic, unusual, fabulous

Example objective words: highest frequency recorded, small, dry, sleep, imprinted


Discuss the word “munched” by asking the following questions:

- What does it mean? (To eat something steadily and audibly)

- What are some synonyms? (Eat, chew, chomp, crunch)

- What sort of impression does the word “munch” give? (Playful, relatable – like munching on a carrot stick)

- Looking at the subjective words in the article and thinking about how the word “munch” is used, what bias do you think the author has about moths? How does the author want the reader to feel about moths? (Students should realise the author thinks that moths are interesting and wonderful, and wants the reader to think that too)


Creating text:

If you have a digital subscription, complete the interactive activity Bias in News Articles.


Sort students into groups of three or four. Provide groups with appropriate news stories. This can be done using local newspapers, online media sites or by the sample articles at the end of this section. Explain to students that sometimes it’s harder to find the bias in news stories than it is in M-O-T-H-S! Tell them that to help, some questions they can ask after reading the article is:

- What is the point of this article?

- How do I feel about the topic after reading it?

- Are they my personal feelings, or how the journalist wrote the article?

- What words did the journalist choose that might’ve affected how I feel?

- Who does the journalist quote in the article?

- Who in the story missed out on being quoted or having a say?

- Why did the journalist choose to include these particular people’s words?

- What photographs are used for the article?

- How do the photographs help with the article’s bias?


In their groups, students read their article and discuss what the bias is, and how language in the article is used to sway the reader. When finished, groups can present their findings to the class.


Sample articles (taken from ABC):


Note: Some articles are more complex and/or longer than others – select according to capability levels for each group.


Assessment for/as learning:

Each group swaps their article with another group, who reads it and agrees or disagrees with their findings and points out anything in the language or bias they might have missed.