Dossier of Discovery: Petrichor - The Smell of Rain

article by Maura Pierlot , illustrated by Fifi Colston

Learning Intention:

I am learning to interact verbally in an appropriate way for different audiences so that I can communicate effectively in my interactions.

Success Criteria:

  • I can listen actively, take notes and repeat what has been said
  • I can interact with classmates in an appropriate manner during group work
  • I can deliver a presentation to the class with a specific audience and purpose in mind
  • I can recognise the need to change the language used to suit the audience and purpose of the presentation.


Understanding text:

Prior to reading the text, hand students the Dictogloss template from the Department of Education’s Digital Learning Selector.

If you have a digital subscription, listen to the first paragraph of the ‘Dossier of Discovery: Petrichor – the Smell of Rain.’ If not, read the first paragraph of the article out loud to the class. Do not provide the text for them to follow along for this listening activity.

It will be helpful for students to have the word ‘Petrichor’ displayed on the board.

Students listen to the paragraph twice with a short break in between. They are to take notes in the first space, then after the second listening, they are to try and recreate the paragraph.

After they have had time to complete their paragraph, hand students a copy of the magazine, or display on the screen. Students compare their paragraph with the one they have listened to and in the final space on the worksheet they are to note any differences or missing information.


Oral language and communication:

Read or listen to the rest of the article.

Prepare the class for a small group activity by discussing the following:

  • When speaking to a small group of classmates, how formal does your language need to be?
  • In a small group discussion, how can you make sure everyone has a chance to speak?
  • If you are actively listening to your classmates in your small group, what does that look like?
  • If your small group is not taking turns or listening to one another, what can you do to improve the interactions?
  • What can you do if two people in your groups strongly disagree with one another?


Now the class is ready for the small group work. Give groups the following questions to discuss and allow them time to work through the questions.

  • How would you describe the smell known as petrichor?
  • What scientific facts do we know about petrichor?
  • Would you like to wear perfume/cologne that included petrichor?
  • Why do you think the Australian singer, Paul Kelly, wrote a song about this scent?
  • Petrichor is a much-loved scent. What do you think is the best scent/smell in the world?


Creating text:

Assign each group a particular audience and purpose from the following list, making sure that each group has a different audience and purpose and there are no double ups. Do this secretly, so that the groups do not know what the other groups are working on (perhaps hand groups a sticky note or a slip of paper sealed in an envelope with their task in.  Once the audience and purpose are assigned, small groups work together to prepare a spoken presentation or role play. Allow time for rehearsal, utilising an outdoor learning space where possible.

  • Audience: The CEO of a perfume company; Purpose: You are an apprentice perfume maker trying to convince the CEO to create a new perfume based on your group’s favourite scent in the world.
  • Audience: Paul Kelly and his band; Purpose: You are a songwriter trying to convince the band to include a new song you have written about another unique scent (decided by the group)
  • Audience: The whole class; Purpose: You are a year 6 student delivering a factual presentation about petrichor and its origins.
  • Audience: Your parent or guardian; Purpose: To answer their daily question ‘What did you do at school today?’ with a recount of the article.
  • Audience: Television news viewers, Purpose: You are a television news journalist presenting a news feature on drought breaking rain and the effect of the petrichor scent on people and animals.


Groups take turns to present, they do not reveal their audience and purpose prior to the presentation. Students in the audience are encouraged to engage in active listening. After each presentation, ask the class the following questions:

  • Who was the audience?
  • What was the purpose?
  • How did you know?
  • How formal was the language and structure of the presentation?
  • What would happen if the person/people spoke in a different way in this scenario?


Assessment for/as learning:

Students complete an exit ticket which answers the following question:

  • Why is it important to change the language and structure of your verbal interactions according to the audience and purpose of the interaction?