CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.6 Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.
Getting Started with Poetry
To begin our lesson on point of view, we read Shel Silverstein's poem Point of View. (Click on the image for your own copy!) This poem shows how our meals have a very different perspective on dinner than we do. It is a fun little introduction and gives kids a good laugh. At this point, we also talked about how we often tell different versions of the same story. For example, two kids might have an argument at recess. Each of them tells the story completely different. This also happens with professional writers.
Modeling with Anchor Chart
Next, we created an anchor chart that explained the meaning of point of view. I read aloud the book Voices in the Park. This book tells the story of one encounter in the park through four different points of view. On our anchor chart we recorded how each point of view affected the story. We noticed that the characters portrayed one another very differently in each version.
Students glued a copy of the anchor chart into their reader's notebooks and recorded the information as we went along. This provides students with a reference point later when they're working on their own.
Then, we jumped right in with two articles about the Great Depression. My students were slightly familiar with this historical event. I selected two short articles from Scholastic. One article was an interview with a woman that grew up during the Great Depression, and the other article was about the real "boxcar children." Both articles were about children growing up during the Great Depression, but one was from someone that actually lived during that time. The other was simply created through research. With these articles, we talked about the difference between the perspective of someone who was actually there and someone who was not. One was much more emotional, while the other was simply facts.
The next pair of articles was a a big hit with the students. These articles also came from Scholastic, but were about Tommy Thompson's discovery of the shipwrecked Central America and its large treasure. There is a large controversy surrounding the finding of this treasure and who it rightly belongs to. It was interesting because after reading the first article, the students believed Tommy Thompson was in the right. They thought he worked hard and deserved that treasure. (Mainly because this is what the article says.) After reading the second article, they decided Tommy was selfish, greedy, and some even called him a criminal. (It is reported that Tommy has not paid his investors or crew.) After reading both articles, I asked students which author described Tommy Thompson accurately. Was he hardworking, or was he greedy and selfish? After much debate, we decided that he was probably somewhere in the middle. We also wondered if we were missing other important details to the story.
With each pair of articles, we completed a graphic organizer comparing and contrasting the two stories based upon their points of view. (Click either image for a copy of the graphic organizer.)
After this lesson, my students and I will continue to read texts with a critical eye, carefully considering the point of view of our author. You can't believe everything you read!
How do you teach your students to be critical readers?