Point of View really sets the tone of a story and influences the feel of the story for the reader. If a story is told from a character’s Point of View, you get to be in their head and experience the story from their perspective. When a story is told from a narrator’s Point of View, you get to see the whole picture and experience it from an outsider perspective. There are a few layers to Point of View that can be taught in steps. The first objective is for students to understand that Point of View is the voice that is telling the story, which is usually either a character or a narrator. The second layer is identifying the Point of View as First Person (character) or Third Person (narrator). It’s important for students to understand that the Point of View heavily influences their reading experience so identifying the Point of View will give them a deeper understanding of the story being told.
I like to spend a sufficient amount of time on each strategy to allow for an introduction, modeling, scaffolding, independent practice, assessment, and reflection. Therefore, I spend approximately 1 week on each strategy and follow a similar instructional routine. This is day 1 of Point of View Week – Introducing the Strategy.
Connection: I always start by connecting today’s lesson to something kids have previously learned so that it triggers their schema and background knowledge. Since this is the first they are learning about Point of View this year, I make a connection to “bird’s eye view,” which they have learned about in Social Studies in earlier grades. I tell them that the way birds see the world is very different from the way we see the world. I then show them a piece of construction paper. What the students don’t know is that the construction paper is double sided, white on one side and black on the other. The white side is visible to the students while the black side is facing me. I tell the students I have one simple question: what color is this paper? They all say white. I respond by saying, “No, this paper is black.” A friendly debate ensues as I tease the students that the paper is black and they insist that it’s white. Eventually, I tell them that we are both right! I show the students the other side of the paper and tell them that from their Point of View, where they were seeing, the paper was white. But from my Point of View, where I was seeing, the paper was black. We all agree that we were both right. Then I re-introduce the term POINT OF VIEW from a story perspective.
Teaching Point: This is when I tell kids explicitly what we will be working on. I say, “This week, we will be focusing on Point of View, which is the voice that is telling the story.” I tell them that it is important to understand the Point of View of a text so that they can experience the story from that voice’s perspective. I show students our current Read Aloud book, Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing (Blume, Judy. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. New York: Puffin Books, 2003. Print). I ask students whose voice is telling this story and they say Peter Hatcher. In the story, Peter talks about his annoying little brother, Fudge, and shares stories where Fudge looks like a troublemaker. I then pose the question, “How would this story be different if it were told from Fudge’s Point of View?”
Active Engagement: This is where students get to try out the strategy that I just taught them. I give them a minute of thinking time and then ask them to turn and talk to their reading partner to share their answer. I love to hear their discussions about this because they most often fully understand that the story would be completely different and Fudge would probably make it seem like he is just an innocent little boy while Peter would seem like the annoying brother. I tell the students to turn back and then call on a few to share their ideas.
Link to Ongoing Work: During this portion of the mini-lesson, I give the students a task that they will focus on during Independent Reading time. Now that I’ve introduced Point of View, I tell them that when they are reading today, their job is just to notice the Point of View of the books in their browsing boxes. I explain that most books are either told from a character’s Point of View, which is when we get to hear his/her thoughts and feelings as they experience them, or from the narrator’s Point of View, which is an outside perspective looking in on the story. I want them to notice who is telling their story, a character or a narrator. At the end of Reader’s Workshop, they will meet with their assigned reading partner to discuss what they noticed. I remind them that I will randomly choose a few students to share so that they make sure to complete their task.
Transition Time: Every day after the mini-lesson, students get 5 minutes of Prep Time to choose new books (if needed), find a comfy spot, use the bathroom, and anything else they might need to do to prepare for 40 minutes of uninterrupted Independent Reading. I set it up that way so that students have no reason to get out of their spots. They are expected to have 5 books in their browsing box at all times so if they finish a book they have others to choose from without moving around the room. They are also expected to have a pencil and sticky notes in their browsing boxes in case they need them for the day’s task. I strongly encourage them to use the bathroom so they do not need to go during reading time. At the end of the 5 minute Prep Time, I do a countdown, 5 4 3 2 1, Level 0 (referring to volume level). By the end of countdown, students must be in their spots and silent with all of the materials they need to sustain their reading. They must follow the distance rule of arm’s length apart from any other student. They are not to get out of their spots for any reason so that they can focus on their book and their task. Because I use Independent Reading time to work with students one-on-one or in small groups, I really stress to the students that the teacher is not available to everyone during this time. I encourage them to problem solve on their own and hold all questions or comments until the end of Independent Reading time. All of this takes practice but once it is all in place, Independent Reading becomes a magical time when students are engrossed in their books and the teacher is free to meet individual needs of students through conferencing, strategy groups, or guided reading.
Guided Practice: Today, I would be conferencing with students right at their comfy spots and asking them to explain the Point of View of the book they are reading. This is also when I could pull students for assessments, one-on-one reading, strategy groups, or guided reading groups.
Closing: At the end of 40 minutes, I remind students that their job during reading time was to notice the Point of View of their books. I ask them to repeat the term, Point of View. They were asked to notice whose voice was telling the story, a character or a narrator. Then I ask them to meet with their reading partner to share what they noticed about Point of View. I also pose the question, how did they know? After partners have had a chance to share with each other, I ask a few students to share with the class. I then tell the class that we will focus on Point of View for the rest of the week. Reader’s Workshop has come to an end so students put their browsing boxes away and make sure the library is neat and organized.