How Did it Happen: Writing in First Person Perspective

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SWBAT write using the first person perspective in order to tell a story.

Big Idea

Instead of just saying that they had an experience, students write what happened in a step-by-step way that introduces the experience to the reader.


5 minutes

This lesson teaches students to write using first person perspective. After reading students’ drafts, I notice that one of the reasons that their stories are not flowing well is because they are skipping back and forth between what is happening in the moment in their story and their reflections of the future. They are not writing in first person. I decided to teach this lesson because many of them need this skills to continue growing as writers.

I introduce this lesson by describing the three typical types of perspectives: first, second, and third. I give them examples using books that they have read:

Third: Harry Potter

Second: The Name of This Book is Secret

First: Percy Jackson


I explain that when we tell a personal narrative story or a true story about ourselves, we tell it using first personal perspective. That means we use “I" statements and describe things as they happen in order.


5 minutes

To demonstrate how to revise your writing, I read a sample story and show them how I identify a section that wasn’t written in first person. I model my thinking by thinking out loud, “How do I know that my friend is bored? I wouldn’t unless something happened or she told me.” So I think back to the moment and try to remember what happened. "My friend told me she was bored and just wanted to play." I add that part into the story.


I ask students to repeat the steps I took to revise my writing. I call on one or two students to tell the class that first, I read my writing, looking for places that might not be in first person and ask myself how I knew that information or would I have known that information in that moment. I then think back to the moment and describe what actually happened.

Try It Out

5 minutes

Now it's their turn. I finish reading the short story and ask them to look for another place I could revise. I ask them to identify that section with a thumbs up. Once they find it, I ask them to turn and talk, figuring out a way to revise the writing. Although they do not know what happened in my story, I ask them to pretend it was their story. How would they write that moment in first person? I ask a few students to share out loud what could be changed.


After they try it out, they go back to their own seats and work on revising their own writing.


5 minutes

Once they have had a chance to revise their work, I ask a few students to share out loud. I ask them to read what they had first in their draft and then what their revised writing sounds like. I provide on the spot feedback to acknowledge their writing practice and to restate the strategy for students that are still unsure and need more examples before they fully understand.