Perspective Makes All The Difference: Identifying Character Point of View
Lesson 9 of 15
Objective: SWBAT grasp character's point of view in order to understand the character motivations and both directly stated and implied by events in Chapter 15 of "To Kill a Mockingbird" by interviewing one of the characters in front of the Maycomb courthouse that night.
This past Saturday was National Pretzel Day, and I use this to introduce class and to foreshadow this week's Friday Favorite vote on style of pretzel. As always, Daily Holidays serve to "hook" students and build a sense of community and student ownership in the classroom.
In our last class, students began step one of "Perspective Makes All The Difference" (Grading Guide), creating a list of interview questions to ask one of the characters present at the Maycomb Courthouse when the lynch mob comes for Tom Robinson. This assignment, the first created by our Professional Learning Communities, is a common assessment across all Grade 10/English II classes. The assignment was designed to provide students an opportunity to study character (not narrative) point of view can impact what is directly stated in a text and what is really meant (RL.11-12.6)*, as well as how Scout, a complex character in her own right, interacts with other characters (RL.9-10.3), and how those other characters interact with her.
*We are working at the 11-12 band for this assignment, as students are focused on the point of view of an American character, in an American novel.
Students are given five minutes with their literature circle groups to select the two strongest (of the five) questions they posed.
Once groups have selected the questions, a representative form each group shares their selections with the class, as I type up the list. We revise questions as need to deal specifically with the scene presented in Chapter 15. The compiled list of questions from the group are posted as a reference. In both the short discussion with their groups, and the whole-class sharing that follows, students qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented (SL.9-10.1d).
These questions will be drawn upon in expert groups focused on one character. Students will answer these questions from the perspective of this character, as if they were interviewed, in order to analyze the characters' points of view, and how point of view may differ based on who is telling the story/events.
As students selected their questions, I handed each a random playing card. These cards, Ace through 6, determine which expert group they are in, matching the numbers on the Perspective Makes All The Difference directions (e.g. Ace is Jem, 2 is Dill, etc.). Students find their matching cards, and with these peers, select the five questions that they feel they can answer best from the compiled list of questions from the Literature Circle groups. Options, rather than specifically assigned questions, are given in order to provide the students with flexibility accurately mimic the "voice" of that character: diction, speech patterns, etc. in order to imply what the character would literally say and what he or she would connotatively mean (RL.11-12.6). By selecting those questions most applicable to the character's point of view, as not every question may appear readily relatable to a certain character. Students have read this section of the novel, and are prepared for a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas (SL.9-10.1a).
These expert groups then discuss how their character might answer the questions, drawing on the character's development up to this point, interactions with others (both in this scene and other events in the novel), and connection to the themes of the novel (RL.9-10.3). I circulate the classroom, observing, offering clarification and listening to discussion. I also engage groups to explain their questions and answers, to check for understanding.
Each student is asked to write their answers to the questions, as they will be moving on to jigsaw groups, and sharing the character's perspective with students who addressed the other five characters, presenting their information so their group members can take accurate notes (SL.9-10.4), and write a paragraph recounting that night from a third (not Scout or their expert group) character's point of view (W.9-10.10).
With two minutes remaining, I ask students to move their desks from pods back to rows, and adjust this week's schedule so that tomorrow will be a Jigsaw group day, followed by independent work for their next Literature Circle group meeting. Students should begin the next section of the novel for homework, since we will lose some scheduled work time tomorrow to complete the perspective activity.