When we think about teaching point of view, we immediately think of 1st person or 3rd person. But this is only the beginning of the journey for our students. Point of view (or Literacy CCRA.R.6) can be a difficult standard to teach. In second grade, students are expected to use different voices for the different characters in a text. At a glance, this doesn’t seem very difficult. But when we take a closer look, there’s a lot more involved.
This point of view standard requires students to analyze the character before determining how their voice should be read. What is the character like (traits)? What is the character feeling? How would the character say something in the situation? What is the character’s point of view about the situation? How should one character’s voice be different than that of another’s? That’s a lot to consider for a second grader!
Since understanding point of view in third grade is dependent on students’ analysis of the character’s traits, feelings, motives, and responses to other characters or the events in a story, naturally it would make sense to incorporate Literacy CCRA.R.3 when teaching point of view. This is where we have opportunities not only to bridge grade level expectations but to weave together other standards in our approach.
With the right text and guidance, we can make use of every opportunity to engage students in making these connections as they go deeper with the text and integrate standards. The following are a couple of approaches I have found conducive to successfully doing this. These include how to select the perfect read aloud that lends itself to teaching POV & perspective.
Using Narrative Poems for Teaching Point of View
Using a narrative poem like Shel Silverstein’s Crocodile’s Toothache is a perfect example. It has a topic with which most students can relate: going to the dentist or having a toothache. It has a speaker that tells the story 3rd person, and it has a lot of dialogue and action between two very animated characters: the evil dentist who has no consideration for the crocodile’s feelings and the crocodile who is in agony and at the mercy of the evil dentist. It’s humorous. It’s of high interest to students. It’s easy to analyze the characters’ traits, feelings, and motives by what they say or do.
More importantly, students can take it to the next level by making connections with the crocodile’s situation and making inferences about the characters’ points of view regarding the value of teeth (i.e the dentist plucks away at them as if they don’t matter, while the crocodile cherishes them for obvious crocodile reasons). With this understanding, students can also determine their own point of view based on their own experiences and feelings about their teeth or visits to the dentist.
I can’t express how much I value the use of narrative poetry to organically weave together these learning targets so seamlessly.
- Students can begin by using character graphic organizers to analyze characters to determine their traits and feelings.
- They can use these inferences about their traits and feelings to interpret the voices and expressions they will use while reading the characters’ dialogue. (hitting the 2nd grade point of view target)
- They can also interpret the speaker’s voice/expression by paying close attention to repetitive words, onomatopoeia, and punctuation.
- Students can consider the characters’ traits, feelings, motives and responses to a situation to help them determine the characters’ point of view or perspective about the situation or topic.
- They can make text-to-self connections with the crocodile and his predicament to determine their own point of view.
- They can also practice their fluency by reading and rereading this short text.
That is a lot of intentional instruction with just one text! When we can repurpose a text for a close read and to get students digging deeper into the text, it’s a win-win for both teachers and students.
I encourage you to try it out. For my free resource that goes with this poem sign up for my free resource library to get this and exclusive resources I offer on my website.
The Relatable Aloud
Another approach I use to introduce point of view to my third graders is the relatable read aloud. When we offer our students stories that are fun, of high interest, or are about a topic with which they can easily relate, students get it.
In third grade, students not only have to determine a character’s or narrator’s point of view, they have to ask themselves whether they agree or disagree with either of these perspectives. This means they have to evaluate the point of view of the character or narrator based on their own experiences, beliefs, values, feelings, or attitudes about the topic or situation presented in the story. This brings RL.6 to a higher level of thinking, especially since we expect students to justify why.
When students can naturally connect with a text because they can easily relate to the topic or story situation, or they can make connections with the character’s experience in the story, it makes this expectation much more tangible for them. If we begin with these types of texts, students are better equipped to express their perspectives and why they agree or disagree with the character’s or narrator’s point of view based on their own experiences, beliefs, values, feelings, or attitudes.
Selecting the Perfect Read Aloud for Teaching Point of View
Some read aloud recommendations that are ideal for introducing point of view and assisting students’ success with these expectations are:
The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt
I Wanna Iguana, by Karen Kaufman Orloff
Hey, Little Ant, by Phillip & Hannah Hoose
The Ant Bully, by John Nickel
Three Hens and a Peacock, by Lester L. Laminack
Below are a few things to consider when seeking out other story titles that could work just as well.
For engaging, no-prep activities for teaching point of view and perspective, please visit my store for this resources. This toolkit focuses on RL3.6 & RL4.6.