Point of View is the standpoint from which a story is told. First Person is told from the view point of one of the characters using the pronouns “I” and “We.” Third person limited the narrator is an outside observer that focuses on the thoughts and feelings of only one character. Third person omniscient the narrators an outside observer who can tell us the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in a story. Third person objective the narrator reports the facts of a narrator as a seemingly neutral and impersonal outside observer.
I want students to be able to identify and write with different points of view. After a short mini lesson on point of view I give students a photography from Diane Arbus. Diane Arbus was an American photographer from the 1960s. She photographed a wide range of subjects including in New York City including, carnival performers, people with dwarfism, children, mothers, couples, elderly people, and middle-class families. “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know,” she once mused.
Students look at the pictures and select one to write a narrative based on the point of view selected. You can make a copy of the activity here.
Another way to teach point of view is to view this short film “plastic bag” (2010) by Ramin Bahrani.
Follow up with these questions:
- Who is telling the story?
- How do they see the world?
- How is it different than how you see the world? How is it the same?
- Why does the filmmaker chose to tell the story this way?
- How does the filmmaker see the world?
- What message is being communicated?
A longer point of view activity might be to have students imagine they are a plastic bottle being thrown away in the trash instead of being recycled. Maybe you are a candy wrapper tossed in the hallway, a textbook full of scribbles or a library that can’t stand noisy kids.
- Create a story from the point of view of an object in your school that has a problem.
- Get into a group of 4-5 other students and brainstorm issues in your school. Choose one and develop a stance or viewpoint you want to take. What is the issue and how do you want to help.
- What object could help tell your story. What is the problem the object has? How can it be fixed? Perhaps you want to create a slogan or tagline to make other students aware of the problem and how they can help.
- Create a storyboard to communicate your message through actions and images. Who has the problem, how do they try and solve it? How can others help?
If students are reading a book they might use this point of view checklist to help identify and analyze the point of view the text is written in.
What point of view is your text written from? Use examples from the text to support your answer.
How would the text change if it was written from a different point of view?
Whose viewpoint is missing from the text? What effect does that have on the text?
Create a journal entry for one day from the main character’s point of view. What information will you choose to include?
What can you infer about the author’s interest or attitude towards the topic in the text you read?
If the text was rewritten to be a news article, what details would have to be taken out to make it unbiased?
Choose two quotes that show the author’s point of view.
Here is one more video to help teach point of view.