In literature, the point of view is the perspective from which the author tells the story. If the story is told in first-person, a character recounts events, while third-person refers to stories told from the author's point of view. Some writers also use second-person in which they refer to the characters as "you" and make the reader a character, but this form of writing is rare. Teachers can demonstrate how to identify and recognize point of view to middle-school students through exciting and engaging lessons.
Pass out several short paragraphs written in first, second and third person, or just first and third person if that is the focus of your lesson. Ask students to read the paragraphs and decide which point of view is used. Then have them share their conclusions with a partner, discussing their reasoning and making changes if necessary. On a bulletin board, mark the different point of view and have students pin the paragraphs under the correct point of view to create a reference board for future use.
Rewrite a Story
Have students read a short story written in third-person. Discuss the story, events and characters. Then ask the class to choose a character and rewrite the events from that character's point of view. Remind them that they can only use details, thoughts and feeling associated with that character. Read the new stories aloud and discuss how the story changes when the point of view changes. By choosing stories with several characters, you can see varied viewpoints as learners select different characters to use for their writing.
With middle-school students, you may not typically think of using fairy tales, but these stories are perfect for teaching point of view. Review several popular fairy tales, such as "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," "The Three Little Pigs" or "Cinderella." Ask students to retell the story from the villain's point of view. For example, using the perspective of Goldilocks, the wolf or the evil stepmother will change the story by allowing readers to feel some sympathy for otherwise dislikable characters. You can make the lesson more exciting by inviting students to read their creations aloud to younger children at an elementary school.
Act it Out
Group students in threes or fours. Give each group a topic to act out, such as deciding on a game to play after school or choosing what to eat for lunch. Then give each group a different point of view from which to present a short play. For example, if the play is done in third-person, the group will need a narrator to explain certain parts of the story while other plays might be presented from the first-person viewpoint of the mom, sister or brother. Ask students to work together to write a short skit and present the skits to the rest of the class.
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images