Teaching points of view can be both challenging and fun. The Common Core State Standards includes a Point of View standard for each upper elementary grade level.
Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.
Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.
Clues to Tell Students
Teachers often simplify the skill by asking students to examine the pronouns. I agree. Looking at pronouns is a great place to start when identifying first, second, and third-person points of view; however, much more needs to be considered.
Look at this excerpt from How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell.
Alan and Joe and Billy turned to look at him.
“What’s the matter with you?”
Silence. A bird flew in and then out through a broken window in the loft.
“Well,” said Billy. “Yeah. I see what you mean.”
Notice the excerpt contains pronouns from first, second, and third-person points of view. Here is what I do…Tell students to find a bit of conversation in the novel. Next, ignore the words the person/people says/said, and focus directly on the source phrases [the who said it part of the sentence]. Does the narrator use names or the pronouns he or she? “Billy said…” “He said…” If so, the novel is written in third person point of view. Likewise, if the source phrase contains, “I said,” the writing is first.
While this method is just the beginning to understanding point of view, I find it is a great place to start.
FREE Teaching Ideas for Point of View
Activity #1 – Point of View Organizers
Activity #2 – Point of View Activity with Advertising Slogans
Make teaching point of view fun with advertising slogans. In this activity, students sort slogans by 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person point of view.
The printable contains 32 cards for students to sort. Here are just a few you will find:
Have it your way. [Burger King]
We do chicken right. [Kentucky Fried Chicken]
Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh, what a relief it is! [Alka-Seltzer]
Note: This handout contains both the organizers pictured above and the advertising slogans.
Activity #3 – Printable Anchor Chart
The questions on the chart ask students to evaluate why the author selected the specific point of view. The questions help students practice the CCSS 5th grade standard. Also, note that the printable may be used with any novel or short story.
This anchor chart can be printed on a standard 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper or size 20 by 30 inches poster size to use as an anchor chart. Printing the small size for student notebooks and the large for a classroom display is a great option.
Using Adobe Reader to Print
With Adobe Reader 10 or newer, you can print posters by splitting the document across multiple sheets of paper called tiles. After printing, you piece the tiles together. If you have an older version of Adobe Reader, you can update to a newer version with a free download here: http://get.adobe.com/reader/
- Choose File > Print
A pop-up menu will open. Select the “Poster” option under “Page Sizing & Handling.” The poster is set to print 20 by 30 inches. This will tile over 8 pieces of paper. This size fits perfectly on the standard 22 by 32 inch flip chart. If you select “Size” in place of “Poster,” your poster will fit on a standard 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper.
Activity #4 PowerPoint
I created this PowerPoint to use when teaching the novel Hatchet. The PowerPoint contains short excerpts from Gary Paulsen’s novels for students to identify the point of view. The PowerPoint also covers other story elements. Since it is not locked, so you can easily delete the slides not related to point of view.
Activity #5 – On the Web
Quia Point of View Million Game Students practice by answering questions about point of view using a fun game activity.
Point of View Song This fun song from Flovocabulary is sure to be a hit with students. It goes over definitions in a fun way.
Activity #6 – Anchor Chart Inspiration
This first anchor chart provides students with a general overview of first, second, and third-person points of view. It shows which pronouns to use as clues as well as examples of the same passage from different points of view. I recommend using something like this as an introduction for younger students [fourth graders or lower] or a review for older students [fifth grade or higher].
The anchor chart provides advantages and disadvantages for using the first-person point of view. In this download, you will find charts for students to list the advantages and disadvantages for first, second and third-person points of view.
Common Core challenges students to look more deeply at points of view. Identifying first, second, and third-person points of view are only the first step. This anchor chart provides general definitions for the limited, objective, and omniscient points of view. If you teach fifth graders or higher, students must also describe why authors use different points of view.