Teaching point of view can be both challenging and fun. The Common Core State Standards includes a point of view standard at each 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 – Anchor Charts
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 the 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].
Activity #2 – Free Product on Teachers Pay Teachers
The anchor chart on the right, tells advantages and disadvantages for using 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 point of view. Identifying first, second, and third person points of view is only the first step. The anchor chart on the left provides general definitions for 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.
Activity #2 – Free Product
The handout also contains this free activity your students are sure to love!Activity #3 – Printable Anchor Chart
In an earlier blog post, this free printable anchor chart was provided. On the blog post, full instructions are given for printing the page to use as a handout on a standard 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper or for printing it poster [size 20 by 30 inches] to use as an anchor chart. Printing the small size for student notebooks and the large for a classroom display is a great option.The questions 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. To practice using this set of questions, you can download for free Chapter 3 from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Novel Study. Students are so familiar with this story, that using Chapter 3 only works well. Activity #4 PowerPoint
I created this PowerPoint to use when teaching the novel Hatchet. The PowerPoint contains short excerpts from Gary Paulsen 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 Using Animated Shorts
This link takes you to a sample from my Using Animated Shorts to Teach Reading and Writing Skills Series. Students watch the video Oktapodi and then complete the handout which is provided on perspective.