Lesson 1: What’s the Point of View?
America Street | 870L
- Learning Goal
- Identify the point of view in multiple short stories, including third person limited and omniscient.
- Approximately 2 Days (35 minutes for each class)
- Necessary Materials
- Provided: Point of View Handout, Point of View Example Chart, Pointing out the Point of View Example Chart, Pointing out the Point of View Worksheet (Student Packet, page 6)
Not Provided: Chart paper, markers, America Street edited by Anne Mazer
Before the Lesson
Read and complete the Student Packet Worksheets for “The Wrong Lunch Line,” “No Guitar Blues,” “The White Umbrella,” and “Hamadi.”
Activation & Motivation
Have each student turn and share a memory with a partner. When the student shares the memory, he or she should go into some detail, describing what happened and how he or she felt. Next, ask students to share their partner’s memory with the class. Repeat this with more than one student.
will explain that the memories we heard were told from different points of view. When you shared your memory with your partner, you spoke using “I.” For example, “I remember the taste of my grandma’s chili.” When your partner shared your memory with the class, she/he spoke using the third person. For example, “Jason remembered the taste of his grandma’s chili.” Just like when we retold our stories, short stories also contain a point of view. In a story told from the first-person point of view, the narrator tells the story and is a character in the story. In a story told from the third-person point of view, the narrator tells the story from someone else’s viewpoint and is not a character in the story.
I will review the two different types of third-person view: third person limited and third person omniscient. Both points of view are written as though a narrator is telling the story and is not a character in the story. However, third person omniscient is written as if the narrator is watching all that is happening and knows what each character is thinking. Third person limited doesn’t include the character’s thoughts, while third person omniscient does. For example, a sentence told in third person limited, could say, “Jason remembered the taste of his grandma’s chili.” In third person omniscient, the sentence might sound like this: “Jason remembered the taste of his grandma’s chili and thought to himself he’d like to have a big bowl right now.”
When we are reading short stories, we want to know who is telling the story. Is it the main character? Another character in the story? An all-knowing voice beyond the story? This is the point of view. I will use the Point of View Handout to explain how to identify the point of view of a short story. One way to figure out the point of view is to look for pronoun clues in the text. For example, the pronouns “I” or “We” are used to identify first person. “His,” “Her,” “They,” “Him,” “She,” etc. are used to identify third person. To distinguish between third person omniscient and limited, I will look for evidence of character thoughts. It is important to note is that there may be dialogue in the story. If you see “my” in dialogue quotations, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are reading a story written from the first person point of view, because the speaker of that quotation may not be the narrator.
I will identify the point of view in “No Guitar Blues.” As I begin reading the first paragraph aloud, I will look for pronouns. I notice that in this first paragraph that “he” and “his” are used in reference to the main character, Fausto. As I continue to read the story, I will gather evidence about point of view. As I read, I see that pronouns associated with third-person continue to be used. I will write these clues on chart paper. Note: See the Point of View Example Chart for additional details and examples.
I will look at my clues and draw a conclusion about which point of view the story is written in. I can conclude that “No Guitar Blues” is written in the third person because of the pronoun usage and the story being told by a narrator who isn’t part of the story. If the story were written in first person, it would sound like this: “The moment I saw the group Los Lobos on ‘American Bandstand,’ I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life—play guitar.”
Since the story is written in third person, I will then identify if the story is third person limited or third person omniscient. I will ask myself, “Does this third person story share information about what the characters are thinking?” To answer my question, I will continue to read the story. If I come across information about a character’s inner thoughts, I will write these details on my chart. I will explain that the author shares information about what Fausto is thinking in paragraph 3 and beyond. I will write this information in my chart. By reading the text, I can conclude that “No Guitar Blues” is written in third person omniscient. Fausto is referred to with the pronouns “his” and “he”, and the narrator talks about Fausto’s ideas and feelings, even though the narrator is not present.
Ask: "How can I figure out the point of view of a text?" Students should respond that they can look for pronoun usage to determine if a text is written in first person or third person. To determine if the text is written in third person limited or third person omniscient, they can look for text that describes thoughts or feelings the character might have.
will determine the point of view in “The White Umbrella.” We will reread the story together and then read the excerpts found on the Pointing out the Point of View Example Chart. Note: These examples can also be directly read from the book. Ask: "What pronouns are being used in the excerpts?" We see that “I,” “my,” and “me” are used. We will continue reading aloud to see if these pronouns continue throughout the story, making sure that they are not simply in dialogue quotations. We will conclude that “The White Umbrella” is written in the first person point of view. We will write this on our chart and explain our reasoning.
will reread “Hamadi” and then examine several excerpts on the Pointing out the Point of View Worksheet. (See page 6 in the Student Packet.) You will identify any clues that help you determine the point of view, including pronoun references, being careful about dialogue quotations, and references to the inner thoughts of a character. You will use the clues to explain how you came to the conclusion about the point of view in “Hamadi.”
will come back together to share our findings about the point of view of “Hamadi.” We will engage in a class brainstorm. Ask, "If this story were written from the two other points of view, how would it be different?" For example, it would use different pronouns for first person, and Susan would be telling the story rather than the narrator. For third person limited, the story would not include information about Susan’s inner thoughts or feelings.
Build Student Vocabulary diverted
|Tier 2 Word: diverted|
|Contextualize the word as it is used in the story||When Mona and her sister are waiting for their mom, the piano teacher, Miss Crosman gives them a white umbrella to stand under in the rain. In the car, the girls hide the umbrella from their mom, but she keeps asking what they are hiding. They hit the car behind them. The main character says, “I was relieved to have attention diverted from the umbrella.”|
|Explain the meaning student-friendly definition)||Diverted means to become distracted or to draw attention away. When the main character says that she was relieved to have attention diverted from the umbrella, she meant that she was relieved to have her mother’s and sister’s attention focus on the car accident rather than on the umbrella.|
|Students repeat the word||Say the word diverted with me: diverted.|
|Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts||The crash diverted my attention from reading. The principal’s announcement diverted the students’ attention during the lesson.|
|Students provide examples||What has diverted your attention? Start by saying, “My attention was diverted when ____________________.”|
|Students repeat the word again.||What word are we talking about? diverted|
|Additional Vocabulary Words||nonchalantly, distracted, mimicked, stupendous, tedious, wail|
Texts & Materials
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