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Teaching Point of View

Students are often required to identify the narrator’s point of view on reading standardized tests.  This page will show you an effective way of teaching students how to identify the narrator’s view point.

1. Define and Explain Each Point of View: There are five possible view points from which a text can be narrated.  First, you must explain each perspective to students.


  • First-Person: The narrator tells “I” or “my” story.  Also, this may be “we” or “our” story.
    Ex: We went to the store.
  • Second-Person: The narrator tells “you” or “your” story, usually used for instructions.
    Ex: First, you should wash your hands.
  • Third-Person Objective: The narrator tells “his” or “her” story and does not reveal any character’s thoughts or feelings.  Characters may reveal their feelings through actions or dialogue.
    Ex: He walked down the street.  A man drove by and yelled, “Hey, watch where you’re going!”
  • Third-Person Limited: The narrator tells “his” or “her” story and reveals one character’s thoughts or feelings.
    Ex: Sad that his girlfriend had left him, Ben wasn’t paying attention as he walked down the street.  A man drove by and yelled, “Hey, watch where you’re going!”
  • Third-Person Omniscient: The narrator tells “his” or “her” story and reveals more than one character’s thoughts or feelings.
    Ex: Sad that his girlfriend had left him, Ben wasn’t paying attention as
    he walked down the street.  Tom was also having a bad day, and as he was driving by Ben, Tom tried to startle him: “Hey, watch where
    you’re going!” Tom yelled intimidatingly.

Check out this point of view lesson in your web browser or PowerPoint application.

2. Give Students Practice Identifying First, Second, and Third-Person Narration: Take some random books from your bookshelf.  Inform each student that they should identify whether the text is first, second, or third-person by holding up one, two, or three fingers.  Ask student who answer confidently how they were able to identify the narrative perspective of each text.  Continue until students consistently identify the point of view or tire of the activity.  Sometimes students have trouble distinguishing dialogue from narration.  Just remind them that we are interested in the narrator’s point of view, not the character’s.  We are therefore examining narration, not dialogue.

3.  Stress the Differences Between Third-Person Narrations: Students are generally able to identify whether at text is first, second, or third-person fairly quickly, but they tend to have more trouble distinguishing between objective, limited, and omniscient narration.  That is why it’s important to explain the difference very clearly: the only difference is whether the narrator reveals character’s thoughts and actions. Sometimes students have difficulty recognizing when the narrator reveals a character’s thoughts.  Tell them this useful analogy: “Imagine that you are watching the narrated events through a camera lens.  Anything that you could see or hear is an action or behavior.  Anything that you could not see or hear is therefore a thought or feeling that the narrator reveals.

4.  Give Students Practice Identifying the Narrator’s Point of View: Now that they understand point of view, they just need ample practice examples and opportunities to reinforce their learning. Here are point of view activities and point of view worksheets to help reinforce your students learning. They may also get a kick out of playing this awesome point of view video game.

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Common Core State Standards Related to Point of View

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 – Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Expand to View All Common Core State Standards Related to Point of View
ELA Standards: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.6 – With prompting and support, name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.6 – Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.6 – Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.6 – Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.6 – Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.6 – Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.6 – Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.6 – Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.6 – Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.6 – Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6 – Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).

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Common Core Lesson and Unit Plans
Understanding Common Core State Standards

 

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16 Comments

  1. bryce

     /  April 17, 2017

    This is the best thing ever

    Reply
  2. Jerlyn Zara

     /  August 18, 2016

    Thank you so much. I have been part of the writers group in making Lesson Exemplar. Your activity sheets have been so helpful. God bless you more!

    Reply
  3. Linda

     /  February 22, 2015

    Thank you so much, Mr. Morton!

    Reply
  4. yazmin

     /  September 17, 2014

    good job

    Reply
  5. Jeanne

     /  February 5, 2014

    Thank you SO much for these wonderful resources! I am in my first year of teaching middle school language arts, and these have been so helpful as our district does not have many Common Core aligned resources to use.

    Reply
  6. Mr. Green

     /  November 30, 2013

    Thank you so much for these Ideas, I’m a first year teacher and this is very helpful!!!

    Reply
  7. Jane

     /  November 25, 2013

    Great examples and having the answers helps so much!
    My fourth grade student believes this will help her with her test tomorrow!

    Reply
  8. Is your website worksheets, powerpoints etc. free to use? I am teaching my first year of language arts and I find this information very helpful. Please let me know.

    Thank you

    Reply
  9. Kennedy Kemple

     /  April 6, 2013

    I am going to use your idea of having the students hold up one finger for first-person point of view idea.

    Reply
  10. Kristin Schroeder

     /  September 18, 2012

    Mr. Morton, “You’re the subject of my sentence!”

    Reply
  1. Teaching point | Hinteler

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