Tuesday, July 20, 2010

teaching point of view

While reading Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (adolescent fiction) I got lost in the text. The story is about a teen who just died in a car crash. It opens with the thoughts of her (brother???) At the end of the first chapter I had that ahah! moment. The narrator was not her brother, it was her DOG! Of course as an adult reader I had to go back in the text and find out where I went off track. Did the author give me clues that I just outright missed? The kids I teach wouldn't think critically like I would at this moment. They would feel lost and confused, then bored, and then they would give up on the book entirely. When we do the MCAS release question Mrs. Frizby and the Rats of Nimh many times the chidren are unable to tell that the speaker is a rat. If you can't determine who is speaking, comprehension breaks down. How do you teach children to identify when a story is being told by a different point of view? Start with picture books. I love Anthony Browne's book Voices In The Park. It is the simple story of a day in the park told from four points of view. The characters all tell the same story but they tell it differently. I also use the Dear Mrs. Larue series by Mark Teague. Both stories have funny pictures to support young readers as they learn about a new concept such as point of view. The Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume and Tight Times by Barbara Shook Hazen are also good stories to use.Throughout the year, when I use my narrative elements glove, I try to tackle point of view. Later on in the year after reading Shiloh by Phillis Reynolds Naylor I have the children write a summary from the dog's point of view instead of the narrator, Marty Preston. Its important that children realize that a story can be told by one person, many different people, an animal or a non living thing such as a house or a tree. As an adult reader I know that point of view is a literary technique authors use, children need to be taught to think like that.Students need lots of experience identifying the narrator and understanding from whose perspective the story is being told. They need to be shown how to identify the clues in the text that show the reader who is speaking.  Those ahah! moments are teaching moments so be sure to reread and discuss that its the dog or the rat or the tree that is in charge of telling us this story this time. Christine

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