April 21, 2013

Minilesson Idea: Introducing Point of View using Constructivism

One of my goals this year as a teacher and a literacy coach has been how to bring the constructivist/inquiry theory deeper into the classroom.  I know that there was a time in my teaching career where I would have introduced point of view to my students by having them take notes on the definitions of the different types of point of view.  It seems fair and simple enough, right? Having the privilege to be in 12 different classrooms throughout the week has given me the opportunity to see the true empowerment that the teachers who provide the constructivist/inquiry approach bring to their students' self-worth as learners.

While meeting with the eight grade team of language arts teachers a week or so ago, we discussed how to approach teaching point of view to students since this was a concept that they should already be familiar with from previous years.

Here is the idea that we came up with:

Minilesson Statement: "Readers can identify point of view in fiction reading so that they can analyze the author's purpose and choices in selecting that point of view."

Modeling:  Have pieces of white chart paper hung on each wall of the classroom.  On the four different pieces, label them: First Person, Third Person Objective, Third Person Omniscient, Third Person Limited, and Other.  Walk around the room with your current independent reading books.  While doing a book talk on your books, explain to the class why you believe the different titles are either first person, third person objective, their person omniscient, third person limited, or do not fit into one of the categories.  Write the titles (underlining them) onto the appropriate white sheet of paper.

Have-a-go: Have students take their current independent reading books and walk around the room to write the point of view of their books onto the appropriate chart on the wall.

Application:  Underneath the minilesson statement that students wrote down, have them write about the point of view of their current independent reading book by providing evidence of why it is the point of view that they think it is.  Other questions to have students consider about the point of view of their independent reading book are:
-Why do you think the author selected this point of view to tell this story?
-How would this story change your perspective as a reader if it were written in a different point of view?

Share:  Have students share their independent reading book with the class, which point of view it's written in, and how they know that.

Follow-up:  As a class, create working definitions of the different points of view to write and hang on anchor charts throughout the classroom.  For the "other" category talk about how some authors write books that don't fit neatly into one of the categories.  As a class, make names and definitions for point of views that would be considered "other".  For example, a book that is written in first person throughout but changes characters each chapter might be called "first person omniscient".  A few examples of books written this way are Seedfolks and Wonder.  

*Having this discussion as a whole class gives students ownership over what they are learning and gives them the opportunity to not just write down a boring definition and not have to think about it or engage in it.  Stepping outside the box and allowing students to construct that knowledge together as a class will make it stick with them!  I also would recommend leaving the charts up so that students can continue to add to them as they read more books.

Hope you enjoyed this idea for your middle school language arts students!  Have a relaxing Sunday evening! :)



  1. I love this! I especially like that you have them use their own independent book to connect to the lesson. That's real world kind of reading!! :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. Thanks, Brandee! I find that whenever I have students connect what we're learning to either an interactive read aloud or their independent reading book, it seems to go a long way!


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