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Four Activities to Teach Narrative Point of View

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Teaching students to identify narrative point of view in literature and write in a consistent perspective can be pretty dry material, but with these five activity ideas, your lesson will go from blah to ah-hah!

Using Excerpts

Use short story and novel excerpts to teach each of the narrative points of view. Using mentor texts is helpful when practicing different writing structures, and similarly, studying excerpts written in different points of view will reinforce this learning. If possible, using excerpts from texts already read in class can help students to make meaningful connections between various contexts. You can provide students with a reference sheet containing these excerpts, or conduct an activity like stations, or a gallery walk for students to analyze different excerpts to determine the narrative point of view.

Changing Perspectives

A great way to help students understand how writers use point of view and how narrative choices can impact a story, is to have students rewrite a portion of a piece of writing in an alternate point of view. For example, using a piece of writing in first person, and rewriting it in third person omniscient. Through this activity, students can assess which point of view they found more enjoyable as a reader and whether they would have made different narrative choices than the writer of the material. For this activity, students can use any novel or short story around them, or you can provide them with a list of approved links to sites containing novel excerpts. One site that I’ve used is earlybirdbooks.com. 

Another, more visual option is to provide students with a page of text from a novel (photocopied or printed from the Internet) and ask them to find all of the pronouns or proper nouns that would indicate point of view and black them out with a marker. Then students would go through the text and change all of the blacked out sections to tell a story in a different point of view.

POV Proofread

A great activity to help students practice proofreading their own writing with an eye for consistent point of view is to model this process with an example piece of writing that shifts point of view throughout. Demonstrate how this process requires the proofreader to decide which point of view would be most effective and then correcting the piece to be cohesively written in that perspective. You can then have students work individually or in groups to correct another piece of writing on their own. Groups can present to the class the narrative choices they made in their proofreading process. 

Another option to reinforce this learning would be to provide each group member with a slip of paper indicating one of the narrative points of view. Then the group participates in a story chain activity where each group member adds a line or two to the last line written, but has to write in the point of view they were assigned. Then the group must correct their writing for consistent point of view, or trade papers with another group for this part. 

Name That POV Tune

Once students have practiced identifying different narrative points of view, a fun game to reinforce their understanding is to divide the class into teams and then play a few lines from a song. The first team to “buzz” in and state which point of view the song is written in wins a point. You can set a winning total, for example, the first team to get ten points wins. Prepare a playlist with different points of view so that the game remains challenging.

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