Teaching 3rd graders how to find the point of view of the narrator or character in a story can be a head-scratcher sometimes. Don’t they recognize how the character feels? Why aren’t they picking up the clues that help the reader know who is telling the story? Instead of frustration, let’s think about how to help them be successful. This quote hits the nail on the head, “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” – John Lubbock. So, the question is, “Are we helping our students know what to look for?”
What is Point of View?
Before Reading Activities
When we want students to look for evidence of the character or narrator’s point of view, we must point them in the right direction. For that purpose, I love starting the lesson by creating an anchor chart, which could look like the one pictured below, “What is the Point of View?”
The point of view is who is telling the story and how they feel about the events.
The focus then is for students to learn how to find that. Understanding what the first, second, and third person are and how they will find it is where I start. Listed on the anchor chart are pronouns with examples for each category so that students have a reference to use while reading.
This sets the groundwork for the next step of the lesson.
What steps should students use to determine who is telling the story and what is their point of view? This second anchor chart is a valuable tool for students and you! These steps guide students through the process in a way that makes sense for them. I like to specifically highlight the phrase what the character feels, thinks, or acts in step 3.
The last thing I do is set the purpose for reading. Each student receives the list of five questions I want them to consider while reading:
- Who is telling the story?
- Who is the main character?
- What are the main events?
- What is the speaker’s point of view?
- Do you agree or disagree with the speaker?
During Reading Activities
While students are reading the text for the first time, I want them to actively take notes. There is plenty of space in the margins of this story, but I give them this note-taking sheet during reading. I want to make sure they are actively engaging with the story and the questions keep them focused on the purpose.
Their answers may not be exactly correct, but that’s okay because this is just the first read. I know they will deepen their comprehension during the 2nd reading coming up.
Sequencing the Events of the Story
After 1st Reading
Right after the first reading, I have students complete this sequence graphic organizer. Immediately writing down the beginning, middle, and end of the story helps kids remember most of the important details. Of course, I encourage them to go back to the text for the information they need. Again, this doesn’t have to be perfect.
What the Character or Narrator Feels, Thinks, or Acts
Re-Read the Story
In order for students to truly understand the story and be able to respond to it – they are going to re-read it a second time. Again, I encourage them to use the guiding questions, to take notes, and remember that we are looking for what the character feels, thinks, or acts.
During the second reading, students will truly begin to understand the character and pick up on those clues that tell them the point of view.
If students are having a hard time determining how the character feels, thinks, or acts – ask them how they would feel if they were the character. Putting themselves in the story will really help them identify with the character. Not only that – the 3rd grade standard for Point of View includes distinguishing their point of view from that of the character!
Character Point of View Comprehension Questions
After the 2nd Reading
Using these comprehension questions to help students dig deep into the story will show you how well they have understood the skill that is targeted in this lesson – the character or narrator’s point of view.
One way that I have found to be very effective is to have students cite text evidence when answering comprehension questions. This not only forces them to “prove” their answers but teaches them to go back and find the answer. No guessing or sort of answering. Actual text evidence is required.
If your students need help knowing how to cite text evidence, this FREE reference chart can really help!
Writing a Summary
The last activity I want my third-graders to do is write a summary of the story. This activity does two things:
- Gives them valuable practice writing a summary (which they usually need)
- Reinforces their overall knowledge of story structure.