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Whose Side of the Story?
Students will be able to rewrite a story from the point of view of another character.
- Pose the following scenario: There is a person at school who is bullying you. He has been teasing you and even taking your things without permission. One day, the principal calls you both into his office. He asks what has been going on between the two of you. Would you and the bully tell the same story? How would the stories be different?
- Remind students that a narrator is the person who tells a story. Explain that the same story may change depending on who the narrator is. For example, if a robber robbed a store and somebody witnessed it, the robber and the witness would probably have two different stories about what happened.
- Ask students: What factors may change the way a narrator tells the story? Some examples you can suggest are the narrator's interests, background, past experiences, motivations, etc.
- Tell students that today they will be looking at the same story or event from the point of view, or perspective, of two different narrators.
Explicit instruction/Teacher modeling(10 minutes)
- Pass out the Biography: Christopher Columbus worksheet to students.
- Tell students that as they read, they will be deciding if the narrator talks about Christopher Columbus in a positive, negative, or neutral way.
- Read the article aloud as students follow along.
- After reading, ask students to turn and talk with a neighbor and determine the way in which the narrator talks about Christopher Columbus..
- Discuss findings as a class. Students should determine that the article is neutral or positive when talking about Christopher Columbus. Make sure students refer to the text to support their answers.
Guided practice/Interactive modeling(40 minutes)
- Tell students that they will be completing the same exercise, but with a different text—a historical fiction book called Encounter.
- Tell students that as they listen to the text, they should write down all of the words used to describe Christopher Columbus and his companions. This will help them decide if the narrator speaks positively, negatively, or neutrally about Christopher Columbus.
- Read the text aloud to students, pausing to ask clarifying questions if necessary.
- Ask students: What terms were used to describe Christopher Columbus and his men? Are these words positive or negative?
- Tell students to discuss the following question: *How did the story change when it was told by this narrator? Why do you think the story changed? As a hint, tell them to think about each narrator's motivation, background, experiences, etc.
- Discuss the answers to these questions as a class.
Independent working time(20 minutes)
- Tell students that they will now write the same story from the point of view of a third narrator—Christopher Columbus.
- Tell students to think about how Christopher Columbus would tell this story. Would he talk about himself positively or negatively? How would he talk about the Native Americans? What types of words would he use when describing himself versus the native people?
- Give students ample time to write 2-3 paragraphs about the story of Christopher Columbus from his point of view.
- Enrichment: Explain what "bias" is to advanced students. Have them come up with a list of media types where bias may be present. Ask these students: Why is it important to be able to identify bias in something you read or watch on TV?
- Support: Develop a word bank for struggling students to use during the writing assignment. Tell students that they should use some of these words when describing Christopher Columbus and the Native Americans. Include words such as: smart, adventurous, loyal (Christopher Columbus) and helpless, clueless, confused (Native Americans). However, do not tell students which words to use for which characters.
- Use students' stories to determine their understanding of how a story changes based on the narrator.
- Make sure students used positive words when describing Christopher Columbus and neutral or negative words when describing the Native Americans.
Review and closing(5 minutes)
- Pose the following question: Based on what you learned today, why is it important to think about who the narrator is when you hear a story?
- Have students discuss this question with a partner, and then have some students share with the whole class.