Story Writing from an Object's Perspective
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Students explore how to write from an object's perspective. The teacher uses a picture book, Dear Mrs. La Rue, to introduce the idea of writing from a non-human's perspective. A mini-lesson follows in which students work together to define the word "perspective." Students collaboratively write and share a short example of writing from a pencil sharpener's perspective. Students ultimately write their own stories from an object's perspective after reading the model story. This lesson takes multiple days as students prewrite, draft, revise, edit, and publish their stories.
From Theory to Practice
In this lesson, students learn to write from a perspective far from their own. Instead of writing about themselves, other humans, or even animals, students write from an object’s perspective. This type of writing process is developmentally challenging because, as Deborah Dean explains, “writing about a topic from different perspectives can help writers explore the topic and learn more about what they know and what they still need to learn.” By writing from a perspective other than their own, students can challenge their insights and assumptions by investigating the world from an unfamiliar vantage point.
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
- 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Materials and Technology
- Dear Mrs. La Rue by Mark Teague
- Screen/overhead to display materials
- Internet access
- Inanimate objects such as shoe, pencil, chair, notebook, cell phone, water bottle
- Whiteboard/chalkboard and markers/chalk
- Dear Mrs. La Rue Read Aloud Procedures
- Perspective Definition and Examples
- Exit Slips
- Perspective Match-Up Cards
- Perspective Group Practice Writing Prompt
- Perspective Story Model
- Perspective Story Pre-Writing
- Perspective Story Pre-Writing Model
- Editing and Revising Checklist
- Perspective Writing Rubric
Candlewick Press offers an excerpt from the story The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, a story from a china rabbit’s point of view. Provides excellent modeling of perspective writing.
- Familiarize yourself with the book Dear Mrs. La Rue.
- Print out the following hand-outs for student use: Perspective Definition and Examples, Exit Slips, Perspective Match-Up Cards, Perspective Group Practice Writing Prompt, Perspective Story Model, Perspective Story Pre-Writing, Editing and Revising Checklist, and Perspective Writing Rubric.
- Sort students into pairs.
- Gather inanimate objects used by students regularly such as a pencil, chair, shoe, cell phone, water bottle, umbrella.
- explore perspective by asking questions and reflecting on the text during the reading of a picture book.
- explore perspective by practicing with definitions and examples.
- design a one page story from the perspective of an inanimate object using the complete writing process.
- Gather students together and read Dear Mrs. La Rue using the following ideas and questions as guidelines:
- Introduction: Have you ever wondered what pets think about? Introduce basic plot and ask students to pay attention to Ike’s interpretation of story events compared to his owner’s.
- Middle of Story: Discuss the author’s use of black/white pages compared to colored pages. What do each represent?
- End of Story: What did you notice about Mrs. La Rue’s opinions during the story compared to Ike’s? Why did this happen?
- Send students back to their seats and pass out Perspective Definition and Examples printout. Introduce this task to students by explaining that Dear Mrs. La Rue dealt with looking at life from the perspective of a dog. Similarly, the two pictures on the page show how perspective can impact someone’s beliefs. Tell students to use Dear Mrs. La Rue and the two pictures on the printout to write their own definition of perspective. Emphasize that this is just practice- it is okay if they are not fully correct!
- After students have studied the example and created their own definitions, give them one minute to share their definitions with two classmates.
- Once students have each shared their definitions, hold a brief class discussion to agree upon the definition. Students will write that definition on their printouts, and the teacher will write the definition on the board. (Possible definition: a person’s opinions or feelings based on how he/she views a situation)
- Now that a definition has been agreed upon, challenge students to brainstorm three examples of instances in which people might hold different perspectives. Give them two minutes to do this, then have them share their examples.
- End this session by passing out an exit slip of your choice from the Exit Slips printout. Students fill out exit slips and turn in before leaving. Read these before the next session to gain insight into students’ understanding of lesson.
- Review the idea of perspective with students by mixing up the Perspective Match-Up Cards and handing one to each student. Explain to students that there are two types of cards: One has a picture and a question, and one has a phrase. Students who receive a picture/question must find the phrase that matches, and students who receive a phrase must find the picture/question that matches. Give students a few minutes to circulate around the room and find their matches. Instruct students to buddy up with their partners. Once they have found their partners, move around the room with their partners to find the other set of partners that have the same picture. Once all four students have found each other, they should sit down and read each other’s cards.
- Now that students are seated in groups of four, hold a brief discussion in which students explain how their group’s pictures, questions, and phrases show different perspectives. Refer to the definition of perspective agreed upon in the previous lesson. (Ex: a person’s opinions or feelings based on how he/she views a situation)
- Ask students to return to their seats. Explain to students that they will now be working with a partner to create a short one-paragraph story that shows the perspective of the classroom’s pencil sharpener.
- Place students into pre-determined pairs and ask students to move to sit with partners.
- Pass out or display Perspective Group Practice Writing Prompt. Read the prompt with students and re-emphasize class expectations (work quietly with partner, write one paragraph only, show clearly the pencil sharpener’s feelings and opinions about being a class sharpener, work efficiently).
- Allow students 15 minutes to craft their written paragraph. While students work, circulate between groups and offer support, suggestions, and compliments.
- Let three student groups volunteer to share their writing. After each student reads, allow the class to make positive comments. Teacher gives positive reinforcement and makes suggestions when possible.
- Explain to students that in the next lesson they will choose an inanimate object to write “A Day in the Life of a ________” story from the object’s perspective.
- Begin this session by displaying inanimate objects that students use regularly: shoe, chair, pencil, water bottle, phone, notebook
- Ask students to stand up if they use at least two of the displayed items at least once a day. Have students sit back down.
- Introduce task to students: They will write “A Day in the Life of a ________”: a story from the object’s perspective. Discuss how the objects displayed are used every day and thus can become excellent main characters in a story. Explain that students will pick one of the objects displayed to use as character in story. If students have alternative object they’d like to use, they must have teacher approve the idea.
- Display/project the Perspective Story Model and read aloud as students follow along.
- Discuss with the class how this story depicts the laptop’s daily life with its owner. Ask students to raise their hands to share the strengths of the story. Make a list of these strengths on the board (i.e. interesting vocabulary, chronological order, specific descriptions), along with suggestions for improvement.
- Explain to students that they will begin their prewriting for their own stories at the end of class, but first they will create a practice pre-writing with the entire class. Pass out Perspective Story Pre-Writing printout to each student. Review this printout with students and emphasize expectations.
- Using the Perspective Story Pre-Writing Model as a teacher guideline, use Shared Writing to work with the students to complete a practice version of the Perspective Story Pre-Writing. Do this by agreeing on a class topic such as “A Day in the Life of a Mailbox”. Complete the process with students by allowing them to share ideas and by providing feedback and structure that will help students identify proper pre-writing procedures.
- Give students the rest of the session to complete their personal pre-writing. Circulate as students work to provide support.
- Either collect prewriting organizers or instruct students to store them securely.
- Explain expectations to students: students will receive, read, and practice with the Perspective Writing Rubric, which will be used for grading the stories.
- Pass out Perspective Writing Rubric to each student. Read and discuss with students. Emphasize expectations and reiterate that this will be used to assess their stories.
- Display Perspective Story Model from session three and explain to students that they will work as a class to assess this story using the rubric.
- Using student participation and teacher guidance, assess the model story in each rubric category. Students who disagree on a grade should come to a shared decision.
- Explain to students that they should staple this rubric to the bottom of their stories when handing stories in to teacher.
- Either collect rubrics or instruct students to keep themfor the next session.
- Explain expectations to students: they will use Perspective Story Pre-Writing and Perspective Writing Rubric guidelines to create their rough drafts.
- Keep the Perspective Story Model displayed for students as they write
- Provide students with paper or computers for writing. As students work quietly, circulate through the classroom and provide support to each student.
- When the working period is over, collect rough drafts/rubrics or instruct students to keep them securely. Explain to students that tomorrow they will edit and revise their work with a partner.
- Pass out Editing and Revising Checklist to each student.
- Read this checklist with students and review each expectation. Explain that students will work in previously assigned pairs to peer-edit using the Editing and Revising Checklist.
- Give students the rest of the period to work with their partners using whisper-voices. As students work quietly, circulate through the classroom and provide support to each student.
- When the working period is over, collect rough drafts/rubrics or instruct students to keep them securely. Explain to students that tomorrow that will begin writing/typing their final copies.
- If students are typing final copies, provide students with computers and provide any necessary computer instructions before students begin working.
- If students are handwriting final copy, provide students with paper if needed and provide any desired instructions for final copy format.
- As students work quietly, circulate through the classroom and provide support to each student.
- Explain to students that for homework they must bring in their chosen object for tomorrow’s presentations (i.e: if a student used a shoe as his object, that student must bring that type of shoe to display when presenting). Students who may have difficulties bringing in the necessary object should work with the teacher to find a solution (the teacher or another student could provide the needed object).
- Split the class into four groups of 6-8 students.
- Explain expectations to students: They will be orally presenting their stories in their groups, using the objects they brought from home as their props. Each group will need to keep a list of the story titles on a piece of paper, along with a brief summary of each story.
- Students spend the rest of the period meeting with their groups, listening to each other’s stories, responding constructively, and recording titles and summaries.
- At the end of class, students hand in stories to be assessed. The teacher can post these stories on a bulletin board with the title “A Day in the Life of...”
- Students can take pictures of object and create a PowerPoint or video presentation using the pictures. Students can record their voice narrating the story as the pictures are shown.
- Students can exchange stories and write an alternative ending or sequel to each other’s stories.
- Students can use ReadWriteThink Book Cover Creator to design a story cover.
- Students can use the idea of perspective writing in an applicable social studies/history unit by writing two stories about the same historical event but from the perspectives of two enemies or different historical figures.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Use Exit Slips to evaluate student understanding and comprehension of lesson.
Conference with students during the writing process to ask them questions and evaluate their progress, strengths, areas of concentration, and use of the writing process.
Use the Perspective Writing Rubric to assess stories.