The Big Bad Wolf: Analyzing Point of View in Texts
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Many students read without questioning a text or analyzing the author's viewpoint. This lesson encourages sixth- through eighth-grade students to question what they are reading by providing them with the language and skills needed to analyze a text. Students learn to look at the author's purpose, examine multiple viewpoints, and also recognize gaps in the text. By reading two versions of the same tale and completing an interactive Venn diagram, students recognize that there are not only different versions of a story, but also different viewpoints to consider when reading. Extension activities include debating a fairy tale using different character viewpoints.
- Fractured Fairy Tales: Students can use this tool to read revise familiar stories in a variety of ways.
- Online Venn Diagram: Use this interactive online tool to help your students compare and contrast differing viewpoints in texts.
- Venn Diagram mobile app: Use a tablet device to compare and contrast differing viewpoints in a text.
- The House: An original tale from the lesson author that will help your students further explore differing viewpoints and perspectives.
From Theory to Practice
- Stories are not reflections of reality but are selective versions of it, told from a particular view.
- The author positions the reader to respond to a story in particular ways through the use of language, point of view, etc.
- There are a number of approaches to the teaching of critical text analysis, including juxtaposing texts, supplying alternative endings, role-playing, and role reversal.
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).
- 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.
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 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
- The Three Little Pigs (at least two different versions of the tale)
- The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf by Jon Scieszka (Dutton Books, 1995)
- Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Jane Yolen (Magic Carpet Books, 2001) [optional text]
- A wide selection of fairy tales for reference
- 2 sheets of chart paper
- A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (Aladdin Paperbacks, 2001) [optional text
|1.||Create an overhead of The House.
|2.||Obtain copies of the texts listed above under Materials and Technology as well as other fairy tale selections. You can also encourage stuudents to bring in books from home.
|3.||Review and bookmark on computers students will be using the online references listed above under Student Interactives and Websites.|
- Describe key information of a text from a prescribed viewpoint
- Discuss differing viewpoints
- Discover the importance of viewpoint in a text
- Compose alternative viewpoints of a selected text
1. Opening activity
Divide the class into two groups. Explain that they are going to be reading a short piece of text and their task is to remember as many details as possible from the text. Tell one half of the class that they are burglars and the other half of the class that they are real estate agents, without divulging the roles to the opposite groups. Turn on the overhead of The House and read it aloud to your students. While you are reading, students should not be taking notes. Once the reading is complete, turn off the overhead and ask students to list as many details as they can remember about the house from the text (e.g., descriptions of rooms, items located in the house, layout of house). This part of the activity should be limited to 2-3 minutes. Students then share their lists within their group. (For larger classes, students can be broken into 4 groups, 2 for each prescribed role.) Distribute chart paper to each group so that students can record their lists. Hang both sheets of chart paper on the front wall of the classroom. Discuss the similarities and differences between the two lists, and allow students to guess the viewpoint of the other group. Discuss whether the lists would be different from another viewpoint (e.g., child, interior decorator, pet dog).
2. Before reading
Activate students' prior knowledge by asking for volunteers to retell the story of The Three Little Pigs. Most of your students will have some background knowledge of this popular fairy tale; however, each student will have a slightly different recollection of the story.
3. Read aloud
Read aloud two different versions of The Three Little Pigs. You may select a traditional version [e.g., The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall (Dutton, 1989)] and a culturally diverse version [e.g., The Three Little Cajun Pigs by Berthe Amoss (MTC Press, 1999)]. Depending on your needs, you may choose to use different cultural versions with your class. Model a compare/contrast of the two versions by using an online Venn Diagram or Venn Diagram mobile app. This activity serves as a model for the next part of the lesson.
4. Online investigation
Schedule time in your computer lab for this part of the lesson. Group students in pairs at each computer and have them investigate the SurLaLune Fairy Tales website. Working with a partner allows students to engage in discussion throughout their investigation. Partners will then select two different versions of the same tale and complete a compare/contrast using the online Venn Diagram or the Venn Diagram mobile app. Students should print their Venn diagram when this task is completed.
5. Follow-up discussion
Upon returning to the classroom, talk about and share the different versions of the fairy tales that were explored on the SurLaLune Fairy Tales website. Some interesting discussions usually develop at this point and students often want to go back to the website to look at other tales. They can use the computers in the classroom or visit the website at home.
Introduce the next story by engaging students in a discussion about gossip and rumors. Talk about what happens when they overhear something in the hallway and how the spreading of a rumor can often be misinterpreted. This gives students something that they can identify and connect with in their own daily lives.
7. Read aloud
Read aloud The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf.
8. Wrap up
Discuss similarities and differences between this text and a more traditional story of The Three Little Pigs. Draw on different versions of fairy tales from the SurLaLune Fairy Tales website using students' Venn Diagrams. Students recognize the purpose of the lesson; the focus being that there are not only different versions of a story, but different viewpoints to consider when reading a story.
9. Writing activity
Students are to select one fairy tale and rewrite the tale from the viewpoint of a different character or object within the tale (i.e., a "twisted tale"). Students can use the books selected from the library or online Web resources to help make their selection. Although you may encourage students to use a favorite fairy tale from their childhood, they may also choose a new tale that they have never read before. You might also choose to have them write their story using the Fractured Fairy Tales online tool, which allows students to rewrite The Princess and the Pea, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Little Red Riding Hood.
Depending on the group of students, it may be necessary to provide additional examples of "twisted tales" to help with their writing activity. Some additional resources are the online Cinderella Project, Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales. Typically, these stories can be read aloud in class on each day of the lesson to give students more examples and models for their own writing.
10. Author's share
Students share their "twisted tales" with the class. Their tales can be read in front of the class or their point of view can be shared. Collect a copy of the story for assessment purposes.
Students answer the following questions for the fairy tale they selected:
- How does the way the text is written help shape your interpretation?
- How does this text lend itself to alternative interpretations?
Note: These questions were selected from: A Measure of Success by Fran Claggett (Heinemann, 1996).
- Create a classroom book containing all of the "twisted tales" written by students.
- As a social studies extension, discuss how history is usually told from a particular viewpoint. In addition, culturally diverse versions of tales can be integrated into units of study.
- Storytelling. Students learn how to tell their story in front of an audience (e.g., a class of younger children).
- Debating. Select volunteers to debate one version of a tale from different character viewpoints. Students should already be familiar with debating.
- Mock trial. Use The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf as a model for this activity. Students volunteer for different roles (e.g., judge, jury, lawyers, 3 pigs, wolf). Most students are familiar with courtroom proceedings from television programs. Some guidelines should be developed ahead of time. For example, lawyers are limited to "time on the floor" to present their arguments and the judge and jury make the final ruling. The model tale can be followed by new "court cases" based on the "twisted tales" that students have written.
Student Assessment / Reflections
- Observe the dialogue between students and anecdotal notes based on class discussions.
- Review students' Venn Diagrams to make sure they understand key elements about fairy tales and how to compare them.
- Review students' "twisted tales;" check to see if they understand how to write from varying viewpoints.
- Review students' journal responses to the questions
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