What were you thinking?!

Group of five children thinking

My 9th grader had to write an article on the government and differing points of view on who was responsible for the fiscal cliff issues.  For most adults, this would be a difficult task to sort out, particularly because most of us would write with a bias towards our belief in who was at fault!!  He struggled to get started and asked for a little help, so I sat down with him and puzzled out the players and their roles using a graphic organizer.  It really helped him sort and clarify ideas and relationships before he started writing.  I love using visuals, especially graphic organizers, and mentioned using them in last week’s blog related to history.

Here’s an example of the  graphic organizer I completed with another high school student I worked with and here’s a link to a FREE blank template in my TPT store (customize away!).

I have used this technique with many students with social language weakness as perspective taking does not come easy.  We would take newspaper articles, current events in the community or clips from TV shows and movies (check out www.wingclips.com ) to practice.  You can use this same idea when discussing historical events or in literature using a whiteboard or smartboard for whole class participation.

  • Our first step is to identify the main issue ( examples: soldiers in Afghanistan, ice storms in Atlanta, the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets).
  • Then we identify all the people who could be involved in this issue.
  • Next we talk through how the people are related to the issue and what their point of view/perspective might be.  This is tricky and it might be helpful to limit the number of points of view (pov) to three when you begin, or with younger students.
  • Last, we connect each of the povs to the main idea. I then ask the student to tell me what their perspective on the issue is, based on what we talked about. There is no right or wrong answer, and letting them know this ahead of time reduces anxiety.
  • I try to include visuals or ask the student to get a picture in their head to help them take another person’s pov.  I list character traits and emotions for the students to refer to with this activity.  Sometimes when we ask kids to brainstorm, the retrieval process gets in the way of the ideas, so make it as easy as possible!
  • This is a great gateway activity to start working on the concepts of opinion/beliefs, the persuasive writing process and learning to listen to and accept ideas that differ from your own.  It also opens up discussion on which topics may be more volatile and why they upset people.  example: religion, money, voting .

Share your great ideas on how to develop perspective taking in the classroom!!  I would love to know what YOU are thinking 🙂

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