Differing perspectives

Students need to understand that for all texts there are different perspectives and they are deliberately constructed to tell the audience what the author wants them to know.

As an audience member students need to analyse texts to see if there are other perspectives that need to be taken into consideration. As a writer, strategically sharing certain perspectives depending on the purpose of the text will have a greater influence on the audience.


Explicit teaching

Perspective is the way that people look at a situation. It can be seen as their point of view. There are a number of factors that influence people’s perspective such as: previous experiences, beliefs, knowledge of the situation and so on.

Students can assume that everyone will see things the way that they do and can therefore struggle with understanding different perspectives. They need to see that different perspectives are not right or wrong and can be helpful in expanding each other’s thoughts and ideas on a topic.

Vocabulary development will include contrasting connectives such as: alternatively, on the other hand, in contrast to.

General strategies

Introduce the concept of different perspectives through simple contrasting examples such as visuals that can be interpreted different ways.

Demonstrate the power of perspective by reading information from only one point of view; once students express their thoughts provide more information from a different perspective. Has this changed their thoughts?

Students to reconstruct narrative/persuasive texts from a different perspective.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: misunderstood – reconstruct a text

This activity is best suited towards the end of the topic when students have a good understanding of the information. Sample reconstructed fairy tales from the perspective of the villain can help introduce the activity.

In groups or individually, students divide a piece of paper into 3 columns. At the top write what/who has been blamed? (Seen as the villain)

  • column 1 – write down the main points of the event
  • column 2 – how was the ‘villain’ responsible for these events?
  • column 3 – what could have happened from the ‘villains’ perspective, how could they have been misunderstood?

Reconstruct the information from the perspective of the villain as a diary entry/narrative/report.

Example from the children’s story ‘the three little pigs’.

Looking from a different perspective

  • Original text: the three little pigs
  • Original perspective: the pigs
  • New perspective: the wolf
Event Original perspective New perspective
3 pigs are going to build a house from different materials. The pigs were building shelter from the 'bad wolf'. Experiment that the pigs were completing on the most durable houses during storms.
1st house of straw is blown down by the wolf. Wolf is trying to eat the pig by destroying the home. He is helping pig 1 by testing how well the house structure is but it doesn't hold.
2nd house of sticks is blown down by the wolf. Wolf is trying to eat the two pigs and destroy another home. He is helping pig 2 by testing how well the house structure is but it doesn't hold. He feels a little light headed but wants to keep helping his friends.
3rd house of bricks wolf can't blow it down. Wolf is trying to eat all three pigs and destroy their final home. Wolf is desperate to help his friends and they must have a large amount of wind to really test their experiment. As he continues huffing and puffing he eventually hyperventilates and passes out.
n/a n/a The pigs run out look after wolf and celebrate their experiment results. All houses that are being built in the village will be from brick from now on.

Other notes: the 'big bad wolf' was a typo, the wolf's name was Brad. They were all friends and he was helping them with an experiment because there wasn't enough wind around to test their theory.

Variation: If your subject does not lend itself to events, students can use personification to talk from the perspective of something that does not normally have a voice. For example in Mathematics, the topic could be related to Algebra/Division and the students could write from the perspective of a symbol and ‘how they wish kids would like them more because all they are trying to do is…’ This will allow them to share their understanding of a topic in an engaging and higher order activity.

Activity 2: news perspective

  • In pairs or small groups students are to find a minimum of two current news articles that show different perspectives on the same topic/situation.
  • This may be two different people at a crime scene, opposition leaders discussing a current topic or professionals discussing a current issue such as Global Warming.

Questions to consider

  • What is different about the perspectives?
  • Are there any similarities?
  • What influences both parties’ perspectives?
  • Would you think differently if you only read one of the articles?
  • When is it ok to only focus on one perspective and when should we look at different perspectives?
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