Different Perspectives

Two people can look at the room and see it in different ways. That’s what students will witness and even demonstrate themselves in this project as they practice expressing descriptions.

Instructions

Have your students write down a description of a location (there are some prompts below). Since they’ll be writing a few versions of the same scene, it may be easiest to type this on a computer. That way, they can simply copy and paste a description, then make adjustments from there. For this first description, don’t tell them anything about perspective, but let them describe it the way they would naturally. For intermediate to advanced students, require a minimum of 200 words.

Students aren’t just writing adjectives; they’re using relative clauses, prepositional phrases, and more. Have them both narrow in on specifics they would identify and ‘zoom out’ for the bigger picture. What colors are present? What textures? What scents? How does it feel? (claustrophobic? relaxing? energetic?) What’s happening here, and is it a good thing or a bad thing? What catches their attention the most? What are they inclined to do?

Once they’ve finished, read aloud the descriptions of two or three different students (skim them yourself first to pick ones that aren’t too similar). Point out some of the differences expressed, even though the students were writing about the same place. Explain to the students that descriptions depend not only on the object (the place), but also on the subject (the writer’s point-of-view). Now that they’ve all written from their natural perspective, it’s time to write a different description of the same place from a new perspective.

Have the students copy and paste the original description, or parts of it, if they want to. Then they’ll need to make adjustments (or start from scratch, if they prefer) in response to the new perspective prompt.

Once they’ve finished, you can make more comparisons as a class. Then give the students two more prompts, and have them write descriptions two more times. Whether the first two times were in class or as homework, the last two should probably be just for homework.

Prompts

Choose one of the following location prompts for the whole class. Students may draw from their own memories and imagination, or you could provide them with visuals for inspiration. After the students have writing from their own perspective, give them the perspective prompts that correspond to that location.

  1. MOUNTAIN RANGE (wilderness)

    • student’s original perspective
    • perspective of an avid hiker
    • perspective of a city slicker
    • perspective of a photographer
  2. NIGHT CLUB

    • student’s original perspective
    • perspective of a shy wallflower who still has homework to do
    • perspective of a regular club-goer
    • perspective of a private detective trying to keep an eye on someone
  3. ART MUSEUM

    • student’s original perspective
    • perspective of an aspiring artist
    • perspective of a thief planning a heist
    • perspective of a six-year-old child

 

Or come up with your own prompts!

 

Bonus

If you’re going through the Character Journey year-long project, students can use the characters they created as one of the perspectives!

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