AN ACTIVITY FOR GRADE SEVEN
Article: New Blue Jays Pitcher Separated From Beloved Pit Bull, by Joyce Grant
Activity: Considering Different Points-Of-View In A News Story
- Choose a story in the news to examine. For the sake of this example, we will use the story of Mark Buehrle being separated from his pit bulls.
- Find between 4-8 distinct points of view to focus on, ones that are directly referenced in or have a bearing on the story. For example:
a) Mark Buehrle
b) A pit bull breeder
c) The girl who was attacked by the pit bull in 2005
d) The Blue Jays general manager
e) An Ontario government official
f) Someone who runs an animal pound
- Devise 3-5 questions related to the story that would likely produce notable reactions from the person or group represented by each perspective. For example:
a) What do you think about pit bulls?
b) What are you going to try to make happen in this situation and how?
c) What are you afraid might happen in this situation?
- Make individual slips of paper that contain every possible combination of one perspective and one question. For example, in this case there are six possible perspectives and three possible perspectives, for a total of 18 slips (6×3=18). Include a couple of blank lines underneath each question for the students to jot down answers. Each slip should look something like this:
Your Perspective: A pit bull breeder
What do you think about pit bulls?
Ideally, the number of students who are getting a slip like this should make up approximately 2/3 of the class. Don’t worry about exact numbers.
- For whichever students are remaining, make up a “guessing chart” where they will guess the perspective of each student who is answering one of the questions at the front of the class. Make sure there is a space for every perspective and each question. For example:
|A pit bull breeder
|Girl who was attacked in 2005
|Blue Jays General Manager
|Ontario Govern-ment Official
|Animal Pound Director
|Which classmate is representing this person or group?
- Print the slips and charts and cut them out so there are enough for every individual student.
- Explain the news story, ideally by using a printed hard copy of the TKN version or displaying www.teachingkidsnews.com on a projector.
- Tell students they are going to get either a “guessing chart” or a “perspective slip” and describe them (show an example of each if necessary). Advise them not to share what they have written on their paper with anyone else.
- Instruct class on how to proceed:
a) If they get a “perspective slip”, they should jot down an answer to the question posed on it. Answers don’t need to be in full sentences, but they should be in first person, as if they are the person or group specified.
b) If they get a “guessing chart”, they should jot down – on the back of the paper – ideas of what people from each perspective listed on the chart might think about the situation.
- Distribute the papers and give students approximately five minutes to come up with ideas.
- Write down the first question on the board (i.e. “What do you think about pit bulls?”). Tell every student with a “perspective slip” that has that question on it to come up to the front of the classroom. If the preparation was done correctly, there should be one student from each perspective.
- Have the students at the front share their answers in first person in no particular order. Tell students with the “guessing charts” to write down the names of the students they think are representing each individual person or group in the respective column on the question #1 row. Students who don’t have guessing charts can guess as well, but don’t have to record their answers.
- Have the presenting students reveal their “secret” perspectives. Tell the students with the charts to record how many they guessed correctly.
- Repeat the process for the rest of the questions.
- After all the questions are done and perspectives are revealed, tell the students with the charts to mark down how many they guessed correctly in total. Ask if any students want to share their scores.
- Pick a news story that has at least two clearly divergent views, but isn’t extremely upsetting or violent in nature.
- Consider writing the questions on the board in advance or displaying the “perspective slips” or “guessing charts” on a projector to save time and facilitate understanding.
- If there are students in the class who are ELLs or extremely uncomfortable role-playing in front of their peers, consider purposeful grouping – give those students “guessing charts”.
- Circulate around the room to ensure students are on track during the answering phase. Try to keep this time period relatively short to avoid boredom and restlessness on the part of the students with the “guessing charts”.
- Consider giving a small prize to the students with the highest score on their “guessing chart”.