On the first day of school in my history classroom, I always conducted a mini lesson to teach students perspective. I LOVE this lesson for several reasons- it sets a fantastic tone for the start of the year, you get a quick writing sample from students, and it provides you with valuable insight into your students’ personalities.
So, what is the magic recipe for teaching perspective?
The element of surprise!
After introducing myself and discussing some of the awesome places and time periods we would be studying, I asked students to take out a piece of paper. Once everyone had a piece of paper out and you get students’ attention, start (safely) throwing things around the room.
Yep, like a crazy person. In fact the crazier the better, and I always go for a dramatic exit with a few “door slams.” The one caveat here is you have to remember the order in which you complete your crazy rant.
After you are finished, ask students to write down what they just saw in as much detail as possible. They can write in bullet points or full sentences. Encourage your class that there is no “right or wrong answers.” I always added that they wouldn’t hurt my feelings in their responses.
What happens as a result is usually hilarious. The kids laugh, you laugh, and they learn how different everyone’s perspective is….
Once students have about 5 minutes to write down what they witnessed, ask for volunteers to read their account and hand pick other students to illustrate how different everyone’s perspective is although they were in the same room, witnessing the event at the same time. Ultimately, you should be looking for the student who has the most accurate account.
Trust me, students will all have written something different.
The different perspectives, although students were in the same room.
Was everyone’s perspective right, although different?
How would students’ accounts of my crazy actions been different if they had been in one of my classes before?
This simple perspective activity transformed my classroom on the very first day. It set the tone for learning, thinking outside of the box, and led to lots of laughs.
Give it a try! I double dare you : )