Group Size: Any

Time Required: 60 - 90 minutes

Learning Objective: Students will be able to differentiate between first-person, third-person objective, third-person limited and third-person omniscient points of view


Student Worksheet #16 (attached)
Overhead transparencies (attached)
Post-it notes (so that students can code their novels)
Night by Elie Wiesel (one copy for each student)

Do Now: (Today's Do Now invites students to opine on the effect of point of view on their attitude toward a text.  After allowing time, T will facilitate pair/share.)

Connection: Friday, we began our discussion of point of view. Today we're going to take it a bit further to discuss the differences between the different kinds of third-person point of view you will see in your reading.

Direct Instruction / Guided Practice:(T will open by reviewing point of view and the difference between first and third-person points of view.)

When you identify something as written in first-person point of view, that's all the further you need to go. First person point of view is first person point of view. But if you notice that something is written in third-person point of view, we need to think a little further.

There are three different kinds of third-person narration. They are--and don't take notes on these yet, please!--third person omniscient, third person limited and third person objective points of view.

(T will reveal the point of view tree on the overhead and move his/her finger down the overhead to indicate the definition under discussion.)

The word "omniscient" is actually made up of two word roots: "omni" means all; and "scient," like science, refers to knowledge. When your narrator is omniscient, he or she is all-knowing.  He or she knows everything that every single character in the book is thinking and feeling. 

If the point of view is third-person limited, then the narrator can only see into the heart and mind of one character in the book. As you read, this almost starts to feel like first-person narration because you become really close to that character. After all, you can see into his head! But of course the critical difference there is that the character isn't actually narrating.  The story is still told from a narrator who exists outside of the text.

The last kind of third-person point of view you'll encounter is third-person objective point of view. When you read a story written in third-person objective point of view, you don't know what any of the characters is thinking or feeling. It's like the story is being narrated by a camera on the wall. The camera can tell you what happens and what people say, but the camera can't get into anyone's heart or head.

Take a moment to jot down these definitions where the terms appear on your flow chart. (T will switch to overhead of definitions, and S will record definitions on today's notes.)

Let's take some time to differentiate between these different types of point of view. (T will think aloud through the first example.  T will ask a student to think aloud through the second example.  T will ask a student to think aloud through the third example.  NOTE:  If S says that #3 is first person, T will point out the student's misconception.  See below.  If S says that #3 is any type of third person, T will play "devil's advocate" and point out that "I" and "We" appear in the last sentence.  Student should be able to explain this misconception.  T will then facilitate pair/share for the rest of the examples.)

Misconception: The text is written in first-person point of view if I see "I" or "We" anywhere in the text.  Note that "I" and "We" can appear in dialogue without impacting the point of view of the text.  A third-person objective text would still recount what characters in that text say, and those characters may themselves use the words "I" and "We" in their speech.  Similarly, a third-person limited or omniscient text will recount what a character or characters think.  In our thoughts, we refer to ourselves as "I" or "We."  Do not use this short cut to identify first-person point of view!  Instead, look for the whole package: The narrator is a character in the story and uses the words "I" and "We" to recount the story.

Link:  Check out the "Link" section of your notes to review what you should be doing. (Share out "Links.")

Independent Practice: (S will read silently. You may wish to pair up students who would struggle to read Night alone.  T will hold Reader's Workshop conferences and/or pull small groups for guided reading or other interventions. Note also that literature circles may be holding meetings at this time.)

Share: Our time for today is up. When you share today, please make sure that everyone understood the reading and that no one has any misconceptions. (T will allow time and circulate to monitor S understanding.)

Closing: Remember, third person point of view can be separated into omniscient (all-knowing), limited (knowing the heart and mind of one character) and objective (not knowing the heart or mind of any character), and depending on what point of view your author chooses, your novel will feel quite different. Tomorrow we'll continue or work with point of view.

Okay, it's time for million dollar question...

1. What is the difference between third-person omniscient point of view and third-person objective point of view?  (Omniscient knows the hearts and minds of all characters; objective cannot know the thoughts or feelings of any character.)

2. What does the word "omniscient" mean, and how can we remember this?  (Omniscient means all-knowing.  "Omni" means all, and "Scient" refers to knowledge.)

3. (Note to the Instructor: Insert your own question here based upon objectives your students mastered up until this point in the year.)

4. How are audience and author's purpose related? (Accept reasonable responses.)

Differentiation: Novels are differentiated by reading level and by choice. Flow chart appeals to visual learners.  Gradual release during Direct Instruction/Guided Practice. Active reading strategy: coding the text. Reader's Workshop conferences to encourage and monitor individual goals.


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