Saturday, February 20, 2016

Hero or Villain: Perspectives on Columbus

Our reading program focuses on author's purpose and how that can changed the tone of a story. I like to take it a bit further and talk to the kiddos about Perspective. We also touch on biased text vs. unbiased text. This can also really help kids pick out facts vs. opinions as well as Point of View (first, second, third person). 
SO MANY BIRDS WITH ONE STONE! 
Right now, we are studying early european exploration, beginning in 1492 with Christopher Columbus (obviously he wasn't the first... Vikings and all...) There are SO many opinions and perspectives on Columbus that this works well with analyzing perspectives.
Using our reading program to catalyst the skill, we than watched three short videos sharing different perspectives on Columbus. 


If you are interested in trying this activity out with your kiddos, pick it up  HERE!

Students acted as movie critics and analyzed whether they were biased or unbiased toward the topic.
Below are the clips I used:

Biased - negative opinion toward Columbus 

Unbiased facts - History Channel

Biased - positive opinions toward Columbus

It is interesting when discussing perspectives and biases how often people (kids and adults) want to call something they agree with unbiased. Even if something is true, the way in which an author shares the information can still be biased either positively or negatively. 
Many people in 2016 agree with the portrayal provided by video one, however, the verbiage utilized causes the video to be biased negatively because they are trying to convince you that he was not the hero we thought he was ("Here is what really happened", "unleashed terror", "he was no hero"
The second film shares facts and details but removes adjectives and phrases that show us how the narrator feels about the subject. We talk a lot about why a text book writer (which unfortunately can sometimes can have biases) or the history channel would want to share only the facts and not opinions (because they want us to create our own opinions on the subject).
The third film always shocks the kiddos due to its stereotypes, strange focus on skin color, exaggerations on Columbus, and of course, its complete removal of any issues between Columbus and the Natives. 
What I also really like about this lesson is that it helps students see the difference between hard facts and opinions which can totally change one's perspective. 

Finally, we applied our skill to literature by reading three different accounts of Columbus's journey. At this point I added the Point of View skill to our literature critic sheet. 
We did a CLOSE reading on a non-fiction article from our History Alive text book. We agreed that this was unbiased. It shared some shocking information but did not share the author's opinions or use adjectives that tried to persuade the reader to think one way or another. 
We then read the children's poetry book 1492. In this there are many positive adjectives and no reference to any native mistreatment. 

Last, we read Jane Yolan's Encounter - such a powerful book from the 1st person perspective of a Taino Boy biased against Columbus. Such incredible description and voice in this book! 
If you are interested in trying this activity out with your kiddos, pick it up  HERE!
At the end, students respond to the guiding question "How can the Point of View that the author chooses change the tone of a story?




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