Circle of Viewpoints
Seeing things different points of view can be a challenge for students. Point of view is not only a literary device but understanding different point of view also a life skill that leads to empathy, respect and tolerance. In the past, I used a Keynote presentation about Manzanar and the Japanese internment during World War as an introduction to Eve Bunting’s excellent book about the subject, So Far From the Sea. This year I tried something different. Instead of me giving the students the background information, I used a visible thinking routine knows as See, Think, Wonder. I projected four slides–one of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, one of Japanese Americans being loaded on to buses with a few belongings, one of the desolate camp at Manzanar, and one of the monument today at Manzanar. After looking quietly at each slide, students offered what they had noticed in the details, what it might be going on in the image, and then something they wondered about. The difference between these two methods (my Keynote vs. slides only) was remarkable. This time all students were fully engaged in the images, some giving factual information, some giving impressions as to the emotion in the image. We then read the book together and afterwards did a visible thinking routine, Circle of Viewpoints. We came up with five different possible points of view regarding the Japanese internment during World War II: an United States soldier who had a friend killed at Pearl Harbor, a Japanese American living in the United States, a Japanese citizen living in Japan, the President of the United States, and a United States citizen living on the West Coast. Students then broke up into groups of 3 and discussed the issue from the point of view of one of the above. They wrote what they thought from that viewpoint and gave evidence for their opinion. Then each crafted a question about internment from the point of view of “their person.” Each group shared their viewpoint. Our last question for discussion was “How does this connect to events in the world today?” Our ideas ranged from 911, to the controversy about building a mosque near the 911 memorial, to judging people by their appearance, and how fear affects how people speak and act. It was a great, deep discussion and added so much to Eve Bunting’s wonderful book.
Also in the Library this week…
The only other class who came to the Library this week was second grade, who enjoyed Stanley’s Beauty Contest by Linda Bailey. Ms. Bailey’s books about Stanley the dog are a great way to introduce point of view and Bill Slavin’s hilarious illustrations make the Stanley series an all time favorite with this age group.
We had a wonderful in-service day about visible thinking routines on Wednesday and Friday was the Veteran’s Day Holiday so there were no classes on those days.