Students watch a video segment that shows the reactions of colonists who arrive in America and people who are native to the area as they encounter one another for the first time during a colony settlement reenactment. After analyzing the characters’ responses, the students select a character and write a letter from that character’s point of view that describes the meeting as well as the character’s feelings and/or reactions.
Why is this an important concept?
In order for the learner to be able to understand the major theme of a work, they must first be able to relate to the characters. If the learner can relate to the character’s point of view, personality, situation, motivation, or actions, it becomes easier for the learner to derive the deeper meaning from the work.
(1) 40-minute-period and (1) 20-minute period
- Colonial House QuickTime Video
- Colonial House Character Development Questions handout
- Character Letter Directions handout
- Character Letter rubric
Part I: Learning Activity
1. Provide the purpose for this activity: to understand the effect that point of view has in understanding the development of characters within a story.
2. First, ask the students what the term point of view means. What are the different points of view and how can they be used to tell a story? Discuss their answers during a guided question and answer period.
3. Tell the class that they will be watching a video about 17 people in 2004 who volunteered to participate in a reenactment of colonists who landed in North America in 1628 to establish a settlement colony. The segment shows their first encounter with the Passamaquoddy people who owned the land where the colonists decided to build their settlement. As they watch the video, ask students to identify the different points of view that could be used to describe the events taking place. Also, ask them to think about the effect point of view has in the way each character is portrayed. Play the video.
4. After viewing the video segment the first time, ask the students to list some of the characters that are included in the video. What are their reactions to seeing a different group of people? Are they scared, nervous and/or unsure? If so, why? How and why do their attitudes towards one another change?
5. Distribute the Colonial House Character Development Questions handout, and ask students to complete the handout while watching the video the second time. Play the video.
6. After viewing, discuss questions with students. Ask them to share their answers with the class during a teacher-guided question and answer session. Focus on the video details students use to support and explain their answers. Students add to their answers as needed.
7. Pass out the Character Letter Directions handout. Tell students they will be writing a letter in which they take on the point of view of one of the characters from the video. They will write about their encounter with the other group, their reactions to them and how they feel about them. Review the suggestions on the directions sheet and answer any questions the students may have.
8. Distribute copies of the Character Letter rubric. Discuss so students know the expectations of the letter.
9. Students write rough drafts of their letters using the Colonial House Character Development Questions handout and the letter rubric as a guide.
10. Students complete the first draft for homework.
Part II: Assessment
1. Students exchange letter drafts with fellow students to peer-edit and discuss needed revisions and/or additions.
2. After making needed revisions, students complete final versions of letters and hand in with the first drafts and rubrics for a grade.For students who need additional guidance:
- Meet with students between lessons to support their understanding of character and letter-writing skills.
- Allow students to watch the video as many times as necessary for comprehension.
- Use listed websites to find additional details about colonial times and settlements, as well as proofreading guidelines and proper letter formats on writer’s website.