Strategies for Empowering Students

  • To promote the love and enjoyment of reading
  • To help students understand different points of view
  • To promote an understanding of the different genres in literature
  • To promote the use of students' critical thinking skills

  • Development of higher-order thinking skills
  • Development of writing skills
  • Enhancement of oral skills

  • Language Arts
  • Reading
  • Social Studies
  • Career development

This activity can be done as a cooperative or individual activity. Ask students which they prefer. Talk with them about the concept of points of view. Give examples: Two people can see the same animal, article of clothing, or some incident but will have different ideas or viewpoints about what the animal, article, or incident looked like. It depends on how one "sees" things based on their experiences, beliefs, likes or dislikes.

Another example could center around a popular television show or movie that most of the students watch or have seen. Take a vote on how many students liked the program or movie. For those who did not, ask why and have a dialogue focusing on the students' reasons. Then, point out that they watched the same show, saw or liked different things, and therefore had different points of view.

Share with them that television and news reporters often have different opinions or viewpoints, as do authors. Explain that they are going to have an opportunity to be an author with a different point of view than that of the original author. Give them an example of how they are to proceed by reading any version of "The Three Little Pigs." Discuss such issues as who was the "bad guy" and who were the victims. Then read "The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs" by A. Wolf. Discuss the two viewpoints expressed in these two stories.

Tell the students that they are to select a favorite fairy tale that they know or enjoy reading and rewrite it from a different point of view. If someone selects "Cinderella," then that student will rewrite the story as seen from the viewpoint of one of the stepsisters, the father, or the stepmother. If "Little Red Riding Hood" is selected, then the story will be told from the wolf's point of view.

After the stories have been completed, have students read to the class. Have the class discuss how and why the stories differed depending on who told them.

  • Was there evidence of a change of attitude about reading?

  • How was this change demonstrated by the students?

  • How did students exhibit their understanding of differing viewpoints?

  • In what ways did students demonstrate an improvement in their writing and critical thinking skills?

  • How did students show that they enjoyed this activity?


Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.