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Common Core Standards: ELA See All Teacher Resources

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading

Reading CCRA.R.6

Like word choice, the point of view from which a text is told and its purpose both affect the content and style of a text.  Point of view and purpose shape choices like what is told, what is left out, what order events unfold and, especially in the case of poetry, the shape of the words and lines on the page.  Understanding point of view and purpose helps readers reveal bias in a text and predict what information is missing, if any - a key skill in dismantling advertising, for example.

Example 1

1,2,3,4 Points

There are some loaded terms in this short sentence, so in the words of DJ Lance Rock, “Let’s break it down” (feel free to dance as you read this):

  • Point of View (POV): In non-fiction, this may be the author’s perspective; in literature, this refers to the narrator or speaker. Students must be able to identify the point of view and comment on its effectiveness. They also need to analyze how the point of view affects the content of the text. How would the story be different if told by someone else?
  • Purpose: Students are commonly taught that the purpose of the text is “to inform” or “to entertain” or “to persuade.” These options do work as a quick description, but truly the purpose goes beyond “to inform,” and should include a bit of the message. For example, “to inform readers that polyester suits are, in fact, back in style.” To understand the author’s purpose is to understand his choices and possible biases. Maybe his perspective is skewed by his undying love for polyester.
  • Content: The insides of the sandwich. The story’s…everything. Students are asked how POV and purpose can shape this, and that’s a pretty hefty weight to carry. The best way to approach this task is to consider how the text would read if it was written differently. Would the plot be presented the same way if it wasn’t in first person or if a different character was the narrator? Do we understand something through the third person narration that we otherwise would not? For non-fiction texts: How would this argument be presented differently if written by someone with a different perspective or set of beliefs? What might change about the text if the purpose was to persuade rather than inform?
  • Style: This doesn’t refer to your retro outfit (so done, move on), but the way an author uses word choice, syntax, literary devices, and structure. Style gets at some of the more elusive elements of a text, like voice and tone. Just as with content, the point of view and purpose will affect the author’s stylistic choices, and students need to be able to discuss how and why. You can help them analyze style with a similar set of questions: How would the author’s word choice or syntax change if the text was from a different point of view? How might the author structure the text differently if the purpose was to persuade? What words reveal the author’s perspective on this subject?

Example 2

Take Me Away

Putting these things together may make your students want to run for cover, but keep in mind this is no small task; you shouldn’t expect them to understand the full implications of point of view until the end of a text. Reading to this extent can be tedious. As the teacher, you’ll need to help students get their heads in the game and encourage them to keep shooting for the goal.

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

Read, Answer, Repeat:

  1. So like, I’m driving down the road and I’m thinking I definitely need a quick mani-pedi before I meet my bestie for some Starbucks. I get a text from Richard (sooooo hot) from History and shoot off a quick answer. Anyway, so like two minutes go by before he answers me, and in the meantime I search my playlist, looking for some Lady Gaga to jam to. Before I hit him back, I look up to see where I’m going and flip out when I see this like gigantic tire in the road. I swerve to miss it but my phone is in one hand and I can’t grab the wheel, so I totally spin out, skidding to a stop in the grassy middle part. Whoa. I hope I didn’t mess up my car. Before I get out to check, I send off the text like I was trying to do before that stupid tire thing jumped in front of me. Then I call my dad to come and help me.

    What point of view does this text employ?

    Correct Answer:

    The text is written in first person POV.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (C). The narrator uses the pronoun I which is a good clue. If the text was in third person, the narrator would use he or she. If the text was in second person, the narrator would use the pronoun you.

  2. What is the purpose of the text?

    Correct Answer:

    To inform the reader in a humorous way about the dangers of texting while driving.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (B). The scenario is devised to illustrate a person distracted by a phone and the consequences that may ensue. Though the narrator seems unconcerned, hopefully you got the after-school-special type lesson here. Option (A) is incorrect; the text may entertain you, but the main purpose is not to tell a romantic story, regardless of what the narrator might be hoping for with this Richard character. Options (C) and (D) are incorrect because there is no persuading going on, and the example is not focused on the debris; it’s focused on the phone use.

  3. In what style is the text written?

    Correct Answer:

    The text uses colloquial language and is structured as a sequence of fictional events.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (A). Conversational slang is used to narrate the action of the scene. Options (B) and (C) give an incorrect description of the word choice, and an insufficient description of structure (words like “simple” and “complex” are inadequate; more detail is needed). Option (D) is incorrect because there are no rhetorical devices (except maaaaaybe litotes and hyperbole) and there is always a structure, even if it is deliberately sparse.

  4. Choose the answer that best explains how the style and point of view help to form the text’s central idea.

    Correct Answer:

    The POV, presumably that of a teenage girl, and the informal style of writing illustrate a lackadaisical attitude toward a serious problem with today’s youth.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (D). The POV and style show an exaggerated account of a teen trying to text and drive, and the consequential danger to self and others. The lackadaisical attitude is communicated when the narrator, even after a near crash, is still more concerned with the text message than the car. Don’t know about you, but after a dramatic spin-out like that, our hands would be shaking too violently to text anyone. Options (A) through (C) offer a correct explanation of style and POV; however, the claim of how those two elements shape the central idea is incorrect in each.

  5. Choose the answer that best explains how the point of view enhances the purpose of this text.

    Correct Answer:

    The first person point of view allows the reader to understand the danger in the situation, which serves to develop the purpose of emphasizing the dangers of texting while driving with a relatable story.

    Answer Explanation:

    The correct answer is (A). The POV is correctly stated in this option and option (C), but only this answer identifies the POV’s effect on the purpose of discouraging texting while driving. Option (C) is wrong because the purpose is not to encourage the reader to maintain their personal hygiene. Options (B) and (D) incorrectly classify the POV as first person and they poorly explain the purpose.

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