Perspective Storytelling

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Activity Summary

Students will visit a specific ecosystem and choose a biotic organism that they see, hear or find evidence of. They will imagine this organism’s perspective and write a story from its point of view.


Introduction:

Begin by reading them a narrative. I am going to read you a story that is told from the point of view of something biotic in this ecosystem. Listen closely to see if you can figure out what is telling the story. (substitute student work if you have it)

“I am high up in the air connected to a branch. I am surrounded by leaves but I’m not a leaf. My view is of the forest canopy- there are treetops all around me. Now I feel something- a cool breeze that is making me flutter like a flag. The wind is making me lose my grip on this branch. I can barely hold on and now I have let go! I am a dancer twirling in the air. Still spinning, I descend through the branches like a helicopter all the way to the forest floor. Now I think I will take a rest on this bed of leaves and sleep until spring.”

Discuss who the storyteller might be. Ask for ideas about the definition of the word perspective.

Next we will each choose something biotic from this ecosystem and imagine a story from the perspective of that organism. Ask for definitions of this word and tie it to the word biotic. Ask students to consider the following things before they write their stories:

  • How is this organism’s perspective different from your own? Is it big or small, high up in the air or low to the ground, stationary or mobile, etc.
  • How does it experience the other abiotic and cultural elements of this ecosystem? Write at least one cultural or abiotic element into the story. (for example: the wind blows the seedpod off of the tree)
  • Think about the things your organism needs to survive. Knowing this can help you formulate your story.


Age group: 4th-6th Venue/s: Any specific ecosystem.

Materials: Pencils Paper Writing surface Field guides and resource books Colored pencils


Time: 1 hour



The Activity:

Pass out materials. Students will explore the ecosystem within the instructor’s line of sight and choose an organism to focus on- a plant, animal or fungus. Ask them to only choose an animal they can see, hear, or find evidence of in this ecosystem to avoid too many stories about charismatic mega fauna.

Provide field guides and other resource books for students who would like to find out more about their organism.

Each student will have ten minutes to sit in their own spot and write a story from the point of view of their chosen organism. Students who finish early can illustrate their story using colored pencils.

Call the group back together and ask for volunteers to read their story aloud. Point out the courage it takes to read your work in front of a group and emphasize respect. Can the group guess the different organisms? Remind students not to call out their ideas during the story and to wait until the end.


Conclusion:

Revisit the idea of an ecosystem. Since their biotic organism is part of this ecosystem, it relies on certain things to survive. Discuss their ideas about this, then discuss what in turn relies on their organism for survival.

In terms of interconnections, ask them to consider the following. What other systems are familiar? Is a tree a system? Is a play station a system? What about a group of people? How is a community like a system?

What was it like to imagine the perspective of another organism? Look around our circle. We are all human, but do we have different perspectives? Where do our perspectives come from? Why is it a positive thing to be able to imagine a friend or a classmate’s point of view?

Vocabulary

Ecosystem- is a natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro organisms in an area functioning together with all the non living physical factors of the environment.

Organism- a living component of an ecosystem that has a complex, adaptive system of organs, which function together to form a stable whole.

Perspective- the way in which objects appear to the eye; one's "point of view", the context for opinions, beliefs and experiences.


Assessment and extension Ideas

1) Give students a cultural or abiotic element/incident as a prompt. Ask them all to write perspective stories in which a lightning storm takes place in the ecosystem or a person builds a trail through an ecosystem.

2) Instead of writing a story, draw/paint a picture from another perspective.

3) After they have written their stories, ask them to pair and share with a neighbor to figure out how their organisms are connected in the ecosystem.

4) Use web of life activity to illustrate interdependency.


Pictures of Practice