Determine point of view and its impact on a text; Compare primary and secondary sources (Inclusive Big Idea #6)

What are students learning?

Reading Informational Text

Grade 4: English Language Arts

Inclusive Big Idea #6: Determine point of view and its impact on a text; Compare primary and secondary sources

Standard: Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event or topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided. RI.4.6

How could I teach this?

Think about how instructional strategies and activities can give students multiple ways to engage with learning. One way won’t work for all, so how can you remove and reduce barriers for all students?

  • Firsthand/Secondhand Coding: Provide the students with a copy of the text for the students to mark. Students should then create a coding system to help them mark and understand the text. Provide students with the option to use colors, pre-made stickers/stamps, or digital text when coding. The coding system might look something like this:
    • Code: 1, Direction: Underline (using a green marker) firsthand accounts of information. Place a “1” next to the lines of text that show firsthand accounts.
    • Code: 2, Direction: Underline (using a red marker) secondhand accounts of information. Place a “2” next to the lines of text that show secondhand accounts.
  • Informational Venn Diagrams: For texts that have first- and secondhand accounts of information, determine the difference between the two using a Venn Diagram. Within the left circle, record firsthand account information. Within the right circle, record secondhand account information. In the middle, write how the firsthand and secondhand accounts are similar. Adding optional sentence starters may help students to record their ideas. Learn more about graphic organizers in this TIP Sheet.
  • Information Sorting: On sorting cards, write several different facts from the informational texts that are told firsthand and secondhand. On two of the cards, make the following categories: Firsthand Information and Secondhand Information. Ask students to sort the facts under each of the categories to show their understanding of the difference between firsthand and secondhand information. Make cards more accessible by using icons or pictures. Digital cards can be read using a screen-reader.
  • Think Aloud: The purpose of asking students questions about texts is to get them into the habit of self-questioning as they read by themselves. To model this, read aloud a book in front of the class. As you read the story, analyze the point of view of the author and how this point of view influences the reader’s interpretation of the story. Use signal words in the dialogue to help identify the point of view. See this TIP Sheet for more information on how to model using a Think Aloud.

Don’t stop here! Remember to reduce barriers for all students.

Make reducing barriers a process - take a few minutes to think about your process! Is there a barrier related to:

  • interest or engagement? Think about how to incorporate student’s lived experiences, culture, and interests… 
  • background knowledge? Think about how to highlight key ideas and define key vocabulary… 
  • showing what they know? Think about having options for how they use learning tools and technology to communicate…

For example, one possible barrier is the amount of information that a student needs to hold in mind.

Ideas to reduce this barrier could include:

  • be aware of how much sensory input occurs at once, perhaps offer the option to use headphones
  • show examples and provide answers to check along the way
  • provide templates or graphic organizers
  • allow use of spell checks and other tools 

Use these Inclusive Strategies to help reduce barriers.

Tell me more about this Inclusive Big Idea (I need a refresher)

Brush up on the content of this Inclusive Big Idea. It will help you and your colleagues to understand and teach this content better.

  • The Big Idea: Determine point of view and its impact on a text; Compare primary and secondary sources
  • Tell me more about… Point of View
    • Determining the point of view of a text can help students deepen their understanding of what they read and read with a critical lens. These are lifelong skills readers need when critically analyzing text to distinguish different perspectives and/or determine propaganda.
  • Tell me more about… Primary Sources
    • Primary sources are texts (articles, documents, speeches, etc.) where students are gathering first-hand information. Comprehending information in primary sources can be difficult since they are often historical documents written or spoken in the highly formal, often antiquated language. Students may need additional support to understand the information presented in primary documents.
  • Tell me more about… Secondary Sources
    • Secondary sources are an account of information and events. These are written as a reflection or summation of the topic.


Looking for more suggestions? Target student common misconceptions, build on interdisciplinary links, and implement strategies and supports across multiple lessons or units.

Common Student Misconceptions

  • Point of View: Students commonly mistake point of view (POV) for what the author thinks or a character’s opinion about something. Students must understand that an author’s use of POV influences how the story is told. If a story is told from first person POV, the author is presenting the events from the personal perspective and experience of a single character. If a story is told from third person POV, the author is intentionally limiting (third-person limited) or sharing (third-person omniscient) the reader’s awareness of the thoughts and feelings of all characters to let the story unfold.
  • Social Studies: When reviewing primary and secondary source documents, which are informational texts, ask students to identify the pronouns used in the document and identify whether the text is from the first or third-person point of view. Talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each when it comes to accounts of historical or current events.

Everyday Connections

  • Current Events: Have students review TV news or articles about a current event. Have them review a first-hand account from someone involved in the event and compare that to the account presented by the news to determine the information and perspective presented by each.

Explore other Inclusive Big Ideas to think about the content you are teaching. How can you connect what you are teaching now to what has been taught before or what will be taught in the future?

Other TIES resources:

Inclusive Big Ideas: Standards-based resources for inclusive classrooms | TIES Center

The Inclusive Big Ideas were adapted from resources created by the NCSC Project , a federal grant from the US Department of Education (PR/Award #: H373X100002), However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education and no assumption of endorsement by the Federal government should be made.

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