Purpose: What kind of thinking
does this routine encourage?
This routine helps students consider different and diverse perspectives
involved in and around a topic. Understanding that people may think
and feel differently about things is a key aspect of the Fairness
Application: When and Where can
it be used?
This routine can be used at the beginning of a unit of study to
help students brainstorm new perspectives about a topic, and imagine different characters, themes
and questions connected to it. It can be used after reading a book
or chapter. Provocative topics and issues are encouraged and the
routine also works especially well when students are having a hard
time seeing other perspectives or when things seem black and white.
The routine can be used to open discussions about dilemmas and other
Launch: What are some tips for starting
and using this routine?
After identifying a topic, ask students to brainstorm various viewpoints
about this topic. This can be done solo, or as a class, but make
sure to give the initial brainstorm enough time for students to
really stretch and explore diverse ideas. If students need help
thinking of different viewpoints, try using the following prompts:
- How does it look from different points in
space and different points in time?
- Who (and what) is affected by it?
- Who is involved?
- Who might care?
After the brainstorm, ask each student to choose
one of these viewpoints. Give them time to prepare to speak about the topic from that perspective and to embody
the viewpoint using the script skeleton to structure what he or
Once students have prepared their “characters”,
the class should be ready to go around the circle and act out their
various perspectives.Taking turns, ask students to speak briefly
about their chosen viewpoint using the script skeleton. Invite them
to stand up and use gestures and movement if necessary. The discussion
at this point might move fairly quickly, capitalizing on the immediacy
of the experience as each student goes through the script and presents
a perspective. The array of responses will hopefully be broad and
distinct, as each student should strive to produce a unique viewpoint.
If some students choose the same character, encourage them to perform
differently. For example, if several students choose the viewpoint
of an explorer, one may be trying to seek out wealth through trade,
another explorer might be adventurous or want to become famous.
Ask them to raise different questions in order to elaborate their
Viewpoints connect to the idea of physical perspective
taking and you may notice that your students interpret this literally
at first by naming and describing what their characters see.
While it is fine to help students get started with concrete examples,
try to move your students to consider thoughts and feelings
of characters, rather than describing a scene or object.
As students perform their viewpoint in the circle,
their ideas can be recorded or written on the board so that a class
list of perspectives is created. The last question of the routine
asks students to think of a question they might have from their
chosen viewpoint. Collect these questions or ask students to write
them down and answer them as they think more about the topic as
it is studied in class. Once everyone in the circle has spoken,
the teacher can lead a discussion by asking: “What new ideas
do you have about the topic that you didn’t have before?”
and “What new questions do you have?