Writing Assignment: Seeing Myself Through the Eyes of Another

Happymess kids are learning to write.  This week Quantum is completing an assignment in which he has to describe himself (in the third person) through the eyes of a grandparent.  Through this process he will additionally be describing the grandparent and will introduce the reader to Quantum as perceived by the grandparent.  Thus, some of Quantum’s positive attributes may be viewed negatively and some seemingly unimportant moments may be accentuated due to the values of the grandparent.

,This story is a fictionalization of an actual encounter, in a restaurant, between Grandfather and Quantum.  Grandfather is delighted that Quantum is dressed appropriately but does not think children should receive too much attention or praise.  This piece is both comical and sad as the two males, at either end of the age spectrum, miscommunicate and misjudge one another.  The opportunity for mutual appreciation is certainly lost through this encounter.  Quantum effectively uses fictionalization to emphasize the mood he strives to create.

Quantum eagerly attempts to share his interests and accolades while Grandfather dismisses these attributes with sharp-tongued staccato remarks designed to remind Quantum of his more junior place at the dinner table.

Said by Quantum, admiringly,  “Grandfather, did you ever get to see Babe Ruth?”

“My father wouldn’t have cared if Babe Ruth was sitting in the backyard!” Grandfather retorts, disparagingly.

Through this exercise Quantum is learning the craft of character description, setting and the use of dialogue and innuendo to create an effective and moving scene.  This writing exercise builds upon real world facts while allowing extensive room for creativity.  The students’ sense of security is enhanced in that initially they are reporting on known events.  The focus on pure creativity is reduced.  As the tale unfolds the student is free to rearrange the details as she/he learns to use words to illustrate the tale.

Garth Williams

This assignment helps to bridge the gap between reality and fiction.  It also helps to illustrate the manner in which fiction can be more truthful than facts.  Sometimes a fictional portrayal of an event more closely reassembles the truth, as perceived by the individual.  Third person self-description in an excellent introduction into the craft of fictional character development and can be employed in a writing program designed for any age student.

Would you be interested in using this technique to expand the writing skills of your students?

What techniques have you used effectively?