Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

But What About Me?

Teaching Perspective in the Social Studies Classroom

Chelsee Wilson | Published: May 20th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course Human Geography, Oklahoma History, U.S. Government, U.S. History, World History, World Human Geography
  • Time Frame Time Frame 100 minutes
  • Duration More 1-2 class period(s)


This lesson explores the stories in history that are often forgotten. Frequently, textbooks include the "winners" of history, but the stories and perspectives of the "losers" of history are left out. Students will explore those stories in this lesson and look at all sides of history in an attempt to see the full story.

Essential Question(s)

Whose "story" is this? Is history the story told by the "winners"? 



Students view a multi-perspective painting and complete an I Notice, I Wonder activity.


Students discuss the discovery of America and the associated historical narrative and brainstorm other situations.


Students read Jane Yolen's Encounter and compare the story with the Christopher Columbus narrative.


Students create a two-voice poem that showcases two perspectives using the previously brainstormed list.


Students submit their two-voice poem for evaluation using a detailed rubric.


  • Jane Yolen's Encounter

  • Two-Voice Poem template and rubric

  • Projector or interactive whiteboard

  • Jane Yolen's Encounter Read Aloud (optional)


As students walk into class, have this image posted on the interactive whiteboard or projector screen.

When students are seated, ask them to take out paper and pen/pencil to participate in an I Notice, I Wonder activity. Students will view the image while writing down their observations and questions about it.

When students have had enough time to complete the activity, have them share out their questions and observations. Then, begin a brief class discussion. Some starting questions could include:

  • What image did you see first? A man, woman, and dog? Or an old man's profile?

  • Could you see both?

  • If someone saw one image first, does that make them right? What about someone who saw the other image first?

  • What other parts of life (history, art, learning) does this affect?

  • Has a friend ever retold a story of an event you two participated in? Was it different from your retelling? Why would it have been different?


After students have discussed the image, ask students about the discovery of America.

Some probing questions could include:

  • Who discovered America?

  • What happened upon this discovery?

  • Was it a welcomed discovery?

  • Have you only ever heard one story about the discovery of America?

  • Do you think anyone's story has been ignored? Why or why not?

As a class, brainstorm other instances when someone's story might be ignored, either historically or personally. Leave this list on the board for the remainder of the lesson.

If students are having a difficult time coming up with ideas, ask students to review what they have learned so far in their textbooks. Have them ask the questions: Whose voices are not being heard in our textbooks? Whose history is not being told?


Before starting the book, ask students to think about their discussion over Columbus while reading, and try to identify to whom the story belongs. Then, begin reading the story as a class. If you do not have a copy of the book, you can access a read aloud option here.


Once students have read Encounter together, have students refer back to the brainstormed list. Do they have any more ideas that they may want to add to the list? Can they identify other historical stories or events that may ignore someone else's perspectives? If so, add them.

When the list has been finalized, ask students to take out a piece of paper and pen/pencil. Each student will choose a subject from the group list and construct a Two-Voice Poem that incorporates two different perspectives from their chosen subject.

In order to allow students the opportunity for reflection on their work, consider providing them with a copy of the rubric to guide them as they write and self-evaluate.


When students have completed their poems, they should be turned in to be evaluated according to the rubric.

Students could also turn in their observations and questions from the beginning of the lesson for a grade.