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I, You and the World. A GPAW Workshop on the Objective Point of View by Sue Stindt. This GPAW workshop focuses on “point of view” for informative or expository writing (e.g. research, persuasive essays) and includes guidelines, suggestions and practice exercises to improve objective writing.

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A gpaw workshop on the objective point of view by sue stindt

I, You and the World

A GPAW Workshop on the Objective Point of Viewby Sue Stindt


This GPAW workshop focuses on “point of view” for informative or expository writing (e.g. research, persuasive essays) and includes guidelines, suggestions and practice exercises to improve objective writing.

Read each slide. Think about the idea presented. Think about how the idea applies to the writing assignments or essays you are working on.

Complete the 9 activities and turn in your work to your instructor for 1.5 hours of GPAW credit.


Person and point of view… informative or expository writing (e.g. research, persuasive essays) and includes guidelines, suggestions and practice exercises to improve objective writing.

When composing any piece of writing, writers make choices about “person” and “point of view.” Writers base their decisions about person and point of view on the purpose of the piece, the intended audience and the type of document they want to compose.

First person (I), for example, is typically used to narrate a personal essay. Third person (him, her) may be used to describe a character or another person in a narrative or in a portrait or profile essay.

First person may be used in informative writing to describe personal experiences, observations or interviews. Third person may be used to describe a character or an interviewee.

In the above examples, whether writing in first or third person, the perspective is from the writer’s point of view.


A refresher on “person”… informative or expository writing (e.g. research, persuasive essays) and includes guidelines, suggestions and practice exercises to improve objective writing.

I register for college classes in early August. (first person singular)

We register for college classes in early August. (first person plural)

You register for college classes in early August. (second person singular and/or plural)

Rule of thumb: avoid the second person universal “YOU”

in personal and informative essay writing.

He registers for college classes in early August. (third person singular)

They register for college classes in early August. (third person plural)


Please note… informative or expository writing (e.g. research, persuasive essays) and includes guidelines, suggestions and practice exercises to improve objective writing.

You will see that I do not follow my own advice about avoiding second person. I’ve written much of this PowerPoint in second person.

The reason is because this PowerPoint is a tutorial. I’m speaking directly to YOU, as if you were a student in my class.


Stepping back… informative or expository writing (e.g. research, persuasive essays) and includes guidelines, suggestions and practice exercises to improve objective writing.

Sometimes a writer must step back and write from a neutral or objective point of view.

Journalists use this approach in reporting news; scientists write objectively when reporting data or describing a research project or discoveries; law enforcement officers and nurses use objective language to write reports. Business reports and manuals intended to instruct are written from the objective point of view.

The objective point of view may be heard in audio pieces on National Public Radio, The History Channel or Discovery.

You can read or listen to NPR broadcasts at: http://www.npr.org/


Third person objective point of view
Third Person informative or expository writing (e.g. research, persuasive essays) and includes guidelines, suggestions and practice exercises to improve objective writing. Objective Point of View

To accomplish objectivity, or “stepping back,” a writer uses….

A student registers for college classes in early August.(singular)

Students register for college classes in early August.(plural)

Note that the first and third person pronouns (I, he or she and we or they) have been replaced by nouns.


Objectiveness implies “neutrality” informative or expository writing (e.g. research, persuasive essays) and includes guidelines, suggestions and practice exercises to improve objective writing. …

In many forms of writing, a writer may be required to or wish to remain neutral.

Neutrality can be difficult to convey. Writing can easily be biased by gender, race, socio-economic class, or judgments based on other personal experiences and/or preferences.


In some essays, articles or documents, writers must step back and look objectively at what they know, their discoveries, their research.

In addition to serving the purpose of the piece, suppressing judgment and bias (personal point of view), or “writing objectively,” may also help the writer see something “new.”


The primary view for informative writing is typically third person objective.

However, a current trend in informative writing combines first person experience, research and observations with third person objective factual writing.


As a teacher, I want my students to combine first and third person points of view in their informative essays, and the assignments are structured to encourage that approach.

Your teacher may require that you write entirely in third person (a reason may be to help you master a complete switch in point of view). You must tailor your writing to the requirements of the assignment.


In the online essay collection of person points of view in their informative essays, and the assignments are structured to encourage that approach.Science Magazine, there are some terrific examples of essays written in straight objective language and of others that combine first person and objective point of view. The essay collection online is at:

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/collection/essay

  • Activity 1

  • Visit the Science Magazine site (link above) and explore the full text of one or two of the essays.

  • List the title of the essay and the author.

  • From what point of view is the biography of the author written?

  • Give an example and explain.

  • Has the author of the essay written in first person, third person personal, third person objective or a combination? Give examples and explain.

  • See completed example on the next slide.


EXAMPLE… person points of view in their informative essays, and the assignments are structured to encourage that approach.

I took the excerpts below from an essay found at Science Magazine online athttp://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/310/5749/787

The essay was originally published in:Science 4 November 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5749, pp. 787 - 789 DOI: 10.1126/science.1115180

The essay is titled “Teaching Evolution in Mexico: Preaching to the Choir,” and was written by Antonio Lazcanoof Mexico.

Prior to the essay is a biography (an introduction) of the author, Antonio Lazcano, written by Ye Yong. This introduction is written in third person, one scientist talking about another. Yong writes: Antonio Lazcano, a biology professor at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, has studied the origin and early evolution of life for more than 30 years. He was trained both as an undergraduate and graduate student at UNAM…

The essay by Antonio Lanzcano begins in third person (one scientist talking about another), as follows:In some of his writings, Charles Darwin expressed his interest in visiting Mexico. Although he never fulfilled that wish, Mexicans have reciprocated his interest with a long-standing commitment to his ideas…Lanzcano shifts to first person in the second paragraph, saying:I am always amused when I am asked by my American colleagues about the problems and pressures they imagine I face in Mexico because of my interest in life’s beginnings…

Much of the essay’s language that follows is in third person objective point of view (neutral). Lazcano begins a later paragraph with the sentence:The study of the origin of life and other issues of evolutionary biology run deep in Mexican culture.


The advantages of combining first person and third person objective point of view
The advantages of combining first person and third person objective point of view…

Advantage I

Including personal experiences, anecdotes and/or observations in informative essays can draw in readers. A personal connection or story makes the information is more engaging.


CAUTION: objective point of view…If first person point of view is overused, an informative piece may become too much like a story or a testimonial.


  • Advantage II objective point of view…Revealing personal experience can lend the writer “authority” (demonstrate expertise or knowledge of the topic).


Activity 2 objective point of view…

Make a list of five or six topics that you can discuss with “authority” (expertise) based on personal experience and knowledge. Think about jobs, hobbies, collections and other areas

of interest.Consider your

health, habits, social and school activities.


Advantage III objective point of view…Knowledge and understanding of “where the writer is coming from” can help the reader draw his or her own conclusions.

  • Although the goal of informative writing, generally, is to eliminate bias (more to come), exposing or admitting bias at least makes the reader aware of the writer’s perspective.


Examples of bias and removing bias objective point of view… …

Michael Jordan is the best basketball player in history. (biased, not good)

Michael Jordan’s basketball skills are admired by many. (better)

Michael Jordan’s basketball skills have been praised by coaches, players, sports commentators and thousands of fans. (stating specific facts is the best approach)


Activity 3 objective point of view…

Remove the bias from

the following statements:

The greatest band of all times was The Beatles.

Reality TV shows are much more exciting than traditional shows.

No one obeys the speed limit when driving on I-94.


Check your work… objective point of view…Activity 3

  • Did you edit out biased words such as “greatest”?

  • Did you edit out all-inclusive vague pronouns such as “no one”?

  • Did you state the specific and the objective facts?


Rule of Thumb: Keep the “I” in your work, but eliminate the universal “you”…

One afternoon I was sitting in my colleague Martha’s office. We were quietly working on separate projects. Martha was reading an essay. Suddenly, the peaceful atmosphere became raucous with Martha’s shout, “Oh NO I’m NOT!” and then our laughter. “Listen to this!” she exclaimed. Here’s what the essay says: ‘First you run as fast as you can. Then you plant your hands on the horse. Then you heave-ho, do a double flip, twist and land.’” I laughed harder as Martha pretended to go through the motions.

“I can’t do this,” Martha protested. “I’d be dead. Furthermore, I don’t want to vault over anything.”

The writer was a gymnast writing about a specific skill, vaulting, required of young gymnasts. In this case, the use of “you” set up a situation where Martha, the reader, wanted to argue.

If I wrote, “You should stop smoking!” all readers who don’t smoke could complain. If readers feel challenged, accused, or disconnected, a writer quickly loses the readers’ attention, or worse, aggravates the readers.


Activity 4 the universal “you”…

  • Scan through each of your essay drafts (personal and informative). Find every single “you.” If a “you” is not used in dialogue, revise.

  • Is there a noun or noun phrase that would better describe exactly whom you mean?

    • -OR-

  • Were you previously writing in first person and the “you” would make more sense if changed to “I” or “we”? “We” may be used to draw in specific readers, to include them.


  • As you may have noticed by now a writer shifts to the objective voice by
    As you may have noticed by now, a writer shifts to the objective voice by…

    • Using nouns and noun phrases in place of pronouns as subjects

    • Using nouns and noun phrases to clarify meaning wherever possible

    • Using proper nouns to name


    A refresher on parts of speech… objective voice by…

    A common noun is a person, place, or thing Examples: waiter, hostess, college, teacher, water, football

    A proper noun is a specific nameExamples: Charles Darwin, Science Magazine, Michigan Stadium, World War II

    A noun phrase consists of a noun and its articles, possessives, descriptors, modifiers, etc.Examples: a computer network, heavy metal music, my mom, cup of sugar

    A pronoun takes the place of a noun and should only be used when the antecedent – the noun that the pronoun represents -- is clear. [After you introduce Charles Darwin in an essay, for example, you may, if the meaning is clear, refer to Darwin as “him” later in the sentence or in the following sentence.]Examples: I, you, he, she, it, one (as in “one” may believe…), we, you, they, me, him, her, us, them, my, your, his, its, our, their, somebody, anybody, everybody, nobody, something, anything, everything, nothing, someone, anyone, everyone, no one, who, whom

    This, that, these, those, and there (sometimes) are demonstratives, and, like other pronouns, refer to previous information.

    For more on pronouns, see Editing Bugaboos workshop.


    A writer shifts to objective voice continued… objective voice by…

    Other ways a writer shifts to the objective voice

    include…

    • Adding adjectives to describe and define

    • Adding details and adjectives to clarify and

    • specify

    • Avoiding biased descriptions and adjectives


    Grammar refresher continued… objective voice by…

    Adjectives describe and modify nounsExamples:ballroom dancing, jazz music, large room, gross misconduct, delicious meal, nasty smell, camera-toting tourists

    Adverbs describe and modify verbsExamples: move quickly, walk slowly, reside peacefully, cheer loudly

    Some verbs (action words), some adverbs (modifiers of verbs or verb descriptors), and some adjectives (descriptors or modifiers) advance a point of view or editorialize.Examples: claims, purportedly, supposedly, alleged, naturally, obviously, clearly, of course, ironically, amusingly, unfortunately, interestingly


    Activity 5 objective voice by…

    Edit and rewrite the introductory sentences below using objective language and point of view.

    Anyone who wants to go to college should talk to someone about their program.

    If you plan to go ice fishing, you should check the conditions there before you go.

    It was my chemistry teacher who helped us understand the Creb’s cycle because of her innovative demonstration.

    In snowboard cross, theyrace down a mountain. That is a new sport in the 2006 Winter Olympics. It’s more exciting than the slalom event because they are racing side by side. There are four of them. (edit into one objective sentence)


    Activity 5 objective voice by…Check yourREVISED SENTENCES…

    • A student who wants to go to college should talk to a counselor about specific programs of study.

      • Note: since “who” clearly refers to a student, the pronoun is used correctly.

    • Ice fishermen planning an outing should check the weather and ice conditions on the lake before leaving home.

    • The professor, through her innovative demonstration, helped students understand the Creb’s cycle.

      • Note: since “her” clearly refers to the professor, the pronoun is used correctly.

    • In snowboard cross, a new sport in the 2006 Winter Olympics, snowboarders race down a mountain side by side four at a time.



    Activity 6 their topics.

    Edit and rewrite the introductory paragraph below from the objective point of view – assume my numbers are correct.

    Everyone loves the game of basketball. You probably played the game at least once in your life, either in your driveway, at a park, or at school. If you’re good at the game, you can get a college scholarship or make a lot of money in the sport. They make a minimum of $400,000. On the other hand, not very many of us make it to the pros. There are only about 400 of them in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Maybe it’s too late for you, but your kid could be one of these lucky people if you follow my advice below.


    Activity 6 their topics.Compare your revised version to the paragraph below…

    Many kids and adults love the game of basketball. Most kids have probably even played the game at least once their lives, either in a driveway, at a park, or at school. A highly skilled high school basketball player can earn a college scholarship and a skilled college player can go on to make a lot of money in the sport. Professional players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) make a minimum of $400,000. On the other hand, not many players achieve professional status. Only about 400 players are employed by the NBA. Most adults are beyond the point of achieving basketball fame, but 8-10 year olds could be lucky enough to get a scholarship or make the pros by following the advice below.



    An example… report observations.

    The following paragraph contains a few of my first person impressions of the UM football stadium…

    When I saw the University of Michigan (UM) football stadium for the first time, I couldn’t believe how small it looked from the outside. I had seen the stadiums on the campuses at Michigan State University (MSU) and Ohio State University (OSU). They are metal structures that seem really tall. I think the UM stadium was made of brick and was much lower. I know after going to a game that it holds over 111,000 people.


    Below, I revised my first person impressions, stating them from an objective point of view….

    The University of Michigan (UM) football stadium appears relatively small from the outside when compared with other stadiums such those at Michigan State University (MSU) and Ohio State University (OSU). The gray metal facades of the stadiums on the campuses of MSU and OSU rise high, several stories above the ground. The UM stadium, or the Big House, as it is affectionately known by fans, is deceptive. The low (one-two story) brick circular wall with a blue metal rim around the top is like the tip of an iceberg. Most of the seating is below ground level. From the vantage of the Stadium and Main Street corner, an observer would never imagine that the arena seats over 111,000 fans.

    Note the tone, clarity and detail of this version compared to the first.


    Activity 7 from an objective point of view….

    Write at least a half page description of a familiar place, object or event in first person.

    Then, revise your paragraph using objective language, stating your impressions from an objective point of view.


    Activity 8 from an objective point of view….Choose one of the items on your list from Activity 2. Write a half page of “how to” instructions or a process description. Choose one part of your job, a hobby or skill that you have and describe how to do it from the objective point of view.

    Example:

    Stepping into a Canoe

    Before stepping into a canoe, the canoe should be fully floating in shallow water or near a dock. If the canoe is partially out of the water, propped on a riverbank, for example, stepping into the part of the canoe not supported by water could cause severe damage to the canoe, especially if it is made of wood or fiberglass. The canoeists should first slide their paddles under the thwarts, one to each side of the boat, placing them flat on the bottom of the canoe with the stern person’s handle facing the stern and bow person’s handle facing the bow. With one hand on each gunwale, the canoeist taking the stern position should step into the center of the canoe…etc.


    • Activities 7 and 8 from an objective point of view….Checklist…

    • Did you avoid using the word “you”? If you did, kudos! If not, edit sentences to eliminate “you.”

    • Do you see many other pronouns? Remember to use pronouns sparingly, and ONLY when the pronoun refers directly to a noun. e.g. After the hostess seats the customers, she hands the customers menus. “She,” clearly refers to the hostess and is used properly.

    • Did you use nouns and noun phrases that have specific meaning? Avoid the general use of words like “people.” Define the specific group of people by using a word or phrase that describes the group.


    • Style Advice Summary from an objective point of view….for Writing from the Objective Point of View

    • Rely on nouns and verbs to carry meaning

    • Avoid using pronouns whenever possible

    • Explain jargon and acronyms

    • Use the active voice; avoid phrases like “legend has it” or “it is said”

    • Represent views fairly, trying to eliminate bias or admit and explain bias

    • Let readers form their own opinions

    • Avoid sweeping all inclusive statements

    • Avoid ambiguous or non-specific statements

    • Avoid pejorative or offensive statements

    • Avoid words that intend to advance a point of view

    • e.g. claims, purportedly, supposedly, alleged, naturally, obviously, clearly, of course

    • Avoid words that editorialize

    • e.g. ironically, amusingly, unfortunately, interestingly, etc.

    Two excellent articles on this topic appear in Wikipedia. “Wikipedia: Words to Avoid” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPOV “Wikipedia: Neutral point of view” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Words_to_avoid


    Points of view… from an objective point of view….

    “Point of view” plays a role in artistic expression and storytelling, as well. Film directors, for example, shift points of view from character to character. Sometimes a voice-over narrator offers objective information to the viewer. Documentary films are often told from the objective point of view.

    As an amateur photographer, I make choices about where to point my lens. I make choices about subjects, expressions, poses and light. I may want to recreate a mood or an experience as I see it, from my point of view. However, there are times when I take a photograph to record a scene exactly as it is, without manipulation, in attempt to offer an objective point of view.


    Points of View inspired by the 2006 Winter Olympics… from an objective point of view….

    I believe the world is a dangerous place to live. You believe that there is hope. The world believes that to achieve peace you and I must become winged doves.


    Activity 9 from an objective point of view….

    Now that you have spent some time in this workshop, answer the following questions:

    • What new ideas were presented?

    • What was reinforced for you?

    • Which activities did you find most helpful and why?

    • What do you want to learn next? Where do you go

    • from here?


    Whether the advice and the techniques offered in this workshop were new to you or a review of what you already knew, I hope this workshop enhanced your understanding of the purpose and importance of learning to shift and blend points of view in your various writing tasks.

    Thanks for your participation.

    If you have feedback or suggestions you wish to share, you can reach me via email at:[email protected]


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