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Extension Activities

Sherwood Anderson Extension Activities:
The Car Accident

This activity can be used to help students understand the concept of point of view.

Getting Started

Lesson Objectives
After completing this activity, students will be able to:

  • Write a poem that describes a specific character and setting
  • Write a short story in response to a prompt

Grade Level Indicators
In meeting the lesson objectives, students will:

H. Use available technology to compose text
I. Publish writing for display or for sharing with others

Time Required
You could ask students to complete one or both of these Extension Activities. If the activities are done in class, you will probably need the following amount of time:

  • Poem - 20-45 minutes
  • Short Story - 45 minutes or more

Resources Needed
Computer with Internet access and printing capability


Remind students that point of view means the position from which a situation is observed. Authors often write from a point of view other than their own.

Describe a minor car accident on a downtown street. When a police officer arrives to investigate the incident, she will speak with the following people:

  • The driver of Car A
  • The driver of Car B
  • A person who happened to be standing on the street corner and saw the accident occur
  • The owner of a nearby bakery who did not see the accident occur but who heard the crash and was first to arrive at the scene
  • A friend of the driver of Car B, who was walking down the street, one block from the accident, when it happened

View an illustration of the car accident

It may be helpful to use the board to sketch the intersection, two cars, and the people involved on the board. Or, click on this link to see an animated version.

Ask students what they think each person involved is likely to say. Ask them to support their answers with details about how the person's distance from the accident when it happened, as well as any other aspects, may affect his or her judgment.

Ask the students to put themselves in the position of a reporter who arrives on the scene to cover the accident for the local paper. Have them answer the following questions, then write a short news article about the accident.

  • What do you think each observer of the accident will tell the police officer based on where he or she was at the time of the accident?
  • What other factors may be at work as each person tells what he or she believes to be the truth about what happened?
  • What would a reporter write about this accident?

Remind students that news articles report facts, not opinions. (Opinions appear on newspaper editorial pages but not in the rest of the paper unless they are clearly marked.) News articles have short headlines that summarize the story. An article usually starts with the most important information first: what happened, who was involved, and when, where, why, and how it happened.

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