Sometimes we write to clarify our thinking or record a moment so it won’t be lost in our memories. Other times we write to entertain, inform, or instruct. Recently, many of us have found writing to be an avenue for us to express opinions, voice our beliefs and persuade others to join us in our thinking. Most often we know from the moment we put the pen to paper whether we are writing for ourselves or for an audience.
Writing for an audience provides writers with motivation and purpose- authentic purpose. When our intention is to share our words, we write with audience in mind. With every sentence we draft, we make deliberate decisions based on our intended audience. Teaching students what to consider when writing for audience will help them craft powerful pieces- from letters to speeches to stories and poems. Essays and tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram captions and hashtags. Every time we write to share, our writing is stronger if we craft it our audience in mind.
That process isn’t intuitive for young writers. Teaching them what to consider when writing for an audience needs to be explicitly taught.
One of the best things they can do is ask themselves questions. Questions like:
- What is the age of my audience? At my school, fourth graders write stories for kindergartners. On more than one occasion, I’ve had difficult conversations with students who are well into a draft where the plot line is developmentally way beyond what the target audience can or should understand. Helping writers plan with audience age in mind can save heartache and frustration later.
- What does the audience already know about this topic? Sometimes writers need to include the backstory. Teaching them to recognize when that is necessary will help them write pieces that are understood fully by their audience.
- What will interest the audience? Again, I’m reminded of our fourth graders’ stories for kindergarten children. Encouraging them to do a little digging, to find out what their younger friends like to do, what are some “favorites” will help them create stories with details woven in that will delight their younger readers.
- How does the audience currently feel about this topic? If students are composing persuasive letters to the principal about more recess time, it is helpful for them to find out how the principal currently feels about the idea and why/he she feels this. With that information in mind, students can be more specific and their reasons can be targeted.
The questions writers can ask and the information writers might gather about their audience will vary- depending on the genre and subject. But teaching writers to plan with audience in mind, will help them develop stronger pieces with greater appeal. Writing for an audience can be a satisfying experience, and it is always authentic in purpose.
- This giveaway is for one copy of Heart Maps: Helping Students Create and Craft Authentic Writing by Georgia Heard. Many thanks to Heinemann for donating a copy of this book.
- For a chance to win one copy of Heart Maps: Helping Students Create and Craft Authentic Writing, please leave a reaction to any post in the blog series, including this one, by Sunday, February 5th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Lisa Keeler will use a random number generator to pick the winner, whose names she will announce in our blog series’ IN CASE YOU MISSED IT POST on Monday, February 6th.
- You may leave one comment on every post in our Authentic Purposes for Writing blog series, which runs January 30th – February 5th.
- Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so Stacey can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, our contact at Heinemann will ship your book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
- Heinemann will only ship the book to a winner in the United States. If you live outside of the U.S. and wish to be considered for this giveaway, you must have a U.S. mailing address.
- If you are the winner of the book, Stacey will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – HEART MAPS. Please respond to her e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.