Having an audience is an important part of the writing process. It’s more than just a part of publishing the work of a writer. Having an authentic audience creates life-long impact.
Writers publish for a purpose. When we create space for our students to have authentic and meaningful experiences, we shift the learning and growing of the writer. Something extraordinary happens deep inside a writer that excites and illuminates purpose when publishing for an authentic audience. Writing with the audience in mind before the writing begins keeps the writer focused on purpose. It is important for students to think of the audience at the beginning of the writing process, as well as the end of the writing process.
Back in 2017, I began blogging with my 4th grade dual language students. Trying something new midyear was my desperate attempt to help create a small escape from the up and coming testing season, preparation, and practice that typically inhaled our classroom time. Once we began blogging, the impact of having an authentic audience presented itself clearly and in many ways. Students experienced audience through their peers, parents, and teachers. Students shared their work often and the comments on the many blog posts impacted them greatly. If students had access to technology, they took the opportunity to write and focus their thinking on what they wanted to say to their audience. They wrote so much, they began to challenge themselves in ways that were unexpected and amazing. The experience that year was life-changing for both the students and their teacher. Having an authentic audience changed how we learn, write, and share.
It is unfortunate that so often the only audience a student experiences is their own classroom teacher. I know exactly what it’s like to be the only audience for my students. It was once a common practice in my classroom. As I began to better understand the impact of creating authentic experiences for students, I began to weave them into our classroom more and more. The more these authentic experiences filled my classroom and the hearts of my students, the better I understood how writers grow.
What is the impact of having an audience?
- students who think of their audience throughout the writing process, become better thinkers and writers;
- students discover their voice;
- students discover their words can cause an impact;
- an audience gives students an authentic and meaningful purpose that can guide them through the entire writing process, from beginning to end.
Here are three ways to bring the audience into the publishing experience:
1. Blogging. Here, an audience can include, peers, parents, teachers, and the public if appropriate.
2. Classroom publishing events, published by peers for peers.
3. Museum publishing events for larger audiences can include parents, families, and/or students of other grade levels.
Ideas for Smaller Audiences
Publishing for an audience does not have to be a grand event. Grand events are not always possible throughout the school year. The publishing experience could easily happen with smaller audiences. Smaller audiences can include sharing a few lines, phrase, or favorite part with a classmate. When students share their writing, large or small, it impacts the writer’s internal motivators, nurturing intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is a heightened curiosity and interest in seeking challenges regardless of rewards. It is what all teachers want for students to have and develop.
According to an article published by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, The Emerging Neuroscience of Intrinsic Motivation: A New Frontier in Self-Determination Research, “studies have made it clear that although intrinsic motivation is a lifelong psychological growth function, by no means is its expression automatic; rather, intrinsic motivation depends on ambient supports for basic psychological needs, especially those for competence (feeling effective) and autonomy (feeling volitional).” When students experience first hand the impact of their writing, it alters the learning process positively and the impact can be life-long.
Having an authentic audience, other than a student’s teacher, can make a significant impact in the life of a growing writer. Words have power. The sooner our students understand how their voice and words can impact others, the sooner they will begin to understand their impact on our world.