Literacy 4-6

Authentic Audiences & Purposes

Overview

Writing can become personally meaningful when students have an actual audience and a real purpose for communicating with that audience. Students can practice writing different genres and develop their sense of voice, including Syntax and Vocabulary, for specific audiences. Such opportunities foster Motivation to write compelling pieces and help students understand the nuances of writing for different purposes (e.g., describe, inform, persuade), developing their Genre Knowledge and advancing their Foundational Writing Skills.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this fifth grade teacher encourages her students to write to the local administration about a supermarket shutting down. She uses this as an opportunity to teach them how to draft, revise, and send a persuasive letter, strengthening their positive emotions towards writing as well as their Genre Knowledge. See how receiving a reply boosts their confidence and Motivation to learn.

  • Teachers can provide open-ended prompts to allow students to choose the topic and audience (e.g., sharing their story in narrative form on a blog to global peers, arguing their position on an issue through an editorial in the school newspaper). Connecting with real-world purposes and audiences like local causes or figures can lead to more effective student writing. Teachers can also provide mini-lessons to help students recognize the purpose and audience for different texts.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    From 0:22, learn about the website Write the World that curates authentic audience experiences for students. By providing writing prompts, peer groups for feedback, and competitions for students, the site adds rigor and relevance to writing assignments, engages young writers, and prepares them for digital citizenship.

  • Apps and websites can serve as great platforms for students to connect with a wider audience. Developers can create channels for learners to publish their work in specific contexts, help students build and participate in relevant local campaigns, and even create volunteer-based lists of people willing to hear from young writers.