Another important part of the writing process is deciding who your audience is and how that will affect what you write and how you write it. More important may be the realization that you have an audience at all. I gave the students lots of time to share their writing with each other last year, but when the students published a piece of writing it went straight to a pile of papers on a table only to be taken home at the end of the year (hopefully it didn’t go in the garbage can). One thing I have been wondering about this summer is how I can provide students with a better definition and concept of “audience.”
I realized that I didn’t start really working at my writing again (after studying Journalism in college the first time around) until I started my own blog. Even if no one ever read my posts, the possibility was there. This made all the difference. I crafted my words more carefully, I studied articles in The New York Times for inspiration, I rolled sentences around and around and around. I played with words, I reveled in clicking the ‘publish’ button, I was humbled anytime someone told me that they had enjoyed reading my work. What if my students could find the same joy? I began to toss the idea around of having students create their own blogs. I found a website called kidblog. Here is an example of a student blog. And here is a blog by 9-year-old Martha in the UK who has had over 7 million hits on her blog and is helping to feed children all over the world.
I also plan to continue an “author’s chair,” have monthly celebrations of our writing, encourage students to write letters to authors, each other, me, etc., share magazines that publish student work including Stone Soup, start a writing group, and have students create a classroom newspaper. What other ways can we teach students about the importance of audience? Please add any comments or suggestions!