Many of today's writers fail to consider an audience's point of view when writing. When they do this, it becomes nearly impossible to know WHO they are writing for and HOW to reach them. This often results in writers using language styles and tones that don't resonate with their audiences.
Fortunately, sharpening one's writing skills can begin at a very young age. One of the best ways to get child writers to improve their critical thinking skills, which are essential to writing, is to have them consider whether they are writing to one audience or multiples. According to Eutopia.org, the secret sauce to motivating child writers to write not only more content, but better quality content is to give them a specific and authentic audience. Each audience will impact word choice, the stories or examples to tell, the details to include, which parts to emphasize, and, of course, the tone.
Understanding the Connection Between Audiences and Writers
A good understanding of audiences makes it much easier to connect with them. Take, for example, if your child is writing on safety tips for people in their 30s. But who are these people? Do they have strong religious beliefs? Do they ride motorcycles on the weekend? Do they live by the ocean or somewhere not close to water? Do they have kids?
The answers to these questions offer insight to any writer as to how to best reach their audience. For example, if they have kids, your child writer could employ the pathos of parenting guilt ; if they ride motorcycles on the weekend, your child writer would have to balance pushing safety with a healthy dose of allowance for risk.
Do you see now why it's so important to know your audience?
Setting Up Shop for Child Writers
Don't just tell the child they need to understand their audiences. Explain that understanding WHO they are writing to and WHY they are writing to them directly impacts:
- What to write,
- The message to share
- How to share the message
Explain that knowing the audience on a deep level gives the writing more focus and provides great opportunity for writers to think critically about beliefs and preferences among different people throughout the world as well as their own beliefs and preferences.
Understanding the intricacies of audience similarities and differences makes it possible for writers to not only understand topics on deeper levels, thus improving content quality, but also making it more likely to reach and resonate with a mass audience.
Follow these six tips to help child writers get to know their audiences better:
- Host a workshop
- Assign the topic of Vote for Me as Class President
- Assign two audiences: Classmates and school staff
- Have child writers create one piece (400 words) of writing for each audience
- Explain that in order to convince classmates to vote for you, it requires using simple language (3rd to 6th grade level), while sharing your opinion with school staff requires writing at a more advanced level. The goal is to reflect and persuade your audiences to believe what you write about.
- Child writers can share content with one another with proper guardian permission
The more workshops you host, the better child writers will get at using the appropriate language and tone within their pieces to reach various audiences. Check out the sources below for even more ideas and lessons that can take your student's audience insight to the next level!
Aguilar, E. (2011). "Motivating Students: Writing for an Audience." [Web]. Retrieved from: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/motivating-student-writers-audience-elena-aguilar
Hankinson, B. (2020). "Teaching Audience Through Interactive Writing." [Web]. Retrieved from: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/teaching-audience-through-interactive-242.html?tab=4#tabs
Lorcher, T. (2020). "Lesson Plan: Writing for Purpose and Audience. Teach Students How to Write and Revise with Purpose and Audience in Mind." [Web]. Retrieved from: https://www.brighthubeducation.com/high-school-english-lessons/11378-writing-for-purpose-and-audience-lesson-plan/
Miller, G. (2014). "Identifying and Writing for an Audience Mini Lesson." [Web]. Retrieved from: https://www.bookunitsteacher.com/writing/audience.pdf
Schulten, K. (2018). "Writing for an Audience Beyond the Teacher: 10 Reasons to Send Student Work Out Into the World." [Web]. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/15/learning/writing-for-audience-beyond-teacher.html