Education Highlight: Writing for an Authentic Audience: What is it and why is it important?
January 25th, 2024
At GSB we aim to give our students the chance to write for an authentic audience. When students have a purpose for their writing, know that it will be read by others – and perhaps even have an impact – their investment deepens and they often lift the level of their own work. Think about it. Don’t you write differently if it’s for a group of people rather than just one person? Or if there is something else on the line, such as landing a grant or a job offer?
Here are a few recent examples of writing for an authentic audience at GSB from Kindergarten to Middle School:
Student Ted Talks
A GSB middle school favorite is a unit on Ted Talks. Students learn how to write a persuasive essay, and then turn their essay into a “Ted Talk.” Parents and other students are invited to hear the talks, which gives the students a chance to have a wider audience for their work. In this case, students practiced writing and speaking persuasively, as well as how to organize their work for maximum impact.
Teaching ABC’s to Stuffed Animals
This year, Ms. Leah’s kindergarten students had an audience of stuffed animals! After they learned all of the letters of the alphabet, students were invited to bring in a stuffed animal from home. Students then held class for their stuffed animals to teach them their ABCs! This type of activity ignites excitement for learning and helps students deepen their understanding of a topic – from the ABC’s to. . . future dissertations?
Writing Wall of Fame
In Ms. Sarah’s 8th Grade class this fall, students vyed to get on the “Writing Wall of Fame.” Various categories of writing were presented including “Best Introduction,” “Best Conclusion,” “Best Analysis,” and “Best Overall.” Students then voted on which pieces most astutely illustrated the writing skills and strategies that they’ve learned, and Yours Truly as Head of the English Department chose the “Best Overall.” All pieces of writing were submitted without student names attached in order for the voting to be unbiased and based ONLY on the effectiveness of the writing piece.
Students upped their level of effort in their work when they knew that it would be read by their peers as well as other teachers in the school, which increased the quality of their writing.
Our curriculum evolves each year, and we’re looking forward to continuing to find ways for our students to write for authentic audiences. New York Times Tiny Memoir Contest, anyone?