Most students can grasp the concept of changing the way they write or speak depending on who they are addressing in just a small mini lesson. This post offers free materials to teach the lesson. Included is a PowerPoint, card activity, and foldable organizer. In no time your students will be able to write and speak to a specific audience. This includes using both formal and informal speech.
Teaching this lesson is super important as it is addressed in a large number of Common Core State Standards.
Teaching students to write for a specific audience is on the Common Core State Writing Standards beginning in third grade.
In studying the standards, I have found that as students become older, writing to the audience shows up even more frequently in the standards as you can see from the list above. Understanding audience is also important to the Speaking and Listening standards.
Students need to know when to speak formally and informally. This depends on the audience they are addressing.
Students tend to catch on to this idea very quickly by just getting them to just take notice. Here are three activities I have used in the classroom to help students begin to think about writing for a specific group of people.
Activity 1 – Brainstorm
I like to begin a lesson on “Writing for an Audience” by asking students to brainstorm. I ask students to name people whom they could write. Students will surprise you with their answers. You will receive names of famous sports athletes, movie stars, musicians all the way to names of friends and family members. I write what they say in the brainstorming session on the board. Instead of naming each person individually, I change the answers to categories of people. This may include friends, adults, teachers, famous people, and so on.
After the names are listed, I simply ask a series of questions to get students to think. I want students to determine if a letter to this person should be formal or informal. Questions might include the following.
- When writing a letter, which people would you begin with ‘Dear?’
- Is it okay to say ‘What’s up?’ to all the people on this list?
- Could you use acronyms like ‘lol’ for laugh out loud when writing this person?
Activity 2 – Name the Audience
Students name who the intended audience is for a the snippet of text.
You can download this activity free as a PowerPoint or card activity. Just click the image of your preference.
Activity 3 – Foldable Staggered Flip Organizer
You may also be interested in this Author’s Purpose Lesson.