With one mini-lesson, most students can grasp the concept of changing how they write or speak depending on whom they are addressing. This post offers free materials to teach the lesson on writing to an audience. Included are a PowerPoint, a card activity, and a Boom Learning Deck. You will also find a foldable organizer. After practice, your students can change how they write and speak based on the audience in no time.
Teaching students how to adapt their writing and speaking based on their audience is a crucial skill that aligns with Common Core State Writing, Speaking, and Listening standards. Educators can enhance their students’ communication skills by helping them understand the importance of considering their audience.
Here are five activities I have used in the classroom to help students begin to think about writing for a specific group of people.
Be sure to get the handout. It includes the printables you need to complete some of the activities.
Writing for an Audience Activities
Activity 1: Brainstorming
I like beginning a “Writing for an Audience” lesson by asking students to brainstorm. I ask students to name people for whom they could write. The students will surprise you with their answers. You will receive the names of famous sports athletes, movie stars, and musicians. Naturally, the names of friends and family members are common.
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. For example, Sallie, Mr. Jones, and Beyonce may become friends, adults, teachers, famous people, etc.
After listing the names, I ask questions to get students to think. I want students to determine if a letter to this person should be formal or informal. Questions include the following:
- When writing a letter, which people would you begin with ‘Dear?’
- Is it okay to say ‘What’s up?’ to everyone on this list?
- When writing this person, could you use acronyms like ‘lol’ for “laugh out loud”?
Activity 2: Name the Audience
Students name who the intended audience is for the snippet of text. “Name the Audience” links are provided in three formats: Boom Learning Decks, a printable, and a PowerPoint presentation. You will find links to these in the handout.
Have you never used Boom Learning? Watch this 30-second video to see it in action.
Activity 3: Foldable Staggered Flip Organizer
I love for my students to have reference materials to use as a guide in their interactive notebooks. This staggered flip organizer contains questions students ask themselves to determine details about the audience before they begin writing a piece.
The flip chart organizer contains questions students must ask themselves when beginning a writing project. The questions are intended to help students focus on audience expectations.
Questions encourage students to think about several topics, such as:
- Are they writing for a grade?
- Does the writing need to be formal or informal?
- Should the writing format be an essay, article, or report?
Activity 4: Media Analysis
Engage students in analyzing various forms of media to identify the target audience and the strategies employed to appeal to that audience.
You can select actual advertisements, news articles, and social media posts that are currently popular, or use the six simulations provided in the handout.
Students can work individually or in groups to examine these examples and discuss how the language, tone, and visuals are tailored to specific audiences. Encourage them to consider how they could apply similar techniques in their own writing and speaking tasks.
Activity 5: Real-World Audience Connections
Help students make real-world connections by engaging with authentic audiences for their writing. Have students use blogging platforms, online forums, or even contact community organizations. Encourage students to write for these platforms, keeping in mind the audience’s interests, knowledge level, and expectations. Students can better understand how their writing can impact others by receiving feedback or responses from their intended audience.
By implementing these ideas, educators can effectively teach students how to adapt their communication for specific audiences, empowering them to become versatile and effective communicators in various contexts.