Students have to experience writing for real audiences before they will know that writing can bring them power.
— Anne Rodier, A Cure for Writer’s Block
There is a close relationship between authentic literacy practices and the development of reading and writing. Students immersed in the exploration of the kinds of texts they are going to create become familiar with the conventions of these texts. Explicit teaching of skills and strategies is embedded within these authentic contexts through modelling and independent practice along with regular opportunities for feedback.
A writer’s purpose is a reflection of what he or she expects to accomplish by writing the text, from comforting a friend, to informing the public and advocating for social change.
Writers write for a variety of purposes, such as:
● to express their ideas, experiences and emotions
● to inform the reader
● to persuade or affect the reader to use language creatively
Providing an audience for student writing and production helps students think about the purpose of their text. They will be more motivated to write, revise and edit.
Here are some suggestions for giving students an authentic audience:
● Produce an anthology of writing for peers
● Create a book for younger students
● Write letters to authors, politicians or celebrities
● Make flyers to advertise an upcoming event
● Create a video book review or trailer
● Produce a social media campaing to raise awareness for a cause
● Create and maintain a blog or a vlog channel
● Create spoken, written or media presentations based on inquiry findings
● Produce photo journals
● Write and perform spoken texts (spoken word poetry, speeches, monologues, etc.)
● Enter writing contests
Read more about the power of providing authentic production contexts in A Cure for Writer’s Block.
Grant Wiggins discusses the importance of the impact in Real-World Writing: Making Purpose and Audience Matter.
Ben Loomer from LEARN Quebec offers advice on engaging students in Authentic Experiences: Student Writing for Real Audiences .
The Learning Netword offers Student Journalism: Using New Models for Authentic Writing with advice on different ways to approach journalism.
The Quebec Writer’s Federation sponsors writing contests for young adults.
Blue Metropolis offers educational programs and writing contests for Secondary ELA classrooms.
Edublogger’s 50 Ideas for Student Blogging and Writing Online offers information and writing prompts.