In every writing training I have ever attended, or presented at for that matter, there is talk about giving students authentic audience for their writing. This is sometimes easier said than done, and can leave us searching for more than just a time to share in class.
Let me be honest here and say that sharing out in class is all that I did for years, and it is an extraordinarily effective way of getting student engagement when it comes to writing. Now though, it is easier than ever to go global with your students' audience, all while keeping them safely in your classroom.
#CommentsforkidsThere is a hashtag for everything these days including sharing your students' writing. After your students have published their writing throw it up on Twitter with #commentsforkids. This is a hashtag devoted to people who want to read and give feedback on student writing. Instant writing community right? Check it out here.
Kidblog is exactly that, I blog for kids. It is amazing in that you can make it as private or public as you want, and also have the ability to moderate all comments. check out more about it here.
Who doesn't love a contest? Students get just excited as we do to enter a contest, and a writing contest is no different. I have never seen a student more ready to take my feedback than one who is trying to win a contest. Our first writing contest was the first time that I didn't have students arguing with me over writing multiple drafts. Here is a site with several annual writing contests for kids.
This can mean another class within your school, a class in the same grade level within your district, or a class on the other side of the country. I have found that this method is most effective when you meet regularly rather in person, through Skype, using Google Docs, or email. Frequent feedback is the key! It also works extraordinarily well to have students buddy up with a writer of similar skill level to encourage one another and give feedback. When students meet with people that are too far above or below from their own skill level they can get easily frustrated.
Again, this one is up for interpretation. You may want to write letters to a local business owner asking them to donate to your school or to a veteran thanking them for their service. Either way, there is a defined audience, and it is instantly more meaningful and engaging. One of my favorite letter writing activities is to write to authors. Whenever one of my students is really enjoying a book I encourage them to write to the author, and you better believe that I send that letter off. Most of the time the author writes back, which is a HUGE boost for the student who receives it.
What other ideas do you have for giving students an authentic audience?