Looking At Audience In Research Papers

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SWBAT analyze their own research writing through focusing on audience.

Big Idea

This paper is not just for the teacher. Thinking about audience as a way to revise.

Reading Time

10 minutes

Each day, I begin my ELA class with Reading Time.  This is a time for students to access a range of texts. I use this time to conference with students, collect data on class patterns and trends with independent reading and to provide individualized support.

Guided Instruction: Audience

10 minutes

One of the biggest challenges for my students when they write is to think about audience. It's hard for them understand how audience can affect what and how they write. I try and address this when I can so students are prepared for the more rigorous work with audience as they get older. While I don't do a lot of formal work on this, informal work - like today's lesson - helps students to at least think about it.

After looking at their papers for purpose, they then move on to audience. Earlier in the unit, students spent time, as part of their thesis proposal, determining what their audience is. Today's lesson has students look back at audience and see if their writing has addressed that audience and helps them determine ways to address it.

I pull up the Purpose and Audience Powerpoint on the Smartboard and we look at slide 3 Audience: Audience Screenshot. This slide has students look their research paper by doing the following:

  • —Who is the audience of your paper?
  • —How is your paper (as a whole) written to address that audience?
  • —Look through your draft, highlight specific parts that show how the audience has been addressed. Make a note explaining why/how.

I read through these directions to the class as a whole. Instead of breaking them down, I tell them what they will do for the rest of class. By doing this, they are able to work at their own pace and I can support students for each question when it is needed during the next section of the lesson. I can individualize instruction for each student when they struggle with a certain question by working with them on the question. I can model my thinking and they we can work together with the intention that they can work independently next.

Independent Practice: Analyzing For Audience

23 minutes

Giving class time to let students work and analyzing their rough drafts helps them to be able to produce stronger rough drafts. Many times students are not able to, or choose not to, revise or look at certain aspects on their own. By giving them this time, I can monitor the class as a whole to see if they are able to apply the idea of audience to their own writing. Most of the time the issue that comes up is when students include information that is needed or write in a manner that does not appeal to their audience.

I tell the class they will have the rest of time to review their drafts to look for audience. As students are doing this, either on a printed copy of their draft or on their computer, I am circulating around the classroom. I always anticipate this being challenging, especially the third direction of looking at specific parts of their paper. Having them look at what they wrote through the eye's of an audience can be tough for them because they are not used to viewing their writing in that way. They tend to think about their writing for a grade and thus for the teacher. I want them to get out of that habit so they can really look at writing the way it's meant to be viewed.

One way to address this challenge is to talk through a rough draft with students who are struggling doing this. As a teacher, I can put myself in the shoes of their audience and as they are reading I can tell them whether or not certain parts work to address the audience. You can also have students share their drafts with each other. Their partner can pretend to be the audience the writing is trying to write for. Sometimes peer work is more helpful than working with a teacher because their peers can word suggestions in a way that make more sense since they know each other well.

Here is an example of a student's draft as she highlights notes that would assist in her thinking of audience: Schiaparelli Draft: Audience Notes. This video explains it draft: Draft Example Focusing On Audience Explanation.