Lesson plan

Aiming for Your Audience

Good writers begin with a knowledge of who their audience is. They shape their piece knowing that there will be a certain kind of reader on the other side. This lesson will help young writers cultivate an awareness of their audience.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to identify the audiences of different pieces of writing.

(10 minutes)
  • Ask students if they talk differently to different people. Do they change their tone of voice? Do they adapt their word choice?
  • Instruct students to work in pairs or small groups to come up with two examples of people with whom they use different “voices” and provide samples of how they might discuss the same topic with the two different audiences.
  • Share student examples.
(5 minutes)
  • Explain that voice is the way a person talks based on who they are talking with. We use different tones of voice (higher or lower), word choice (formal, slang, easier vocabulary when talking to young children), and shape our ideas (technical, humorous) depending on who we are talking to and what our purpose is.
  • Add that writers do this too. Writers can’t always be sure about who will read their piece, but they usually have an intended audience in mind that helps them identify what voice they should use.
(10 minutes)
  • Demonstrate how we adapt our voice to different audiences with the following activity.
  • Give the audience index cards (see materials) to a student volunteer.
  • Ask students to raise their hands to offer a topic of conversation (a movie, the weather, the traffic) and select one.
  • Begin talking to the class about the topic in your normal teaching voice.
  • Have the student with the cards hold them so that you can’t see what is written. Have another student pick one and share what is written by saying, “You are now talking to a (blank).”
  • Continue talking but adjust your voice to the given audience.
  • If you have students who you think can pull it off, let them have a turn at being the speaker.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the worksheet Tuning My Writing Voice.
  • Go over the instructions and have students complete the activity.
  • Support: Use the Internet to discuss voice. Go to different web pages and have students think about who the intended audience is, based on the visual presentation, content, language/word choice, etc.

  • Enrichment: Have students use a book they are reading independently and provide examples that support how the author infused voice into the writing through word and other language choices.
(10 minutes)
  • Read an excerpt from a persuasive essay and have students write a paragraph identifying the intended audience and providing support for their answer. This could also be done with a title and bullet points.
(5 minutes)
  • Share examples from completed portions of Tuning My Writing Voice.

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