AP Audience ELA English Language Arts Learning Literature Presentations Reading Teaching Tone Writing

Audience Awareness for students

A quick audience awareness activity for students: Mr. Theriault (FVHS)

This is a four part activity that should take about 25-40 minutes or so of class time. Students will need paper and pen, or something else to write with.

Step 1: Have students picture one of the following make sure the topic is acceptable for their age or any other social factor. The entire class should be writing on the SAME topic.

  • A Project X type of party that took place at a friend’s house
  • A fight that happened between their best friends over a theft of something that belongs to you. This was a huge ugly and mean fight. You want your audience to end up still liking both of the participants in the fight.
  • You were caught making a drawing of a teacher that was less than kind.
  • You didn’t do a large project for school and now you will be earning an F in that class.

Step 2: Write a short letter (about 4-7 sentences) explaining to your parent(s) one of the situations above.  It works best if you pick ONE parent or guardian.

Step 3: Now write a short note to a friend explaining to your friend one of the situations above. Pick a specific friend. Write to them as you normally would- slang and all. (Be class appropriate though)

Step 4: Lastly, write a short note (4-7 sentences) explaining to a young child one of the above events, someone around 3-5 years old. Try and think of a particular child you know.  (a)


Step 5: Once you are done have your students share the first letter with a classmate. Have that classmate circle anything in the letter/note that showed an awareness of a particular audience. Students may end up noticing:

  • Proper language and level of diction.
  • The use of proper (full names)
  • Adjectives and adverbs that a parent or adult would appreciate
  • Euphemisms, circumlocutions or just leaving out key details.
  • A moral learned, perhaps the entire episode becomes an anecdote or an aphorism is mentioned.
  • The use of imagery, metaphor or allusions that show audience awareness
  • Sentence structure.

Step 6: Then talk about the first note. Perhaps show the note using a digital camera or webcam or just have them write a key phrase or part on the whiteboard.

Step 7: Then have your students do the same steps (Step 5 and 6) with the other two notes.

Talk about the similar ways in which you found or achieved an awareness of audience in all three notes.

This activity will get your students to start understanding how writers address an audience. This will be helpful when you take on the difficult task of identifying tone. (I will tackle tone in an upcoming post.)

(a) If you have an honors/gifted/AP student or students in your class, you might want to replace the third letter (to a child) or add a 4th letter as homework. Have the students write to a more unusual audience such as:

  • An apple that has fallen off of its tree
  • A bee that is mindlessly happy with their status in the hive
  • A forgotten toy stuck in the back of a closet
  • An empty grape vine stuck in a student’s lunch box

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