After 25 years of teaching and 25 years of students, I can tell you that the lesson best learned was not one I taught, but one I facilitated by finding an authentic audience for my blossoming writers.
I was in Starbucks and my barista said, “Hey, Ms. M, is that you?” She went on to tell me how she remembered my class because she had a book review published in the local newspaper, a book review she wrote in my class and I helped her submit for publication.
Other students have told me that they remember their letter to the editor that was published, winning an essay contest, getting poems published in an anthology, and other experiences of sending their writing out into the world where it found an audience beyond me, the teacher.
Today, with technology, finding an audience for student writing is even more exciting.
Magazines: With publications like Teen Ink and Stone Soup, young writers can submit their stories, poems and essays to be published for others to see.
Newspapers: I wouldn’t overlook writing letters to the editor about a community concern, challenge, or celebration or to respond to another’s letter. This exercise not only gives writers a community audience, but is also an exercise in being an active citizen.
Blogs: Many students today have begun their own blogs. Some blogs are about personal experience and talents such as this one by Jacqueline. Other students have helped with family business blogs, such as this one done by Julian.
There are so many easy, free programs for students to use for blogging, this can be an easy way to gain an audience beyond the teacher, tutor or parent.
Whatever form finding an audience might take, the lessons learned in the public forum about writing and reading are valuable and unforgettable.