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Writing for the Real World
|Grades||6 – 12|
South Lyon, Michigan
|Tip Topic||Tips for Teaching Writing
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Why Use This Tip
Everyone reads, and everyone writes. Helping youth notice the great variety of writing all around them "in the real world" not only helps them learn that people of all ages write for a variety of purposes, for different audiences, and in different forms or genres, but it also motivates them to write in genres that are new and engaging and helps them become more fluent and more flexible writers.
The first step in helping kids write for the real world is helping them notice many different kinds or genres of writing: billboards, songs, news articles, comics, poetry, short stories, movie scripts, memos, CD covers, blogs, Facebook pages, picture books, Web pages, resumés, and more!
- Talk about the writing that you find and ask open-ended questions such as:
- What is the point that the writer is trying to make?
- Who is the intended audience for this piece of writing? Why do you think so?
- What features make this genre of writing distinctly identifiable as it is? For example, what makes this news article look and read like a news article? What makes this comic strip look like a comic strip?
- What do you notice about the form of this genre? How does it appear on the page?
- Is the style of the writing formal or informal? Why do you think so?
- In noticing various genres, be attuned to the genre or genres that spark the most interest. Does your young person have an idea that she would like to share with others? With whom does she want to share the idea? Talk about which genre would be most effective in reaching that particular audience and then begin a study of that particular genre by doing the following:
- Collect four or five samples. If your teen wants to write a letter to the editor, collect four or five different letters to the editor.
- Study the samples that you have collected and answer the questions listed above to think deliberately about the form, style, and content of each piece.
- Make a list of the features that make the genre - in this case, the letter to the editor - identifiable as a letter to the editor.
- Encourage young people to use the information gleaned from the genre study to write their own letter to the editor or any other genre of choice.