Teaching Audience Through Interactive Writing

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Estimated Time
Thirteen 20-minute sessions
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One of the most difficult aspects of writing is keeping audience in mind throughout the writing process. Developing lessons that support this strategy for writing is essential in the elementary classroom. This lesson supports first-grade students in learning about audience. Through interactive writing, students work together to create a genuine invitation letter for a group of their peers. In addition to the interactive writing experience, students work independently to create invitation letters for their families. Extension activities include conducting additional interactive writing experiences, reading books with samples of letters, and creating invitations at a learning center.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Vygotsky (1978) argues that through interaction, with proficient guidance, children can develop advanced mental processes such as audience awareness and gradually internalize the ability to anticipate audience needs.

  • Young children can learn audience awareness when objectives are placed in a genuine, meaningful context. When the purpose is realistic and specifically defines a familiar audience, they can keep that audience in mind while writing.

  • Interactive writing provides teachers an opportunity to model how to think about audience, while at the same time allowing their students to interact or try their hand with the text.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Black marker

  • Chart paper, pointer, and easel (or something else to hold chart paper; must be accessible to students)

  • Stationary and envelopes

  • Various books by Alma Flor Ada (With Love, Little Red Hen; Dear Peter Rabbit; Yours Truly, Goldilocks)



1. Access About Interactive Writing to find a definition of interactive writing and read about the roles of teacher and students during an interactive writing lesson.

2. Gather the resources listed (e.g., chart paper, easel, marker, and pointer) and place them in the group meeting area to be used as needed.

3. Ensure that your students have a genuine purpose for the invitation writing activity. Invitations can be created for poetry readings, Readers Theater, dramatic interpretations of stories, book shares, author chairs, or other meaningful literacy activities.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Listen to stories by Alma Flor Ada

  • Interact with the stories read aloud

  • Discuss the use of audience in the stories

  • Share their experiences sending and receiving invitations

  • Create a class invitation with teacher assistance

  • Participate in reflective discussions applying knowledge of audience to the composition of the class invitation

  • Apply knowledge of audience to the individual composition of family invitations

Sessions 1-4: Interactive Read-Aloud and Brainstorming

1. Gather students in the group meeting area.

2. At the beginning of each session, read one of the stories by Alma Flor Ada (e.g., With Love, Little Red Hen; Dear Peter Rabbit; Yours Truly, Goldilocks). Use these books to initiate a discussion about how the characters in the stories used letters to communicate with one another.

3. Ask if your students have ever received or sent an invitation letter. Generate ideas about what information was included.

4. At the beginning of Session 4, tell students that they will be inviting another class to come to a literacy event that your class is already preparing. Ask students for suggestions on ways to invite the other class to come to the literacy event. Listen while students brainstorm several ideas and help them propose writing a letter as an option.

5. Discuss the benefits of writing a letter and make sure that students understand the purpose for creating the message.

Sessions 5–9: Interactive Writing

Each session should focus on the development of audience. Since the purpose of this lesson is on audience, don't spend a lot of time on spelling corrections or word study. Too many teaching points will bog the lesson down.

Tips for interactive writing:

  • When composing the text, give students an opportunity to generate ideas and together decide how the text will be written.

  • Point out how the wording of the message will affect the audience.

  • Encourage students to join in the actual writing of the message.

  • Be sure that students reread the message often to be sure that they are still focusing on the audience.
1. Review the concept of writing a letter to invite a neighboring class to a literacy activity. Explain to students that it is important to understand to whom they are writing to when composing a letter. Give examples from the books read during Sessions 1-4 to show how audience was considered.

2. Start composing the message by negotiating the text. In this stage, talk to students about what should be included in the message. Begin by guiding them through the greeting or salutation. Look at several examples from the books read. Once students decide how they would like to word the greeting (e.g., Dear Class 101), allow volunteers to come up to the easel and write the words on the chart paper. This is a good time to stretch words to develop phonemic awareness and concepts about print. If a word is too difficult or a sound cannot be heard, you may take the marker and write the word yourself. Once the greeting is finished, it is time to wrap up. Have students discuss what they have written to this point and what they will be writing next.

3. At the beginning of each new session, discuss the activities and concepts addressed in the sessions before. Reread the text of the letter composed to this point. Ask students how the body of the message should be constructed. Draw out the information that the audience will need to know regarding the event (e.g., what, when, where) and in what ways the audience can be persuaded to come. Write your message one sentence at a time. Be aware of your students. When they are not attending to the lesson, it may be time to wrap up for the day. At the conclusion of each session, have students discuss what they have written and how they considered their audience in the wording of the message.

4. At the beginning of Session 9, discuss the activities and concepts addressed in the sessions before. Reread the text of the letter composed to this point. Tell students that it is time to end the letter. Guide them through the closing. Look at several examples from the books read during Sessions 1-4. Once students have decided on a closing, ask them to also think about including a postscript (or P.S.). Have them reread the entire letter and decide if it is complete. Then have them discuss what they have written and how they considered their audience in the message of the letter.

Session 10: Reflection

When the class letter is finished, summarize the lesson. Discuss the purpose for writing the letter and the importance of remembering the audience during the writing process. Have students reflect on what they have learned. This is also a good time to clear up any misconceptions.

Sessions 11–12: Independent Work

1. After working as a group on the invitation letter to their peers, give students stationary and envelopes. Ask students to write a letter to their families inviting them to attend the same literacy event.

2. Brainstorm how writing letters to their families will be different or the same as writing a letter to their peers.

3. While students are writing their letters, continually remind them of the audience and how the wording of their messages will affect the audience. What information is important to include in the invitations and how can their families be persuaded to attend the event?

Session 13: Sharing and Reflection

Set aside time for students to share the invitations they created for their families. Have students compare how the letters are different from one another and from the original letter they created for their peers. Use this opportunity to reinforce the concept of audience by discussing the differences in the letters and have students again reflect on what they have learned.


  • After the class has attended the literacy activity, conduct another interactive writing session with your students to develop a thank you letter to send to the class that attended your event. This could open an interactive writing correspondence between the two classes.

  • Read The Jolly Postman, Other People's Letters, or The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Little Brown & Co, 2001).

  • Create a learning center with stationary and envelopes for students to create invitations for other purposes.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Observe students during the interactive read-alouds and take anecdotal notes to assess their participation in class discussions and understanding of audience.

  • Analyze the class invitation to check for audience development.

  • Use student's individual invitation samples to assess each student's progress.

Invitation Checklist

_____ Does the student write the name of the audience in the greeting?

_____ Does the student create an individual letter that differs from the original class interactive writing sample?

_____ Does the student use language appropriate for the audience?

_____ Does the overall letter demonstrate an awareness for the audience?

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