Monday, January 7, 2013

6 Ways to Get an iAuthentic iAudience

source: Creative Commons license for Audience?
Demystifying jargon:
  • An iAuthentic iAudience accesses an archived digital ("shared" or "posted") product.
  • An iAuthentic iAudience is sustainable (made of "friends" or "followers").
  • An iAuthentic iAudience is involved in a 2-way or many-way conversation.
  • An iAuthentic iAudience includes knowledgeable stakeholders (educators, teachers, professionals, active students).
  • An iAuthentic iAudience is larger than the student's school or class cohort.
Writing for an authentic audience is one focus of standards-based ELA and (more certainly) literacy curricula. There are good reasons for this focus. Here are a few quick links to ideas:
Student blogging is iAuthentic only if it is read. By and large, student work, unless sent directly to a specific, identified recipient (e.g. a congressman, a corporate leader), does not reach an audience of any kind. So what digital tools and methods will help students to find that elusive iAuthentic iAudience?  
  1. It is important to begin with a visually engaging "adult" blog or wiki site. Select one that will support widgets and html coding. This leaves out some "safe" educational hosting services, so check carefully!  A test run (several false sites created by the teacher or a student that can be deleted) is a good idea.
  2. Titles are important. Put a number in the title of every piece of writing (not Symbolism in lnnocent Eréndira, but 3 Key Symbols in Innocent Erendira Demystified).  Well over half of the reposted and rescooped posts written by educators begin with a number.  Also, use superlatives and shout-outs (your students must have amazing insights and excellent ideas).
  3. Create a series of accounts, perhaps even one for every student 13 and over. Give these names that will attract adult and student readers (The Deep Analyst, Literature Lovers, Literary Detectives, A Problem in the Community). Scoop every student post. Read the scooped posts and edit to add tags (book titles, authors, "literary analysis", "persuasive writing", etc. - use terms from standards). Rescoop posts to other student scoop.its.  Make sure to add Comments and to reply to all comments.  The more views the better.  Finally, embed each used by the student or class into the blog sidebar, as I have done.  You will need a little .html coding to do this, but it is easy.
  4. Work the RSS feed. Blogging services are so vast that the chances of student work being noticed are slight.  That is the reason for the connection. The larger and more obvious the RSS feed link is, the more readers will use it.  Students should, by the way, set up a feedreader
  5. Tweet each post.  This can be done via a widget on most blogging platforms.  If there is not already a #hashtag under which student writing logically falls, create one.  Make sure students know how this works! You can even suggest hashtags on the blog sidebar (Check out A Great Twitter Cheat Sheet for Teachers, which, by the way, has been reposted...).  Students should have Twitter accounts (13 and over).
  6. Teachers need to publicize student work. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to other teachers. Use your own blog, your own account, your own Twitter account (tweet a link to #comments4kids), a good professional community like English Companion Ning.  Put your writing projects out into the local community also - school websites, district news pages, local papers.  People like me get into the habit of responding to these requests for audience.  Teachers can use the Search function at most online communities to target specific readers (students can also do this).  
Don't want to blog?  ed.VoiceThread (or VoiceThread) and Google Docs are alternatives. Or publish student work to ePub or .pdf and make it available for download via a website.  Or use GoodReadsShelfari, or Amazon to post student reviews.  It is also highly successful to email student work to targeted readers.  Many working professionals will respond.  Others prefer links sent in a text.  

Writing creatively?  Upload student work to one of the many reliable sites for student publication. 

Whatever platform you choose, remember that an iAuthentic iAudience requires a conversation - students must read and respond to the works of other students and they must respond to the comments and critiques of their readers. 

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