An authentic audience is really useful in teaching persuasive writing. My personal definition is, “the hypothetical audience a student is presenting to, based on a topic given to them.”
An authentic audience allows for imagination,more creative writing, and adds purpose to student work.
I will be using “What would I like to see at my school?” as an example topic to define what an authentic audience is.
Imagine this topic was given to a 4th grade student. A possible answer would be “better playgrounds.” Their answer decides the authentic audience. In this case, the authentic audience would be their school administration because they get to decide where school funds go. Now knowing their authentic audience, students can have better idea of who they should convince, and of what. If the students were told that their authentic audience were their parents, the students would not be as persuasive, but rather informative when talking to their parents vs. school administration on this topic.
Outside of just persuasive writing, it gives students more motivation to go out and make more things happen. For example, after knowing who to talk to, and practicing it in the classroom, students can proactively go out on their own and turn their authentic audience into an actual one. Creating this authentic audience allows students to see more purpose in their work.
Have you created an authentic audience for students? Share your experiences in the comments below.