Early in my career as a high school ELA teacher, I learned the value of helping students always consider purpose and audience, both as critical thinkers and readers of texts, and as writers of their own literature. Effective writers make decisions about genre, form, tone, narrative voice, and word choice based upon their purpose and their audience. Critical readers examine an author’s choice of words, tone, and format in order to identify and draw conclusions about an author’s audience and purpose.
EL schools use purpose and audience as key design principles for developing curriculum and culture. In this inaugural year at FSI, our faculty crew began to implement project-based learning in preparation for more large-scale expeditions in future years. Content area teachers collaborated to design lessons and projects that demonstrate mastery of learning targets, integrate literacy, and culminate in a product that can be shared with an audience. These products, and the process through which they are created, hold students accountable, not only for demonstrating understanding of content area knowledge, but also for practicing our Habits of Scholarship.
Products shared with an audience, and built with high expectations for quality, revision, perseverance and collaboration, help establish a culture of achievement and respect. According to Steven Levy, in The Power of Audience,
“When student work culminates in a genuine product for an authentic audience, it makes a world of difference.”
Last week, FSI students had an opportunity to share products with authentic audiences right here on our campus!