Blogging: Reaching Your Target Audience

Blogging:  Reaching Your Target Audience

Benefits:

Students will…

  • read and discuss several blogs by YARN editors.
  • compare and contrast blogs with regard to their purpose, tone, rhetorical strategies, and address of audience.
  • compose their own blog, using what they have learned.
  • become more active blog readers, and potentially start their own blogs!

What you’ll need:

Prepare:

  • Review the YARN site, including “About YARN.”
  • Assign the blogs as online reading homework, or during quiet reading time in the school computer lab. Since this won’t be printed material that they can underline, ask them to use paper or class journals to jot down lines or ideas from the texts that jump out at them.
  • Set up computer with overhead screen in classroom.

In Class:

  1. Introduce YARN to the class, especially the “About YARN” and “Meet the Editors” pages.
  2. Open the blogs in different tabs, or windows, on the computer screen.
  3. First, ask the class if they know what blogs are. They should at least come up with diary-like essays posted online about specific subjects. Blogs exist for just about everything now: sports, knitting, writing, education, happiness, etc. If you want to get technical, “blog” is short for “Web Log,” a log of written entries on the Web. For more information, you might direct them to this timeline of blogging history from New York Magazine: http://nymag.com/news/media/15971/ The great thing about blogs is how democratic they are—anyone with access to a computer can blog. In fact, many of your students might already have their own blogs.
  4. Once everyone understands the form, ask the students to compare and contrast the YARN blogs with general questions to begin, perhaps recording answers on the chalk board:  What are the blogs about? What do they have in common? Ask them to back up their answers with specific lines from the texts.
  5. Graduate to more specific comparative questions:  Who is the audience for these bloggers? They are all published on the same site—does that mean the audiences are the same? Why or why not? How do the bloggers address their audience? What do the bloggers seem to be trying to accomplish, and how? What is the tone of the bloggers, and how does the tone help achieve the purpose and address their audience? (It will become obvious in discussion that all of these questions and answers are interrelated).
  6. With all their answers on the board, ask some synthesizing questions:  What have you learned about blogging from this discussion? What have you learned about how to engage your target audience  and how to persuade them to action?

Assignments:

There are several possible writing assignments that could come out of your discussion of YARN blogs, depending on the interest and advancement of your students. Here are a few possible prompts, in order of easiest to more difficult:

  • Prompt 1:  Choose a topic of interest to you and write a blog entry about it. 200-500 words. Remember what you learned in class about blogging, and remember that in such a short piece of writing, every word counts!
  • Prompt 2:  Choose a topic of interest to you and write two or three blog entries about it, each of 200-500 words. Remember what you learned in class about blogging, and remember that in such a short piece of writing, every word counts!
  • Prompt 3:  Put the class into groups of two or three, and ask them to decide on a topic to blog about. Each person in the group will then write a blog entry about the same topic, but in their own way. (Same notes about every word counting still apply.)

When the students have completed their writing assignments, you could simply have them turn them in for a grade, but you could also try the following:

  • Post the blogs on a wall of the class with empty paper space below for handwritten comments, or in a class computer shell like Blackboard, or the notes section of Facebook (if you’ve designed a FB page for your class). Ask each student to choose three blogs and write comments in response to those blogs.
  • Ask students what they learned from writing their own blogs. What did they enjoy? What did they find difficult?
  • If you did the group blog assignment, ask groups to discuss or journal about that experience. Were their individual blogs more similar or different from those of the others in the group? Why? What else did they learn?

Note: Unlike many YARN writing assignments, which can eventually be submitted to YARN for publication, student blogs cannot. At this time, only YARN’s editors blog. You can, however, encourage your students to read the YARN blogs—or any others of interest to them—and respond in the comments sections! Bloggers thrive on reader responses and are always looking to hear from more readers.

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