Promptastic: Analyzing Tweets and Texts
Your students are actually always thinking about voice and audience -- they just may not be aware of it! One way to teach rhetorical analysis is to have students analyze their own texts and tweets for audience, tone, and voice.
See Kristen Hawley Turner’s article on Digitalk for more context and ideas.
As she writes in her free-access article, “Asking students to include out-of-school writing, such as text messages, IMs, and social network posts, as part of their portfolio in school would value these discourse practices and the language that is associated with them. Adolescents could begin to see their communications as real writing and appreciate their individual competencies” (Kristen Hawley Turner, Digitalk as Community 40).
To bring this discussion and practice into classroom writing, try a great exercise in voice with our argumentative prompts on social media and school uniforms. Ask students to first write the editorial or letter to a formal, more authoritative audience, like their principal or their community leaders. Then, in subsequent revisions, ask students to direct their arguments to various audiences, including parents, friends, classmates, or an audience who strongly disagrees. Ask students to carefully analyze their word choice, sentence structure and tone in each of these revisions. When they are happy with a final product, ask them to write a memo to you letting you know which audience their final draft is written toward and how that audience has affected their writing.
These activities will help students see that they are already rhetoricians: they take into account their audience and the persona they hope to create in all kinds of everyday rhetorical situations. Now they may be ready to do more advanced rhetorical work like that demanded in Last Child and Big Data.
All of these Revision Assistant prompts offer students an opportunity to receive custom holistic and targeted feedback, helping them improve as writers and critical thinkers.