Lesson: Defining Success across Audiences


Contributed by Elizabeth Alexander, 2014


  • To identify audience needs and revise writing accordingly
  • Engage in self-assessment and self-critique for more effective communication with different audiences

When to use this:

In a unit in which students must revise a piece using a different mode and/or for a different audience

Prior Class:

Ask students to bring an outside piece of original writing that was deemed successful by somebody else. This can be ANYTHING. It can be a contest entry, a publication, a school assignment, a blog, a social media interaction, a public or private letter, etc.

20 min.:

In small groups students share their piece or summarize it (depending on the length) and reflect on why it was successful and according to whom and what they think was strong / weak about this particular piece.

15 min.

The group will look for trends or raise questions as they define success. Have them record and share out the group-think (bigger piece of paper to hang up, the whiteboard, online in a discussion forum).


Students will self-assess assigned piece of writing and self-reflect on what changes would be made in order to meet some of the definitions of success the class generated with the outside pieces.


Outside piece: a compare / contrast essay of two different events during the Civil Rights Movement for a U. S. history class

Group-Think Success: balanced points with two comparisons and two contrasts

Revision of “How To’ Essay: include a “how not to’ paragraph
I would have a variety of examples to share for the group think just in case students don’t remember to bring their own examples

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