Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Knowing Your Audience

I must confess: I'm a homeschooling mom who actually likes workbooks. Workbooks have gotten a rather bad rap among some of the more creative, more motivated, more...er...awake variety of homeschooling moms, the ones who can come up with interesting writing assignments or history rabbit trails (is that right? I don't know all the terms yet) and so on at the drop of the proverbial headgear; but I've enjoyed supplementing our core curricula with the occasional workbook, especially in math and in language arts, two areas where practice makes perfect and practice is a lot easier to take, when you're a child, if there's a neat page with a box and a few lines for you too fill, instead of a terrifying expanse of blank paper and a mother who says with cheerful treachery, "Write about anything you'd like to write about!"

One set of workbooks we use to supplement language arts come from a series called "Spectrum Writing," and I enjoy the way the authors challenge children to go beyond simple narrative or basic fiction writing. Hatchick's book, for instance, has been looking at advertising writing, something which surrounds our children; I like the idea that the book is giving her the tools to look at this sort of writing critically and to learn some of the "tricks" that go into creating it.

After this last lesson, though, I may have to rethink things. Oh, not really; in point of fact, she did rather well, considering the topic of today's assignment was learning to know your audience and tailoring your writing to persuade them to try your product or service. Here's what she wrote--and bear in mind that I'm her "audience" for this advertisement:
Do you like coffee and tea but can never decide which one to have? Well then we have the product that can change that. Cofftea! It's a mixture of coffee and tea. This delicious product might just sound like bad grammar but it's perfect for allergies and sleepiness so try some cofftea today! Found at Walmart (tm), Target (tm) and other stores. Yummy! Comes in different flavors!
Know your audience, indeed. :)


Anonymous said...

How cute and funny!

I will need to check out those books.

(formerly oremus)

Wendy in VA said...

I'd buy it. :o)

Tarcisius said...

I know my brother would like some. :)

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Mom is occasionally collecting some of these teaching treasures. The enlightened homeschooling family can really instill the lifelong love of learning in a way no educational institution has complete access if in the words of Oct. 7, 2008 comment in Psychiatry by Barbara Geller MD "one of the challenges of teaching is to match students’ abilities with instruction style and materials, so that students are not unduly stressed by being called unmotivated or lazy when the work is simply beyond their competence. Furthermore, how material is taught is best individualized to optimize individual learning and achievement." Many of us know that instinctively, but how blest are those that can promote it in their own child's formative educational experience.