Educators use effective writing strategies to influence the general public for the purpose of activating people to implement or support a specific policy, program, initiative, technology, or pedagogical approach.
Writing is a powerful medium for influencing the public because it offers permanence, portability, and accessibility. Additionally, research has shown that the majority of Americans have “trust and confidence in teachers” (PDK/Gallup 2014). Teachers should leverage the public’s confidence to advocate for best practices. A number of forms could be used to reach the general public through writing:
Different formats will have the potential to reach audiences of different sizes, and some channels may be more appropriate than others for some issues.
Effective writing uses specific methods to capture the audience’s attention, validate readers’ concerns, acknowledge their values, and connect with their emotions. The following strategies can be used to create effective written communication:
Purdue Owl Writing Resources. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University offers an array of writing resources and instructional material. The following links offer explanations and examples of a variety of writing strategies and skills that are essential for influencing an audience.
Digital Writing 101: Handbooks & Articles on Writing for Web Audiences by Amy Goodloe. This online resource compiles blog posts and short web articles on a variety of skills relevant to digital writing and online publication. The first set of links is most useful to address formatting and style for online publications. http://newmediawriting.net/content/resources-on-writing-for-web-audiences/
Five Basic Tips for Digital Media by International Journalists Network. Another web article about how to write to an online audience. This one offers some quick tips to “improve your writing for the Internet,” but focuses mainly on formatting and organizing text. https://ijnet.org/en/stories/how-improve-your-writing-internet
Teaching that Sticks by Chip and Dan Heath. Borrowing from the content of their best-selling book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, this short article focuses on the six traits that “make ideas stickier,” including storytelling, establishing credibility, and offering concrete images to illustrate abstract concepts. Although it’s not specifically about writing, this resource will help you frame the message for your audience. http://heathbrothers.com/download/mts-teaching-that-sticks.pdf
The SUCCESS Model by Chip and Dan Heath. This simple graphic summarizes the principles of “Teaching that Sticks” in a one-page visual format that would be great to print out and keep close when writing to influence an audience. http://heathbrothers.com/download/mts-made-to-stick-model.pdf
“Made to Stick” Keynote by Chip and Dan Heath. This presentation offers content similar to “Teaching that Sticks” and the SUCCESS poster, but it dives more deeply into the ideas from Made to Stick and offers a summary of the book’s key concepts in an hour-long talk. https://vimeo.com/5079830
Stories That Matter by Marshall Ganz. “The initial challenge for an organizer—or anybody who’s going to provide leadership for change—is to figure out how to break through the inertia of habit to get people to pay attention. . . . We don’t just talk about hope and other values in abstractions. We talk about them in the language of stories because stories are what enable us to communicate these values to one another.” Click to read this three-page article from a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University. http://bit.ly/1JjLP0p
On Writing Well by William Zinsser. “Zinsser's book On Writing Well provides both a comprehensive guide to writing nonfiction and a useful writer's reference. He starts with an overview of the writing craft and moves into specific nonfiction writing forms. The book wraps up with the important attitudes that good writers develop.” http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-on-writing-well/#gsc.tab=0
Exemplars of Writing to a Colleague Audience
To access more exemplars and writing support, join the conversation at the Center for Teaching Quality’s (CTQ) Collaboratory Communication Lab, https://www.teachingquality.org/about-ctq/
To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a Proficient or Exemplary evaluation in all four categories for Part 2 and a Passing for Parts 1 and 3.
(500-word limit total for both)
Submit a piece of writing in one of the following forms: a link to a publicly available document, an image documenting written conversation with members of the general public, or a PDF of a published piece addressed to the general public. This document should have the goal of influencing the general public to engage with, take action on, or have a conversation around a specific policy, program, funding proposal, or initiative. Writing must have been published in the past 24 months.
Your artifact submission will be assessed on the following rubric. You must earn a Proficient or Exemplary score on this portion of the submission in order to earn the micro-credential.
Submit a reflection answering the following prompts. Your reflection can be submitted in EITHER of the following formats:
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