Writing Publicly to Influence Parents

Educators use effective writing strategies to influence parents for the purpose of engaging them with a specific policy, program, initiative, technology, or pedagogical approach.
Made by Center for Teaching Quality

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Educators use effective writing strategies to influence parents for the purpose of engaging them with a specific policy, program, initiative, technology, or pedagogical approach.

Method Components

Writing is a powerful medium for influencing parents 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 parents’ confidence to advocate for best practices.

A national survey indicates that parents want frequent information from educators about a number of issues, including statewide educational policies and implementation of district initiatives (NSPRA 2011). Any of a number of forms can be used to reach parents publicly through writing:

  • Newsletters (print and digital)
  • Wikis and websites
  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Articles (print and digital publications)
  • Letters
  • Books
  • Other public 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:

  1. Introducing and supporting ideas through powerful storytelling and compelling anecdotes
  2. Promoting the credibility of the author and his or her sources
  3. Framing the message through the lens of the audience’s values, needs, and emotional sensibilities
  4. Connecting to the audience through specific word choice that acknowledges readers’ values, needs, and priorities
  5. Avoiding insider jargon, such as highly technical terms or education-specific acronyms that will disconnect the audience from the topic or ideas
  6. Using inductive and deductive reasoning to craft powerful arguments
  7. Incorporating visual components (graphs, tables, images, and charts) to reinforce ideas, arguments, and calls to action

Research & Resources

Supporting Research


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

  • Bill Ferriter, “What are you doing to encourage curiosity in your teachers?” blog post, http://bit.ly/1TUjUuQ

To access more exemplars and writing support, join the conversation at the Center for Teaching Quality’s (CTQ) Collaboratory Communication Lab, http://www.teachingquality.org/about, http://www.teachingquality.org/content/communications-lab

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

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.

Part 1. Overview questions

(500-word limit total for both)

  • What prompted you to write this piece? Please describe the conversations, current events, or other publications that inspired you to create this piece.
  • Who is your audience? Describe the specific group you targeted with as much detail as possible.

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Submit a piece of writing in the form of a link to an online document available to parents, an image documenting written conversation with parents, or a PDF of a published document that has been shared with parents. This document should have the goal of influencing parents to engage or act. Example topics might include new initiatives, valuable programs, innovative technologies, assessment practices, or policy changes. Writing must have been published in the past 24 months.

Your artifact submission will be assessed on the following rubric. You must score a Proficient or Exemplary on this portion of the submission in order to earn the micro-credential.

Part 3. Reflection

Submit a reflection answering the following prompts. Your reflection can be submitted in EITHER of the following formats:

  • Link to a published, publicly viewable video (4-minute limit)
  • Written response saved as a PDF (1,000-word limit)


  • Identify 2–3 specific choices (i.e., length, formatting, word choice, incorporated support, or publication platform) you made that helped to influence one or more parents more effectively. Explain these choices and how they affected this audience.
  • What outcomes do you expect your publication to achieve? What is your plan for achieving these outcomes? How would you define success for this publication?
  • To what degree have you achieved your outcomes thus far? Cite specific examples, if possible.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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