Thursday, April 4, 2019

Writing to Authentic Audiences
Brianna Cheever

This year in my Biology class I completed an experiment in which students had to swab different areas of the room for bacteria. They then chose 2 disinfectants to compare; they cleaned the areas with the disinfectants and then swabbed again for bacteria. This was to demonstrate the effectiveness of the 2 products in getting rid of germs. I used to have the students create posters of their results, but wanted to amp it up this year and have them actually write letters to the manufacturing company of the product.

We completed the experiment, analyzed our results, took pictures, created a graph, and drafted a letter to the company - either praising or questioning the company’s product. They then completed a peer review of their letters; another group read, edited, and commented on their rough draft. This gave them a chance to see how other groups wrote their letters, and also provided them with feedback to make any final edits to their draft.

With one disinfectant in particular multiple groups got more bacteria after using the product! This was concerning to them, so I chose those letters to send to the company (here’s an example of one of the letters). I added a little cover letter and mailed them away! It was very easy to do! A few weeks later I received an email back!!

I shared this email with the students and they were shocked!! They couldn’t believe that I actually sent their letters, and that someone actually responded! I think choosing to write to an authentic audience was powerful because the students realized that their voices were heard….and they were relieved that the product is no longer being sold!

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