Find an audience for student writing at Figment
Figment is an online writing community that connects young writers. Figment authors must be thirteen years-old or older to join the community. "Figs" can submit writing to the site and participate in any of its forums, groups, or contests. Figs trade or swap readings through which they critique one another's work. They also write collaboratively in some groups and forums, trading narration from post to post. While some groups and forums offer collaborative writing spaces, others discuss figs' favorite media. Sponsored contests and featured books from published authors bring a corporate sheen to Figment, but figs retain copyright over their works; Figment secures the rights to display figs' works until they are taken down from the site.
For older kids who love to write, Figment provides an authentic audience of peers who share a passion for written expression. Teachers can sign up to create private groups that function as online writers' workshops from which students can publish to Figment. The pedagogical value of Figment comes from whatever writing goals kids carry into it. Audience is the motivator for mastering inquiry-based, small-group, and whole-class writing lessons.
How I Use It
Drawing on my experience as a judge for Figment's 2011 "Why I Write" contest (co-sponsored in-part by the National Writing Project), I would use Figment as a publishing tool for kids eager to share their work outside the classroom. I think kids could draw their own inquiry-based topics for writing instruction from their interaction with peer editors on Figment and bring those topics to class, allowing me to differentiate for them. I would sign up for Figment to create a collaborative writing space for kids interested in using it during class. I also think Figment's guidelines offer a useful starting point for class discussions of digital citizenship, participation, and fair use.
I would not use Figment for whole-class instruction if any kid in a particular class resisted writing or seemed fearful of publishing his or her writing. It might become a goal for such students to feel comfortable writing with peers and for a peer audience, but I would not ask students unready for peer critique or publishing to do so with Figment.