Figment--an audience beyond the classroom
"As far as social networking goes for teenagers, Figment is a moderated space that focuses upon teens writing for teens. They can post their own work, participate in contests, read about featured YA books, and participate/start their own forums. The particularly nice point is that the site is moderated (unlike the vast plains of Facebook and Twitter where any post is a good post).
Figment was created by Dana Goodyear, a staff writer at The New Yorker, and Jacob Lewis, the former Managing Editor at The New Yorker and Condé Nast Portfolio. They have sectioned the site into areas for posting original work (including fan fiction), forums, contests (which I'll touch on later), the Daily Fig, and sadly, a shopping area wherein Figment bags, t-shirts and other paraphernalia are readily available.
The Daily Fig, I admit, is a little bit of a time-sponge. I spent more time figuring out my literary boyfriend (Rhet Butler) and my Greek God (Zeus) than I did reading the contest winners and reading about the upcoming contests. However, when I did break away from my fascinating quiz results, I clicked over to the contests and took a look at the Research Rapture Contest. Ruta Sepetys recounts how she researched her new book; Figment offered the following challenge: In 250 words or fewer, choose an item from around your house (an old picture frame, a vase, a piece of jewelry that belongs to your mom, etc.) and create a fictional history for it. Now, that's a great writing prompt, AND a great way to share it beyond the classroom.
Overall, the posts from the student writers ranged from could-have-used-another-round-of-proofreading to pretty darn spiffy. As an English teacher, I'm always wanting more and better from my students, but this site is a great place for them to share ALL of their work--not just necessarily those I've assigned them or polished for them."
How I Use It
"As a teacher and librarian, I can see several uses for this site, especially as the moderators will take down inappropriate content or offensive posts. Forums could be started for book clubs, groups could be started for fan fiction, or students could simply be directed for the site to find out about great new reads. Additionally, it always seems like I had one closet-writer in my classes; that student could blossom by posting his or her work on the site.
Figment also offers an educator's group (I'm still waiting on the confirmation of this as the site only sets these up once a week) wherein Figment offers, according to the site, ""special features developed just for you to use with your students, including exclusive author programming, writing prompts, and private group functionality, where you can create a virtual writers’ workshop for your classroom."" And it's free. Make sure to scroll down to the very bottom of the page and click on ""educators"""