March 28, 2019
Carrie McLaren

Have you ever stared at a blank page and wondered where to start? Whether you’re writing an assignment, creative fiction, a tweet, or even a lesson plan, some structure can help get your ideas onto paper. The RAFT strategy gets your students to plan out their thoughts in advance, lending their writing structure and purpose.

RAFT spells out four steps to breaking down what you’re about to write:

Role: What is the writer’s role? Deciding on your perspective will set the tone for your writing. Are you writing as a teacher trying to teach a new concept? Or are you a concerned mom worried about your child’s first date? Are you someone famous, like Oprah? Or someone who lives on the street and begs for money?

Audience: Who are you writing for/to? Are you writing for students in high school? Adult learners? Your own children? A studio audience, as well as people watching your TV show at home?

Format: What is the format you’re writing in? Are you writing a letter? A TV or movie script? An email?

Topic: What are you writing about? For example, if you’re a mom worried about your child going on their first date, perhaps you’re writing to that child about how to stay safe, or perhaps you’re reassuring that child that they can talk to you about anything.

I first started using RAFT strategies after reading about Differentiated Instruction and the importance of incorporating or differentiating lessons and assignments to reach all students and support all learners and their different learning strategies. In my experience as a French and Spanish teacher, using RAFT assignments helped not only give students more choice and control but also push them to a higher level of critical thinking and engagement. The results were obvious right away. Students were excited about their chosen assignments and that was reflected in their work.   

The first RAFT assignment that I created took me and my colleague almost an hour to perfect. We had different students with different learning abilities and so it was imperative that we create a RAFT assignment that provided enough flexibility and choice for everyone. In the end we were both pleased with the presentations. We both agreed that the presentations were far more creative and interesting than if we had just assigned the same topic from last year.  

I hope that has given you some information about RAFTs and the value that they have in the language classroom.

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