Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Common Core Resources: RAFT Writing Strategy

"The more often students write, the more proficient they become as writers." 

Not only is this true, but writing with proficiency and sophistication is demanded in the Common Core State Standards.

From the CCSS Writing Standards K-5 and 6-12: "Each year in their writing, students should demonstrate increasing sophistication in all aspects of language use, from vocabulary and syntax to the development and organization of ideas, and they should address increasingly demanding content and sources."

If you teach writing and aren't already a fan, hustle over to the website ReadWriteThink.org, a joint venture of three great organizations:


One of the many resources you'll find there is a guide to using the RAFT Writing Strategy, which is designed to help a student understand his role and effectively communicate his ideas, and to focus on his audience, format, and topic.

Deborah Dean's book Strategic Writing is referenced, as is Project CRISS: Creating Independence through Student-owned Strategies, by Santa, Havens, and Valdes.   

So, what does RAFT represent?

R stands for “Role” – What is the writer’s role? (Ex: news reporter)
A stands for “Audience” - Who is the writer’s audience? (Ex: people in the community)
F stands for “Format” - How should the writer present the information? (Ex: news article)
T stands for “Topic” - What is the author writing about? (Ex: recent election)

ReadWriteThink offers several examples of the strategy in practice; here are two favorites of mine:
  • Decide on an area of study currently taking place in your classroom for which you could collaborate with the students and write a class RAFT. Discuss with your students the basic premise of the content for which you’d like to write, but allow students to help you pick the role, audience, format, and topic to write about. 
  • Have a class think-aloud to come up with ideas for the piece of writing that you will create as a group. Model on a whiteboard, overhead projector, or chart paper how you would write in response to the prompt. Allow student input and creativity as you craft your piece of writing.

Modeling is invaluable for teaching in any discipline; I am convinced that it builds confidence that many students need before they can even begin to write effectively.

There are seven lesson plans provided, from grades 3 - 12. I especially like the Raft Writing Template, a graphic organizer, to use as a starting point:

Enjoy using the RAFT strategy, as you work with your kiddos to help them become not just proficient, but great writers!