K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • learn how to evaluate a prompt.
  • focus on the appropriate audience, purpose, and topic for a writing prompt.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 day

Materials/resources

Activities

Class discussion

  1. Share with students background information about the RAFT strategy, a useful technique to use when they first encounter a writing prompt. The RAFT technique will help them be certain they are focusing on the appropriate purpose, audience and topic. Point out what each letter stands for and what it means:
    • Role: Role or perspective the writer should adopt when writing. Who are you as the writer? Who or what do you represent?
    • Audience: Who is intended to read this writing? Teacher? Students? Historical figure? Inanimate object?
    • Format: What form will the writing take? A letter? An essay? A poem? A story?
    • Topic: Who or what is the subject of the writing? A famous discovery? An historical event? A relationship?
  2. Discuss with students the importance of considering each element — role, audience, format, and topic — before they begin writing. For example, taking on the wrong role can dramatically affect the paper. If a student is supposed to write from the point of view of a student government member, but writes instead from the point of view of simply a member of the student body, he/she would not have the same authority. A member of the Student Government Association is the voice of all the students, not just the voice of one. Likewise, when addressing an audience, your wording will depend upon the audience to whom you are writing. The language you use for fellow teenagers would be different from the language you would use in addressing your principal. Format is also important. If a writing assignment asks you to write a letter, you must write in the appropriate letter format. Not writing in the appropriate format would mean the assignment was incorrect.
  3. Ask students to sum up the importance of using RAFT. They should understand that it’s a simple technique that is easy to remember and will insure that they can read an information-based writing assignment and have confidence that their writing will be headed in the right direction. They will have an easier time breaking down a prompt and understanding what they are supposed to do with it by using RAFT.

Modeling/Mini-lesson

  1. Give students a copy of the RAFT prompts handout with the ten sample writing assignments. Using a transparency, read through the first writing assignment with the students. Write out RAFT below the assignment and ask them to identify the appropriate role, audience, format and topic for the prompt. After going over the RAFT, discuss the following questions with the students:
    • How would the role you are taking as the writer affect the way you write this prompt? For example, What kind of public official are you (small town or big city)? Who are your citizens?
    • Who is your audience? How does your audience affect the word choice you will use? E.g. elderly population, teenagers, parents of small children?
    • What format is required for this piece of writing? For example, should it be an essay format, letter, speech, etc?
    • What approach would you use for handling this topic? What kind of points would be good to include?

    Be sure to include what type of information-based writing is being required: cause/effect, problem/solution, or definition.

  2. If the students seem to have a difficult time understanding the technique, continue to go over writing assignments from the handout until they have a good understanding of the use of RAFT.
  3. If you choose to have students to continue the activity in groups, use the guided practice instructions below. If you want students to work individually, use the independent practice instructions.

Guided practice

  1. Using the remaining writing prompts, have the students get into groups. Assign each group a prompt to respond to using RAFT.
  2. Give each group an overhead transparency with their prompt on it, and tell the students they should be prepared to address several additional questions about how to focus on the writing assignment and how to begin developing ideas for writing the assignment. They should model their ideas after the ones reviewed in the mini-lesson.
  3. Have each group present their prompt to the class using the overhead projector. If a group leaves off information that you feel is relevant, ask them to explain further.

Independent Practice

  1. Using the remaining writing prompts, have each student create a writing assignment of his/her own, modeled after the ones done in class. As they finish the writing assignments, check them for appropriate and understandable role, audience, format, and topic.
  2. After having written their own assignments, have each student exchange with a classmate. After exchanging, the students should discuss the RAFT strategy on their peer’s writing prompt. In addition to the RAFT, the students should also list ways they could develop the assignment into a paper.

Closure

Allow students to volunteer to read their assignments and share the RAFT technique with the class.

Assessment

In addition the student written writing assignments and RAFT answers, use the RAFT assessment handout to assess students’ ability to identify role, audience, format and topic.

Supplemental information

Comments

RAFT can be used with any grade level and any subject area for helping students focus on a given assignment. Inclusion classes and students who have more difficulty with getting started on a writing assignment will find this technique to be very useful.

This lesson was created as part of the NCDPI Writing Lessons for Writing Features Workshop.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Informational Text

        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.RIT.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
          • 9-10.RIT.10 By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 9–10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the...
          • 9-10.RIT.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
          • 9-10.RIT.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
        • Writing

          • 9-10.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 10

  • Goal 2: The learner will evaluate problems, examine cause/effect relationships, and answer research questions to inform an audience.
    • Objective 2.01: Demonstrate the ability to read, listen to and view a variety of increasingly complex print and non-print informational texts appropriate to grade level and course literary focus, by:
      • selecting, monitoring, and modifying as necessary reading strategies appropriate to readers' purpose.
      • identifying and analyzing text components (such as organizational structures, story elements, organizational features) and evaluating their impact on the text.
      • providing textual evidence to support understanding of and reader's response to text.
      • demonstrating comprehension of main idea and supporting details.
      • summarizing key events and/or points from text.
      • making inferences, predicting, and drawing conclusions based on text.
      • identifying and analyzing personal, social, historical or cultural influences, contexts, or biases.
      • making connections between works, self and related topics.
      • analyzing and evaluating the effects of author's craft and style.
      • analyzing and evaluating the connections or relationships between and among ideas, concepts, characters and/or experiences.
      • identifying and analyzing elements of informational environment found in text in light of purpose, audience, and context.