RAFT is a writing strategy that helps students understand their roles as writers, the audience they will address, the varied formats for writing, and the topic they'll be writing about. By using this strategy, teachers encourage students to write creatively, to consider a topic from a different perspective, and to gain practice writing for different audiences.
|When to use:||Before reading||During reading||After reading|
|How to use:||Individually||With small groups||Whole class setting|
More writing strategies
Why use RAFT?
- It includes writing from different viewpoints.
- It helps students learn important writing skills such as audience, main idea, and organization.
- It teaches students to think creatively about writing by responding to the following prompts:
Role of the Writer: Who or what are you as the writer? A pilgrim? A soldier? The President?
Audience: To whom are you writing? A friend? Your teacher? Readers of a newspaper?
Format: In what format are you writing? A letter? A poem? A speech?
Topic and strong verb: What are you writing about? Why? What's the subject or the point?
- It can be used across various content areas
How to use RAFT
- Display a completed RAFT example on the overhead.
- Describe each of these using simple examples: role, audience, format, and topic. (It may be helpful to write the elements on chart paper or a bulletin board for future reference).
- Model how to write responses to the prompts, and discuss the key elements as a class. Teachers should keep this as simple and concise as possible for younger students.
- Have students practice responding to prompts individually, or in small groups. At first, it may be best to have all students react to the same prompt so the class can learn from varied responses.
Download blank templates
Watch: Why Do Writers Write? Understanding the Purpose for Writing
Help students understand purpose and audience in writing by modeling and providing opportunities to practice writing different forms, such as persuasive or explanatory text. See the lesson plan.
This site demonstrates using a RAFT to have students write about energy use in transportation. Students are provided a list of Roles, Audiences, Formats, and Topics from which they may choose for their writing assignment.
This simple example shows how to use RAFT in a discussion about the role of different plant parts.
See example > (130K PDF)*
Raft Writing Interactive
This site uses technology to assist with RAFT writing assignments. It provides an interactive template for students to type in possible Roles, Audiences, Formats, and Topics.
For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners
- Modify the strategy, so the student learns topic, role, format and audience separately and distinctly. Examples:
- Write a letter to the President of the United States as yourself. What do you want to write about? You choose the topic.
- Write an essay about how the school can do a better job of improving the environment as yourself. Who do you want to write it to?
- Have the student review the concept and assignment orally first. Be sure the student can explain to you what is meant by role, audience, format and topic.
- Use role playing as a method for explaining the different aspects of RAFT writing.
- As students become comfortable in responding to RAFT prompts, you can create more than one prompt for students to respond to after a reading, lesson, or unit. Varied prompts allow students to compare and contrast multiple perspectives, deepening their understanding of the content.
- Students may decide on their own topic or the teacher may provide that element in advance.
See the research that supports this strategy
AdLit.org. (2008). Raft Writing.
Mitchell, D. (1996). Writing to learn across the curriculum and the English teacher. English Journal, 85, 93-97.
Santa, C., & Havens, L. (1995). Creating independence through student-owned strategies: Project CRISS. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.
Children's books to use with this strategy
Diary of a Worm
What icky creature looks the same from both ends? The worm, of course! For the first time ever, get the insider’s view of life from this creepy crawler’s perspective. He lives underground with his family, eats his homework and does his best to annoy his sister — documenting it all in a diary. Simple illustrations are the ideal complement to the understated humor (though nonetheless laugh-out-loud tone) of the text.
The Bunnicula Collection: Books 1 to 3
Harold the family dog narrates three stories of life with supernatural suspicions which begins with Bunnicula, the bunny with fangs. In the Howliday Inn while boarding at the Chateau Bow-Wow, Harold and Chester (the Monroe cat) encounter a werewolf, perhaps. Chester and Harold must stop zombie vegetables when the Celery Stalks at Midnight. Over-the-top humor is very appealing to a broad range of listeners (including adults!).
Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia
The year Grace turned eight, her Mum and Dad took her and her siblings on a trip around Australia. The kids "missed school for the whole winter term" and Grace documented much of what she learned, where she went, and the adventures they had as they experienced the diversity of the continent. Grace’s informal voice is informative yet engaging, completed by line drawings and simple maps.
Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure
Life as a paper-thin boy is not all bad as Stanley finds out. He was flattened by a bulletin board bit adjusts quite well with the help of his parents to his new dimensions — all of which makes for very funny reading (and travels in later books about Stanley and his family).