RAFT is a writing strategy that helps students understand their role as a writer, 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.
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
|When to use:||Before reading||During reading||After reading|
|How to use:||Individually||With small groups||Whole class setting|
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
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.
RAFT Writing Template
Children's books to use with this strategy
Are We There Yet?
An 8-year old girl and her family tour their county, Australia, as tourists. Not only amusing, but this appealing book introduces the culture and diversity of this huge continent.
A small rabbit is found by the Monroe family at the movies on the night they saw a vampire movie makes Harold, the family dog, wonder if it's really a vampire bunny. The story is told from Harold's point of view, whose observations of the animals and the humans are laugh-out-loud funny.
Diary of a Worm
The life of a worm — from the worm's point of view as revealed in his diary makes a very funny picture book.
Stanley functions quite normally in spite of the fact that he becomes only a quarter inch thick after a bulletin board flattens him — literally. This is the first of a series of books about Stanley and his travels.
I Face the Wind
The nature (the properties and characteristics) of the wind is introduced in this easy informational book.
Nic Bishop's Frogs
Stunning color photographs of frogs are used to show how these beautiful creatures survive in the wild. The Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley (Scholastic) uses Bishop's amazing photographs relates the saga of one creature and is appreciated by even younger children. (These are examples of real life adventure!)
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.