Is Your Writing Drowning? Try a RAFT!

Posted by Administrator on 5/5/2014 to Homeschooling
You may be familiar with responses like these when you announce to your child that he gets to write a paper or anything in the coming week:

“I did that last month. Why do I have to do it again?”

“Writing is so boring, Mom. Can’t we make a movie or just talk about my assignment?”

“Why do we have to write the same old stuff every week?”

“Does it really have to be more than 200 words?”

For some of our children, these might be rather mild replies to the request for another written paragraph or paper. They are wearied by having to give static and unchanging responses to some anonymous reader, with little variation or creativity required. Perhaps your child feels he is drowning in writing, or you feel you’re drowning in a stack of papers that should be critiqued, but you’re not sure how to do it.

Drown no more by using a RAFT to bring some variety to your children’s writing assignments. I would love to give credit to the college professor that introduced the concept to me, but it’s been almost thirty years since I first learned about the acronym RAFT, so the creator of this approach will have to remain anonymous (because my gray matter has been taken over by gray hair). The unique writing process brings a respite for writers who are struggling to stay afloat in the sea of words and topics with which they must work. RAFT provides a different approach to writing assignments that may bring a newness and freshness to your student’s work. RAFT stands for:

• R = Role = What role are you, as the writer, playing in the work? Are you young or old, real or fictional, Harvard-trained or hardly educated, etc.? Your role impacts your word choice, intentions, vantage, voice, and so much more in your writing. Students can write from the perspective of any occupation, character from literature, actual historical figure, and practically any other role he can imagine.

• A = Audience = Who are you addressing in your writing? Is it a single person or a group? The audience does not have to be directly related to the writer’s selected role. In fact, you can get some interesting writings by making the role and audience combinations unusual or unexpected. Imagine your child writing from the role of Samson to a modern-day rebellious youth, or a newspaper columnist of the 1940s addressing Ted Turner of CNN. Each audience will be approached differently, according to its expectations, needs, knowledge, and experiences. Your student must consider those factors in her writing.

• F = Format = What type of work is being written, or what format is the piece taking? Formats can range from speeches to traditional essays, obituaries to recipes, newspaper articles to screenplays, and any other style of written expression your child can concoct. Obviously, the format chosen must coincide with the required number of words and other stylistic demands on the assignment, but the sky is the limit for most assignments when it comes to formatting.

• T = Topics = About what are you writing? Here, again, the options for topic choices are seemingly infinite. Regardless of the school subject and regardless of the concept being discussed, a RAFT piece of writing can deal with the assigned topic.

RAFT writings bring variety, creativity, and increased intellectual challenge to an activity that can sometimes become a drudgery, if we are not careful as instructors. By changing the role, audience, format, and topic of the work, a regular essay or paragraph response can become a whole new writing adventure and challenge. Get on board the RAFT and prepare for a fun and original writing (and critiquing) adventure.