RAFT stands for Role (who are you as a writer), Audience (who are you writing to), Format (are you writing a letter, diary entry), and Topic. It is extremely flexible: you are a drought-stricken farmer in the 1920s (role) writing to the governor (audience) in a letter (format), telling him of your condition and to asking for help (topic). Or you are a young person in the eastern United States (role) writing to Lewis and Clark (audience) in a letter (format), applying to become a member of the Corps of Discovery (topic.) You can read more and find more sample RAFT assignments here.
RAFT works in classrooms from upper elementary to high school.
Here are some other middle and high school strategies (and tools) that seemed worth exploring, all from the remarkable Glenn Wiebe:
The first is NowComment, a free "cloud-based collaboration tool for discussing and annotating online documents." Glenn describes it in his blog post "NowComment: Easy, powerful, and collaborative evidence analysis."
The second is having students work with hexagons, which Glenn highlights in his blog post It puts kids to sleep. And just so ya know . . . that’s a bad thing. (Plus 18 ways to make it better). That post features a number of ways to engage students besides lecturing (18 in fact). I mentioned "Word Sorts" and "Crop It" in my last teaching strategies post, but using Hexagons seemed to me to be better suited for middle and high school students, so I saved it for this post. From Glenn's blog:
"The basic idea is that students are given a set of laminated hexagons and asked to write key words or phrases from a specific topic on them using dry erase markers. You can also create hexagons with words or phrases already on them. Students then link together related hexagons and be prepared to explain why they arranged the hexagons the way they did.
"Why hexagons? Because they’ve got six sides and when you give a pile of them to kids, they immediately start fitting them together and making connections. This makes relationships much more visible to your students. You also can see how kids are thinking as they are thinking, providing important formative feedback."And, guess what? Russell Tarr, over at Tarr's Toolbox, has created an online hexagram generator to make your life easier!
Both Glenn and Russell have pictures of students working with hexagons, which gives a good glimpse of the power of this strategy.
Other strategies that I've highlighted in previous posts include:
- Visual Thinking Strategies
- Speaking and Listening strategies, including Gallery Walks and "Speed Dating," Socratic Circles, and Structured Academic Controversy
- Question Formulation Technique (teaching students to ask their own questions)
What's your favorite strategy? Email me and I will share it out.