Content area writing is an essential element of embedded literacy across the curriculum, yet many non-English language arts teachers are skeptical, if not down right resistant to venturing into the land of paragraphs, punctuation, and writing rubrics. If you know a teacher who fits this bill, please share this information with him or her. In this post, I hope to make content area writing appealing to the non-ELA teacher and provide guidance on what may be a new strategy for those of you who do teach language arts by sharing a writing strategy that fits the bill in any class:
RAFT stands for:
R=the ROLE of the reader
A=the AUDIENCE for the piece of writing
F=the FORMAT for the writing
T=the TOPIC of the writing
The RAFT strategy combines critical thinking and creativity into a content area writing project that can be adapted to fit any topic within any subject. Its uses encompass composition, assessment, and enrichment opportunities. Today I’ll be sharing with you just one application of this strategy in my 7th grade English Language Arts class, but if you would like more of an introduction to content area writing, please request my QUICK START GUIDE TO CONTENT AREA WRITING by sharing your email address with me. The form to complete is to the right of this post if you’re on desk top and just below the posting if you are on mobile. The guide consists of 4 printable pages that cover the basics of content area writing.
Keep in mind that this strategy is an “after reading” project. Students should have read, researched, and made notes of new information before attempting this project. However, it is highly likely that students will have to do more reading, research, and note-taking once they are immersed in this project in order to collect details pertinent to their own specific focus.
RAFT – A Content Area Writing Strategy For Any Subject
A RAFT is a “writing project” that allows the students to choose from which point of view he will write his text (ROLE), tailor the FORMAT for the writing to a specific AUDIENCE that she is writing for, and narrow a TOPIC to some aspect that the student is particularly interested in. Probably the best way for me to make this clear, especially for those of you who are not familiar with RAFT, is to give you specific examples from my own classroom that was a culmination of an inquiry study of Greek and Roman societies, in conjunction with a study of mythology.
Students began by deciding which TOPIC interested them most personally from their inquiry of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Next, they decided what FORMAT would be best for conveying the information they had learned to a specific (in this case Greek or Roman) audience. Lastly, they took on a ROLE in which they would conceivably have disseminated their topic information from. Here are a few examples of ways my students chose to share what they had learned:
Though these are but a few examples, notice the wide variety of interests and approaches to this writing project. Students delved deeper into specific information that was of particular interest to them. And, in addition to researching the topic more, many of them had to also research and ascertain the specific aspects of whatever type of format they had chosen to present their information in.
I did have an individual discussion with each student as they chose their RAFTS…a simple sign-up sheet passed around the room would never have yielded the wide variety of topics and formats as did a one-on-one conferences accomplished.
Links to important information about using RAFT for Content Area Writing
Moving Ahead With Content Area Writing
Do request my QUICK START GUIDE TO CONTENT AREA WRITING.
If you’re ready to dive in even deeper, here is a link to my fourteen page PRINTABLE CONTENT AREA WRITING GUIDE.
The guide includes:
- 5 considerations for writing in the content areas
- Genre ideas for narrative prose, informational, and argumentative writing
- Thesis format development
- Genre format guidelines
- Point of view examples and pronoun explanations
- Word choice in narrative prose, informational, and argumentative writing
- Synopsis of expected writing skill development 6th, 7th, and 8th grade
- Writing expectations: SAT vs. ACT
- SAT writing guidelines
TOOLS FOR TEACHING CONTENT LITERACY by Janet Allen (Click title to link)
This handbook describes and gives examples of more than 30 literacy strategies for any content area. The book also offers reproducible graphic organizers for easy implementation in your classroom. I recommend buying the spiral bound version. RAFT writing is included in this book.
MORE TOOLS FOR TEACHING CONTENT LITERACY by Janet Allen (Click title to link)
Even MORE literacy strategies for across the curriculum, again with ample explanation, examples, and graphic organizers.