When I was in middle school, I remember the excitement of hearing my teacher proclaim dramatically that today we would do “Creative Writing” as if it were a magical, once-a-year event (which, unfortunately, it was!). I loved “creative” writing so much that I wrote my own stories at home. Sure, school had plenty of writing practice, but it was reports, papers, essays…nothing that captured my attention like “Creative Writing!”
Hopefully in today’s classrooms, “creative writing” isn’t something that we do on special occasions when all our other tasks are finished.
An easy way to incorporate writing that fosters creative thinking in students comes in a RAFT. The acronym RAFT stands for the four parts of a writing prompt:
Role of the Writer — Who is writing?
Audience — Who is being written to?
Format — What is the writing going to look like? (a letter, sonnet, etc.)
Topic — What are you writing about?
An example of a RAFT might be: You are a soldier in the Revolutionary War (Role) writing a letter home (format) to your sister (audience) about the conditions at Valley Forge (topic).
Or perhaps: You are an element from the periodic table (role) writing a dating profile for the It’sElementalLove.com dating site (format). Your profile is designed to attract another element (audience) with whom you would made a good bond (topic).
How about: You are a paintbrush in the art room (role). You are writing a letter of complaint (format) to the principal (audience) demanding better work conditions (topic).
RAFTs are relatively easy to put together for any subject matter. Do a quick search on Google, and you’ll find lists upon lists!
In addition to being fun to write, RAFTs can make teaching easier.
- They provide you with formative assessments. You can quickly read through a student’s RAFT and know if he understands the way elements function or what happened at Valley Forge.
- If you require that students include a certain number of facts (have them highlight those facts), you are drawing students back into the content of the lesson or topic.
- It’s hard for students to plagiarize in a RAFT. Students will need to create a “voice” for the RAFT. When you ask students to incorporate facts into their raft, it isn’t quoted material as much as it understood information.
- They call on higher level thinking skills and synthesis. You can almost see the wheels turning when you ask your students to respond to a RAFT!
- They’re fun. Encourage students to share their responses with the class and watch the creativity rise!
- They help students write with voice in a way that is safe (they are “hiding” behind another writer).
- They are easy for you the teacher to implement. It only takes a few minutes to write a RAFT for your students to respond to, and it doesn’t need to be a big writing project.
- They’re cross-curricular! If you are looking for ways to incorporate writing in every subject matter, this is an easy way to do that.
- They are easy to grade. Unless you are making this a full writing project, you don’t need to correct line-by-line. Check for understanding, use of whatever content you are studying, and response to the prompt.
- They make a great end-of-class activity to check for understanding.
- Perfect for journal prompts.
- They can be adapted for nearly any grade — lots of fun in middle school!
- Write your own response to the prompt and share it with your students!
If you’re looking for adding “creative” writing to your classroom, try a RAFT or two.
Thanks for joining me today!
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