RAFTs: A Creative Way to Demonstrate Understanding

Steven LevyThe CACE Roundtable, The Teachers' LoungeLeave a Comment


And now for something completely different. You won’t hear anything about the coronavirus in this blog. Well, maybe a reference at the end.

Whether teaching on-line or face-to-face,  RAFTs is an engaging strategy that encourages writing across the curriculum and provides opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding in creative ways. (Idea first introduced in Holston, V., & Santa, C. [1985]. Raft: A method of writing across the curriculum that works. Journal of Reading, 28, 456–457).

RAFTs invite students to assume a role, consider their audience, examine a topic from a relevant perspective, and write in a particular format. The acronym stands for the following:

Role: the position or point of view of the author (could be animal, vegetable, human, or any noun). 

Audience: the intended audience (not necessarily human).

Format: the genre (could be a letter, speech, training manual, recipe, interview, etc.).

Topic: whatever you are studying and want to assess student understanding.

Strong verb: a verb to grab the reader’s attention.

Possible RAFTs roles:

  • Story character
  • Historical figure
  • Vocabulary word
  • Instruments or tool
  • Minerals or chemical element
  • Tradesperson or other job
  • Public service job
  • Musical instrument
  • Cartoon character
  • Shape or color
  • City, country, continent
  • Animal, bird, pet
  • Key term
  • Disease
  • Type of fabric
  • Author or inventor
  • Brand-name object
  • Body system
  • Scientist or politician
  • Geographic formation
  • Composer or artist
  • Business or industry person
  • Technical term
  • Celebrity or talk-show host

Possible RAFTs formats:

Written Visual Oral Kinesthetic
diary entry bulleted list obituary invitation product guide game rules recipe movie critic FreqAskQues editorial character monologue job applicationgossip columnfeature article cartoon/comic crossword puzzle map scale plan or drawing graphic organizer concept web illustration print ad photograph presentation slides how-to diagram fashion design song discussion questions conversationmonologue sermon radiocast museum guidecommercial reader’s theaterinterview tasting political speechpuppet showstoryteller script model cheer mime reenactment wax museum demonstration sales pitch with demo elements physical analogies taste tests how-to video gamesew, cook, build design a . . .    

Some RAFTs examples: (compiled by Sandra Page)

Semicolon Middle Schoolers Diary Entry Nobody understands where I belong
Fractions Whole Numbers Invitation to a family reunion Here’s how we are related
Bounty hunter Variable populations Wanted poster for discrete and continuous random variables Here’s what to look for
Predicate “Top 40” music radio listeners Song All things revolve around me
Moon Astronaut Advice column What to expect with your visit
Trees and shrubs in a local park Real Estate Developer Top ten list Our needs and reasons you should care about them
Thomas Jefferson Current residents of Virginia Full-page newspaper ad If I could talk to you now

And finally, one more example set for these times—RAFTs you are invited to try yourself. We are accepting submissions for the following scenarios. The most effective will be published in an upcoming blog. Choose from the RAFTs below.

Devil Devil in training Letter (ala Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis) How we can use the coronavirus for our purposes
God CACE blog readers Advice column Remember my promises. Keep me in mind.
David Letterman, former late-night talk show host   TV audience Top Ten list Opportunities for good during the coronavirus pandemic

Submit your entry to steven.levy@cace.org.

Even in these uncertain times, let’s seek God to inspire our imaginations about how to educate our students well. My prayers are with you all.


  • Steven Levy

    After 28 years teaching in classrooms K-12, Steven Levy (steven.levy@cace.org) is now an educational consultant, working independently and with EL Education. He guides teachers in designing service-based curriculum, engaging instructional practices, student owned assessments, and character development. He was recognized as the Massachusetts State Teacher of the Year (1993), and honored by the Disney American Teacher Awards as the national Outstanding General Elementary Teacher (1995). Mr. Levy was the recipient of the Joe Oakey Award for his national impact on project-based learning, and received the John F. Kennedy Prize for the teaching of history. Mr. Levy and his fourth grade students were designated “Conservation Heroes” by the National Park Service for their study of the effects of a local bike path on the environment and the community. Mr. Levy has written various articles for educational journals, and his book, Starting From Scratch (Heinemann, 1996), details some of the projects and students he has worked with in his elementary classrooms.

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