RAFT Writing: Making Writing Engaging! (maybe even fun!)

17 Dec

imageIn the homeschool, writing can seem like a formidable task (for mom (or dad) and for the  student).  You know you need to have your student practice writing  essays, but perhaps traditional writing prompts make your student sigh. 

Some years back, while researching writing, I stumbled upon RAFT writing.  It’s kind of a creative writing technique that you can employ across the curriculum to help students get more out of what they are studying in other subjects and at the same time practice/hone their writing skills.

It was a winner with my oldest daughter back then, so I am trying to pick back up on it again.


What is RAFT?

Ok, so what is this RAFT you may ask (or you may know already). Raft is an acronym for:





and then you’ll also see RAFTS, the S being for Strong Verb.


The concept is really simple.


1. You supply (in the beginning perhaps but after a while you can have your student do this):

  • a Role (teacher, scientist, mechanic, teen, parent, baby, inanimate object…… the list is practically endless)
  • an Audience (protestors, a group of senior citizens, again, practically endless)
  • Format (an ad, proposal, letter, menu, poem, book review, again lots you can use)
  • Topic (whatever you are currently studying, e.g. atoms or molecules, American Revolution, Pillars of Islam, etc).


2. Student writes with the above elements.  You may want to explicitly set the writing mode for your student (persuasive, expository, narrative, etc although based upon your format, it may come out naturally, i.e. if you are doing a book review or proposal, that’s the persuasive mode).


Really, that’s it in a nutshell and I have some super helpful resources for you to explore this method if it is new to you.

RAFT Resources on the Internet


  1. How to Use RAFT Writing in Classrooms (can be applied to homeschoolers as well) 😉
  2. How can a well designed RAFTS prompt promote focus and excitement from a student writer? It compares a traditional essay prompt with a RAFT one.
  3. RAFT Activities. Simple but nice table that sample shows a role, audience, format, and topic all in one. I really like this one, it gets ideas rolling in your head of how you can really use RAFT to make writing more interesting for student.
  4. Designing Raft Assignments. Really helpful! Check this one out. Has a really big list of writing formats and a listing of strong verbs. 
  5. RAFT. Discusses what RAFT is (though after reading above, you should  have a good idea), but also lists some example roles, audiences, etc…… so still helpful.
  6. Example RAFT Assignment (very detailed explanation): Getting Your Ideas Across in a RAFT (scroll down til you see RAFT)
  7. ROLE-AUDIENCE-FORMAT-TOPIC: A post-learning, formal, writing-to-learn strategy – links to sample RAFT prompts and rubrics.
  8. Sample RAFT Prompts-  These come from LearnNC and an activity they suggest is to take the prompts and have student identify the Role, Audience, Format, and Topic as an exercise. I thought that was kind of neat to do.

This  year, we started using 501 Prompts for high school writing (which is not RAFT writing), but the wheels are turning and I am thinking that we may continue with this but try to turn them into RAFT writing. I had so much trouble even getting my avid writing to write on one of these prompts (see Purposes of the Internet by my 9th grader)  so I am hoping maybe if I RAFTize them, we may be able to get further with these. These 501 prompts are great because they are typical of what you might see on standardized tests. So do check them out if you can (they are free).


RAFT Prompt Generators

Awesome!  You click on a button to get a suggested role, audience, format, and topic. You keep clicking til you get a good fit.

Social Studies Generator

Math Generator – I’ve never really had them do too much writing in math, but I think this idea is neat so I am hoping to try. What a great way to get students to explain a concept. My motto for the kids is that if you truly understand something you can explain it easily.

Science Generator


Rubrics/Grading Checklists

For History: History RAFT Rubric

General Rubric


A Few Notes from Me…………….

If you feel blank for ideas, there are many example RAFT writing prompts in the links above. Some are very humorous, lol and so can make writing fun………

One of the things I like most about RAFT, ok well two:

1. You can have your student work on a variety of writing formats, getting great practice with different types of writing in a fun, focused way. Get creative, don’t just go for the journal/letter thing (but those are great too). See item 4 above for that big list of formats…………….

2. It has the student write to a defined audience. One of the things that traditional prompts have you do is just write. (Who are they writing for? How can the writing seem like it has a genuine purpose?)  In real life, writing has a purpose. Come on, how many essays (as adults) do we just write, just to write. Having an intended audience makes writing more real. If students just feel like they are writing for a grade, where’s the fun in that? But if they are writing as the ground, encouraging people that come by in the park not to litter, wow, what possibilities! What fun it can be!


So get RAFTing!



Do you do RAFT?

Have you tried RAFT writing? Do you have examples? If so, please leave a comment and share with others.

Insha Allah, you can check the TJ Student Gallery from time to time for any RAFT assignments we may do.  I’ll add a RAFT tag, insha Allah.

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Posted by on December 17, 2009 in Writing


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