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RAFT writing can be used to describe a chemical reaction, explain the process of condensation, describe a point of view, envision a potential plan of attack, or solve a problem. It can be creative and informative.
⇒Step 1: Once your content has been covered, consider all of the various roles and audiences that would allow students to demonstrate their new understandings from different perspectives. Conduct a class brainstorming session to gather numerous possible perspectives on your topic.
⇒Step 2: Introduce the RAFT acronym to with students, explaining what each letter stands for:
R = Role role of the writer. What persona are you adapting? You might be a person, place, thing, or idea. In developing the final product, what role will the students need to “take on”? Who are you as the writer? Are you President Trump? A warrior? A homeless person? An auto mechanic? The endangered snail darter?
A = Audience. The who or what the RAFT is being written for. Who should the students consider as the audience for the product? To whom are you writing? Is your audience the Canadian people? An enemy? Your teacher? Readers of a newspaper? A local restaurant?
F = Form The form the writing will take, as in letter, song, meme, image, movie, diary, etc. What form will the writing take? What is the best product that will demonstrate the students’ in-depth understanding of their interactions with the text? A writing task? Art work? Action plan? Project? A letter? A classified ad? A speech? A poem?
T = Topic This is the what that will be the focus/subject of the final product. What are you writing about? What’s the subject or the point of this piece? What event will constitute the centerpiece of the action? To explain bloodflow? To persuade a gangster to spare your life? To plead for a re-test? To call for stricter regulations on logging? A list of characteristics?
⇒Step 3: Give students a RAFTed assignment. RAFTs can be directed or left open to students to choose. Initially, it is best to assign students to complete specific RAFTs. As they gain more experience and familiarity with the writing strategy, they can be allowed more freedom.
A lesson about the water cycle in science, can require students to RAFT about being a water droplet:
After learning about the battle of the Alamo, history students might be assigned a RAFT that allows them to select from roles presented:
⇒Step 4: Students complete RAFTs individually or with partners. Allow them to do pair shares to insure that they are on the right track.
⇒Step 5: Students share their RAFTs with the class. Other students should listen for accuracy and logic. An accurate RAFT response will accurately reflect the views and perspective of their character.
When creating RAFT assignments, be sure to incorporate a variety of interesting responses. The form can be a photo album, letter of introduction, job resume, photostory, meme, gif, etc.The goal is for them to respond and demonstrate that they have mastered the content.
Have fun and be creative with your RAFT assignments. Below is a chart with a few examples in each of the categories; it is meant only as a sampling to spark new ideas and possibilities for building RAFTs:
animals or objects
brochure/ or booklet
|issue relevant to the text
agenda of events
topic of personal interest or concern for the role or audience
topic related to an essential question
solution to a problem
highlight of an event
|Duck||U. S. Senator||Photostory||Effects of oil spill|
|Electron||Fourth grade students||How to video||Journey through a parallel circuit|
|Limestone||Cave visitors||Postcard||Chemical weathering process|
|Liver||Alcohol||Letter to Complaints Department||Effects of alcohol on your body|
|Mohandas Gandhi||Martin Luther King Jr.||Letter||Nonviolent opposition/ resistance meetup|
|Great Wall of China||Self||Diary||Invaders I have seen and stopped|
|Colorado River||Rafters||Travel guide||What you will see if you travel my length|
|Rain Forest||Humans||Complaint Letter||Deforestation concerns|
|Benjamin Franklin||Dear Abby||Advice column letter||“My son likes the British”|
|Zero||Whole numbers||Campaign speech||Importance of the number 0|
|Percent||Student||Tip sheet||Mental ways to calculate percentages|
|Parts of a graph||TV audience||Script||How to read a graph|
|Acute triangle||Obtuse triangle||Letter||Explain differences of triangles|
|Container||Self||Diary||Comparison of volume measurements|
I hope that you have a great time RAFTing with your students.
My Passionate Scholars will be researching topics close to their hearts and sharing the results. Many of us have heard of the Genius Hour or 20 time or Passion Projects. These projects are designed to allow students the opportunity to research topics that excite them. Last year I tried it (unsuccessfully) and I would like to do it again this year. I am trying to revamp the project and recreate what worked and change what didn’t work.
Here is what I hope happens….
Students will research a variety of topics and publish the results. The goal is for the students to become an expert on that topic and share what is learned.
Begin by exploring interests, ideas and feelings.
The point of the project is to provide students with the opportunity and support to explore. The final piece of the project will be a reflection presentation.
What have you learned? In a TED-style talk, you will reflect on what you learned during your research process. Presentations will be approximately five minutes in length and incorporate a visual component that supports the presentation but does not heavily rely on text. Each research group will carefully prepare and practice presentations before delivering
Your project should demonstrate:
Initially, I asked that they begin the research process and create a pitch video to get everyone’s interest. Time and poor directions changed the project in midstream. My directions weren’t clear enough and many thought that completing the video was the beginning, middle and end of the project. They weren’t invested enough in the topic research to continue their learning journey once the video was completed. We worked on the projects one or two days a week. Next semester, I want to spend a week (or two) doing the work and attacking the research process. I hope that we will be able to complete two projects per marking period.
Here are several videos made by my students in my first #PassionateScholars Project.
I hope that next semester I will be able to share more student-created videos from my #PassionateScholars. I also hope that they will be more in depth.
Does anyone out there have some tips? Shortcuts? Better ideas? Prayers for success?
Last month, I shared some tools that can help solve ANY problem that you might be experiencing. I talked about 4 electronic resources that can help you out of many situations. These resources, strategies, techniques can help with problems with student engagement, organization, student submissions, student creativity, teacher efficiency, effectiveness, data gathering and assignment tracking.
5. Policies / Routines / Procedures
6. Interactive videos or Images
7. Checklists / Participation sheets
8. Badges / Leader Board
Many student behavior ‘mishaps’ can be prevented when there are classroom procedures in place for daily tasks and activities. Please don’t get insulted by thinking that I am implying that you don’t have procedures in place. Yes, yes, yes, we all know that it is important to have procedures and routines in place but many times we start off strong and then lose our way as the year progresses. (Okay, maybe not you, but … I have. Sometimes.) For me, it’s important to remember that we, as Professional Educators, always have the power to hit the re-do button. The re-do button allows us to revisit, reteach or revise the policies and procedures that we have in place. It is a refresher course for both teacher and students. If you initially required a raised hand before speaking and now you are taking responses from the loudest student, it’s time for a refresher. Hit the re-do button. Remind students that there are routines in place that need to be followed.
Your routines can cover: entering and leaving the room; rules for group work; asking for help; going to the restroom; getting a pen; handing in work; etc. What do you need them to do to help make the classroom run smoothly?
Procedures for entering the room can be as simple as:
Be sure to enter the room quietly; put bookbag in front; put homework in the bin; report to your assigned seat; check the board for today’s assignment; begin your DoNow silently and fill out your participation sheet after completing the DoNow.
Remember that it’s okay to re-do, revise, revamp procedures, if necessary. You have my permission to take the time to re-teach procedures and make your classroom climate stronger. 😉
Using videos and images in student learning activities can inspire and engage students. Many display increased motivation because of the enhanced learning experience. Being able to see and hear images / videos breaks down walls for many students and allows the learning to begin.
Visuals allow us to take students to places textbooks can’t go: a digestive system, another country, another planet, another decade. Students have a better chance of understanding complex and abstract concepts when they can see the concepts.
Animoto (quick and easy way to make photo-movies)
Notecard confessions: Notecards are displayed with the message and recorded. (Your cards can be about ideas from the text)
Memes and Gifs: Memes are images with a related text message and Gifs are a rapidly moving series of images. I used these slides to collect memes from my students about poems that we read in class.
Here is a post that wrote about students creating memes and interactive images.
I am currently teaching 9th graders and they need to have an agenda and checklists so that they can monitor their work.
I use checklists to support and scaffold their learning. Checklists break up a task into bite-sized pieces that students can successfully complete complex tasks. They do a better job of completing a task if they can tackle small steps along the way.
My students fill out participation sheets that record the lesson’s objectives and daily assignments and then they check off the assignments that have been successfully completed. Every day my students use computers to complete their work and many of them waste time and do not complete their needed tasks. Their participation sheet allows them to see and check off completed assignments before jumping onto sites to play games and other time wasters. Many of you probably have your own setup. Whether it is a sheet like this participation sheet or using their agendas.
If your students are having trouble keeping up with or turning in assignments, try checklists or participation sheets. Each can be sent home and signed if you want to be sure that the parents are also on board with class assignments.
Leaderboards really do make a difference with my kids. I use Kahoot regularly for review because the students are extremely excited and engaged while playing. We recently played a game that I used to gather information to see what they knew about Word icons. I couldn’t stop laughing because many of them went out of their way to make sure that they appeared on the leaderboard. Kahoot allows them to get bonus points for answering not just correctly but the fastest. Many of my students took advantage of that and tried to answer first. Sometimes they knew the answer and other times didn’t but they knew that points could be gained for answering first even though points would be lost for wrong answers. This year I have displayed leaderboards and printed out certificates from Typing club and I have created and issued badges using Classflow.com. My students love to earn badges and have their accomplishments display on the leaderboard. Acknowledgment helps. For them and for us (I won’t stop playing a Solitaire game until I win. YES, I still play Solitaire.) As adults, we too, appreciate acknowledgment and recognition.
Now that you have gone through my list, honestly, is there a problem that you have that can’t be solved by one of these resources? Seriously? Hmmmm, think about it. These techniques, procedures, and resources allow you and your students the opportunity to ORGANIZE and CREATE. Those are two of the most critical things that we have to address regularly. If we, students and teacher, aren’t organized, NOTHING works right. If we, student and teacher, can’t create, learning is just a chore and not a joy.
Quick recap of these 8 tools
Because I live in Louisiana, I can’t give you a list without giving you lagniappe. Lagniappe is an extra gift.
Soooo, here is tip #9 Your cellphone
Your cellphone can be a connection to… everything. It’s not just for selfies, talking to friends and texting family members. I have my apps organized into folders so that they are easy to navigate. If I forget to post to my assignment blog, I have the ability to pull up the app in my
If I forget to post to my assignment blog, I have the ability to pull up the app in my Work Station folder and post as I walk towards my room. But before I post it, I grab a bitmoji image or create a word swag picture from my Pics folder to insert into the blog. When my scholars do something awesome, I open up my Social Me folder and post a picture on Instagram. A coworker needs access to something I have in Google Drive, my app in the Work Station folder lets me quickly send out a link.
I grabbed some pictures and quickly made this video about what we were doing in class. Yes, I know that the template isn’t the best for the subject matter *(although I do love my kids, of course) It was me experimenting with a new app in my pic folder. If you want to see kids get on task, start to make a movie about their work. My phone allows me to work without having a laptop or desktop. I can edit Google slides, grade papers, post to my blog, create cute photomovies, share files, etc. If you have not fully embraced the power of your phone, try it. It might become a great resource for you and your class.
I ask again, is there a problem that these resources can’t handle?
Let me know.
Are you having problems with student engagement? Problems with organization? Problems with student submissions? Problems with student creativity? Teacher efficiency? Teacher effectiveness? Data Gathering? Assignment tracking?
Google Drive .. to the rescue. I use Google Drive every day. My lesson plans are created in Google Docs and they are hyperlinked to a larger Google Doc that houses relevant lesson plans, presentation slides, resources, and assessments for my weekly lessons. Google Slides with the daily agenda and directions are embedded on the class blog. Google Forms allow you to create a quick and easy assessment or poll. Google Drive allows me to have access to my documents from anywhere on any device. The majority of my photos, videos, and files are in the Google Drive cloud.
For Student use:
For Teacher use:
I use Edublogs daily. It serves as my chalkboard. It houses my daily assignments and directions for the students. Each of my students also has an ePortfoloio that is hosted by Edublogs. I fell in love with them years ago because Edublogs is geared towards teachers and students. They are very responsive to customer needs. I had problems when my students were creating their ePortfolios and the Edublogs crew quickly responded with solutions.
For Student use:
For Teacher use:
Online assessment for me has now become a must have. Classflow allows the students to receive immediate feedback on quizzes so that they can see where their strengths and weaknesses are. Classflow assessment allows me to quickly copy and paste and populate the fields to create an online assessment that allows me to gather data about my students’ strengths and weaknesses.
But don’t think that it’s only good for assessing. It is also a great tool for creating and delivering assignments, providing students a space for creative submissions and a collaborative space.
For Student use:
For Teacher use:
I use a reminder to send out reminders about assignments as well as relevant mean schedules resources to my students I can schedule reminders to go out during class before class before school after school that future is one of the most convenient features of all with remind. You don’t have to send it when you remember it, you can schedule it to be sent when appropriate.
Alright, I know I said eight tips and resources. I decided to break my tip list in half so as not to overwhelm anyone. That is why I am willing to give you four resources now and four resources the same time next week I challenge you to use and talk about these resources this week and next week try out the other four resources that I share with you.
I do not want to hit you with you too many things to try out and examine. See if these resources don’t help make your life easier and take care of some of the problems that you might be having in your classroom. Try them out. See if they help.
If by chance, you are living on fairy dust and are not having any problems, try out one of the resources to see if your world can get even better.
Now that you have gone through my list, honestly, is there a problem that you have that can’t be solved by one of these resources? Seriously? Hmmmm, think about it.
If you do still have an issue that I haven’t given you the solution for, be sure to tune in next week.
Same bat time. Same bat station.
When I will share the FOUR other survival resources.
You use interactive notebooks, Socratic Seminars, Kagan Strategies, online testing, flashcards, foldables, and everything including the kitchen sink to make sure that your students have mastered the skills identified on the daily agenda.Now it’s time to let them create something. They have done the hard work of reading, re-reading, annotating, defending, and explaining War and Peace, Metamorphosis, and Wuthering Heights. Now what? You need them to prove to you that they recognize the themes, characterization methods, and other literary elements in the text.
Do they really have to write a 500-word essay? Really??
Can’t they do something else to show their mastery of the content? Something fun??? (imagine that in a preteen or teenaged whiny voice)
Of course, they don’t need to publish 500 words – although it would be a smart move to have them write a response so that you can get the data you need. Have them publish relevant images instead. Students can easily create memes and gifs that depict main idea, mood, theme, characterization, etc.
What are they studying?
Madame Curie’s contributions. Have them show the effect these contributions have had on our lives
Barrack Obama’s presidency. Your scholars find a picture and insert talk / thought bubble text.
Math formulas. Your mini-mathematicians can create memes that highlight formulas.
Memes allow you to add commentary to images and gifs allow you to display several images that play automatically.
We use the https://imgflip.com site because this site works at school. There are many free meme and gif makers but this one gets through our filters. The site has a large selection of pictures to choose from for meme making. A student could easily create memes and then turn them into gifs to share the collection.
Memes and gifs can be used to introduce and support material and students can create them to display their knowledge. These links are for short how-to videos that show how easy it is to create memes and gifs.
Imgflig allows you to change the font type and color to allow you to personalize the images.
Try making memes and gifs for your class. Once I started creating them, I have not stopped yet. It is slightly addictive and you will find yourself making them for everything. C’mon… try them.
They’re fun and easy to make and share.
Spencer Kagan has developed many classroom structures that promote positive interpersonal peer relationships, equality, self-esteem, and achievement. Students follow the structure steps, work together and strengthen the classroom climate. The structures are designed to build team spirit and positive relationships; share information; assist critical thinking; support communication skills; and, develop mastery of specified material.
The four categories of focus for a RAFT include:
Discuss with students the importance of considering each element — role, audience, format, and topic — before they begin writing. For example, taking on the wrong role can dramatically affect the response. If a student is supposed to write from the point of view of a flighty teen, but writes instead from the point of view of the strict mother, their RAFT writing would not be accurate because it came from the wrong point of view.
Instead sharing the usual boring biographical research results for a famous historian or scientists, have students imagine what would be on their phone. Have them step into the shoes of their research topic and identify some of the apps, games, pictures, text messages and emails that would be found on his/her phone.
Think about how well they need to know a character to be able to build a social media profile and posts. Either have them recreate a phone, create a social media profile and posts or just have them to identify the following:
1. Screen Name:They should be creative and use what they know about the character. Have them try to think outside the box.
2. Avatar: Their avatar should be an image or photo that represents the text’s character / author / ?? .
3. Quote: Twitter and Facebook users can identify or pin a favorite quote, song lyric or personal sound byte.
4. Playlist: Consider what songs might be on their phone.
5. Contacts: What people would be on their friends list: they can use real people, historical people, or fictional characters.
Before your students can tell their story, they need to outline it so that they can identify the key points. Provide them with a Plot Diagram Tool or storyboard so that they can record the events and establish their place in the narrative structure.
There is no need to outline the entire story at first. Make sure that they have recorded enough details to ensure that they have relayed the most important facts, events actions.
When they complete their planning diagrams and outlines, they should begin the work of composing their scripts by identifying the events and actions that are important to their dramatization.
Common Core State Standards alignment:
Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
CCSS.ELA-Speaking and Listening.1
Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.