Writing Across the Curriculum: R.A.F.T. Prompts for History & Social Studies Class
building a writing prompt that challenges students to think deeply about history
Classroom writing assignments can feel very unauthentic to our students. Think about it. Students generally feel as though they--a single voice--are writing down their words to hand to an audience of one--the teacher--for evaluation. And let's face it. Usually the writing turned in to the teacher would register pretty low on Bloom's Taxonomy; like it or not, most student writing assignments ask learners to do little more than regurgitate information from notes or research. In the real world, no one writes like this, and thus, school writing assignments can feel very contrived. And our students are much more aware of this than we give them credit for.
Enter the RAFT writing assignment. Its sole purpose is to make writing feel more authentic in two ways: 1) students are asked to think and write from a real world person's perspective, and they are asked to shape their ideas to appeal to an audience outside the classroom; 2) because they are considering perspective as they go through the writing process, students are being asked to think at a much deeper level of Bloom's Taxonomy. It's no wonder R.A.F.T. writing assignment have become very popular in the last decade, especially with content area teachers who are looking for ways to use more writing across the curriculum in their classrooms.
What is a RAFT Writing Assignment? R.A.F.T. writing prompts challenge students to assume a Role before writing, to write for an imaginary Audience, to write using a given Format, to write about a certain Topic. This is a simple but powerful technique that will inspire more thoughtful writing from yourself or your students.
A Bonus Letter! Sometimes you might also assign your students a Strong Verb to keep in mind as he/she writes, transforming the R.A.F.T. prompt into a R.A.F.T.S. prompt. If you assign strong verbs like convince, encourage, assure, or sway, then you have just transformed the prompt into a persuasive writing activity, which registers even higher on Bloom's Taxonomy. In Northern Nevada, we features R.A.F.T.S. writing prompts at our Persuasive Writing In-service Classes and Workshops, and our math, science, and social studies teachers always find great value in designing thoughtful RAFTS together. On our R.A.F.T. Homepage, you can access the worksheets we use when we help teachers design these thoughtful, content-based writing prompts.
You can also let the interactive machine below help you design a serendipitous R.A.F.T.S. prompt. The five buttons below, once pressed, will help you begin to imagine a R.A.F.T.S. writing prompt about a history or social studies topic for you or for your students to write about. If one of the button's choices doesn't seem to work, feel free to click it again. Your job here is to create a R.A.F.T.S. writing prompt that you or someone else could actually write about and learn from while writing.
Ready to try? Start clicking the buttons below until you have an idea for a R.A.F.T.S. assignment to be used in class.