RAFTing Through History (Post-Reading)

RAFTs are informal writing assignments designed to allow students to creatively regurgitate content from different POVs.  Many Social Studies and ELA teachers do these without calling them RAFTs, and sometimes English teachers add extra letters just to make it more English-y.  The attached file has basic instructions and samples, but obviously the concept can be varied infinitely to fit your specific goals.

I will say that by and large I haven't been thrilled with the results when I ask students to come up with their own ideas for RAFTs. That doesn't mean it would never work for any class, but I prefer to just assign them the Role, Audience, Format, and Topic – or at best let them choose from a few options. But that's just me.

Some possible RAFT assignments may be fairly orthodox:

Role – Woman traveling on the Oregon Trail
Audience – Self
Format – Diary
Topic – Experiences along the Trail

Role – Dead Union Soldier
Audience – President Lincoln
Format – Haunting Dream / Monologue 
Topic – Honest thoughts on the war and the leadership of the army so far

Other choices may be less obvious but potentially more effective:

Role – North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Antarctica, possibly a few others
Audience – Each Other
Format – Tweets w/ #Pangea
Topic – Live Tweeting the “Family Reunion”

Role – The Constitution
Audience – The Declaration of Independence
Format – Fatherly Lecture
Topic – Idealism vs. How Things Work in the “Real World”

Here's a sample from actual students of mine a few years ago:

Role – First Amendment & Fifth Amendment as High School Girls
Audience – Each Other
Format – Notes in Spiral Notebook passed back and forth at school
Topic – Gossiping about other Amendments

One: Hey Five. What's Up?

Five: Not much. Oh, wait - have you heard about the new girls? They're Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen. Dorky names, huh? Except for Fourteen. She's my friend.

One: How come?!

Five: Well, we talked a little bit, and I found out that she and I have similar tastes. For example, she thinks nobody must be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law!

One: Ohmygod, that's exactly what you say all the time!

Five: I know, right? But her ideas are related to the states, while mine are related to the federal government. You know what else she said? She said that all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. are citizens, and all citizens have equal rights and equal protection under the laws.

One: Hmm, I actually like that. It means that even the people who served as slaves can be citizens of U.S. and get the same privileges. Cool. I like protecting people's rights. Especially rights to religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. :-)

Five: Ugh, OK, I get it. Oh, and this other girl, Thriteen, is really tough and determined from what I heard. She, like, abolished slavery altogether.

One: Whoa. I'm sure Two would want to go out with her. I mean, Two only dates girls who know how to handle guns, right? I bet this new girl, Thirteen, knows how to operate an army tank.

Five: Maybe. Hey, that reminds me. Have you heard that Three and Four are going out??

One: WHAT?!? NO WAY.

Five: Way. I was talking to Four the other day, and she was like, "I'm going out with Three... he's cute and he understands me better than most people do. He agrees with me on the point that you have a right to be secure in your house. Makes me feel so safe! I think I'm in love."

It continues, but hopefully that's enough to get the idea.

Anyone with other examples or ideas for how to use RAFTs feel free to send them along and I'll add them to the mix. You know, if you're into that kind of thing.

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