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RAFT Writing

RAFT Writing in Elementary

I first heard of RAFT writing several years ago as a strategy for students to show their content knowledge beyond just writing reports.  Most of the suggestions for use have been in upper grades classrooms, especially in middle school and high school.  It’s also a common format for writing in content areas to have students demonstrate their understanding of the topic that has been learned- often as a product at the end of the unit.  RAFT Writing has students respond when the Role, Audience, Format, and Topic are laid out for students to do their writing, often showcasing their content knowledge.  However, over the years, I’ve used RAFT writing in elementary school with students as young as first grade.  RAFT writing has allowed me to give students experience and exposure with various writing types, build in creative writing into our writing centers, and give students a tool to use for state testing to analyze the prompts their given and respond appropriately.

RAFT is an acronym identifying the four parts of a writing prompt:

R- Role (who is the character/narrator and their point of view)

A- Audience (who is the writing for)

F- Format (what type of writing is expected)

T- Topic (what you are writing about)

Examples of RAFT writing in content areas could be:
~Write an article as if you were a water droplet going through the writing cycle.
~Write a diary entry as if you were a young, black child growing up on a plantation during times of slavery.

RAFT Writing is commonly used as essay responses at the end of units to measure students’ content knowledge.  It’s also used in more open ended ways allowing for differentiation; the role and audience may be the only pieces given and students are able to choose the format and specific topic.  Or, students are given the topic and format, but can choose their role and the audience.  This is most often done in intermediate classrooms and higher as the focus is on the subject and content that has been taught, and not on the writing itself. 

I’ve used RAFT writing in other ways in my elementary classroom, and with other classes and groups of students, with good success.

RAFT Writing in the Primary Grades

I have also used RAFT Writing with students as young as first grade as a way of building creative writing with students and to introduce the categories of RAFT and writing prompts.  In first grade I introduce it by explaining each of the components.  We then generate, together, several different items for each component.  We generally do about 4-6 and often use students in the class or people in the school as the role and audience.  This helps make the task relevant to students.  We then roll a dice to choose which item from each category we’ll use.  We do a shared writing of it together, the first time.  Then, we select another for the students to complete independently.  After students are familiar with RAFT and how it can be used to generate a writing task, I use my RAFT Writing cards as an option during our centers to build students’ creative writing.

There are two different types of cards included: the first set has each component of RAFT isolated, and the second includes all 4 pieces.  You can choose to put all four components out for students to randomly choose from, or you can choose to isolate and practice just a couple components at a time.  I like to use these with primary grades students to really give them practice on each area of RAFT (role, audience, format, topic).  The role cards are especially nice for giving students practice writing from different points of view/perspectives.  The second set is a great next step.  Students choose a card and respond to the given prompt.  This moves beyond traditional prompt writing as students are being more intentional with writing to various audiences and given various roles.  You can click here to head to TpT to take a closer look at the preview and see what all is included with this set of task cards.

RAFT Writing as Test Prep

I also really like using RAFT as a test prep strategy.  On the state tests, students are given an on-the-spot prompt to respond to.  Often, it’s in response to reading, and students are expected to respond with a range of genres.  In my experience, students struggle to identify the proper genre to respond to or miss out on other key pieces of information, such as writing from a character’s perspective.  With my third graders, it’s so important to me that they have a strategy to “attack” a difficult task that is given to them.  RAFT is a strategy that can make them break down the prompt and help them feel ready to respond successfully. 

I introduce, or review, RAFT after we have explored each of the big three writing genres (narrative, expository, persuasive) during our writing block.  We analyze the prompts provided by the curriculum (or me) and break them down by identifying each RAFT component.  This pre-writing step has made a world of difference for my students as they tackle the demands of state testing writing prompts!

This easy form is one I use when I begin having students independently analyze their writing prompts.  I have students identify each area of RAFT and then I work to correct any misconceptions.  You can download the free page by clicking the image below.

RAFT the Writing Prompt

RAFT is such a useful writing strategy that can be incorporated in so many different ways in the classroom.  In addition to our writing block, I also use digital prompt writing and journals to give students much needed practice responding to prompts on a regular basis.  You can read more about that by clicking the link below.

Journals in the Classroom


RAFT Writing


  • I'd done it often in 4th grade, but not with much success in 2 nd. They have so much trouble, it seems, with " role" ( writing from that perspective) . I do love the format and the creativity it allows.

    • I started with silly ones like kindergartener. They were so excited to write with incorrect spelling and backwards letters. I let them do it once, but then they got it! Maybe it's also a developmental shift for them right about that age.


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