Graham & Herbert demonstrate the necessity of daily writing activities in Social Studies content classes. My students demonstrate their understanding of History standards via MEAL and RAFT writing assignments. As a general rule, a MEAL prompt is designed to help students analyze evidence to support an argument, while a RAFT prompt requires students to inform/explain a historical topic to an audience. This post will feature examples from an 11th grade US History class. See Dare to Differentiate’s wiki for more examples and instructions.
Role of the writer – helps the writer decide on point of view and voice.
Audience for the piece of writing – reminds the writer that he must communicate ideas to someone else and helps the writer determine content and style.
Format of the material – helps the writer organize ideas and employ the conventions of format, such as letters, interviews, and story problems.
Topic or subject of the piece of writing – helps the writer focus on main ideas.
For this in-class writing assignment, students chose one out of four RAFT writing prompts. Students were allowed to use the book to complete this assignment, in fact it was designed to help them read the text. After a certain amount of time usually 20 minutes, students swapped papers, read each other’s work, then underlined the number of facts from the book included in the RAFT and reported out those numbers. I used this as a goal-setting strategy and it may or may not be used a factor when grading.
You are a 1950’s Police Officer warning a white church group about the dangers of Juvenile Delinquency.
You are a farmer, in favor of the Bracero program. Write a letter to your Congressman persuading him to continue the program, even though the American public is against it.
You are an African American inner-city resident speaking to the NAACP about the assistance needed for the city’s poorest residents.
You are a Native American WWII veteran testifying before Congress. Describe how and why the US Government should make life better for Native Americans.
RAFT assignments can be used regularly to get students writing about texts, responding to texts, and summarizing texts. As a bonus, these writing assignments all have a significant correlation with improving reading comprehension. Please share examples of RAFT prompts, noting the grade level and subject it was used for in the comments section.
Fisher, D., Brozo, W.G., Frey, N., & Ivey, G. (2011). Fifty Instructional Routines to Develop Content Literacy. 2nd Ed. Pearson. Boston, MA.