RAFT Writing Strategy

RAFT Writing Strategy

RAFT is a writing strategy to help students focus on four areas of communication. RAFT is an acronym for the following:

Role of the Writer





A RAFT assignment might look like this:


Role of the Writer Audience Format Topic

character from a book





President of the United States

school principal

group of parents


television audience

bill board






saving the environment

changing a rule or law

promoting a product

informing the public

asking the public to help support a cause


Students are required to select one item from each column. One student may be a teacher writing song for a group of parents asking them to change a rule in the school. Another person may be an artist addressing peers on a bill board that will inform them of an event. Dozens of options may be selected from just this one RAFT assignment.

This writing strategy not only helps students understand the varied formats of writing, but to know the audience they will address, their role as writers, and writing topics.


Teaching Standards

A RAFT lesson covers many teaching standards. In addition to the four areas of communication, assignments may also practice with specific skills. For example, in the printables below the RAFT activity requires students to use onomatopoeia and/or alliteration.

Differentiating Instruction

The best part of the RAFT experience is the ease to differentiate instruction. For example, I placed students into three groups. Each group was given two choices of activities. The activities varied in difficulty from the easiest level which was mostly drawing to the most difficult which was to create a slogan for advertising or a comic strip.


When I used this activity in the classroom, students had to think creatively to complete these activities. The projects were challenging yet fun for the students. All in all it was a great experience. I will defiantly use this project in future years.

#1 Printable – Get this printable.

RAFT Activity #1#2 Printable – Get this printable.RAFT Activity #2
#3 Printable – Get this printable.

RAFT Activity #3

#4 Printable – Get this printable.

Get free printables for RAFT. This great writing strategy will help your students better understand the role of the writer and audience.

Gay Miller


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Questioning Students ~ Teacher Evaluations Part 4

Calling on Students
Method for Calling on Students

Questioning Students

Questioning students is an important part of the evaluation lesson. Not only must teachers ask questions from all levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, but they must also call on both volunteers and non-volunteers. On top of this, the non-volunteers must represent a random mix of students. BOY! What a lot to remember when you are nervous with two evaluators writing down everything you do and say! I devised this simple, yet effective, way for randomly calling on non-volunteers.

The Method

Here’s how it works:

I divided my students into three groups based on how they normally answer questions in class.

Group 1 

The first group represents students I think would do well answering the knowledge and understanding level Bloom questions. For example, I have one very bright, extremely shy student. When I ask her a short, quick response question, she can reply with great answers. If I ask her a question that requires a more detailed answer, she gets the “deer in the headlights” look on her face and completely freezes up.

Group 2 

These are the students that respond well to nonverbal tasks. OK, I know we are answering questions, but there are many question-type activities that can be incorporated into a lesson. “Go to the SmartBoard and drag the definitions next to the vocabulary words.” or “On this website, I want you to select the correct answer to this multiple choice question.” or even “Draw a diagram or sketch an illustration of . . . on the board.” One student I have that fits this group is a young man who wants to tell the class everything he knows. After a few seconds, he is completely off-topic.

Group 3

This is simply the rest of the class.

Making Name Calling Sticks

I write each student’s name on one of three different wooden shapes based which group I have placed them in. I like using the wooden shapes because they are easy to select from a box, but many other materials will work equally as well. You could use three different colors of cubes or even strips of colored paper.

Next place the wooden shapes into a box. Every other question or so, “randomly” select a non-volunteer from your box to answer the question. The different shapes are easy to distinguish making the selection planned.

In the photo, you will notice that I have used a highlighter to mark different colors at the ends of the wooden shapes. These colors are based on my small learning groups. [You may wish to read this post explaining an easy method for dividing students into groups.] I used this set of names when my class was completing a game activity, and I needed to rotate between each group with my questions.

I hope this simple method will help alleviate a little stress from a highly stressful situation.

Gay Miller


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Display Board ~ Teacher Evaluations Part 3

Displaying Standards in the ClassroomDisplaying Standards for an Evaluation Lesson

The TEAM evaluation process requires teachers to post teaching standards, as well as essential questions, lesson goals, and vocabulary. I found that for observations, this type of display board is essential.

Display Board

Curtain HookThis was created using a display board like the ones used for science fairs. I purchased ordinary curtain hooks from Wal-Mart. To create hangers, punch the curtain hooks through the board keeping the sharp pointed end between the layers of the corrugated cardboard of the display board. Page protectors easily slide onto the curtain hooks. Inside the page protectors, lesson essentials may be displayed such as standards and lesson goals. Notice the right side of the board has a vocabulary pocket chart.

Download the board labels here.

The display board pictured is set up to use with a lesson for the book The Dark is Rising. When you purchase my The Dark is Rising Book Unit from Teachers Pay Teachers, you will receive a link and password information to a password protected portion of my website. Here you will be able to download the Common Core reading and language standards, essential questions, lesson goals, lesson vocabulary, and novel vocabulary to aid in lesson displays for each chapter/lesson for The Dark is Rising.

Gay Miller


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Displaying Student Work ~ Teacher Evaluations Part 2

Displaying Student WorkGet Top Marks on your Teacher Evaluation by Using the Method to Display Student Work

One component of our teacher evaluation is displaying current student work. I actually heard one evaluator say that she looks at student work to see in the edges are curled up. This was a sign the page had been displayed for a while. Another teacher said she was marked down because she displayed student work out in the hallway in place of all over her classroom. 

This simple idea helped me achieve top marks in this area.

Magnetic Shapes

The animals on the front of the students’ desks are wooden. They may be purchased from craft stores. These came from Michaels. Michaels offers both the plain unpainted wooden shapes and prefinished as seen in the photo. I decided to go with woodland animals, but you can find a large assortment of shapes including vehicles, sports, and dinosaurs. Using a Sharpie marker, I wrote students’ names on the front of the wooden shapes and glued magnets on the backs. The magnetic shapes cling to the metal desks and are easily rearranged when students move to new locations.

Getting Students Involved

Students select one page of work they wish to display. I ask that they change the page at least once a week, but students may change them as often as they wish.

The students love showing off their good work, and I love that I don’t have to worry about this one area on the teacher evaluation checklist!


Gay Miller


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Using PowerPoint ~ Teacher Evaluations Part 1

Using PowerPoint to increase scores on Teacher Evaluations ~ This blog post contains links to two PowerPoint presentations as well as the printables needed for those twolessons.

In the past couple of years, teacher evaluations have become more and more stressful. I admire teachers who can perform under pressure with ease. Since I am not one of those teachers, I have come up with a number of gimmicks [for lack of a better word] to help me remember the one hundred or so components that must be included in an evaluation lesson. I will discuss some of these ideas in a series of posts. Here is the first Using PowerPoint.

Using PowerPoint

Once you begin making PowerPoint presentations with your lessons, you will wish you had started years ago. Moving from one task to another becomes easy with instructions, examples, and a number of other lesson elements posted in the PowerPoint for the class to see. Even a simple PowerPoint with text only can prompt you through a lesson.

Having a lesson run smoothly is especially important when under the pressure of an evaluation. During my last evaluation, I knew the next activity I had planned and was ready to move forward. I then pressed the button to advance the PowerPoint slide and there was a mid-lesson review of the teaching standard, a requirement for our evaluations. If I had not been prompted, I would have completely skipped over this component and been docked a point. [Yeah, PowerPoint!]

I am including two PowerPoint lessons with this post as samples. Download them. Edit them to meet the needs of your students. Then try them in your classroom. All I ask is that you don’t repost these PowerPoints in any form on your websites or blogs.


I used this lesson with an inclusion class of fourth grade students. I have a link to the PowerPoint directly below. You may click the link or the PowerPoint image to download. Below this image is the link to the handouts that go with the lesson. They are a free download on Teachers Pay Teachers.


Analogies PowerPoint

Analogies PowerPoint

Handouts for this lesson are free on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click this link to receive the printables for this lesson.

Fun with Analogies

Sample Pages from Fun with Analogies

Author’s Purpose

This PowerPoint has three parts. I completed the first two parts with my fifth grade inclusion class before the formal teacher evaluation. Here again, I have included links to both the PowerPoint and the printable resources. The printable is a condensed version of the PowerPoint activities. Although it does not follow the PowerPoint step-by-step, it contains the graphic organizer, response cards, and test. You may click the link or the image to download the PowerPoint.


Author's Purpose PowerPoint

Author’s Purpose PowerPoint

Handouts for this lesson are free on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click this link to receive the printables for this lesson.

Author's Purpose Graphic Organizer

Author’s Purpose Graphic Organizer


Gay Miller


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Teaching Vocabulary

Teaching Vocabulary

One effective way to teach vocabulary is with index cards. Here’s how:

Step #1

On one side of the index card, students write the vocabulary word in large letters so that it may be used as a response card. For daily practice, students spread their index cards with the words facing up on their desktops. The teacher calls out definitions, synonyms, antonyms, or sentences with missing words. Students locate the correct word and hold up the card. This is a great way for the teacher to check to determine if students need additional practice or if most know the words. Also, each student is participating with each teacher request – ‘the every student, every time theory.’

Step #2

When teaching a new word, I have students create word webs or write definitions on the reverse side of the card. A word such as encyclopedia will need a definition, whereas inspire would be an ideal word for a word web. I usually read the sentence from the text in which the word may be found. The students must use context clues to determine the meaning of the word. As students name synonyms or come up with a great definition, I write it on the board for the students to copy on their cards.

Step #3

Students determine which part of speech the word is as it is used in the sentence from the text. This is written on the back of the card as well.

Step #4

Next I call on volunteers to use the word in sentences. To mix things up, we sometimes write the sentences on the card backs, and other times this is just oral practice.

Step #5

Some words need an illustration. For example, microscope would be a great word for students to draw quick sketches next to their definitions, in place of writing sentences on their card backs. To differentiate instruction, you may have some students draw their illustrations on the front of the card.


Using Index Cards to Teach Vocabulary

Additional Ways to Teach Vocabulary

  • The teacher reads difficult text. One great way to do this is to select a novel the students would enjoy, but could not read independently. Read a few minutes after lunch to the class.

  • The teacher sets up a listening center where students listen to the audio version of the text. Students should follow along in the book while the audio reads the book.

  • The teacher models new vocabulary words on a regular basis.

  • Students create pictures, diagrams, and graphic organizers with vocabulary words.

  • Have the students analyze words by breaking them down by syllables, affixes, base words, or root words.

  • Students name synonyms and antonyms of words.

  • The teacher uses new vocabulary words in everyday speech. Students should be encouraged to use new words in conversation.

  • Students analyze multiple-meaning words.

  • [Teaching Idea]

Have students purposefully misconstrue a multiple-meaning word to make a puzzle for others to solve. See a bulletin board with student work here.

This vocabulary teaching method is simple yet effective.

Gay Miller


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Group Work

Collaborative GroupsGrouping Students

Small group activities are incorporated into many unit lessons. One hour of organization will make transitioning your class into group activities simple.

1) Purchase insertable name badges (lanyards) for each student in your class. You may use fold & clip name badges or the hanging name badges with neck straps.

2) Write or type the names of each student on the individual rectangular inserts provided with the name badges.

3) Before punching the rectangular inserts apart, take them to the copying machine and make copies in four to five colors based on the number of students in your class.

4) Using a paper cutter, slice the rectangles apart.

5) Make a stack (one of each color) of a student’s name and store all colors in one vinyl holder of the lanyard.

6) Sort students into groups by color. Simply place the student’s name printed on “blue” paper at the top of the stack before placing the names in the lanyard. All students who have “blue” names will form the “blue” group. Repeat with each color until you have formed each group.

You may easily rearrange groups by shuffling different color name tags to the top of the stack.

Collaborative Handout for
Group Roles

Additional Uses for Individual Lanyards

Play “Round About.” In this fun activity, students get out of their desks and move around the room. This is a welcomed change from the many pencil and paper activities they so frequently are required to do. Here are the instructions for the activity:


  • Make cards with the definitions of vocabulary words. Write a number on each card. Students place these cards in their lanyards. Note: I often have students turn their lanyards around, so they are hanging down the students’ backs. This helps with personal space.

  • Give students a sheet with vocabulary words.

  • Set a timer. When the timer begins, students walk around the room reading the definitions. They must write the corresponding number of the definition next to each vocabulary word on their sheet. When the timer stops, students return to their seats.

  • The answers are checked to determine how many correct responses are identified.

    This activity may be used for any skill that requires matching.


Gay Miller


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