Posted by: jockmackenzie | September 19, 2009

Student Writing – G.R.A.F.T. not R.A.F.T.S. – Introduction

2-headed-dragonGraphic from webweaver.nu

GRAFT instead of RAFTS is not exactly slaying the two-headed dragon – but it is something new.

RAFTS is a writing technique, created by Dr. Dick Alder from the Montana Writing Project (thanks to Graham Foster for the source) that I have used for years. I loved it and students loved it. But there was always one little hitch. The “S” in RAFTS has always been a problem for me. The “S” has meant either STRONG VERB or, as you will see below, STRONG PURPOSE. For the sake of students, I prefer GRAFT to RAFTS. Please keep reading to see why.

In the recently published 12 Sides to Your Story by Graham Foster (Pembroke Publishing, 2009), Graham describes the classic RAFTS concept. Here’s a brief excerpt:

RAFTS Variables

R = Role: From whose point of view am I writing?

A = Audience: To whom am I writing?

F = Format: What type of writing am I completing?

T = Topic: What am I writing about?

S = Strong Purpose: What is my purpose?

Graham is extremely knowledgeable, a prolific author, and a nice guy – but I think a “G” should replace the “S”. For the sake of a memorable acronym and, more importantly, because it’s the first thing we consider, I suggest a “G” for GOAL and the acronym GRAFT.

The word RAFTS doesn’t hold any meaning by itself. One might get creative and suggest that students need RAFTS to save their writing from being awash in boredom i.e. life RAFTS to the rescue. Perhaps GRAFT isn’t an outstanding alternative – but consider these two definitions for the noun “graft.”

1. unscrupulous use of one’s position to derive a profit or advantage

2. material, especially living tissue or an organ, surgically attached to or inserted into a bodily part to replace a damaged part or compensate for a defect.

I’m confident that I could get a middle school class to buy into the idea of using their unique position and the GRAFT concept to gain an advantage by writing in a more creative and interesting way. Further, the same students could be convinced that acceptance of the GRAFT principles would enable them to compensate for the timeworn defects of writing the much over-assigned “paragraph” to an unspecified audience. I say, “Up with GRAFT!”

Stay tuned for some examples.


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