Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Reading the RAFTy way

RAFT (Role/Audience/Format/Topic) is the strategy used in Brian's class to integrate reading and writing. The kids read from different genres and then create a new writing-related product (assigned by their teacher) to show the depth of their understanding.

In developing the final product, students need to think about the Role they're taking on -- are they the writer? A character? Reporter? They've gotta think of the Audience for their product -- is it a bunch of unruly mob? Parents? A local bank?. Teachers have great flexibility in handing out assignments and will have to think what Format (product) would best demonstrate the children's understanding of the text -- it could be an art work, a skit, a poem. Topic is the point of the product? -- is it to influence an electorate? To plead for leniency? To present an award?

The first book was one that was assigned by the teacher, and subsequent ones are free-choice, but you've gotta cover different genres. Naturally, Brian went for the adventure/fantasy types first. Forced to read from other genres, Brian actually came back this week with Anne of Green Gables, even though I've had that on our bookshelf for a year. I was going YES!! cos he'd never read this on his own accord.

Back to the first book, Louis Sachar's There's a boy in the girl's bathroom. The assignment: To draw a Coat of Arms that shows what would be important to a character in the book. You've gotta present and explain the different elements in your coat of arms, of course.

For another book he read (of his choice), Eragon, the assignment was to write a newspaper article about how a character won an election. At the time, the Unit of Inquiry was about Governments and it was also during the height of US election fervour.

The kids needed to present their product like a real newspaper article but this is what Brian wrote:

The Daily Rider
An old era gone…
A new Eragon!

Eragon, the 15 year-old orphan, has won the Alegaesian Prime Minister election! He, together with his dragon Saphira, beat the evil-possessed sorcerer, Durza, by just a few votes. Eragon managed to win despite the unfortunate setback from the death of his mentor and former Dragon Rider, Brom.

An Eragon supporter had this to say: "Eragon is a unique man. He will only fight if he has to."

We agree that he is special in many ways. Out of all the people in the world, Eragon was chosen by Saphira to be the first of a new generation of Dragon Riders. He can also use magic and talk to werecats. He rescued an elf and traveled thirteen leagues across an entire desert and the mountains in six days to save her.

Eragon was involved in a war against an army of giant Urgals, during which he became one of only three people in known history to slay a Shade. Many people admire his bravery and courage.

On the other hand, Durza allies with dark creatures, enjoys settling problems using violence, and he uses his powers for evil. His reputation doesn't help either. Durza once used magic to slaughter entire villages, torture an elf, and hypnotize hundreds of Urgals.

One person said, "Durza's bad enough with magical powers. I can't even think about what he would have done with his magical powers and his authority as Prime Minister."

Durza had this to say, "Eragon is a bad candidate. He cannot see all that power he has when it is right in front of him. He has a dragon and magical powers that he can use any time he wants, and doesn't even consider raising an army!"

Eragon only said, "Thank you for voting for me. I will do my best as Prime Minister."

When we asked Eragon what he planned to do now, he said, "I plan to kill the wicked king Galbatorix and end his reign of terror."

It looks like Eragon is destined to do very great things! We'll keep you informed as this story unfolds.


The latest RAFT assignment was to make a trophy that's related to the character, ie, if he won a trophy what would it be for. Brian's was for Roald Dahl, as he was reading Boy: Tales of Childhood, the first autobiographical book by the author.

The trophy he made out of Lego.

He started on the speech the night before it was due to be presented, when it was already past his bedtime (claims he'd forgotten, got big scolding from me for utter irresponsibility etc etc nag nag). The speech was to be between 25 and 40 seconds long.

Every year, Puffin Books gives a trophy to the best fiction writers of the year.

This year, our nominees for Fiction Writer of the Year Award are,

Roald Dahl, for his best-selling book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,
David Robins, for his tragic story, The Boy who was Bald,
and Ronald McDonald, for his comic novel, There's a Burger in the Boy's Bathroom.

It was very close this year, but in the end, the judges had to pick one, and the Fiction Writer of the Year for 2009 is...Roald Dahl! Congratulations!

I didn't think it showed anything at all about what he'd learnt from the book, but this got a huge laugh when he presented it in class, one, for the obvious reference to the book they had all read (There's a boy in the girl's bathroom) and well, David Robins is their teacher, and he has a shiny bald pate.

His baldness is a standing joke among the kids, and I once saw a girl from another class, while walking towards him, stop, and say "Hey Mr Robins", then slides her palm along his head and go "Smooooooth...". And he even pretended that Brian had announced it was he who had won the trophy, going, "Ohhh, I'm sooo happy!...", so that got more laughs...Prettttty cool bloke.


monlim said...

I think Brian can easily be a journalist when he grows up - that article captures the news genre perfectly. Maybe he can be the first journalist cum fantasy writer cum mathematician!

Lilian said...

Wahhh that's high praise indeed coming from such a prolific writer like Auntie Monica. Btw, how come you never became a journalist? Cos of your bond?

monlim said...

Probably, my first job threw me into corp comms so that naturally became my career.

Plus here's a secret: I hate to read news, let alone write it! More interested in fiction, lifestyle. Wouldn't mind being a food critic for ST Life, but a news journalist trekking through earthquake zones? no thank you :P

Lilian said...

I was thinking more of columnist. Would much rather read your thoughts than the drivel from some of these younger 'columnists' these days.

monlim said...

Very flattered! But I guess it's easier to do it in a blog where there's no deadline. If I had those deadlines hanging over me, I'll probably come up with some inane drivel too...

Alcovelet said...

Ronald McDonald a writer? That's hilarious! Top marks for all that humour in class. Something tells me Brian must be a pretty popular boy in class!

Lilian said...

Actually, his friends are really funny and witty, probably more so than he is. That's what draws him to them, and the reverse is true too of course.