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Strategies for Reading Comprehension
RAFT Papers
[Nancy Vandervanter, in Adler, 1982]


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RAFT Papers are simply a way to think about the four main things that all writers have to consider:

RAFT Papers give students a fresh way to think about approaching their writing. They occupy a nice middle ground between standard, dry essays and free-for-all creative writing. RAFT papers combine the best of both.

They also can be the way to bring together students' understanding of main ideas, organization, elaboration, and coherence...in other words, the criteria by which compositions are most commonly judged. Check out the Framework for Writing & Composition that breaks down these components of sound writing according to the strategies that help students better understand them.

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That's Nice, But How About an Example?
Here's one that could be a demonstration that a student has an idea of the circular flow diagram in economics:

Role William Dollar
Audience U.S. Mint/Bureau of Engraving
Format Memorandum
Topic Plead for Time Off
TO: Personnel Director
FROM: William Dollar
DATE: April xx, 19xx
RE: Request for Vacation

My name is Dollar, Bill Dollar. I've been on the job for the last twelve months without a break, and I am writing to request a two-week vacation. In considering my request, I think it's essential that you understand exactly how much work we dollar bills have to do during our time of service for the United States Treasury. One-dollar bills are the more prevalent, most used, and most abused of all the paper currency. Our life expectancy is only about 18 months. By comparison, the average $100 bill has been in circulation around nine years!

My journey through the many hands that hold me begins after I leave the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and get sent out to a Federal Reserve Bank. I was shipped to Richmond, Virginia, although I could have been sent to any one of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks located throughout the country. While it's nice to travel and see the country, that first trip involves being bundled in currency "bricks" and chunked into armored trucks...no daylight or sunshine for us there! Then we get sent to regular banks when they need to increase the cash they have on hand for their customers. So while it seems like our job is pretty easy to start with, let me assure you it gets much worse from there.

In my case, I went out of our bank with a whole lot of other bills to become part of the day-laborer payroll of a construction company. It turns out there's a lot of house-building going on in the fast-growing Research Triangle area of North Carolina, and a lot of temporary help is hired on that has to be paid at the end of each day. I was paid out to a guy who'd been hauling sand all day to the cement mixers. On his way home, he stopped by the Better Burger place for a buffalo burger and fries, and I ended up going into the cash register there. When they were closing up that evening, the manager divided up tip money among the wait staff, and I was off again.

I went into this very nice woman's purse, but I didn't stay there long. In fact, I didn't stay any place too long; I was in and out of cash registers, fed into soft drink machines, passed back and forth between husbands and wives and kids, folded into swans and other strange shapes at late-night dinner tables, crumpled up and wadded into jeans pockets, and even washed a few times in laundromats.

But I know how crucial we are: employers use us to pay their workers, and the workers use us to buy food and medicines and clothes and gas, and then we're used to pay the people who work in the grocery and drug stores, the malls, and the gas stations. Then those people use us all over again to pay not only for goods but also for services like haircuts and car washes.

It is true that in some ways my life is easier than it was for dollar bills that came before me, because people use checks, credit cards, debit cards, and other electronic transfers more and more all the time. But there will always be a need for good old hard cash like me. It's just that I'm awfully tired from all my travels, and I may only have another year at the most left in me before I'm recalled, retired, and shredded into thousands of tiny pieces. I'd like to have time to recover from all this wear and tear so that I can keep on circulating until I'm in no condition to continue. Will you consider my request?

Sincerely,

 

William P. Dollar

The drafting of this sample RAFT paper was made possible in part thanks to visits to the following two websites:

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