Advertisers constantly push messages at our students. Our students need to learn how to push back at the advertisers. Having already presented on the importance of creating better advertisements, this lesson will encourage them to take on a Role, select an Audience, choose a Format, and finally select a Topic as they write a piece aimed at raising awareness of problematic gendered messaging in the media.
This lesson is part of a large mini-unit on Teaching Gender Representation in the Media. It can be used as a stand-alone piece or part of a larger conversation.
The Importance of R.A.F.T. Assignments
Differentiated assignments allow students to fully engage with an assignment, as they have agency over the piece that they are creating. By using RAFT assignments in your classroom, you ensure that whatever interest your student has in a topic, they can tailor their response appropriately.
I find it best to give four options for each of the four parts of the RAFT. This allows for over 256 unique arrangements for the assignment. Offering limited choice often helps focus students that would perseverate over an embarrassment of options; however, if you’re feeling up to it, you are free to add an option for students to write in an appropriate Role, Audience, Format, and Topic of their choosing.
As your students come into the classroom, you should have the following image displayed on the board.
Students should be asked to discuss the image from a variety of perspectives. What is the dog thinking? why is the woman smiling? What’s in the man’s cup?
Once they’ve had a brief introduction to the image, students should be given a copy of the RAFT Minds On Assignment. By completing this piece, they will have a foundation upon which you can build the main focus of your lesson.
Once students have been granted a foundational understanding of R.A.F.T. assignments, through the Minds On the portion of this lesson, they should select from one of the two assignments:
- Lego vs. Goldieblox Comparison RAFT Assignment
- Effects of Gender Messaging in Advertising RAFT Assignment
Once again, ensure that students understand that they need to tailor their piece to all four parts of the R.A.F.T.
This is the perspective from which the student will be writing their piece. For example, they may be a specific individual with an established job, or a certain gender, or age. As the teacher, you are free to set whatever roles you think best suit the assignment.
Students will be writing their piece to a specific individual. This will determine the language they use. A blog post on the internet would look very different than a formal letter to a politician. A note to self might include different information than a letter to a best friend. Ensure that students have a strong grasp on who they are writing to before they begin.
This is the type of written piece the students are creating. It could be a formal essay or a business proposal. It could be a piece of short fiction, or a poem, or a diary entry. You could have students writing a memoir, or an instructional guide. The type of piece they select will direct the shape of their final piece.
The final part of a raft is the topic. While all topics will fall under a general thematic umbrella, you can offer a variety of lenses through which to view and explore the main concept you want students to address.
Once students have a strong understanding of their RAFT choices, let them know that they must write a multi-paragraphed P.E.E. Formated response. They should then be left to complete the writing task for the remainder of the period.
Using the bottom of the assignment sheet as an exit slip, you can ask students to students write in what Role, Audience, Format, or Topic they wished were on the assignment. This will help you understand student interest and debrief the lesson through a focused student discussion over the following few days.
When we addressed the Media Triangle we took a look at how we could impact future messaging, and in this assignment, we wrote some targeted pieces. In our next, and final gender lesson, students will have agency to affect the future of gendered messaging by writing and sending letters to people in charge of the decision making process.