April 18, 2019 6-8-geometry
Printable RAFT Writing Surface Area Activity, Grades 6–8
By: Jeff Todd
Today I'm sharing a surface area activity I've used in middle school classrooms since the mid-90s. I have since developed it to become a RAFT writing assignment. In this article, you'll find free printable instructions and rubrics for scoring this toy company themed surface area activity!
Surface Area Activity That Incorporates The RAFT Writing Strategy
This surface area RAFT activity is perfect for middle school students learning about surface area of rectangular prisms. Students imagine that they are a marketing company president and are pitching to a toy company a design proposal for a box for shipping square toy blocks. They need to propose a shipping container for the toy blocks that is not too expensive (i.e., conserves surface area) and provides ample space for a powerful marketing message (i.e., has a large side to display the marketing message).
Using the RAFT Writing Strategy in Mathematics
If you haven’t used the RAFT writing strategy in math before, let me introduce you to the format. RAFT stands for Role, Audience, Format, and Topic. With the RAFT writing strategy students are given a role in a real-life writing topic, a specific audience, a pre-defined format, and a specific topic.
Here is how this surface area activity works using a RAFT writing model:
Role—You are the President of a marketing company that is submitting a proposal to design the packaging for a product.
Audience—You are writing to the President of a toy company, who will make a decision on which proposal to accept.
Format—You are writing a business letter that includes an attachment showing your marketing design for the packaging of the product.
Topic—You are addressing two areas of concern about the package: the cost of the cardboard and the design of the main face (side) of the package.
The surface area activity is framed in this way: You are to create a design proposal for the packaging (a box) of ABC blocks (children’s toys) that will be used to display a set on the shelf of a store. The package contains 48 one-inch cubes. You must identify the dimensions of the box. The toy company wants to keep the cost of the cardboard used to make the packaging as low as possible, but would also like to have one face of the package designed to capture the customers’ attention.
Individual and Group Work
I have done this activity both as an individual and as a group activity. If it is used as group work, the surface area activity lends itself to having “departments.” There could an art department that designs the package, a writing department for writing the letter, a technical department calculating the dimensions of the package, and a manager to coordinate the group’s activities.
The scoring rubric for the RAFT activity includes criteria for students to communicate mathematically when writing the letter. Specifically, students can address the Standard for Mathematical Practice 3, which includes students constructing a viable argument as to why the toy company should use their design. These goals are also consistent with the ELA writing standards for grade 6–8, where students are required to write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.