It doesn’t matter how many teachers I talk to, there is always a common thread: our students struggle with writing. Whether it’s mastering complete sentences or writing an essay, writing seems to always be a tough skill for students to master. In particular, I’ve heard from many teachers (and seen it myself) that students struggle to use evidence to support their claims. Luckily, that can change with the RACE writing strategy.
What is the RACE Writing Strategy?
This strategy is commonly referred to as RACE or RACES, and it’s an acronym that stands for restate the question, answer the question, cite evidence from the text, explain how the evidence proves your answer, and (optional) summarize.
Essentially, it’s an outline and scaffold our students can use as they get better at writing short answer responses. When it comes to writing, I say there you can never have too many scaffolds because we already know it’s a challenging skill.
When using the RACE writing strategy, students are essentially “checking off” that they have each element needed in a written response. And after a while, the process will become a natural part of writing.
How to Teach the RACE Writing Strategy
Getting students to use the RACE writing strategy isn’t too challenging, but you can’t expect them to figure it out alone. If you just hand them a worksheet or graphic organizer, you’ll probably be bombarded with questions and get some interesting writing samples back. That’s stressful for you and your students.
Instead, take it slow and gradually ease into the RACE writing strategy. Here is what I’d recommend –
#1 Model RACE. Start by completing some whole class exercises and model for students exactly what RACE looks like.
You can read a text together as a class, and then write the response on the projector or whiteboard. I liked to have students write along with me as well, and then glue the example into their journals.
#2 Get clear on vocabulary. If students don’t know what cite or evidence means, they’ll never be able to independently use the RACE writing strategy.
Make sure you directly teach the key vocabulary and provide examples of each. You can add these words to your Word Wall or make an anchor chart. I also have a RACE bulletin board resource that you can use for displaying the process.
#3 Chunk the assignment. Before you turn students loose to write an entire RACE paragraph, break it down step by step.
The first time students work independently, have them just restate the question. Then the next time, have them restate the question and answer the question. Continue building on the next element over time.
#4 Provide feedback to students. You don’t need to grade every single RACE writing sample, but students should be getting feedback as they learn.
You can do this in a few ways. You can walk around the classroom during writing time and stop at each desk to check-in. You can call students over to your desk and provide quick feedback on their writing. Or you can call students for a small group where you review the writing pieces and assist.
Done-for-You RACE Resource
Hopefully, by this point, you’ve figured out why I love the RACE writing strategy so much. It made a significant difference in my students’ writing abilities, and I want your students to experience that same level of mastery.
I created a done-for-you RACE resource that guides students through the process and makes it easy for you to plan, prep, and implement the RACE writing strategy.
This resource is perfect for students who are beginners to RACE or who need some extra help reviewing. Here’s a peek inside the resource –
- There are ten practice pages to help students master RACE (five fiction and five informational)
- Each passage comes with a graphic organizer and checklist to provide writing support and scaffolding to students
- Each passage comes with a writing page, so students can turn their graphic organizer into a paragraph
- There are teacher examples for each passage, so you can model for students and provide examples
I hope this blog helped you brainstorm some ideas for teaching the RACE writing strategy to students. Don’t worry if it takes some time for your students to master it. Text support and evidence are tricky skills! RACE will help.
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