Using RAFT to Analyze Pascal’s “Claim-to-fame”

Sullivan Fitzgerald


Step by Step Instructions:

  1. For the first part of the lesson, I will show students a short video. This is to introduce, but more importantly, explain the history of Pascal’s triangle. Students will take mental or physical notes of the names mentioned and their contributions.
  2. After the video is over, we will begin our RAFT activity. Start the activity with handing out the four different RAFT activity sheets to students. Explain the RAFT and how it works, and then assign each student one of the four roles. Once students have an understanding of their role and activity, have them group with one of each role to have total groups of four distinct roles. Guide the students through how the activity will work, reiterate the names of the roles they are researching, and explain the goal of the project. Do this by presenting a short walk through/example. Once they have an understanding, give the students 5-8 min of research time to research their assigned role via the link given in their handouts (they are looking for supporting arguments and claims to prove their mathematician is deserving of the credit.)
  3. Once students have finished their research, they will begin their group discussion. Emphasize that this discussion topic is for students to support their roles’ “claim to fame.” Groups will maneuver their discussion from person to person, inviting rebuttals only after the speaker is finished with their thoughts.
  4. After about a ~20 min discussion within groups, students will reflect on their discussion by writing who they think is most deserving to be credited with the discovery of the Triangle and why. This approach helps students see a diverse point of view, and analyze who is often credited for something, and who is marginalized.
  5. Finally, the teacher will bring the class together and ask students to raise their hand for who they think deserves credit. Once people have raised their hands, the teacher will call on someone and ask for them to explain their reasoning. Do this for all 4 roles, and record thoughts on the board for kids to analyze. At the end of class, collect the notes from the students.
Video Demonstration


“Graphic Organizer: Raft (Role, Audience, Format, Topic) Writing Strategies.” Terra Foundation for American Art,

Adams, Anne E., and Jerine Pegg. “Teachers’ Enactment of Content Literacy Strategies in Secondary Science and Mathematics Classes.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 56, no. 2, 2012, pp. 151–161.,

“The National Association for Multicultural Education.” Can I Be a Multicultural Educator in Math? – NAME Learn,

About the author

I grew up in central Des Moines and went to a vastly homogeneous setting. I had a desire to be an engineer because everyone around me was going into it, but I never really had a passion for it. I arrived at community college freshman year, and was immediately met with a change of scenery, and a change in ideology. I had a lot of my ideas and perceptions challenged, and it led me down a path of education. I can’t say what pulled me to it, but it pulled me hard. I have pursued a career in educating people whenever and wherever I can, whether that be math, music, physics, or anything else. I strive to be a teacher who shows love and compassion to every student in tangible ways. Sometimes it’s easier than you’d think!