I’ve been a special education teacher for 6 years now. Actually, we’re all special education teachers, as my first principal liked to say (and she was right). The thing I always struggled with the most was getting students to feel confident with short-response writing. That is, until I started using the RACE Strategy. This strategy is just a mnemonic device that stands for:
R: Re-state the question
A: Answer all parts of the question
C: Cite the text to provide evidence
E: Explain your citation
What is the RACE Strategy?
RACE is a structure to help students answer passage-based, short response questions in a formal style, with using clear reasons and evidence from the text, and to provide concluding statements.
This strategy is especially helpful for struggling writers and students with disabilities, but it can also be helpful scaffolding for all students. It teaches students to do what confident writers do naturally—re-stating the question in a complete sentence, answering all parts of the question, citing evidence and fully explaining.
Why use the RACE Strategy?
When I was in school, no one ever taught me about the RACE strategy, but I think I did it instinctively. I was an avid reader, which helped make me a strong writer. Not all students have the same background experiences, and need they will more support. That’s why I love RACE.
I also encourage students to use checklists to ensure they’ve done each part. This helps me with grading as well.
Since teaching the RACE strategy, I’ve seen an incredible transformation in my classroom. Previously struggling students are approaching writing prompts with confidence and even excitement. When I see students using it on their own–without me reminding them–I know they’ve really learned it.
Want to challenge students even more? Try paired passages
Once your students have mastered the RACE writing strategy, it may be time to move on to more complex material. When students can confidently answer a prompt about one passage, move on to paired passages!