Putting CER to Work
Classroom, Science

Putting CER to Work

This post is the 5th and final post in the CER framework series. To read any of the previous posts in this series click on those below: 

Putting CER to Work

The final part of the Claim – Evidence – Reasoning (CER) framework is putting all the pieces together. Now that you have explicitly taught, practiced both verbally and in writing, and employed the color visual cues; you and your students are ready to bring them together and see students’ writing improve dramatically.

As with each of the steps before, it is going to be important to employ modeling, collaboration and discussion before you release students to independent writing using the CER framework. Additionally you will always need to keep in the back of your mind that each time you have your students write, that they are applying new learning or content using the CER framework you have built. Because content is continuously changing there will be times that students will struggle and need more support. However, they will likely know what they need to do and be able to begin due to the scaffolds you have put in place.

Building a CER environment:

As you may have discovered, this often does not include ONE lesson in ONE day. Rather this is a cycle of inquiry, information gathering, discussion and collaboration that leads to a well written paragraph that can later be applied to an essay in the older grades.

So what would a CER lesson look like?

STEP 1: Backwards Planning

As with anything you will want to do some backwards planning. I am going to use a simple example for primary grades to walk you through. You first determine what you want your students to be able to do with the content you are teaching. You decide that you want your students to classify organisms into groups based on similar characteristics as your end goal for your unit on Insects.

STEP 2: Engage

You set the stage by showing students a video on insects that captivates their interest. 

STEP 3: Explore 

You set up a learning station in the room where students can examine plastic insects, create drawings, and make observations. 

STEP 4: Explain 

-You circle up with your students and create a Parts to Whole Thinking Map of the different characteristics that students observed about insects using the plastic ones at the station or image cards. 

-Then you watch a video and come up with the main characteristics of an insect and its definition (example video: https://youtu.be/iJlfBNyBKQA). 

-Students then independently read about insects and create a model with playdough

STEP 5: Elaborate 

You allow students to select an insect picture card and then a non-example picture card. Students create a Bubble Thinking Map to compare the insect and non-example from their previous Parts to Whole Map

STEP 6 Evaluate

-Do a whole class model CER for an insect of choice. 

-Give students an image or model of a millipede and ask them to write a claim for whether or not it is an insect using the class example and anchor chart for writing a claim.

-Have students write 1-2 evidence statements using the class model and anchor chart for evidence statements. 

-Finally have students write the reason by having them use the class model and/or anchor chart.

Preparing CER Primary:

Depending on how many times you have modeled will determine whether or not students can use your model and anchor chart to begin. To ensure success you should start by providing students with the model stems like these. 

I think ______________________________.
I noticed ____________________________.
The reason ______________________is because _______________________.

Example Primary CER:

I think that a millipede is not an insect. I noticed that it has too many legs to count. The reason a millipede cannot be an insect is because insects have only 6 legs.

Key Strategies for CER:

I have helped teachers at all grade levels help their students improve their writing. Some key methods have been described here. These strategies have included: 

  • Modeling
  • Thinking Maps
  • Color Codes
  • Sentence Stems/Anchor Charts
  • 5E Model of Inquiry


Additionally I have designed the teaching resources below that you need to begin the CER Framework at any level. They are in printable PDF or Digital Flipbooks. You can use these for yourself to create the framework in your classroom, distribute them to students and use them to model throughout the year and make your anchor charts. Each resource has all the steps for CER across content subjects and is ready to be used immediately. 

Help your students get writing with these CER Resources!!

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