I have been digging into Joseph Krajcik and Katherine McNeill‘s book- Supporting Grade 5-8 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science– and I highly recommend it to any upper elementary and middle school teacher of science. The book provides a very clear and engaging look at how to use a Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) framework to improve student writing and discourse in science. The CER framework can support not only science explanations but also the Common Core State Standards’ focus on using evidence and argumentation in math and English/Language Arts.
As I’ve been moving through the book, I’ve developed some tools that could be useful for professional development providers, professional learning communities, and ultimately students who are engaging with a CER framework.
1. An activity for writing a scientific explanation of whether soap and fat are the same substance. This is directly from the book with some added reflective questions for teachers. This could be used as an initial activity with teachers before revealing the CER framework. CER writing an explanation fat and soap
2. A set of 3 Formative Assessment Probes (based on Page Keeley’s work) to uncover student ideas about science explanations- the probes include a facilitation guide:
- Is it a Claim? A probe for uncovering student ideas about what constitutes a CLAIM- Is It a Claim? Formative Assessment Probe
- Is it Evidence? A probe to uncover what might be acceptable evidence Is It Evidence? Formative Assessment Probe
- Is it a Scientific Explanation? A probe to uncover how students are defining scientific explanations Is it a Scientific Explanation? Formative Assessment Probe
3. A video “think sheet” for participants to track their thinking while watching the first video clip from the book where a teacher introduces the CER framework to a class of 7th graders- introducing CER framework vid 2.1 think sheet
Please let me know if you have any revisions/changes/improvements to any of these documents. Hope these are helpful… enjoy. My hope is to assemble these tools and others into a Claim, Evidence, Reasoning Handbook.