For the past several years I have been supporting pre-service and inservice teachers with the use of the Claim, Evidence and Reasoning (CER) framework for scaffolding students’ writing and talking about scientific explanations and arguments. This framework provides a common language for discussing the elements of powerful explanations and arguments. It isn’t a formula to memorize but a framework for support and improvement.
I have used the following books in professional development and also in college courses I’ve taught. I highly recommend these:
- Supporting Grade 5-8 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science– by Joseph Krajcik and Katherine McNeill
- What’s Your Evidence?: Engaging K-5 Children in Constructing Explanations in Science- by Carla Zembal-Saul, Katherine McNeill, and Kimber Hershberger
Together these books provide 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.
Over the years, 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 first 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 DRAFT facilitation guide. Feel free to improve these:
- 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.
I’ll add a few other resources in an upcoming post. What CER resources have you found most useful in your own work with students?
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terrific blog post! Wonderful resources! Very appropriate for middle school level.