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Using CER Practice All Year Long

Continuing to do CER practice with your students throughout the year is really important for them in terms of using this writing format with ease. The more they do CER writing in class, the easier it will become for them to pick out evidence from different sources and write their reasoning.

Of course, this is assuming that you’ve taken the time to teach them how to write CERs in a step-by-step format. This form of writing doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s really worth it to take the time early in the year to systematically teach your students how to write CERs.

If you’re at the point where you’re just introducing your students to CERs now, check out this blog post on introducing CERs in your classroom. It’s a really good place to start!

Tips For CER PracticeTips for using CER practice all year long

Once your students have written a few CERs and are starting to get a handle on it, then what? Like anything, if you keep doing the same thing over and over they (and YOU) will get bored. Read on for some ways to incorporate CER writing into your lessons without making your students’ eyes glaze over!

  • Be on the lookout for short video clips, television commercials, fun science articles … anything that you can turn into a CER. Even things like cereal boxes or other food labels can make interesting CERs.
  • Students need practice in using all sorts of resources for evidence-gathering. Try to use a mix of things such as reading passages, graphs, drawings, data tables, or photographs. The more different sources students see, the better they’ll get at using them.
  • CERs can be used in many different ways in your classroom. Use them as quick assessments, homework, station work, or exit tickets. They can be done in pairs, in groups or individually.
  • If you have students that are struggling with some aspect of writing CERs, they are pretty easy to differentiate, even for different students within a particular class. You can always have a sheet of writing prompts for them to keep in their notebooks. Or, you can grab this free CER poster for your walls!
  • Another way to give your students CER practice is to give them CERs that are already written. Have them check to see if the claim is appropriate, if the evidence is valid, and if the reasoning uses good scientific principles. They can use highlighters, rewrite any parts that are incorrect or “grade” them with a grading rubric. Seeing CERs from a different perspective sometimes can really make things click.

Topical CERs

I’ve started creating a series of topical CERs for various biology topics that would be covered throughout the year.

So far, I have one set of CERs on Ecology. This set contains 4 different CERs, each one using a different evidence source. There’s a reading passage, a graph, a food web and a set of data tables.

Each one of the 4 also comes in two different versions … one version has prompts to help struggling students. The other version has no prompts, making it easy to differentiate these in your classes.

Click the image below to check it out in my store!

Ecology CERs for CER practice

Do you have any other tips for practicing CER? Any particular topic you’d like to see me create next? Please share below!

Happy Teaching!