Shared Devices

5 Class Periods with ThinkCERCA

This video will guide you through using ThinkCERCA across five sessions.


Session 1

Introduce or review a key skill or concept using a Direct Instruction lesson. Using a smartboard or projector, watch the lesson as a whole group, pausing frequently to elaborate or expand upon the skills and concepts being taught. Students can take guided notes using a worksheet that you have prepared ahead of time so they are actively following along with the lesson.

At the end of this Direct Instruction lesson, have students complete an exit ticket by summarizing the Direct Instruction lesson (optional).

Next, students will begin working on the Writing Lesson that corresponds to the Direct Instruction lesson. To get started, review the topic and ask students to reflect on a personal connection related to the lesson, which will activate their background knowledge. Here are some suggestions:

  • In pairs, ask students to read the topic overview silently. Then, have them read the connection question in Step 1 together and discuss for 3 minutes. They do not have to type anything at this point. If time permits, you can ask students to share their partner discussion with the whole group.

  • Alternatively, pass out an entrance slip at the beginning of class and use the personal connection question in Step 1 as a 5 to 7 minute silent, independent, free write. Then, students can log into their accounts with a partner and record their answers in ThinkCERCA.

Finally, run a vocabulary routine with students. ThinkCERCA’s Vocabulary Routines resource includes a range of activities for helping students become more familiar with the vocabulary featured in our Writing Lessons. Use this time to go over vocabulary, terms, equations, formulas, etc. that make the most sense for your students.

Session 2

For Session 2, arrange students in small groups homogeneously by readiness level. In these groups, have students read the text of the Writing Lesson in Step 2 (silently or out loud as a group). Since ThinkCERCA lessons are differentiated, each group will likely read a different (but thematically similar) text based on their readiness level. For classrooms with shared devices, we recommend printing off the text ahead of time so students can read the it on paper.

Next, have students answer the five multiple choice items as a comprehension check. Ask them to rotate through available computers, spending 5 to 10 minutes to answer the comprehension check.

While students are waiting to access computers, ask them to begin working on Step 4 (full instructions below).

For Step 3, instruct students to gather evidence, make annotations, and note counterarguments in the text. This step can be completed on paper using highlighters or by underlining. Set explicit expectations for how much highlighting they should do and, if possible, project or print off highlighting instructions from each lesson. During this time, walk around the classroom to meet with small groups or individual students.

Session 3

At the beginning of Session 3, students should complete Step 4 of the Writing Lesson (summarizing). Have students write their summary using pencil and paper. If students are new to summarizing, ask them to use our built-in sentence stems for scaffolded support. You can project or write these frames out on a chalkboard.

Next, ask students to outline their essay in Step 5 using our paper-based CERCA graphic organizer. With this resource, students can write out their claim, identify evidence, explain their reasoning, and address counterarguments‚Äďall the components needed for a cohesive argument. Visit each student and provide any scaffolding necessary to help them structure their argument.

Session 4

In Session 4, have students engage in a speaking and listening activity using the Writing Module Class Discussion Question as the topic of discussion. During this session, students can be arranged in small groups (group discussion) or paired off (pair debates). Remember that a talkative classroom is key.

Check out our resources on Socratic discussion and ThinkCERCA's Debate Game for ideas on how to get started!

After hearing other perspectives, students will use the outline they developed in the prior session to draft a formal argument in Step 6 (on paper). By hearing arguments from students who read different (although thematically similar) texts, students will have the opportunity to reflect and edit their claim before finalizing their argument.

Session 5

At the start of Session 5, have students complete the first draft of their formal essay.

Next, ask students to peer edit each other's essays using our built-in rubric as a guide for conversation. Have these rubrics projected or written on a chalkboard. Using this feedback, students should spend the remaining class time revising and finalizing their essay.

Some teachers find it helpful to ask students to complete a self-evaluation upon submission of their CERCA essay. Download our student self-evaluation worksheet to get started.