This is an activity that we did to learn more about how to write a good Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) paragraph. The idea could be modified for any type of CER. For this particular activity, high school Earth & Space Science students had each researched a planet in our solar system. During presentations or online sharing students created a foldable to take notes on the atmosphere characteristics of each planet. Students then used their foldable to choose evidence to use in their CER paragraph. The writing prompt is shown below. Here is the process we went through from pre-writing through self-reflection and correction.
1. Students were shown the writing prompt and grading rubric. Students brainstormed at their table and wrote down notes to show what would be important in their answer.
2. Students filled out the Pre-writing Outline listed below. This was a writing scaffold that showed students the exact format and structure to write a CER to answer this particular writing prompt. This Pre-Writing Outline could easily be modified to help with other CERS focused on different topics.
3. After getting approval for filling out the Pre-Writing Outline appropriately (appropriate evidence chosen that helped support their claim, and appropriate explanations to show reasoning of how the evidence supported the claim), students wrote the answer to the writing prompt CER in essay format. We did this on the computer, and it was turned in online.
4. Student then did a self-reflection using the rubric. Students used the Color Coding guide listed below to identify where they had written about each CER component. Students did this on the computer, and used the color highlighting tool. Students could also easily do this on written/typed papers by using colored markers.
5. Students then hand another day or two to edit their CER paragraph. Students were directed to look at their color coding activity to see if there were any missing components in their CER writing. I did not look at essays critically or grade against the rubric until this time.
This 5 page document includes the above teaching note, a pre-writing outline, grading rubric, and a color-coded student self-assessment assignment.
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