CER: What It Is, and Why I Never Explicitly Taught It [Episode 118]


Click below to hear how to teach CER:

If you’ve been in education long enough, you know that new acronyms and ideas are constantly being tossed out there. Once these ideas are presented, schools and districts want them implemented, which results in teachers stressing about incorporating them into their lessons. But in reality, teachers are already doing a lot of these ideas; they’re just called something different. This is exactly what happened with CER. So, in today’s episode, I’m explaining how to teach CER, what it is, and why you’re already doing this in your science classroom.

For those that don’t know, CER is an acronym for claim evidence reasoning. When this came onto the scene a few years ago, my inbox was flooded with questions on how to implement this and if it was incorporated into my curriculum resources. My response has always been the same – you’re already implementing this in your classroom because science is all about making claims and backing them up with evidence and reasoning. With that being said, I’m sharing how to be more intentional about using the language so your students learn to expect this type of response to any question. 

Although the term CER is new, the structure for how students construct an explanation is not. I know the stress and pressure of implementing something new in your classroom that your school is promoting, but I hope that this episode encourages and reinforces that you’re already doing this in your science classrooms despite it having a new name.

Topics Discussed:

  • What CER is, how to teach CER, and why it’s already a staple in your science classrooms
  • An unpopular opinion on why I never explicitly taught CER to my students
  • Ways to be intentional about using the same language for the types of responses written in your class
  • How CER is the foundation for all science response claims

Resources Mentioned:

Related Episodes and Blog Posts:

Connect with Rebecca:

More about Secondary Science Simplified: 

Secondary Science Simplified is a podcast specifically for high school science teachers that will help you to engage your students AND simplify your life as a secondary science educator. Each week Rebecca, from It’s Not Rocket Science, and her guests will share practical and easy-to-implement strategies for decreasing your workload so that you can stop working overtime and start focusing your energy doing what you love – actually teaching!

Teaching doesn’t have to be rocket science, and you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to simplify your secondary science teaching life so that you can enjoy your life outside of school even more. Head to itsnotrocketscienceclassroom.com/challenge to grab your FREE Classroom Reset Challenge.

Rebecca 0:00
Most of you probably saw the title of this episode, see er and immediately knew the acronym for claim evidence reasoning. And if you did not know that have no fear, because we’re gonna be talking all things, see er today. Now, I will tell you this, I’m going to tell you what it is. But I’m also going to share an unpopular opinion about why I never personally explicitly taught it. And then I’ll end the episode with a few ways that I have been more intentional in recent years, about incorporating it more explicitly as a curriculum writer and the resources that I’m creating. So let’s get into it. This is secondary science simplified a podcast for secondary science teachers who want to engage their students and simplify their lives. I’m Rebecca joiner from it’s not rocket science. As a high school science teacher turned curriculum writer, I am passionate about helping other science teachers, love their jobs, serve their students, and do it all in only 40 hours a week. Are you ready to rock the time you spent in your classroom and actually have a life outside of it? You are in the right place teacher friend, let’s get to today’s episode.

Okay, let’s start with what it is, if you didn’t know is the E R stands for claim evidence reasoning. And it is a model or structure for students to construct explanation. So they’re answering a question and this is going to guide them and how best to thoroughly answered the question. So the idea is that if they’re answering a question, they are going to make a claim. That’s the see. And your claim is just some sort of clear statement that actually addresses the question. And then you’re gonna back up that claim with specific evidence. That’s where the E comes from. And then finally, you will back up that evidence with reasoning for it. That’s the are the reasoning. Now, it’s pretty straightforward. You might be thinking, if you’ve never heard of this before, like, okay, isn’t that what we’ve always kind of done? And your answer be? Yes, it is. And so this is why I never explicitly taught CEE are. Now, this has been around for years. Okay. But I feel like it really started getting pushed by standards and by districts around 2019 2020 ish. And you’ll I cannot tell you the number of messages I get on a weekly or monthly basis asking if my biology curriculum, or my physical science curriculum includes C E, R. And honestly, the short answer is no, like, I don’t explicitly teach C E R in those curricula. I don’t include any instructional resources that are like here’s how to do see er and walk them through it exactly. Okay. You they’re not going to see that exact language on an assessment, whether that’s formative or summative, they’re just not going to see it, say C E. R. But you all I have never felt the need to do that. Because I’ve been using in teaching car for a decade, like before, it even really became a thing. And you probably feel the same way. Like I kind of chuckled when this exploded. And I started getting all these questions like Do you have car research sources? Do you have car curriculum? And I’m like, guys, all science is making claims and backing them up with evidence and reasoning. We’ve all been doing this for years like I’ve had teachers DM me stressed because our schools adopting see er and I don’t know how to do it. I’m like, Yes, you do. You do know how to do this, you can do this, you know, I laugh like I’m thinking back to when I was in high school, we were just given a question and told to explain our answer or justify our answer. And then in that we inherently did that. Like our teachers, I just feel like taught us like to explain something, you need to have evidence and you need to explain what that evidence is explaining. Okay, so we just didn’t have the nice fancy, pretty acronym. So if you have any of my first few curricula, you’re not going to see it explicitly anywhere, say C E. R, but I want you to not be discouraged because the ER is innately in the DNA of what science is. And if you aren’t explicitly teaching it, have no fear, you’re probably doing it anyway. You just haven’t called it car. I think the simplest solution is make and throw have a poster on your wall that explains what a car statement is and how it’s broken down into the three parts and reference it regularly. Your students will come to know over time this is the expected type of response to any question. You know, whether it’s specifically in the question says right a car or not, most likely on a standardized test, they’re not going to see an open response question and haven’t say, be sure to write in a car format. It’s just something they need to be able to know and do in order to properly you know, explain the claims that they make. Like that’s the thing I love the concept of car, you know, but I also just think sometimes in education We’re always looking for like the next new buzzword or trend. And sometimes I think we can make mountains out of molehills loves the ER, I’m here for it. But I just want you to know, if you’re not seeing it, don’t fret, like you can be explicit about teaching your students, that’s acronym, if you would like, because all the resources point for you to be able to do that. Now, all that being said, I am trying to be a little bit more intentional now with the resources I’m creating now, and incorporating that just because again, the number of emails about it, I feel like I’ve had the same conversation with so many different teachers over the years. And so when I wrote chemistry, specifically, I made sure to like include one resource that’s in the first unit that has the make a CR mini poster, and you can go through that language there. And then I try to reference that language and other places as well. But I will say I was hesitant for a while because one thing I tried to do when I write curriculum is make curriculum that is timeless, and not because I don’t want to update it. Because if you follow me for a while, you know, I am constantly updating and tweaking things and even doing mega revamps like biology got a mega revamp four years after I first wrote it. And so I’m here to do that I just don’t want, there’s always going to be like a new trend and a new buzzword and a new thing. And I try to avoid those because come two years, three years from now, it might be obsolete, and there’s going to be a new thing. So like, for example, I don’t write my resources in my lesson plans in the five e format. I adore the five E model. And it has been around for a while. But like, I swear, as soon as I rewrite everything to be written and formatted in the five year way, there’s going to be a four G model or a six T model. And I don’t want to have to reconfigure it again, because now the five E is outdated. Instead, I use the general premise of that which I absolutely love. The idea of engaging in exploring concepts with our students before we explain it and extend and all that jazz, like I love that it’s great that I keep that in mind as I’m constructing my lessons and writing my unit plans. But I’m not officially formatting all my unit plans in that way. And that’s kind of how I feel about a lot of the tech resources to that get a lot of buzz, you know, Edie puzzle and pure DAC and boom cards. I get a lot of emails about those two, do you have anything on pure DAC? Do you have anything on boom cards. And I just kind of always feel like there’s always going to be something new or better. And I want my resources to stand independently from those things. And especially those tools that I have no control over. And so I hope that the curriculum I create is such a solid foundation, you’re freed up so much that if you want to get jazzy with tech on top of it, and throw it and EdPuzzle here or there, whatever you can, because you’ve reclaimed so much time with not having to ever lesson plan again, or write another test, that you now have the capacity to do some of these extra things on your own that will best serve your students like Go for it. I love that for you. And I do try to create resources that feel like they’ll kind of stand the test of time in any sort of educational trends. And again, all of these are good things like all these trends are not bad. But I also think because it’s a trend, it’s constantly changing. And so I have to be cognizant of that in terms of how I write. So I just hope this little mini bite sized episode encouraged you like if you haven’t been using car and you want to it’s so easy to start, you might already be doing it, you didn’t even realize it. And also, I hope that you found a little bit of jam packed help. And this tiny episode I want to test out doing a different length of episode and see kind of how it goes over. So let me know what you think about the shorter episodes or if you like the longer deep dives we typically do. And last thing I want to say is don’t feel discouraged. If you haven’t been specifically using this acronym. Most likely, you’re still probably teaching your students this way. So don’t be discouraged if you’re not using Cr if you want to check out any of those complete units of mine that don’t explicitly teach CR you can find them in the show notes at isn’t rocket science classroom.com/episode 118 And leave a review today. If you liked this short mini episode and you want to see more kind of short form content like this in the future. Let me know in the review section. Alright, teacher friends that wraps up today’s episode. If you’re looking for an easy way to start simplifying your life as a secondary science teacher, head to It’s not rocket science classroom.com/challenge to grab your classroom reset challenge. And guess what? It’s totally free. Thanks so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you here next week. Until then, I’ll be rooting for you teacher friend.


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