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CER Science with Thinking Moves: Using Claim Evidence Reasoning

Aug 31, 2021 by Judy Higgins

What is CER? CER stands for Claim, Evidence, Reasoning. It is essentially a framework that educators use to teach the scientific method. Simplified, it looks like:

Claim (answer to a question) + Evidence (student’s data) + Reasoning (scientific principle or rule)

When we ask students to support scientific claims using CER and we model thinking moves in the process, we help spark their own curiosity about the world around them. When teachers introduce KnowAtom’s hands-on engineering labs and science experiments, they are bringing real world phenomena into the classroom. And when students make a scientific claim and back it up, they are taking charge of their own learning process.

Learning about thinking moves was one of the most transformative steps in my 20-year teaching career. One of my favorite quotes is from an American writer, Elbert Hubbard, who said, “The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without a teacher.” Thinking moves provide a structured approach to better understanding how we think. For teachers, it’s also a well-tested strategy to help propel students towards learning connected to their own natural curiosity and cognitive abilities. When students take the reins in the classroom, studies overwhelmingly show that engagement levels rise, and learning outcomes do too.

Thinking Moves in the Classroom, CER, and NGSS

Whether you are an educator, parent, guardian, or principal – you can learn from teachers who incorporate thinking moves into their classrooms. Thinking moves help students develop a much deeper level of understanding of the topic at hand. Here’s a list of thinking moves developed by the authors of Making Things Visible (2011):

1. Observing closely and describing what’s there
2. Building explanations and interpretations
3. Reasoning with evidence
4. Making connections
5. Considering different viewpoints and perspectives
6. Capturing the heart and forming conclusions
7. Wondering and asking questions
8. Uncovering complexity and going below the surface of things

You’ve probably already noticed how well these go along with next generation science skills (NGSS). For those teaching science and engineering practices in the classroom – here’s how thinking moves align directly with STEM:

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Topics: NGSS, STEAM, Scientific Method, Thinking Moves, Frame Model, Discourse Frames

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