For classrooms with limited access to technology, ThinkCERCA powers offline instruction through vocabulary practice, Socratic debate, and peer-to-peer collaboration in a centers-based rotational model. See it in action at Budlong Elementary School in Chicago when teacher Julie Kurtovic sets up three stations that students rotate through every 18 minutes. The first station includes essay writing practice using ThinkCERCA's interactive graphic organizer, the second station focuses on building students' vocabulary skills using words from the ThinkCERCA article, and the third station engages students in a Socratic discussion using the ThinkCERCA lesson about stereotyping as the anchor.
Why use Stations strategy?
- Allows for more teacher-to-student assistance with the activity
- Improves students’ flexibility with the program
- Provides teacher with the opportunity to focus on students individually
- Provides additional opportunities to practice vocabulary in writing
- Speaking and listening opportunities enhance writing and acquisition of content knowledge
- Supports students through the writing and revision process
- Provides time for one-on-one teacher student interaction.
- Enables peer collaboration
- Strengthens speaking and listening skills
- Allows for gradual release of responsibility
Materials (depending on your station choice)
- Device (Computer, Chromebook or iPad)
- Vocabulary lists from ThinkCERCA
- A Place to Record Feedback Conference Notes
- Peer Editing Guides /Directions
- Teacher’s conferencing materials
Student Background Knowledge (depending on your station choice)
- Familiar with the ThinkCERCA program
- Understands how to formulate an argument
- Evaluating impact of changes based on feedback from conferencing and editing
- Knowledge of roles and responsibilities for peer editing
Organize groups so that there are 3 stations (usually 2 groups to a station). Each station will be working on their assignment for the given amount of time (30 minutes at each station, which might move into a second day of instruction if you do
not have 90 minutes available).
- ThinkCERCA Discussion: The students working at these 2 stations will be finalizing a previously assigned CERCA assignment while engaging in a discussion on the article at hand. The students will use their written CERCA arguments as talking points for their verbal discussion. (Discussion questions may be given for further discussion, as well as classroom discussion guidelines to ensure that all students are participating. Teacher will be required to check-in for discussion groups at points throughout the 30 minute stations.)
- Vocabulary Application: The students working at these 2 stations will be working on the assigned Vocabulary lesson for that particular week/unit and figuring out how to incorporate the vocabulary to the CERCA they have written.
- Conferencing (with teacher): The students working at these 2 stations will collaborate in peer editing while individual students are called to conference with the teacher. The teacher will go over the feedback that he/she has provided through ThinkCERCA and review it with the student, including discussion on vocabulary application. The student may ask questions and/or express concerns during this one-on-one time and jot down notes.
Additional Center Ideas
The other centers could be CERCA related, or incorporate other focus skills areas.
Ideas for centers include:
- ThinkCERCA: work on Writing Lesson (self-paced)
- Small Groups with Teacher: use their student work/performance to drive instruction
- Independent Reading: class novels or student choice
- Skill practice: more practice on focus skills for the week
- Vocabulary: create a rap, story, crossword, memory games, play, memoir using 5-7 vocabulary words from Writing Lesson
- Peer Editing: work in pairs to check using rubric within ThinkCERCA or specific areas to focus on
- Group Discussion: Have students discuss the Key Question for the Writing Module, or come up with additional discussion questions for larger Socratic seminar. You could also have students play the debate game
- Journal Writing: have students write to journal prompts or free write to continue practicing Narrative writing
- Conferencing: Teacher discusses areas of growth and strength regarding student’s writing. This is also an area for feedback and next steps regarding he/she will return to their desk to consider and apply revisions.
Outcomes (depending on your station choice)
- The students will learn how to incorporate meaningful, precise vocabulary in their writing.
- The students will be able to enhance their writing immediately based on useful feedback from teachers
- The students will enjoy access to teachers during class time, which will allow for more effective feedback on writing and increase motivation.
- The students will be able to verbally express their arguments through discussion and debate.
- The students develop independence and ownership as they learn to manage assignments individually and in an organized routine.
- Students received feedback from peers and the teacher on their written argument.
- Authentic practice in speaking and listening skills with peers.
- Exposed to peer’s ideas and writing to help support and scaffold their own writing.
Download a sample of a schedule that you can use to incorporate ThinkCERCA as part of centers three days a week for 60 minutes at a time.
From our personal experiences in the trenches, we know that very few classrooms have a 1:1 technology ratio. Even if your classroom does have a 1:1 ratio, you may not have the right environment or class to effectively facilitate active 1:1 technology at all times. Rotational models are a strategy for setting expectations and managing classroom technology. Setting expectations will give students a clear vision for their use of technology. We adopted the following language to describe three possible centers in your classroom: the island, coastline, and peninsula. Here, we outline how these three stations can be implemented using ThinkCERCA three days a week.
Island (Quiet Discussion / Silent Reading / Writing)
On the Island, students pull their desk or table together to engage in a collaborative discussion. Their discussion could stem from the overall Writing Module or Unit/Theme within their given class. Another option for the Island is to have students silently read/write. Regardless of what the students are doing though, there is no technology.
Coastline (Silent, 1:1 Technology Use / Blended Learning)
All 1:1 technology access happens on the Coastline. Students literally lineup on the walls of the classroom, facing the wall so that the teacher can see their screen from anywhere in the room. Students are most likely using ThinkCERCA on the Coastline with the specific focus of a given lesson or step.
Peninsula (Teacher Instruction, Medium Volume, Discussion)
The teacher is the base of the Peninsula, as this final station is for a small group or direct instruction. The only technology used in the Peninsula is a teacher device, like a forward facing laptop or SmartBoard. From his or her position, the teacher should be able to see and monitor the rest of the classroom during this instructional time.