ThinkCERCA Icebreakers can be used to introduce students and teachers to The CERCA Framework. Each of these four icebreakers includes a public slide deck that you can use to guide the icebreaker activities.
In this activity, students will be given a part of the CERCA framework and will need to find others who have the missing pieces of their argument. Then, they’ll need to work as a team to determine the correct order of the CERCA argument.
- The teacher will need to print the CERCA Cards and give each student one statement.
- Students will then search for the others who have the remaining parts of their argument and negotiate how to order themselves to make a viable argument.
- The first group to find each other and stand in the order that makes sense wins.
- The teacher can use this Answer Key to check their answers.
In this icebreaker, the teacher acts as “Captain CERCA” and calls out different parts of The CERCA Framework. When each part is called out, participants must pose in the relevant formation, otherwise they are out of the game.
- The game begins when the teacher calls out “Captain CERCA’s coming!” Upon hearing that command, all students must get in two parallel lines, facing each other, and saluting the Captain.
- The Captain walks down the two rows of students and if a student laughs, they are out of the game.
- Then, the Captain calls out one of the commands (listed below), and the students must get in the relevant pose with any other students who are still in the game.
- The Captain can call out the commands in any order, and should do so in a way to make sure they eventually have just one or two participants left. Those final participants are declared the winners.
- When students are out of the game, they should wait patiently to the side so the active participants are clear about who is still playing.
- Use the slides in this deck to review the different parts of The CERCA Framework and the body formation associated with each one. This is a fun, kinesthetic, and active way to learn The CERCA Framework.
- “Captain CERCA’s Coming!”
- All remaining students make this formation. Students must get in two parallel lines, facing each other, and saluting the Captain. The Captain walks down the two rows of students and if a student laughs, they are out of the game.
- Two students make this formation. One student kneels down to the ground, while the other student stands behind, holding up their fist, as if exclaiming their claim.
- Three students make this formation. Two students hold out their hands, as if they are books, while the third student holds their hands up to their eyes (as if they are binoculars) and looks from book to book, as if looking for evidence from multiple texts.
- Three students make this formation. Three students link arms while standing back to back, to represent the “reasoning” linking the “claim” to the “evidence.”
- Two students make this formation. Two students clasp hands, and with their feet planted firm in the ground, they use their upper bodies to “battle” their arguments, gently pushing toward one another, to make a swaying motion.
- Four students make this formation. One student stands at the head of the row of three other students and act as if they are giving their argument by holding their hands up and pretending to speak. The other three students form a row facing the student at the head, and kneel to the ground – they are acting as the audience members. The three audience members can choose to either hold their thumbs up (indicating that they agree with the speaker), hold their thumbs down (indicating that they disagree), or hold their hands out to the side while shrugging their shoulders (indicating that they don’t know much about the topic of the argument).
CERCA Circle is a fun way to practice using the different parts of The CERCA Framework to build an argument as a group, building off of what the person before you said.
- Have students form groups of three to five people and stand in a circle.
- One person volunteers to begin and asks a debatable question.
- Rotating clockwise, the next person will begin the CERCA by stating a claim and their reason.
- The next person will provide evidence to support that claim and reason.
- The next will explain the reasoning for how that evidence supports the claim.
- The next will provide a counterargument with a reason (can add in evidence and reasoning here too).
- The final person will end with a concluding statement.
- The group then begins a new CERCA with a new debatable question.
- Continue the steps above until time is called.
You can use the examples of debatable questions or let students come up with their own question. Try this activity by first modeling it in front of the class with some volunteers, then breaking up into small groups that involve all students. You may want to choose a question for students to discuss the first few times. You can even kick off your units with a question to get them going, then do a Writing Lesson and come back to CERCA Circle and see how their arguments have evolved and increased in rigor once they have more evidence from a text.
I Have; Who Has
This circular call and response icebreaker is great for reviewing the different parts of the CERCA framework. The person with card #1 begins by calling out the definition and someone else responds with the corresponding CERCA part. This game is easily adaptable to use for selected vocabulary.
- Each group (or group member if doing small groups) receives a card. If doing groups, each group should designate a speaker. The group with card number one starts by saying “I have number one, who has?” then reads the definition.
- The designated speaker from the group who has the corresponding CERCA element responds, “I have” and says the CERCA element.
- The speaker then flips the card over and says. “Who has (reads the definition)?”
- This wrap-around matching game continues until it ends with the person who began the game saying “I have” and reading the element on the card. That person will also announce the game’s end.
This activity is perfect for introducing examples of CERCA Arguments. Students will be given a CERCA argument out of order. Their task is to identify which statement is the claim, reason, evidence, reasoning, and counterargument and justify their thinking.
- The teacher can start by reviewing the debatable question, then review the components of a CERCA argument.
- The teacher can then either show the CERCA Sort slide with the statements out of order, or print the slide and cut out the statements so that students can physically arrange them in the appropriate order.
- It is recommended to do a think-pair-share in which students have an opportunity to arrange the statements in the correct order on their own, then consult with a partner, explaining why they arranged them the way they did.
- Students can then participate in a whole-group share-out.
In this activity, it is critical to invite the students to explain their justification for why they identified the statements as the claim, the reason, the evidence, etc.
Here’s an argumentative question: “Should football be banned in high school?” What do you think, and why?"
- Give students a few minutes to discuss in small groups, encouraging them to build a claim before sharing out to the whole group.
- Ask for some volunteers to share out, discuss their responses and connect them to the CERCA components. Example: “You said it should be banned, that’s your claim. What’s your evidence that it should be banned?”