How-to Teach Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) in Elementary Science

If you’re wondering what a CER is, trust me, you’re NOT alone!

A language arts teacher may utilize RAPP to help students write sentences while a math teacher may utilize PEMDAS to teach order of operations. CER stands for Claim, Evidence, Reasoning and is important in elementary science.

I’m going to give you some tips for teaching claim, evidence, reasoning (also known as CER) in upper elementary.

When students have mnemonic devices, they are able to recall methods better, which will help ensure all required components are being incorporated into the assignment. 

Science teachers can utilize the same format in order to help ensure students are able to construct a well-rounded argument.

CER stands for Claim- Evidence- Reasoning. In the claim, students are stating their opinion on any given topic.

This claim is being supported through evidence. Students will bring in information from the text, graphics, or charts to support the claim.

The reasoning, which can be the hardest part for students, is about ensuring that the evidence supports the claim. 

Why should students practice a CER?

Have you ever told your students to “think like a scientist”? The CER method will help students actually know how to do that!

Students have to be taught how to form a well-supported argument, which is really tough to learn! Many times, students will respond with “I don’t know” when asked the all important question of “Why?”.

However, if students practice CER, they are learning how to take their thoughts and opinions and support them with accurate evidence! In addition to this, students will be able to provide a reasoning for  how they feel the evidence relates to the claim. 

Teacher Tips

  1. Time and Patience: Implementing CER in the classroom will take some time and practice. This technique may not be something students are used to, but it will be well worth it as students gain more confidence. 
  2. Modeling: To help show the meaning of CER, modeling will be helpful to show students what is expected. Before going through a CER lesson or discussion, it may be helpful to model the process on a simpler standard. 
  3. Class Comfort: Since students will be discussing the content together, it is important they spend time getting to know each other. Students are not always comfortable making mistakes in front of the class, so it is vital to help develop positive relationships. 

CER in Action

When asking students to complete a CER, it is important to know what this means and how to set up a lesson. In this Sun, Moon, and Earth Science Flip Book, students are going to complete a hands-on, engaging lesson while being encouraged to think deeper than they may be used to. 

Claim: In order to develop a claim, students first need to explore their background knowledge. In the flip book, students will be given a venn diagram where they can compare and construct the three focus objects: the Earth, Moon, and Sun. Students can work independently, in a small group, or as a class to address what they already know. 

Evidence: In order to bring in evidence, the flip book has multiple options. There are short reading passages in addition to illustrations to help prove the concepts. Students will be able to work through the flip book while gaining evidence for the different claims they are making by answering questions. 

Reasoning: After reading different passages and examining illustrations, students will be able to put both together to create strong reasoning for their claims. Students are no longer simply putting down an answer, but they are proving their answer with evidence. 

It is important to note that students may need help ensuring the evidence actually matches the claim. Students may want to put in a certain fact or illustration, but it doesn’t really relate to their claim. This aspect may take some practice and need additional modeling. However, the patience will pay off as students are discussing the content on a much deeper level. 

The CER method is known as the trifecta of an argument. Students are making a claim, but it is greatly supported through evidence and reasoning. Answers are now properly justified, which will help students know when they are understanding the material or struggling to explain it deeper. Students are going to gain so much confidence in their academic skills in addition to their discussion skills while working through the CER method. 

Get this Sun, Moon, and Earth Science Flip Book today and sign up for my email list to get the CER assessment for free.