Who Knew Differentiation Could Be This Easy?

Reaching and engaging students of all readiness levels is no easy task. If only there was a magical differentiation wand at every teacher’s disposal, right? But the options out there for educators aren't exactly this simple. Teachers typically have one of two options: spending hours upon hours searching for leveled content and creating standards-aligned lessons for all the diverse students in their classroom or relying on robo apps that do not take each student's unique background, personality, and learning style into consideration as well as a teacher could.

At ThinkCERCA, we believe caring, trained teachers should always be at the heart of instruction, even in today's most technologically advanced schools. Truly personalized learning requires thinking humans. At the same time, we recognize the time constraints teachers face every day, which is why our online literacy platform for close reading and argumentative writing combines the best of both worlds. Here’s how we do it:

Differentiated Content and Lessons for Grades 4-12

Our team of curriculum experts pull leveled content from real-world sources like Smithsonian magazine and National Geographic to create high-quality, standards-aligned lessons that are rooted in effective literacy pedagogy. Using both quantitative and qualitative measures as well as practical knowledge of classrooms and students, our team creates grade-level lesson sets in a coherent supplemental curriculum for English language arts, science, and social studies.

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Free Leveling Assessments with CERCA Starter

Our free CERCA Starter lessons come with built-in leveling assessments that give teachers insights into students’ reading levels. With each 30-minute lesson on the building blocks of literacy, teachers can track a student’s conceptual understanding, background knowledge, and applied proficiency of standards-aligned literacy concepts and vocabulary. This data can then be used to adjust reading levels to further personalize literacy instruction.

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Built-in Personalized Learning Tools

We make personalization simple (it’s our magic wand!) with built-in tools that take into account a trained teacher’s knowledge of his or her students. Once a teacher adjusts student reading levels within the ThinkCERCA application—using insights from CERCA Starter in tandem with other background knowledge and data—he or she can differentiate instruction with the click of a button. Our “Auto-Assign” feature automatically assigns all applicable lessons within a lesson set to the entire class based on students’ pre-determined reading levels.

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Informational and Literary Texts that Align with Harry Potter

Because, we had to. Check out the following differentiated, standards-aligned text sets that pair nicely with the themes within Harry Potter.

  • Character and Risk: When are tempting rewards worth the risk?
  • Risk-taking: How do you know when a risk is worth taking?
  • Conflict and Dominance: How do conflict and the struggle for dominance affect the human spirit?
  • Bullying: How does bullying affect everyone involved: the victim, the bully, and the bystander?

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Elizabeth Riley Boyer

Elizabeth Riley Boyer

Elizabeth Riley Boyer is an experienced journalist, digital content strategist, and operations manager. Prior to joining ThinkCERCA, she was part of the founding team at Impact Engine, Chicago’s first social impact investment fund and accelerator. As Impact Engine’s Director of Operations & Communications, Elizabeth oversaw the company’s overall processes, day-to-day planning and finances, curriculum development, marketing strategy, and community outreach. Elizabeth also spent three years at Chicago magazine, most recently as its Digital Engagement Editor, where she managed the organization’s social media and reader engagement initiatives. Elizabeth also works as a freelance content strategist, writer, and communications consultant. Her recent writings on impact entrepreneurship have been featured by the Huffington Post and Crain’s Chicago Business. In 2007, Elizabeth helped open a private school for underprivileged children while volunteering for a nonprofit organization in the Dominican Republic. This experience inspired her to quit a paper-pushing job at an insurance brokerage firm to pursue a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Elizabeth also holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.