Personalized Learning: Reaching All Students with ThinkCERCA

Every student, regardless of their readiness level, has something unique to contribute. But reaching and engaging every student within a diverse classroom is one of the toughest challenges teachers face. How do you keep students who are approaching grade level improving while simultaneously keeping students who have surpassed their peers challenged? And how do you create cohesiveness and community among these different students?

ThinkCERCA helps teachers and schools tackle these challenges through easy-to-use personalization tools. Our CERCA Sets contain original lessons that can be personalized for 10 different levels of readiness. Each lesson within the set contains a different reading passage from authentic sources, but all of the passages are built around a common theme to encourage peer-to-peer discussion and debate.

How We Develop Lessons

ThinkCERCA’s curriculum experts scour real-world sources like National Geographic magazine, the New York Times and TED looking for high-quality content. Using both quantitative and qualitative measures as well as practical knowledge of classrooms and students, our team creates grade-level text sets in a coherent supplemental curriculum.

In addition, our content developers consider much more than algorithms when thinking about text complexity. We analyze various qualitative aspects of a text—that have far greater impact on student success—such as knowledge demands, themes, structural complexity, words and phrases that implicitly or explicitly create sentence- and paragraph-level cohesion.

What Sets ThinkCERCA Apart

Our lessons include authentic texts taken from real-world sources so students can practice reading what they would encounter on assessments and outside of school, where teachers and technology may not be able to support them as they struggle. Introducing students to these kinds of texts in a safe classroom environment, where they can engage with them using appropriate scaffolding, is an important component to career- and college-readiness.

Pulling these leveled texts together in our CERCA Sets also allows peers at different levels of readiness to contribute relevant but unique perspectives to whole class discussions. This discussion increases the complexity of everyone’s understanding of a topic and increases student engagement in critical thinking dramatically.

For example, the CERCA Set “Government Role in Health” includes a variety of lessons on public health and nutrition for grades 3-12, and asks students to think about the question, “What role should the government play in regulating health?” Students at the third-grade level read an article about school bans on peanuts, while a group of students at the ninth-grade level read about required calorie counts for fast food restaurants.

After completing individual lessons on the ThinkCERCA platform, students enjoy an active peer discussion by discussing their thoughts on how far the government should go in regulating what we eat and drink. Multiple viewpoints create a richer experience as every learner acts as a valuable asset to other learners in the community. And in fact, students who self-reported using discussion and debate strategies performed far better than their peers on the NAEP assessments:

NAEP-Graph

Personalized Learning Made Simple

Aside from authentic, grade-level content, ThinkCERCA’s back-end tools make it easy for teachers to assign and facilitate our differentiated lessons. First, using previous test scores, in-class assessments, and background knowledge, among other indicators, teachers can quickly add or change a student’s reading level from their class roster. Next, as the animation below shows, teachers can choose to assign a lesson to the entire class, specific individuals, or reading groups with just a few clicks.

In addition, teachers can save time by using the platform’s auto-assign feature, which automatically assigns all applicable lessons within a CERCA Set to the entire class based on students’ pre-determined reading levels.

Our Results

But what about our effectiveness? The data shows students of all backgrounds and readiness levels grow with ThinkCERCA. Fifth graders in San Jose saw 2.2 years of reading growth on the Spring NWEA MAP test after just five months of usage. And students in Brooklyn and Chicago surpassed the national averages in growth on the NWEA and Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) assessments. Read our case studies for more success stories.

Getting Started

ThinkCERCA provides rigorous, standards-aligned lessons that entire schools can use to personalize literacy instruction for 10 levels of readiness. Here are just a few ways to get started: