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Teacher Q & A: Rebecca G.


Teacher tips for celebrating student writing and creating a CERCA culture


How do you meet students where they’re at and personalize the learning experience?
I use students' reading levels to assign to the initial CERCA writing lessons. Then based on their writing performance will move them to the next writing level when they show proficiency and readiness. I will have 3-4 papers assigned per topic for any given paper at a time. They work in small groups and are able to talk to and learn from one another.
How do you help students connect what they’re learning to real-world experiences or events?
I try to assign CERCA lessons that are current and relevant topics such as bullying, internet safety, healthy eating, and entrepreneurship. Students are also encouraged to find other resources to support their writing if the article provided by CERCA does not provide enough information for their paper.
How has writing impacted your students?
8th grade. So watching them come in and fight me on writing a paragraph to being able to write a 5-7 page research paper in 8th grade is fulfilling. Most of my students will go on to place into Freshmen English I-II classes and each year several will be placed into Honors classes.
How do you provide effective feedback to students on their writing?
I use the comments section in the grading platform as a place to let students know how they have grown and their area of focus. We also meet either as small groups or one-on-one during the writing process.
What are your favorite ThinkCERCA Writing Lessons to teach?
School Policy because it is the first CERCA the students ever write and school uniforms are a hot button in a Catholic school. Family and Influence because it is amazing to see how much my students have grown when I assign that paper at the end of 7th grade. I like the Social Entrepreneurship paper because it gets the students to think beyond their little piece of the world. There are so many to choose from that it's hard to pick one.
What advice would you share with fellow ThinkCERCA teachers?
Take your time. Stick with it. It is a bit overwhelming at first, but so worth it. There are no shortcuts or magic spells. It is just a lot of hard work, time, and energy but the program works as long as you believe in it, you believe in your students and you believe in yourself.