Product Index
Curriculum Products
Categories: Reading and Writing


by ThinkCERCA

GRADES / Elementary (Grades K-4), Middle School (Grades 5-8), High School (Grades 9-12)
PLATFORMS / Web Browser

Teaches close reading and argumentative writing across multiple subjects


Project Unicorn Vendor Signatory

ThinkCERCA offers CCSS-aligned lessons that promote close reading and argumentative writing for Language Arts, Social Studies and Science classes for grades 4 - 12. Some of these close reading lessons and corresponding student performance tracking tools are available for free. Schools can upgrade for an annual license of $40 per student that includes highly scaffolded argumentative writing lessons, automated grading tools and animated mini lessons that promote close reading across subjects. As of July 2015, over 50,000 students, 25,000 teachers and 5,000 school leaders have used ThinkCERCA in over 1,000 schools.


ThinkCERCA offers free Common Core aligned lessons that focus on close reading that include embedded vocabulary and formative assessments to gauge understanding. Teachers can assign these lessons to the whole class or to individual students, and they can track student performance on the automated assessments.

Premium subscribers gain access to a library of mini-lessons that present topics through an animated flipbook format with corresponding audio and automated assessments. Additionally, teachers have access to applied writing lessons that are organized by topic and include lessons for each grade from 4 -12. Lessons start with a topic overview and associated conceptual vocabulary. Students then read the text, and they have optional audio support, annotation capabilities and a comprehension check via automated assessment and summarize reading activity. Students then worked through the CERCA framework, adding a Claim, Evidence from the text to support it, Reasoning behind the claim and the Counterarguments. Using this structured work as a foundation, students can then review the embedded rubric for the assignment before proceeding to write their final argument.

Teachers can easily grade student submissions, tracking performance across the rubric and adding specific feedback to each individual section. Teachers can create their own lessons from any text on the web by assigning the appropriate rubric and adding a guiding question.


ThinkCERCA lessons and tools are available through any modern web-browser.


Teachers can access some of lessons for free. Schools can upgrade to the Partnership Plan for an annual subscription of $40 per student. This plan includes a more robust library of scaffolded lessons around close reading and argumentative writing, as well as tools to enable teachers to create their own lessons, to efficiently grade student work and to track student work across the whole school.


As of July 2015, over 50,000 students, 25,000 teachers and 5,000 school leaders have used ThinkCERCA in over 1,000 schools.

Product Brief

ThinkCERCA aims to help students grades 4-12 develop critical thinking and writing skills by focusing on all texts as "arguments." The product, which was piloted in Chicago area schools in the spring of 2013, consists of a methodology for teaching critical thinking and writing, a platform that supports that work, and a library of Common Core aligned content that teachers can use to personalize lessons for students.

The methodology supported by ThinkCERCA is deeply rooted in research on learning. Founder Eileen Murphy has been a long-time educator and author; she has also drawn on research from a blue-ribbon board of advisors.

ThinkCERCA's approach encourages collaboration among students on text-based assignments. Its platform allow students to read, highlight and take notes on texts embedded in ThinkCERCA. (Those texts may be provided by ThinkCERCA or can be selected by teachers.)

Among the tools that ThinkCERCA uses to promote critical thinking and collaboration is "Argument Builder." This guides students through the steps involved constructing an argument, including making claims, supporting those claims with evidence, describing their reasoning, addressing counter arguments and using appropriate language.

Teachers can grade and comment on that work within ThinkCERCA. They can share their comments with other teachers as well as with the students. Grades are tracked so that teachers can see how individual students (as well as the entire school) is progressing.

ThinkCERCA plans to make its tools available to teachers for free. Schools and teachers can also subscribe to a library of lessons, aligned with the Common Core standards with leveled readings for grades 4 through 12. The company aims to make its tool available during the coming school year.

The company is based in Chicago, was founded in 2012 by a team led by long-time educator, Eileen Murphy, and business colleagues, Ten-Hung Chu and Abby Ross. Murphy is CEO.  


Case Studies+

Write a Case Study

Are you a teacher or administrator who has used this product? Be the first to share your experiences with others by writing a Case Study:

Write a Case Study

Summit Reflections 105
Rachel full starfull starfull starfull starfull star
Ela/Science Teacher. School Type: Middle School, High School, High ELL Population, Low Income Population, College Prep School

It would be great if the site could upload common reading novels to the site and already have the different assessments broken down with the lesson plan. This will save teachers time from having to create a lesson for the particular text. In addition, when teachers are considering to add ...

Read Full Review
View All Reviews





Common Core Aligned Common Core Aligned


For Teachers For Teachers


Assessment Assessment

Assignable Assignable

Content Discovery and Curation Content Discovery and Curation

Core Curriculum Core Curriculum

Learning Dashboard Learning Dashboard

Lesson Planning Lesson Planning

Subject Matter

Language Arts Language Arts

Science Science

Social Studies Social Studies

Get our email newsletterSign me up
Keep up to date with our email newsletterSign me up