Actively Learn vs. ThinkCERCA

Here at Actively Learn, we encourage students to take into account the author's bias when analyzing a text. In weighing ourselves against ThinkCERCA, we are obviously not an impartial jury. However, we're often asked how we differ from ThinkCERCA, so here is our take. 



ThinkCERCA is a curriculum program that focuses on building critical thinking skills via the CERCA approach (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning, Counterargument, Audience). The emphasis is on building the CERCA skills via reading and writing, and the primary motivator for students is assessment.


Actively Learn

Actively Learn is a flexible reading platform that is designed to help students learn more from text and become better readers. We encourage students to tackle challenging texts by supporting them as they read and enabling their teachers to implement best practices for improving reading comprehension. We also create joy and purpose around reading by making collaboration the centerpiece of our product.


Summary of Key Differences

Actively Learn supports students as they read with scaffolding, embedded media, and language tools.

Actively Learn supports students as they read
with scaffolding, embedded media, and language tools.

the goal: transforming reading vs. practicing argumentative writing

The goal of Actively Learn is to help students become more effective, engaged readers. Our interactive platform does this by enabling teachers to scaffold, differentiate, model, chunk, and collaborate within the text so that students are supported while they read. We also instill reading habits that improve student learning: self-monitoring, annotating, asking questions, making connections across ideas, and developing vocabulary and research skills. These are skills that can be used across the curriculum for any text--whether a science teacher wants students to understand a process explained in a textbook or an English teacher wants to analyze the tone of a poem.

The goal of ThinkCERCA is to practice argumentative thinking and writing using the CERCA method. The focus is much narrower, and the reading selection is limited to texts that fit the parameters of the CERCA assignments. 


Students discuss the Declaration of Independence in Actively Learn

Students discuss the Declaration of Independence in Actively Learn

motivation: intrinsic vs. assessment

Actively Learn relies on collaboration to build intrinsic motivation to read. Students consistently report in our product surveys that their favorite part of reading for class is discussion; they are driven to read when the ideas in the text spark conversation and debate. This is why we've designed our platform to incorporate discussion between the student, his or her peers, and the teacher right inside the text. We want students to share ideas, respond to each other's thoughts, and participate in rich debate while they read. This also holds students accountable for their reading and promotes higher-quality work.

ThinkCERCA motivates students through assessment: students read in order to complete their CERCA assignments. The social dynamic that leads to deeper learning and greater engagement is missing.




teacher role: amplifying the power of teacher instruction and feedback vs. supporting the cerca curriculum

Teachers who use Actively Learn are looking to improve the way they teach reading. Many of our teachers find that using Actively Learn leads them to ask better questions, give more effective feedback, and gain insights into their students' thinking. Our platform makes it easy for teachers to give immediate feedback to their students, respond to questions and annotations, model effective reading practices, and differentiate instruction. We not only acknowledge the importance of teachers, we amplify what they're able to do for students' learning.

ThinkCERCA automates key aspects of instruction, such as selecting text, creating questions, and grading. The result is a more generic curriculum that is software-generated rather than student-centric.


Is Actively Learn right for you?

To learn more about our benefits, check out the homepage. Also find more details on How It Works and overview videos in Resources. Or create a free account and see how we help you make learning meaningful for all students.

ALERT: Google's authentication server is currently experiencing trouble. This is blocking some Actively Learn logins via Google. Google is aware and working on the fix. Stay tuned.