OUR VOICE

How we sound to the world.

The ThinkCERCA brand comes alive in our communications.
The words we use, and the ways we use them, influence the ways people think and feel about us.
In everything we write and every time we speak, we are thought-provoking and clear, fierce but true, powerful yet never overwhelming. For us and for our partners, learning is a personal, and surprisingly, emotional experience.
Please follow these high-level tips to ensure our content is always accurate, helpful, and compelling.

OUR AUDIENCES

Administrators.
Teachers.
Students.

ThinkCERCA has three main audiences. And there are many ways we want them to feel. It’s the nature of communication: everything we say and do creates an emotional response.
Administrators. Teachers. Students. They each see themselves in a specific way and have certain needs. Understanding these differences will point out the right ways for us to make an immediate connection with each one.
Remember, choosing one audience over another usually proves ineffective. We are, after all, communicating to the world. Yet there exist subtle differences when we choose to speak to one audience at a time. An email to administrators, for instance. A newsletter to teachers. A lesson for students.

Consider the following when you craft your messages.

Administrators

Many administrators start off as teachers. They are committed to impacting students’ lives, and they now have influence over budgets, people, and policy. They’re supporting their entire team, but they can’t always see what’s happening.
To be successful, administrators need access to relevant and immediately useful information. They don’t have control over everything, but knowledge is power. If they know what’s happening across their school or district, they can impact change.
It’s our job to give them the visibility they need.

Teachers

Teaching is more than a job. It’s a calling. Educators teach to make a difference in students' lives, and we help make that a reality.
The emotional motivation for teachers runs the deepest. They want to see the cause and effect between their work and student achievement. Like students, they too are curious. And they appreciate tools and resources that are easy to use.
We think of ourselves as a teacher's emotional hardware store. When you have the right tool in your hand, you feel invincible.

Students

Students don't fear technology. However, for them to take ownership over their learning, the tools they use should be relevant, compelling, and, if possible, cool.
We know students' voices are powerful. And they want to be heard. But first, they need to be confident in their thinking. Students won’t speak up if they lack conviction. We give them that. And we do it by reminding them that learning is actually engaging and fun.

CONTENT STRATEGY

We use several platforms to communicate with our partners.

APPS

BLOGS

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

LINKEDIN

Everything we produce should be immediately useful and compelling.

Our work should always be informative and research-based no matter the audience or medium.

 



CONTENT THEMES

These are our guiding North Stars.

Think like an educator, act like an entrepreneur. Students are in school for a short time and their life trajectories are changing faster than the systems that serve them. Educators can act rapidly to bring solutions to their schools – instead of waiting – and iterate on their processes to ensure students have the footing to achieve strong academic growth.
Joyful learning environments produce results. Impactful instruction cannot rely on technology alone. To achieve results, educators must incorporate researched-based strategies, such as rapid feedback and peer-to-peer collaboration, into their instruction.
Writing is the path to critical thinking. The process of writing out a CERCA argument builds and strengthens students’ lifelong critical thinking skills.
Personalized learning is scalable. Every student deserves instruction that's tailored to their interests and needs. Technologies like ThinkCERCA can help administrators scale personalized learning and make it accessible to all.
Every teacher can be a literacy teacher. Students needs to practice reading, writing, speaking, and listening across subjects in order to grow. And we believe every teacher – regardless of content area – has a role to play in this growth.

Writing Voice

BE SINCERE AND SIGNIFICANT

Aim to connect on an emotional level. We say things that are meaningful. And we mean everything we say.

BE CONVERSATIONAL

Write like you’re telling a story (which you usually already are), not like you’re creating a press release (unless of course you’re creating a press release).

BE ACTIVE

Avoid the passive tense. Eileen laughed at Abby is more direct than Abby was laughed at by Eileen.

BE RESEARCH-BASED

Everything we publish — from the content in our lesson library to our Twitter feed — is rooted in quality research. Our audience needs to know they can trust us.

BE COLORFULLY CONCISE

While details add zest, please pay attention to length — and the appearance of it. Even educators can be daunted by another long block of text. Get to the point. You don't need to use $10 words when a $.10 word will do.

Writing Rules

When in doubt, refer to The Chicago Manual of Style.

ABBREVIATIONS

Spell everything out upon first use. For example, spell out all subjects when you first use them. After that, it’s okay to use their acronym.

ACCENTS

Use accents in accordance with Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

ADVERBS

Seek out strong verbs instead of using adverbs. For example, "he slammed the door" versus "he closed the door." If you must, put the adverb after the verb, which is how it’s spoken.

AMPERSANDS

Spell out the word "and" unless you're referring to ThinkCERCA lessons, such as Applied Reading & Writing and Skills & Concepts Intruction.

CAPITALS

Capitalize words according to The Chicago Manual of Style.

FRACTIONS

Use a solidus instead of spelling out fractions. Example: ¼

HEADLINES

Use title case for all headlines. For headlines that include a number, use the numeral. For example: 5 Lessons to Use Across the Curriculum

PUNCTUATION

Use punctuation according to The Chicago Manual of Style, which means we use the Oxford comma.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS / ELLS

Use terms that focus on the person first, whenever possible. For example, use "developing bilinguals" or "students learning English" as opposed to "English language learners" or "ELLs." This is our preference for general audiences.
On the other hand, we know that in particular regions, certain terms are prevalent. When writing for a particular audience, use their specific, localized term.

SCHOOL SUBJECTS

The names of school subjects (science, social studies, math, algebra, geology, psychology) should not be capitalized in a sentence, with the exception of the names of languages (French, English). On first use, spell out "English language arts."

Spelling Rules

THINKCERCA

ThinkCERCA is always spelled ThinkCERCA unless it's used in a headline where the design calls for all caps (like this style guide).

CERCA FRAMEWORK

The CERCA Framework is a proper noun. Please capitalize the “f” in framework.

GRADES

Within a sentence, don’t capitalize the word “grade" and do not spell out the grade. For example: ThinkCERCA is an online literacy platform for students in grades 4-12. When referring to a student, use a hyphen, such as "4th-grade student."

ED TECH

Ed tech is two words, all lowercase, except when used at the beginning of a sentence. Per The Chicago Manual of Style, use ed tech when used as a noun and ed-tech when used as a modifier.

SCHOOLWIDE

Do not hyphenate.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Not social science

PERCENT

Spell out the word "percent" except in headlines or in financial communications, such as our monthly investor newsletter.

UNIQUE

If you have something to say that is unique, then it isn’t. Don’t use it as an adjective.

THE UNITED STATES

Avoid constructions like “our country.” Not everyone reading this is from the United States. Be careful with “citizens” when that’s not precisely what you mean. “Americans” should be avoided, too. “People in the United States” usually works just fine.

UTILIZE

“Utilize” overcomplicates sentences. Use “use” instead.

LESSONS WITHIN THE APPLICATION

Branded ThinkCERCA lessons read like this:

  • Applied Reading & Writing lesson
  • Direct Instruction lesson
  • Additional Reading Practice lesson
  • Skills & Concepts Instruction

Old lesson names include InstaCERCA, Minilessons, and QuickCERCAs. Do not use these.

Ultimately, clarity of writing comes from thinking clearly.