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Elementary Education

Task 2: Instruction Commentary

TASK 2: INSTRUCTION COMMENTARY


Respond to the prompts below (no more than 6 single-spaced pages, including prompts) by typing your responses within the
brackets following each prompt. Do not delete or alter the prompts. Commentary pages exceeding the maximum will not be
scored. You may insert no more than 2 additional pages of supporting documentation at the end of this file. These pages
may include graphics, texts, or images that are not clearly visible in the video or a transcript for occasionally inaudible portions.
These pages do not count toward your page total.

a. Which lesson or lessons are shown in the video clips? Identify the lesson(s) by
lesson plan number.
[Lessons 2 and 3 are shown in the video clips. Video clip 1 is whole class instruction from
Lesson Plan 2. I provide instruction on informative writing and its organization. Video Clip 2 is
individual student writing conferences from Lesson Plan 3. Students are meeting with me to
discuss their writing and are applying the informative writing format and organizational
strategies they learned in Lesson 2. As students begin the writing process, I pull students one
at a time to look over and discuss their writing and suggest edits or areas to improve]
b. Promoting a Positive Learning Environment
Refer to scenes in the video clips where you provided a positive learning environment.

a. How did you demonstrate mutual respect for, rapport with, and responsiveness to
students with varied needs and backgrounds, and challenge students to engage in
learning?
[I demonstrated mutual respect for, rapport with, and responsiveness to students in Lesson 3 in
by sitting down and talking with the students one on one. This shows students that I care about
their writing and about them. At 0:19 (Video Clip 2) I ask, What do you want that to be?
Instead of telling the student You should have done this, I work with her and push her to make
the corrections on her own. I also say, at 0:31 in Video Clip 2, I might say this. This shows
that I am making suggestions and assisting the student rather than telling her she is wrong or
should have done something differently. At 1:35 in Clip 2, I tell the student Its great, Im not
saying its bad. I want you to make it awesome. This shows her that I do think she has shown
me quality work, but that there are improvements she could make to positively impact the quality
of the writing and the essay. I demonstrate responsiveness in Video Clip 1, 0:15, by asking a
student to clarify their answer and pushing them forward in their thinking.]
c. Engaging Students in Learning
Refer to examples from the video clips in your responses to the prompts.

a. Explain how your instruction engaged students in developing an essential literacy


strategy and related skills.
[My instruction engaged students in developing an essential literacy strategy by teaching
students what informative writing is and how it is organized or arranged. Students took notes in
Lesson 2, Video Clip 1, to use when writing their informative writing piece. Having students
copy definitions, 3:52, and information from the slides shown on the SmartBoard engage
students in learning about the organization of the writing style. In Lesson 3, Clip 2, I ask the
student what she wants to say, or should say, without telling her what I think (0:19). This
engages her in the learning by requiring her to think about the writing and make changes.]
b. Describe how your instruction linked students prior academic learning and personal,
cultural, and community assets with new learning.

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Elementary Education
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

[My instruction linked students prior academic learning of authors purpose to the new learning
of informative writing. Students prior knowledge of authors purpose made understanding
informative writing easier for the students to grasp and move towards becoming authors
themselves. I used my knowledge of students cultural backgrounds to keep our one-on-one
conferences informal. My students have grown up in an informal culture where communication
takes place via email, social media, and text message. My students do best in an informal
setting where we can talk about what they are learning and what they need more help with. I
linked this informal cultural perspective to our writing conferences so my students would feel
comfortable and confident sharing their writing with me. I did not want students to think I was
grading them or judging their writing. The conference time was designed to be a time to reflect
on the writing and to suggest or help students realize areas that could be improved. Students
personal assets showed me that a couple of my students would need extra help with the writing
process and organizing their information. That is why I chose to include graphic organizers for
research and planning. I also chose to utilize a high school volunteer (girl with teal long sleeve
tee, behind me in Clip 2) as an assistant to work directly with a student who struggles with
writing and fluency (girl in black jacket, white fur around hood, across from girl in polka dot
jacket).]
d. Deepening Student Learning during Instruction
Refer to examples from the video clips in your explanations.
a. Explain how you elicited and built on student responses to promote thinking and
apply the essential literacy strategy using related skills to comprehend OR compose text.
[I elicited student responses by pausing (Video 2, 0:55). I did this to allow the student to come
up with an answer and share before I told her the correct answer. I also elicit student responses
by asking more questions (Video 1, 0:15). This (Clip 1, 0:15) is also an example of building on
student responses to promote thinking. I repeat the students response and then ask her to give
me more, How does writing have layers? I then build on the students response to begin
explaining the format and organization of an informative writing piece. I use sequence, a related
skill, to help students make connections to the essential literacy skill.]
b. Explain how you modeled the essential literacy strategy AND supported students as
they practiced or applied the strategy to comprehend OR compose text in a meaningful
context.
[I modeled the essential literacy strategy by teaching students how to organize an informative
writing piece. I modeled organization by breaking an essay down into its very basic parts,
sentences, paragraphs, main ideas, and supporting details. Teaching students that an
informative essay is made up of 5 paragraphs, an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a
conclusion made the assignment a little clearer. However, breaking the assignment into even
smaller organized pieces helped my students understand the essential literacy strategy and
compose text in a meaningful context. My students already understood what an introduction
and conclusion are, so I was left with explaining what body paragraphs are and how they should
be arranged. I did this by telling students that a body paragraph focuses on a main idea and all
other sentences within that paragraph are supporting details. I showed students a sample
passage and they could identify the organization of the essay, noting paragraphs, what each
body paragraph was about, and if the details given supported the main idea of the paragraph.
When students demonstrated an understanding of the essential literacy strategy, they began
writing their informative essay. I supported students as they practiced and applied the strategy
to compose text in a meaningful way by conferencing with students throughout the writing
process. With each student I conferenced with, we discussed the students organization of
information, their body paragraph main ideas and checked that supporting sentences truly

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Elementary Education
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

supported the main idea. These conferences were a way for students to verbalize their
thoughts and questions about their writing and the essential literacy strategy. Working one-on-
one with students during the writing process also helped me gauge the classs understanding of
the essential literacy strategy and assignment as a whole. On Day 3, I realized students were
not very confident about or did not clearly understand the organization of the writing piece. I
paused students in their work to address my concerns and provide some re-teaching to review
the organization of an informative essay and paragraphs. This helped students better
understand the assignment and edit their work before conferencing with me.]
e. Analyzing Teaching
Refer to examples from the video clips in your responses to the prompts.

a. What changes would you make to your instructionfor the whole class and/or for
students who need greater support or challengeto better support student learning of
the central focus (e.g., missed opportunities)?
Consider the variety of learners in your class who may require different
strategies/support, such as students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners,
struggling readers, underperforming students or those with gaps in academic
knowledge, and/or gifted students.
[If teaching this learning progression again, I would have given students more writing and
revision time. I quickly saw in my conferences, in Video Clip 2, that students needed more time
to show me their work and talk through the writing process. I had originally planned to meet
with each student throughout the course of Lesson 3. However, this did not happen. I was able
to meet with five or six students and then was able to meet with another 5 or six students in
Lesson 4. I think adding a lesson on reviewing sample essays and grading them based on the
writing rubric would have been beneficial for students to see how an informative essay is
organized, what exemplary work looks and sounds like, and how not to write an informative
essay. I also think making the modified EC assignment a little more challenging would have
pushed these students to stretch their minds and practice more of the informative essay writing
organization that the other students were working on.]
b. Why do you think these changes would improve student learning? Support your
explanation with evidence of student learning AND principles from theory and/or
research.

[I think this learning progression would be best taught over the course of a week and a half or
two weeks. The extended progression would give me time to conference with each student at
different points in their writing. My students have never written more than two paragraphs, so
writing five paragraphs in two days was a tremendous task for them. I saw the task overwhelm
a couple of my students who work at a slower pace than their classmates. I also had a student
who was absent for one of the writing days. This put her at a disadvantage because she was
already far behind her classmates. I think reviewing and scoring sample essays would show
students what my expectations are as well as exposing them to informative essay writing before
they began the task on their own. Though my students produced wonderful work given the
factors, time and amount of work, very few students were able to complete the assignment in
the given time. Three out of twenty-two students, about fourteen percent of the class,
completed the assignment. Out of the three students that completed the assignment, only one
student received a perfect score. This shows me that all students could have benefited from
more work and conference time. Lucy Calkins wrote in her book, The Art of Teaching Writing
(1994), a conference is made up of three parts: research, decide, teach. Each of these three

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Elementary Education
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

parts must be completed in a student writing conference. As the teacher, I need time to
research or determine how a students writing is going, decide what the student needs to
strengthen their writing, and teach them this skill for improvement. I already was unable to meet
with each student, but taking time to complete a conference like Calkins suggests would require
even more time. This supports the need for an extended learning progression. According to
Jodi L. Nickel (1997), conferences are a way to individualize each childs instruction, respond to
a childs instructional needs, and scaffold at the appropriate level. I think I began doing this, but
with more time spent in conferences and meeting with more of my students, I think I really would
have been able to individualize my instruction and approach. This type of individualized
conferencing would have benefited student learning by meeting students where they are in the
writing process and teaching them something that would improve and strengthen their
informative essay.]

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The edTPA trademarks are owned by The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. Use of the edTPA trademarks is
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