Two types of writing required for assembling a portfolio include descriptive and analytical.
Descriptive writing is logical, well-ordered, with sufficient detail so the assessor comprehends the lesson plans, the students, and explanations supporting decisions about instruction.
Analytical writing consists of explanations and interpretations based on evidence. Evidence for Task 1 includes lesson plans, the Context for Learning, and instructional materials. These should be referenced often in the commentary.
Some general strategies to consider when responding to commentary prompts include
1) Addressing each clause of a compound question
2) Citing evidence, such as lesson plans or assessments, to support claims
3) Providing examples
4) Maximizing page count, such as writing 10 pages for an 11 page limit
5) Referencing research or theory, when prompted
The exemplary commentary responses1 shown below earned high scores on planning rubrics.
1. The commentaries shown above have been shared with permission of the authors.
Student teachers are able to plan their portfolios around three, four, or five lessons. As long as other requirements are met, it is more efficient to write three lessons instead of four or five.
Think of your edTPA portfolio as a mini-unit. Your plans need not connect to any content that has come before or that will come after. But you do need to assess students’ prior learning and background knowledge. This can be accomplished with pre- and postassessment, but your portfolio does not need to reflect long-term learning or achievement. The portfolio is a snap-shot of what students learn over a short period of time.
Use a preassessment to describe students’ current understanding of the content (specifically the learning targets). Plan and deploy three lessons aligned with the edTPA model of teaching and learning according to your handbook. Then, conclude with a postassessment.
Planning three lessons instead of four or five will eliminate lesson writing, inclusion of additional instructional materials and it will also focus your commentary writing.