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.
Generally, rubrics for Task 1 and 3 are similar across disciplines and handbooks in edTPA. Examples include scales dealing with how lessons build on one another, using instruction to support learning, and eliciting student self-assessment on the learning targets.
The rubrics in Task 2 are somewhat different across handbooks since they describe specific learning activities student teachers should use in their portfolios. The exception to this is the rubric dealing with classroom management, which is the same for every discipline.
Since specific learning activities are inferred from Task 2 rubrics, the most efficient place to begin planning lessons is by examining Task 2 rubrics, and then organize learning activities that align with these descriptions. Some example activities according to Task 2 rubrics follow:
Secondary Science: Students construct a scientific argument, related to a science concept or phenomenon. Students display data to support this argument.
Elementary Literacy: Students use a specific literacy skill, such as write to learn. Candidates determine beforehand whether students have requisite knowledge to use the skill, and also model its use.
Social Studies: Students analyze documents, events, or phenomenon and then form an interpretation. Students generate an argument from their interpretation and support the argument with evidence.
Performance Assessment of California Teachers (2010). Supporting Documents for Candidates. Retrieved from http://www.pacttpa.org/_main/hub.php?pageName=Supporting_Documents_for_Candidates