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Secondary Science

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.

1. Which lesson or lessons are shown in the video clips? Identify the lesson(s) by lesson plan
number.
[ The lesson in the video clip is from Lesson Plan 1. ]
2. 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?
[ In the first video clip, I had rapport with students when I laughed with them over having one
M&M that had split in half (0:55). I subsequently told them it was okay to put that data in as
0.5. I also developed rapport and respect by allowing a student to express her idea, even
when it wasnt in the direction I was going (this happened more than once). This was during the
second video, around 6:16. The student said: Some of them would blend better or be less
appealing and they would populate, while the brighter colors die, and if you cant find other
creatures bodies, or their colors less appealing, the colors would continue to, like, grow and
stuff, and these predators are gonna find other animals to prey on. I was looking for an answer
that mentioned how having many colors gives the species (the M&Ms) more opportunities to
blend in with any given environment. The two boys at the front of the class were paired together
since they enjoy working with one another. This proved to be very helpful for the boy closest to
the window, who has an IEP. He participated much more and was willing to share his ideas
more openly since he had a peer he enjoyed working with. ]
b. If relevant, describe what you did to ensure safety during the inquiry seen in the video
clips.
[ Students were told at the beginning of the class not to eat the M&Ms, since they would be on
the floor and handled by other students as well. ]
3. Engaging Students in Learning
Refer to examples from the video clips in your responses to the prompts.

a. Explain how your instruction engaged students during a scientific inquiry in

using data and science concepts to construct an evidence-based explanation of a


real-world phenomenon during a scientific inquiry

explaining how data and relevant science concepts support their claims
[ Students were engaged during scientific inquiry by using a metaphor for evolution using
M&Ms as organisms. Students placed the M&Ms in their environment (spread out on red
paper). Then they gathered as many M&Ms as they could in 1 minute. These were the M&Ms
that were captured or eaten by them, and the ones remaining on the floor were the M&Ms
that survived. Students found the metaphor non-threatening because it used M&Ms and not
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Secondary Science
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

real organisms. They compiled their data into a Google document (seen at the end of the first
video and at the start of the second), and we were able to analyze the class data to see which
colors of M&Ms were most successful in the environment (red paper) (this is found at the very
beginning of the second video). As students answered high-order thinking questions in the
worksheet, they started to form ideas regarding evolution (this starts around 2:10). After the
second video clip, I put official names/titles for each factor that contributes to evolution. This
allowed students to investigate these ideas for themselves before being told what the relevant
science concepts are called. ]
b. Describe how your instruction linked students prior learning and personal, cultural, and
community assets with new learning.
[ I knew students would be familiar with the use of small manipulative objects for the purposes
of making statistics. This worked particularly well since they were M&Ms, which students are
familiar with and like (as seen at the start of the first video). I also knew students had
experience with wildlife, so it wasnt hard for them to understand the metaphor of birds eating
prey in their environment (at the beginning of the first video, I was reminding them which
M&Ms were captured and which survived). They also know enough about math and
statistics to understand percents, so they would be able to interpret the data and draw
conclusions (you can see the data at the end of the first video, and us analyzing it at the
beginning of the second video). ]
4. 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
develop understandings of science concepts, scientific practices and inquiry, AND the
phenomenon being investigated.
[ When students were first asked why certain colors of M&Ms survived, they gave an answer
about brown being duller or less appealing. I built on this by saying that there was a really small
sample size of browns, so maybe that isnt the best example to look at. Students then
suggested that the percentage of oranges was higher because there were so many oranges. I
used this opportunity to remind them that they were looking at percentages, which do not
necessarily reflect the sheer number of orange M&Ms. When I could see they werent going to
get there on their own, I changed my question to ask what effect the red paper had on the
survival of certain colors. This helped them conclude that some survived better because they
blended in (this sequence of questions starts in the second video at 0:12). This helped scaffold
them toward an understanding of the science concept environmental selection. By using
questioning strategies, students were building their own ideas, and the implication is that
scientists do the same thing when they are conducting their investigations. ]
b. Explain how you facilitated your students organization and analysis of data (i.e., looking
for patterns, identifying outliers, and/or exploring similarities and differences in findings)
during a scientific inquiry.
[ I introduced the activity by telling students that the M&Ms represent individuals within a
species, so students knew what the data points represented. At the beginning of the second
video, we analyzed the data by putting the data in a spreadsheet, which calculated for each
color of M&Ms the percent that survived and the percent that were captured. We used these
percents to determine that the orange and brown M&Ms were the most successful, and then we
subsequently disregarded the browns due to such a small sample size. (around 0:30). We also
discussed how the way we were analyzing our data (using percents) helped us to compare the
different colors better, since we had different amounts of different colors (0:47). ]
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Secondary Science
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

5. 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 I could make any changes now, I would anticipate these misconceptions so that I had a
better response prepared, or better questions to ask in the first place. I would also make sure I
took the time to address each misconception. I felt like there were times when I didnt explain
something thoroughly enough or glossed over a misconception in order to move forward. For
example, around 0:30 in the second video, I said that the sample size for the brown was small,
and just said, So besides the brown I could have explained more thoroughly that a small
sample size can yield inaccurate results, which is why its okay to call the browns outliers and
disregard them. Another example is when I reminded them that we were looking at percentages
and explained that percentages dont depend on how many there are, but how many of the
original survived. This was around 0:47. This could have been confusing for students. I
should have asked students why were looking at the percent, and should have pointed out that
since there are different amounts of M&Ms for each color, percents were the best way to
compare them to see which ones survived the best. I felt the way that I presented the material
was a good way to include all levels of learning, since the questions were pretty open-ended
and students had opportunities to discuss their ideas with their peers. This allowed students
who are high-achieving to add more thoughts and make more connections, and students who
struggle could explain their understanding in their own words/at their own level. ]
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.
[ Students were able to write their understanding based on this discussion on their worksheet. I
could tell while walking around and listening to student conversations that they were thinking
deeply about the questions and coming mostly to the right conclusions on their own. I think they
would have done better with this, however, if I had made the changes mentioned above. Based
on Conceptual Change Theory, I should have taken the extra time to confront some of their
misconceptions in order to help them build the right ideas into their schema. Constructivist
Theory also states that learners build their own understanding, and an implication of this is that
we as teachers must help them make connections and we must scaffold their thinking with
supports such as the ones I suggested above. ]

Copyright 2014 Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.


3 of 3 | 6 pages maximum
All rights reserved.
V4_0914
The edTPA trademarks are owned by The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. Use of the edTPA trademarks is
permitted only pursuant to the terms of a written license agreement.