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Jesse Skoubo edTPA Task 2, pg.

Task 2: Instructing and Engaging Students in Learning


Instruction Commentary:

1. Which lesson or lessons are shown in the video clips?


Identify the lessons by lesson plan number.
Both videos are segments from Unit 2, Lesson 13, of high school Economics
class titled The Invisible Hand at Work. The first video shows 9 minutes of a
content review session, and the second video contains 10 minutes of a lesson
related to shifts in supply curve on a common microeconomic model.

2. Promoting a Positive Learning Environment


In response to the prompt, refer to scenes in the video clips where you
provided a positive learning environment.
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?
One of the best ways to engage with students is to foster an atmosphere of
mutual respect. When students are called on for answers their first two reactions
are 1.) do I know the answer? and 2.) How will responding make me look to my
classmates? Creating a positive, respectful learning environment helps assuage
concerns about their peers reactions, allowing them to take more chances in the
classroom. I cant always help whether or not they know the answer, but I make an
effort to provide positive reinforcement in the form of thanking and praising them
for their responses. You can see an instance of praising a student response in the
first video at the 1:40 mark, and throughout the clip, as I frequently call on students
for their terms, definitions, and understanding of concepts. I also make an effort to
address the students by name, and letting them know that I am paying attention to
their answers by looking at them as they speak, paraphrasing their statements, and
asking clarifying questions. This kind of active listening reinforces that my focus is
on the student, and that I am interested in the students answer. The goal is to
demonstrate, through my words and actions, that I am listening and responsive to
their needs.
In the second video I break the class into small groups and have each group
work on a single question. Most students grouped up with those immediately around
them, but several said they felt more comfortable working alone. Around 7:40 I
informed them it would be more helpful to work in teams, but they opted against it.
I felt it would be best to let them work however made them most comfortable, so I
assigned them each a question and moved on. During the small group session I

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move around the classroom addressing questions and guiding their understanding
of the worksheet. This provides individual attention and allows them to ask
questions that they might not have felt comfortable with during a whole-class
exercise.
I also seek to engage students by bringing up subjects that are relevant to
their interests. In past classes several students have mentioned that they have a
strong preference for Dutch Bros. coffee, so I wanted to add that to my instruction.
At 3:10 I noted the concept of how other competitors pricing could affect demand,
and incorporated Starbucks and Dutch Bros. as examples. Hopefully this
demonstrates that I have been listening to them in class, and that I am trying to
apply their interests into the curriculum.

3. Engaging Students in Learning


Refer to examples in the video clips in your responses to the prompts.
a. Explain how your instruction engaged students in developing the skills of
interpretation or analysis in relation to accounts of historical events or social studies
phenomena, and building & supporting arguments.

a. In the second clip I taught a lesson from a worksheet about how shifts in
demand affect complementary and substitute markets. For this, I provided a
worksheet with a series of questions that would require students to demonstrate
their ability to understand the topic. The requirements for the worksheet were
unfamiliar to the students, so prior to the start of the second clip I demonstrated the
complementary and substitute effects during the content review. I then moved to
the document camera and modeled the procedure again to illustrate how to fill out
the worksheet for the entire class. Social Cognitive Theory notes that by observing a
skill students are able to understand its parameters and how to perform those skills.
By demonstrating how to answer questions and fill out the worksheet I was creating
a set of expectations for them to follow on their own.
Once I demonstrated and explained how to fill out the worksheet I asked the
class if they were comfortable with their understanding before beginning the
worksheet on their own (second video, 6:17). I allowed the students to form five
groups and assigned each group one of the questions. At the 6:30 mark of the
second video I ask them to break up into their groups, then assign a question to
each group. By creating collaborative groups I hoped the students would engage
with the activity, and reinterpret it with the help of their peers. By focusing on a
single question per group, I tried to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed by the
quantity of questions to answer, and rather focus more deeply on one question and
the related response. I use Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development in my
teaching. This theory states that students build, or scaffold, new skills and

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understanding from previously learned knowledge. When I modeled the worksheet I


answered one of the simpler questions, related to coffee markets. The remaining
questions were similar, but less cut & dry. Having received instruction, the students
were able to work together to advance their own understanding of economic shifts,
the complementary effect, and the substitute effect, and I was nearby to help with
any questions the groups had.

b. Describe how your instruction linked students prior academic learning and
personal, cultural, and community assets with new learning.
b. In previous classes we had done an informal poll of the students favorite
foods, and several stated a strong preference for pizza (One student noted that he
ate it for most meals), so I made sure to incorporate that interest into an example of
how the number of sellers in a market can affect the supply curve for products. At
the 8:25 mark of the first video I note that when the citys newest pizzeria, Yeasty
Beasty, opened it brought an increased stock of pizza, shifting the supply curve. The
goal of adding aspects of both personal and local interest is to add a personal
relevance to the instruction, using it to associate and assimilate new material in a
way that is easy to recall and accept.
I also made sure to bring up several community and cultural aspects
throughout the first video, such as Black Friday (6:00), the new album release by
Adele (5:30), and the recent controversy over Starbucks holiday cups (3:20). These
were mostly to add a bit of levity to an otherwise dry review session, but similar to
using local landmarks and businesses in instruction, these examples also helps to
tie the academic concept to topics they already understand and care about, which
aids in assimilating new knowledge.

4. Deepening Student Learning During Instruction


Refer to examples from the clips in your explanations.
a. Explain how you elicited and built on student responses that supported your
students ability to form interpretations or analyses of history/social studies sources
and accounts and build and support arguments.

a. In the second video segment as I model how to complete the lesson 13


worksheet. Around the 1:00 mark I ask whether tea is a substitute or complement to
coffee. I ask questions to elicit responses, in this case Im looking for a specific
response, but following a students correct answer I add open-ended follow up
questions. By asking open ended questions it allows the students more room to
consider and explain their own interpretation of the content. This expands their
understanding of the lesson to help them think more broadly about the central focus

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and form their own inferences rather than having it dictated to them. By considering
the answer and the reasoning it allows them to apply and analyze what they know,
rather than simply remember.

b. Describe and cite examples from the clips of how you supported students in
using evidence from sources to build and support arguments about historical
events, a topic/theme or social studies phenomenon.
b. In clip one, I assisted my students' understanding by seeking their
suggestions and examples of certain economic factors that would shift supply and
demand models. At 1:40 a student was able to answer that a change in population
would affect demand curves, and when asked to elaborate he gave the example of
a plague that wiped out a portion of the community. The student was not specific
about the disease, but I extrapolated and asked the class how the Black Plague
might affect the demand curve. While this was a rather morbid response, it did a
good job of demonstrating an understanding of the idea, as well as how it would
affect the market.

5. Analyze Teaching
Refer to examples from the 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)?

a. As I watched the video segments I thought the lessons went well, although
were rather stagnant from the start. A third of the class missed school on either
Monday or Tuesday of that week, and we covered a number of new topics that
would be important for future understanding, so I wanted to start the lesson with a
review. I believe I spent too long repeating rote information as I reviewed the study
notes that they might have missed. I noted that I was not doing a very good job of
assessing their level of understanding through quick formative checks. Normally I
would do this in a variety of ways: by having them give thumbs up/down, or by
using fist of five where they hold up a number of fingers noting how comfortable
they are with a subject (five being the most confident, zero being the least). This
sort of quick formative assessment allows me to identify content areas that
students are comfortable with, or are in need of further instruction. Despite this
time spent on rather dry material the students appeared fairly engaged, taking
notes and paying attention to the front of the class.
I also noticed that I spent too long with my back to the class, writing on the
board (which I hear can be an issue with left-handed teachers like myself) as I
spoke. This is a mistake for a few reasons: my attention is on my writing and not on

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them, and when you are turned away as you speak it can make it difficult for your
audience to hear. Watching the video I see a missed opportunity to write the notes
on the document camera, which would allow me to face the class and write at the
same time, allowing me to engage better with them, and determine their level of
attention.
Additionally, I think I missed an opportunity to save some time when I jumped
directly into the subject review instead of having the students turn to their partners
and go over notes. As I mentioned previously, over a third of the class missed the
lectures that I was recapping, so I was limiting the number of people who could
answer my questions as I called on them. For instance, at the 2:30 mark of the first
video I called on a student who appeared engaged, but in retrospect I remember
they had missed Monday, so he didnt have any notes to consult. Had I instructed
them to talk to their neighbors and share notes before I started it would allow me to
focus on explaining the content rather than waiting on their answers.

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.

b. Had I made better use of formative assessments I would have been better
able to tailor the lesson to the class and meet the needs of those who were still
struggling. The National Council of Teachers of English promote the use of these
assessment tools when they note "as teachers refine their powers of observation
and their skill in analyzing, they become better able to see what students are
learning and to plan for future learning experiences." As new teachers, we must use
formative methods to refine and reconsider our lessons, because student
understanding is a moving target, and these assessments help us refocus, and craft
clear, effective lessons.
If I had thought to add time to the class to allow students to share and
compare notes students would have benefitted from Banduras social learning
theory. It states that learning happens in a social context, so students working
collectively and learning from one another benefit from hearing information from a
different perspective, and in the vocabulary of their peers. This would add social
context to the classroom instruction, deepening their understanding and retention.