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Secondary Mathematics

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 clip(s)? Identify the lesson(s) by lesson plan
number.
[Lessons 1 and 4 will be shown in the video clips.]
2. Promoting a Positive Learning Environment
Refer to scenes in the video clip(s) 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?
[
Showing mutual respect in the classroom is an important aspect of special education. In
many classes students in special education may feel like they are falling behind or missing
content, but do not have the confidence to ask for more help. I knew in planning this learning
segment that there would be some knowledge gaps among the students. I show mutual respect
for the students by explaining each concept to the whole group and checking for understanding.
An example of this mutual respect is between 0:00 and 1:05 where I explain the concept of
similarity and follow by asking if that makes sense to students. In the clip from lesson 3, I show
respect for my students by calling them by name. An example is shown at about 2:55 in the
Lesson 3 video. Even though this group is smaller than most classes, it makes students feel
more comfortable and willing to participate when they see that I care about them. By knowing
each of their names and using them throughout instruction it shows students that I recognize
them as individuals. I also show respect in Lesson 1 by allowing a student to finish work from
the prior activity. During the lesson I noticed that he wanted to write down all of the definitions.
Rather than delaying the start of the activity, I reassured him that he would have time to copy
down the vocabulary (5:55). I show respect in this instance because I accommodate the
individual student while not taking away from the other students learning.
The scenes provided show students interacting with geometric language and the
concepts of similarity and congruence. The clip from Lesson 1 portrays students working
through a vocabulary matching game. In order to adjust instruction for students learning needs,
I provided a match for students to limit the options (00:07). In other classes these students have
the modification of limited options to choose from on assessments. For example, taking away
one of the four options in a multiple-choice test. I provided students the match for similar
because I could tell that students were having difficulty with it, specifically with the concept of
ratio included in the definition. I further supported their learning needs through prompting. I
chose to extend this activity from what was originally planned and had students group the terms.
I prompted students by asking them how certain terms related to one another and why. Through
this prompting I allowed students to have control over their learning by making the choices of
what terms to group, but still directed their thinking in the right direction.
In Lesson 1, I demonstrated rapport with students in how I position myself throughout
the activities. Most days, the students sit around a round table for group activities. I chose to sit
at the table with them and interact with the game in the same way. By sitting at the table, I put
myself at the same level as the students making it a more comfortable interaction. It allowed for
any direct instruction I gave to be more conversational, rather than lecturing. By sitting at their
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Secondary Mathematics
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

level I could also watch their facial expressions and body movements, which gave me hints to
how they were feeling about certain terms and definitions. Seeing how they interact with the
terms allows me to assess their confidence related to these concepts and what they need more
instruction on. For example, I noticed that none of the students had touched the card with the
definition for similar, so I chose to tell them the definition. Additionally putting myself at this level
with the students shows my respect for them. If I had not sat down at the table, I would have
been walking around and standing above them portraying a sense of superiority. There is
already a relationship of respect between myself and the students, so I knew that sitting
alongside them would not change their behavior toward me. I wanted an authentic assessment
of knowledge, so I made sure to create a respectful and comfortable learning space for
students.
During Lesson 3, I show responsiveness to students with varied needs and backgrounds
through the think-aloud strategy used to present the activity. In my experiences with these
students in other courses, they have difficulty grasping abstract concepts, especially when given
instructions. In knowing this about my students I chose to not only model moving the paperclips
around on the table, but also explain my thinking. Typically I would have asked students
questions as I worked through an example, but I knew that the students would benefit from this
strategy more than a questioning strategy. ]
3. Engaging Students in Learning
Refer to examples from the video clip(s) in your responses to the prompts.
a. Explain how your instruction engaged students in developing

conceptual understanding,
procedural fluency, AND
mathematical reasoning and/or problem-solving skills.
[
The instruction shown in these scenes enhances conceptual understanding through the
connections I push students to make. In the first video, students are connecting terms and
definitions, which is important information for them to have, but it does not provide a deeper
level of understanding for them related to those terms. In order to move students into this realm
of conceptual understanding, I ask them to group the terms based on similarities (2:55). The
students end up separating the terms into three groups; terms used to describe triangles, terms
used to describe angles, and parts of triangles. Not only did the students make connections
among the terms, they began to relate their thinking to triangles, which is our focus in later
lessons. Additionally, I take time in this scene to explain the idea of similarity. Previously in this
lesson students recognized that congruent meant equal, so I did not feel the need to go in depth
on this term. Since both similarity and congruence are the focus of these lessons, I wanted to
make sure students had a grasp on the concept from the beginning. I explained to students how
ratios played a role in distinguishing similar shapes, which is one of the main differentiation
points between congruence and similarity. This direct instruction influenced students
conceptual understanding because it gave them the information they needed to move forward in
their learning.
The students using their knowledge of each term and making connections among them
show mathematical reasoning in the video of Lesson 1. Earlier in Lesson 1, students work on
recognizing terms alongside their definitions. Students are making one connection in this portion
of the lesson. As we move through the lesson, students make two connections by pairing terms
and definitions, then multiple terms together. Finally a third connection is made when students
are able to relate all of the terms to triangles. Students are using reasoning skills to find these
connections in a logical way. Through prompting I also push students to use their reasoning
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Secondary Mathematics
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

skills to make the connections. Students develop conceptual understanding in Lesson 3 when
they see me creating congruent and similar triangles and they can connect what they know
about those concepts. I initiate the application of this conceptual understanding by introducing
the activity and show students how the terms are represented in the concrete form of triangle
measures. Without showing students the change in triangle measures from congruent to similar,
they would not have been able to see how the terms they learned in lesson 1 applied to the new
activity.
Procedural fluency is evident in both Lessons 1 and 3. Students show procedural fluency
in Lesson 1 by participating in the I am Who is game. The matching game allowed for an
assessment of students existing knowledge and introduction of new terms. Following the
matching, the I am Who is game served as a practice of the new terms introduced. Students
were able to transfer what they could recognize in print form with all of the options present, to
verbal recognition of the terms and definitions. Since some of the geometric terms were new to
students, they could not successfully identify all terms, but they were able to transfer their
practice of matching terms on paper to matching them orally. The written and oral recognition
and articulation of the geometric terms is an important skill for students to have because it will
allow them to show their understanding in future activities.
Procedural fluency is also fostered in Lesson 3 by having students move from congruent
to similar triangles within the same construction. By creating the two sets of triangles, students
are able to represent their knowledge of what similar and congruent look like. The fostering of
procedural fluency is evident when I show students that they will change a set of congruent
triangles into similar triangles. This change in shape pushes students to show that they cannot
only make two sets of triangles, but they understand what makes a set of congruent triangles
different from a set of similar triangles.
Students show engagement in developing mathematical reasoning in Lesson 3 when
discussing the use of paperclips as measurements. When I model the construction of the similar
and congruent triangles, I ask students to think about the difference in using big or small
paperclips in creating the shapes. At 1:08 I initiated a conversation with the students on whether
I could use big paperclips in my second triangle if I created my first with small paperclips. The
students tell me that I could not use the big ones because they take up more space. This
discussion shows that students are using mathematical reasoning because they are able to
recognize the ratios among the sizes of paperclips. They know that congruent means equal and
if the ratio in paperclip size is not equal, neither will their shapes. ]
b. Describe how your instruction linked students prior academic learning and personal,
cultural, and/or community assets with new learning.
[
The instruction provided in these two lessons links students prior academic learning
because I know that students have interacted with certain geometric shapes in the past. For
example, these students have worked with triangles and squares before, so when discussing
similarity in Lesson 1, I chose to use squares as my example. Additionally, I knew that students
were not as familiar with the term ratio, but they have worked with fractions in their other math
courses. In order to describe a ratio, I made sure to use the term fraction because I knew it was
something they would recognize.
In both Lessons 1 and 3, I linked students personal assets to instruction by utilizing my
knowledge of their IEPs. In Lesson 1, I apply my knowledge of their IEPs by adjusting the
matching game by minimizing the options for students. In giving students the definition of
similar, it gave them fewer terms to choose from, so they were better able to use their
knowledge of geometry and process of elimination to match the cards (00:00 01:05). Later on
in the I am Who is game, I provide similar accommodations by giving students clues related to
the different terms. During the game I noticed that students were not able to identify
hypotenuse; a term they also struggled with during the matching game. I gave the students the
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Secondary Mathematics
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

clue that it was a term that started with H (08:42). Unfortunately, hypotenuse is the only term
that started with the letter h, but the accommodation was necessary in moving forward in the
activity. In Lesson 3, I utilize personal assets by using the think-aloud and modeling strategies.
In knowing the students accommodations and modifications from their IEPs, I know that these
students benefit from such strategies and are more successful in classes when they are
included. In both lessons, I utilize my knowledge of the students personal assets by providing
engaging activities. The students in this course have difficulty staying focused and finishing
tasks. In order to ensure success in both student focus and learning, I made sure to engage
students in activities that had them move around and interact with one another. In Lesson 1,
students worked together in both games, which provides a more engaging way for students to
learn vocabulary. In Lesson 3, I engage students by showing them that they will be creating
triangles, rather than drawing them, which excites them for participation in the lesson.
The academic culture in this course is very different than most general education
classes. The geometry instruction is something that the students are not used to in this class, so
I made sure to adjust my instruction to make it more comfortable for the students. One way I
addressed their classroom culture is by having the activities executed as a whole group, like
matching the terms at the round table in Lesson 1. These activities typically consist of students
working alongside the teacher and the teacher modeling their thinking for the students to take-in
and hopefully apply to their own learning. I used these strategies in Lesson 3 when introducing
the construction of the paperclip triangles. I made sure to be very explicit in what I was doing,
and utilized the document camera so all students could see how I was moving the paperclips.
]
4. Deepening Student Learning during Instruction
Refer to examples from the video clip(s) in your explanations.
a. Explain how you elicited and built on student responses to promote thinking and
develop conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, AND mathematical reasoning
and/or problem-solving skills.
[
In Lesson 1, I elicit student understanding to promote conceptual understanding by
extending their thinking from rote memorization. In the planning of the matching activity, I
predicted that the students would be able to make connections among the definitions while they
were matching them. Based on how the students responded and matched the terms, I did not
see the students making such connections, so I chose to extend the activity to where students
grouped the definitions. I asked them to group the terms based on what they knew about them.
When students responded to say that similarity or congruence should go with the side length
groups, I chose to expand upon this choice and share with the students that similarity and
congruence also connect with angle descriptors (03:37).
I built upon student responses to elicit procedural fluency by using students responses
in the matching game to work through the I am Who is game during Lesson 1. Based on how
students matched terms in the first game, I gathered an idea on how students would be able to
identify terms and definitions in the second. For example, I knew that students had trouble with
similarity and hypotenuse in the first game, so I predicted that they would have the same issue
in the second. My prediction was correct and students showed difficulty with the term
hypotenuse, so I had to prompt them by saying what letter the term started with (08:45). I made
sure to provide wait time before giving this clue, in the hope that students would be able to
transfer their knowledge from one game to another.
In Lesson 3, I utilize student responses from Lesson 1 to promote mathematical
reasoning. During Lesson 1, students showed difficulty in understanding the concept of
similarity due to the concept of ratios. I chose to discuss the measurements of paperclips when
introducing the activity because I knew students would have trouble differentiating congruence
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Secondary Mathematics
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

and similarity using ratios. When modeling the change of congruent triangles into similar
triangles, I made sure to show students that whatever change I made to one side, needed to be
made to all sides (3:45). By modeling this for students, I also gave them a concrete example of
ratios in similar shapes. Students could then utilize this instruction when reasoning through their
own construction of triangles. ]
b. Explain how you used representations to support students understanding and use of
mathematical concepts and procedures.
[
I utilized representations in Lesson 3 by using manipulatives as a concrete example of
congruent and similar triangles. Manipulatives are especially helpful when working with lower
level mathematics students. Additionally, the students in this course have trouble with abstract
thought, so the physical representations enhance their conceptual understanding. At 3:45 I
begin to use the manipulatives of paperclips to show the concept of similarity. Students are able
to see how the side lengths change in similar triangles by adding one length to each side. By
manually changing the shapes, the students are better able to compare and contrast the idea of
similarity and congruence. In relation to the paperclip activity, I utilize the document camera to
introduce procedures to students. Since the lesson is set up for students to work on their own to
explore the ideas of similarity and congruence, I wanted all procedural information to be given at
the beginning. The document camera enhanced the introduction by allowing students to see me
move each paperclip and create my shapes. This representation of the activity supports
students understanding of the math procedure of changing shapes because they can see the
proper way to manipulate the paperclips. The introduction prevents interruptions of independent
work time due to procedural misunderstandings. ]
5. Analyzing Teaching
Refer to examples from the video clip(s) 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).
[
When observing my instruction, I do not think I provided enough opportunities for
students to independently explore the geometric concepts. One way I would include this
exploration would be allowing students to create their own definitions for the geometric terms
prior to having them play the vocabulary matching game. I would then allow students to
compare their definitions to the geometric definitions. As a result of some of the students IEPs
they are required to complete reading probes, which includes a similar activity, so I would be
confident in the students abilities with it. In relation to exploration, I would have liked to have
students interact with the paperclips on their own prior to modeling it for them. Since the
students work better with explicit instruction like modeling, I would still include that portion of the
lesson. However, allowing the students to try creating triangles before I model the instruction
would have given them more creativity in their shapes. Later on in the lesson I noticed that most
of the students created the similar triangles by adding one paperclip to each side, like I did in my
modeling. I would adjust this introduction to include more examples to allow for students to see
a variety of ways to create the triangles.
A change I would make to instruction based on working with students with IEPs would
be the amount of terms included in Lesson 1. As instruction progressed throughout the learning
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Secondary Mathematics
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

segment, I realized that many of the terms were not touched on after Lesson 1. My goal in
including the terms was to familiarize students with geometric vocabulary in the hopes that they
would use it in the later lessons. Since the students perform better when fewer options are
provided, I think it would have benefited them to only include terms that would be used in the
later lessons. Some of the terms I would have removed were scalene, isosceles, equilateral and
other descriptors. These terms are important to geometry, but they were not vital in relation to
the central focus of similarity and congruence. By including so many options for students, it took
away some of the focus from the more important terms. ]
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.
[
These changes would improve student learning because it provides opportunities for
them to explore mathematical concepts independently. Bruners theory of discovery based
learning supports the idea that students develop new knowledge when they are able to apply
what they already know to discover new concepts and relationships. In discovery based
learning, students are more likely to remember information because they found it on their own.
Additionally this theory states that such learning enhances student engagement in lessons and
autonomy in students. With special education, engagement and autonomy are two areas that
students struggle with the most. By enhancing instruction to include discovery-based learning,
the students would be more likely to develop conceptual understanding related to congruence
and similarity.
The change related to the number of terms involved in the matching activity would
improve student learning because it would give the opportunity for students to develop a deeper
understanding of the more pertinent terms. In previous activities, the students in this class have
shown that they can become overwhelmed with an excess of information. I also noticed in
Lesson 1 that the students were hesitant to start the activity, which I attribute to the number of
terms and definitions presented. Based on my experiences with the students, I think they would
have been more successful in the I am Who is game had they worked with less terms. The
students would have a better sense of each term allowing for the game to go more smoothly,
and serve as a better tool for learning. ]

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Secondary Mathematics
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

Transcription Lesson 1 Video:


00:07
Teacher: Similar is this one. The ratio of any two dimensions of one shape will correspond to
another of the same geometric shape.
1:44
Student in pink shirt: Would adjacent be this?
3:00
Teacher: How I would group these is by terms that describe angles, so acute. Wheres my
acute? Over there. Obtuse. What else would I put in angles?
Student: Right angle.
5:30
Youre going to have a card that says I am and then one of the terms from the table. Then it
will say Who is followed by one of the definitions.
5:52
Teacher: If you have the number one.
Talking to student in black shirt: Im still going to give you time to write these down.
Teacher (Back to whole group): So if you have the number one, you are going to start by
saying the Who is part of that first card.
Teacher: Okay number 1, start by saying Who is something.
Student: Who is the ratio of two linear images of one shape that correspond to another of
the same geometric shape?
Teacher: Now if you have that term, you are going to go ahead and say I am, whatever it is.
Student: I am similar. Who is two segments lying next to each other?
Student: I am adjacent
Teacher: Alright and whats your who is for that card?
Student: An angle that equals 90 degrees.
Teacher: An angle that equals 90 degrees
Student: I am right angle.
Teacher: And whats your Who is for it?
Student: Who is an angle that equals less than 90 degrees?
.
.
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Secondary Mathematics
Task 2: Instruction Commentary

.
8:07
Student: I am an obtuse angle, who is the longest side of a right triangle?
Student: Oh, I am a leg
8:42
Teacher: Okay, looking at our parts of triangles: weve got leg, hypotenuse, adjacent, and
angle. This is the longest side. We could have multiple legs, but if we have the longest
side It starts with an H.
Student: Hypotenuse
Teacher: The longest side is the hypotenuse
Transcription Lesson 3 Video:
3:20
Teacher: What did we talk about?
Student: Something about ratio

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