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Elementary Education

Task 1: Planning Commentary

TASK 1: PLANNING COMMENTARY


Respond to the prompts below (no more than 9 single-spaced pages, including prompts) by typing your responses within
the brackets. Do not delete or alter the prompts. Pages exceeding the maximum will not be scored.

1. Central Focus
a. Describe the central focus and the essential literacy strategy for comprehending OR
composing text you will teach in the learning segment.
[The central focus of this unit will be for students to determine the main idea and identify
supporting details of a text. This comprehension strategy is one that they will use as they
progress in school and a skill that they will indeed use on the state mandated test, which is
referenced in the context for learning document. Determining the main idea of a text is quite a
challenge for students at a third grade level because they will simply pick a sentence from the
text and conclude that selection is the main idea of the entire text. It is extremely important for
students to understand that the main idea of a text is what the entire text is “mainly” or “mostly”
about. This is explicitly explained in the “Introduction to Main Idea” PowerPoint presentation.
Students will also be required to write a summary, using the main idea and details, with support
from the teacher for the final lesson.]
b. Given the central focus, describe how the standards and learning objectives within
your learning segment address
 the essential literacy strategy
 related skills that support use of the strategy
 reading/writing connections
[The state mandated standard that is used throughout this unit is (ELAGSE3RI2: Determine the
main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea). This
standard and the learning objectives directly connect back to the comprehension strategy of
determining the main idea of a text. The learning objective that states that students will write a
summary with the assistance of the teacher directly connects the purpose of learning the
comprehension strategy and applying it to a particular task. The reading selection was
intentional to demonstrate to students that they can find the main idea of any text (even a fun,
fictional piece) using the strategy of asking what the text is mostly about and what supports that
main idea. After determining the main idea, it is important for a student to pull it all together into
a summary so that they can see the pieces as a whole. This will be further explored in fourth
grade, but it is significant to introduce writing a summary in relation to determining the main idea
and supporting details. This will be so that they can build on this prior knowledge when they
reach the next grade. The comprehension strategy of determining the main idea is a strategy
that should be used after reading. It is a way for a student to get meaning from the text instead
of reading word after word with no intent of making connections to meaning at all.]
c. Explain how your plans build on each other to help students make connections
between the essential literacy strategy to comprehend OR compose text and related
skills that support use of the strategy in meaningful contexts.
[The first lesson includes an introduction PowerPoint to the comprehension strategy of
determining the main idea of a text. After the discussion of what it means to find the main idea
and supporting details, there is an article written by me about the training of my guide dog
Norman. They are always asking questions about him and he is very much loved by them so I
figured this would be a very meaningful way for them to practice this comprehension skill. After

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Elementary Education
Task 1: Planning Commentary

reading the article as a class, I ask the students what the passage is mostly about. I have them
write that down. Then I ask them to pick out several details from the text that support that main
idea and have them write those down in their reading notebooks as well. This shows me if they
understand the difference between the main idea and details. Then, after we have discussed
whether or not the details indeed support our main idea, we write a summary together. For the
next lesson, to show them that they can also find the main idea and supporting details of a
fictional piece as well, we read an excerpt from Charlotte’s Web. After reading, as a group, we
determine the main idea and supporting details using the graphic organizer that we used with
the piece for the first lesson. In the final lesson, the students are expected to use the main idea
and supporting details that we found as a group to write a summary. This unit was purposefully
designed for the students to see how the parts all fit together to make a complete picture.
Keeping each day’s work in their reading notebooks helped them pull everything together in the
end. The main idea and its supporting details can be put together to make a textually based
summary.]
2. Knowledge of Students to Inform Teaching
For each of the prompts below (2a–b), describe what you know about your students with
respect to the central focus of the learning segment.

Consider the variety of learners in your class who may require different strategies/support
(e.g., students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners, struggling readers,
underperforming students or those with gaps in academic knowledge, and/or gifted
students).
a. Prior academic learning and prerequisite skills related to the central focus—Cite
evidence of what students know, what they can do, and what they are still learning
to do.
[The first thing that all of these students would have needed to master is basic reading
comprehension and writing. My gifted student, one of my focus students, is reading on a fourth-
grade reading level. Her comprehension skills are high as well, but she has a tendency to rush
through the text, which causes her to miss things as she is reading. This is known by casual
conversation about what she is reading when she reads aloud to me and through observations
when she goes back to answer questions about what she has read. I am careful to remind the
students throughout the unit to take their time to go back in the text to look for those supporting
details. My second focus student is reading on grade-level and struggles with the same thing
that my gifted child does. Both of their skills in writing are fairly sharp. They both sometimes
struggle with putting their thoughts onto paper however, so the use of my think-aloud strategy
for determining the main idea and supporting details is crucial for their complete grasping of the
comprehension strategy. My third focus student is a struggling reader but has excellent
comprehension skills if a text is read to her. This is why I made certain that I read the
PowerPoint aloud as we progressed and read the passages so that she would still be able to
comprehend to the best of her ability. She also struggles with writing, so that is the reason why
the necessary writing was modeled for the students, and even when I sent them to work on the
summary on their own, I paired them up so that they could help one another with my occasional
assistance of course. All of these students are very efficient with putting the pieces together to
make a larger concept, so I knew that putting the main idea and details together in a summary
would set them up for success. The fourth student in my group is an excellent writer and reader,
so she is the one I had working the document camera and board for me (due to my lack of
sight). I did my very best to create a unit that targeted the needs of all the students in my group.]

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Elementary Education
Task 1: Planning Commentary

b. Personal, cultural, and community assets related to the central focus—What do you
know about your students’ everyday experiences, cultural and language
backgrounds and practices, and interests?
[I will first discuss the learning styles of this group. I conducted a learning styles inventory at the
beginning of the school year and collected the results to use for this unit. Out of my three focus
students, two of them are visual learners and the other is an auditory learner. The fourth student
in my group is a visual learner as well. I made sure to have a song in the PowerPoint with lyrics
to fit my visual and auditory learners. The PowerPoint itself is complete with pictures of my
guide dog to go along with the passage at the end of the presentation. The graphic organizers
and Charlotte’s Web excerpt are always displayed on the panel so that my visual learners can
learn to the best of their abilities throughout the lessons. Reading all of the text aloud is to
benefit my auditory learner and also for those who comprehend text better to have text read
aloud to them. From conversations with the students, I have learned that all of these students
love animals as well. That is why I chose an animal theme for my unit. The PowerPoint with my
guide dog and the Charlotte’s Web excerpt seemed to be the best instructional tools for this
particular group. The Charlotte’s Web excerpt was a good choice in regard to the fact that all of
these students love a captivating story and love to hear the characters come to life when the
story is read aloud. Also, from casual conversations, I have learned that these students love
music and love to dance. I specifically picked a song that they would be able to sing and dance
to that went along with the main idea topic. They should thoroughly enjoy learning in this unit
and I look forward to teaching it.]
3. Supporting Students’ Literacy Learning
Respond to prompts 3a–c below. To support your justifications, refer to the instructional
materials and lesson plans you have included as part of Literacy Planning Task 1. In
addition, use principles from research and/or theory to support your justifications.
a. Justify how your understanding of your students’ prior academic learning and personal,
cultural, and community assets (from prompts 2a–b above) guided your choice or
adaptation of learning tasks and materials. Be explicit about the connections between
the learning tasks and students’ prior academic learning, their assets, and
research/theory.
[I will first discuss the learning styles of this group. I conducted a learning styles inventory at the
beginning of the school year and collected the results to use for this unit. Out of my three focus
students, two of them are visual learners and the other is an auditory learner. The fourth student
in my group is a visual learner as well. I made sure to have a song in the PowerPoint with lyrics
to fit my visual and auditory learners. The PowerPoint itself is complete with pictures of my
guide dog to go along with the passage at the end of the presentation. The graphic organizers
and Charlotte’s Web excerpt are always displayed on the panel so that my visual learners can
learn to the best of their abilities throughout the lessons. Reading all of the text aloud is to
benefit my auditory learner and also for those who comprehend text better to have text read
aloud to them. My research of Howard Gardener’s theory of multiple intelligences is how I have
come to realize that each child has a primary intelligence, sometimes more than one, and
secondary intelligences that are weaker than the primary ones. I knew that it was important for
me to identify the primary intelligences and incorporate those into my lessons to make certain
that my students learned in the ways that they learn best. I also know that it is important to
infiltrate each lesson with all of the learning styles so that all students can have equal
opportunity to learn the material. From conversations with the students, I have learned that all of
these students love animals as well. That is why I chose an animal theme for my unit. The
PowerPoint with my guide dog and the Charlotte’s Web excerpt seemed to be the best

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Elementary Education
Task 1: Planning Commentary

instructional tools for this particular group. The Charlotte’s Web excerpt seemed to be a good
choice in regard to the fact that all of these students love a captivating story and love to hear the
characters come to life when the story is read aloud. Also, from casual conversations, I have
learned that these students love music and love to dance. I specifically picked a song that they
would be able to sing and dance to (kinesthetic learning style) that went along with the main
idea topic. When students are enjoying what they are learning, they will usually remember it
forever. They should thoroughly enjoy learning in this unit and I look forward to teaching it.]
b. Describe and justify why your instructional strategies and planned supports are
appropriate for the whole class, individuals, and/or groups of students with specific
learning needs.

Consider the variety of learners in your class who may require different
strategies/support (e.g., students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners,
struggling readers, underperforming students or those with gaps in academic
knowledge, and/or gifted students).
[I have one gifted student and one struggling reader. The other two students are reading on
grade-level. All of the students comprehend text much better when it is read to them and so I
chose to read all text aloud and talk about it as we go along to clear up any misunderstandings
the students may have. I supplied the students with graphic organizers to go inside their reading
notebooks for this unit, because having an organizer to work with helps the gifted student keep
track of her thoughts when they start to move too quickly, and helps the struggling reader not
get overwhelmed with so many written directions. Instead, she can look at the labeled sections
and think about one label at a time rather than being forced to comprehend written instructions
on the board to complete on a blank sheet of notebook paper. When I ask the students to write
a summary, I had the students work as a group, with support from me, so that the struggling
reader could focus on the task at hand instead of the fact that she has difficulty reading. These
students are extremely supportive of one another’s needs. The compassion that I see among
these children is incredible.]
c. Describe common developmental approximations or common misconceptions within
your literacy central focus and how you will address them.
[The common misconceptions among this group of students is that the main idea is always
directly stated in the text. I directly address this in my PowerPoint presentation. I will continue to
ask them if the main idea is directly stated as we read each selection so that they can clearly
see that it is not always. These students also are sometimes confused with identifying the
difference between a paragraph and a passage. This is also directly addressed in the
presentation. As we go through each reading selection we will talk about whether or not we are
looking at a paragraph or a passage. This will help them directly apply this knowledge and they
will not continue to hold on to the misconception/misunderstandings. These students also
believe that when someone says to write a summary, they must rewrite the entire passage. I will
model this for them so that they can see how they are supposed to use the main idea and
supporting details to write their summary and not every word of the passage.]
4. Supporting Literacy Development Through Language

As you respond to prompts 4a–d, consider the range of students’ language assets and
needs—what do students already know, what are they struggling with, and/or what is new to
them?
a. Language Function. Using information about your students’ language assets and
needs, identify one language function essential for students to develop and practice the

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Elementary Education
Task 1: Planning Commentary

literacy strategy within your central focus. Listed below are some sample language
functions. You may choose one of these or another more appropriate for your learning
segment.

Analyze Argue Categorize Compare/contrast Describe Explain

Interpret Predict Question Retell Summarize


[Students will analyze the text as a whole to determine what the main idea is and then search
back through the text to find details to support it. They will also be expected to summarize the
text using the main idea and supporting details. It is crucial for students to be given an
opportunity to explain how the details that were selected support the main idea based on the
text. This is how they sometimes discover that either they need to re-analyze the text for a
different main idea or they need to select different supporting details to support the chosen main
idea of the text. Analyze, explain, determine, and summarize are the four language functions
that will be used the most throughout this unit.]
b. Identify a key learning task from your plans that provides students with opportunities to
practice using the language function in ways that support the essential literacy strategy.
Identify the lesson in which the learning task occurs. (Give lesson day/number.)
[In lesson two, the students are still in the guided practice phase of the unit, but I make sure to
call on students to tell me the main idea of the Charlotte’s Web text. After we talk about it is a
group and decide if that is the best main idea, I will call on different students until we have at
least three supporting details. Then, I will call on a student to tell me if these details that we
picked support the main idea. If it does then we will move on. If it does not, we will need to find
different details to support our main idea. I feel that doing this middle lesson as a guided
practice session helps students realize that different students can come up with different main
ideas and different supporting details. When this happens they are not wrong. I will explain that
as long as their details support their main idea and their main idea tells what the text is mostly
about, they are correct. In this lesson, during this learning task, my students will clearly be
explaining their thinking and analyzing the text to determine the main idea and identify
supporting details.]
c. Additional Language Demands. Given the language function and learning task
identified above, describe the following associated language demands (written or oral)
students need to understand and/or use:
 Vocabulary or key phrases
 Plus at least one of the following:
 Syntax
 Discourse
[In order for my students to be successful in the above learning task, they will have to
understand what the main idea of a text is and know how to identify supporting details of that
text. In order for students to understand this vocabulary most efficiently is for me to model the
process for the students. Then, for the second lesson the students will be able to use syntax
(reading and writing) and discourse (speaking and listening) to practice this modeled skill.
Throughout the learning task mentioned above, the students will be verbally explaining why they
are choosing the particular main idea and supporting details. They must be able to justify their
reasoning for choosing one main idea or detail over another by using the text for evidence. They
will be practicing listening to one another so that they are able to realize that just because their

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Elementary Education
Task 1: Planning Commentary

classmates may have a different response, as long as they can use the text to support their
answers, they are correct. Speaking and listening are crucial for success in this lesson.
Students will be writing down their main ideas along with the supporting details on the provided
graphic organizer to keep track of their thoughts so that they will be prepared to write their
summary with their partners on the final day of the unit. Students will be reading and writing
throughout this particular learning task. I will have the text and the graphic organizer displayed
on the board so that they can read along with me. There are many ways in this learning task for
the students to practice the comprehension skill using vocabulary with syntax and discourse.]
d. Language Supports. Refer to your lesson plans and instructional materials as needed
in your response to the prompt.
 Identify and describe the planned instructional supports (during and/or prior to the
learning task) to help students understand, develop, and use the identified language
demands (function, vocabulary or key phrases, discourse, or syntax).
[Mentioned above, the comprehension strategy is modeled for the students by me in the first
lesson. During the modeling process, I am using the vocabulary that I will expect them to use in
context in order to show me that they understand such as (The main idea is… because the text
is mostly about…) and (Do these details support the main idea? They do because… They do
not because…) Children do not automatically have these thought processes and so that is why
it is crucial for the teacher to model how she would like her students to use the
vocabulary/language. In the first lesson, I will be modeling the entire process of determining the
main idea and identifying supporting details by reading the text, asking what the text is mostly
about and finding details that support that main idea. Throughout the second lesson, students
are expected to explain and listen to explanations of why that particular main idea and
supporting details is correct from classmates. Students will be writing these down on the graphic
organizer to keep track of their thoughts. Through syntax, discourse, and practicing vocabulary
are the ways that I plan on helping the students master the concept of determining the main
idea and supporting details in this particular learning task.]
5. Monitoring Student Learning
In response to the prompts below, refer to the assessments you will submit as part of the
materials for Literacy Planning Task 1.

a. Describe how your planned formal and informal assessments will provide direct
evidence that students can use the essential literacy strategy to comprehend OR
compose text AND related skills throughout the learning segment.
[I created a pre-post assessment for me to clearly be able to see if my students demonstrated
growth after I teach the unit. Two of my focus students struggled with recognizing that the main
idea meant what the text was mostly about. Also, they did not grasp that supporting details were
details that support the main idea. They just wrote down details that did not connect back to
their main idea in any way. This knowledge helped me plan my unit the way that I did (described
above). In my first lesson, to activate prior knowledge and to get an idea of where the students
are, I had them talk to one another about what it means to find the main idea and why it is
important. This made it so I could get an automatic temperature check. As I go through the first
lesson, I plan on stopping and asking students to explain parts of the lesson to each other and
give opportunities for them to ask questions. At the end of the first lesson, I will ask them for
their feedback as I model the comprehension strategy of how to find the main idea and identify
supporting details. This is another way I am able to complete a quick check for understanding.
At the very end of the first lesson, I will have them write a paragraph in their reading notebooks
explaining what the main idea is and why it is important as a ticket out of reading. I will be able

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Elementary Education
Task 1: Planning Commentary

to look at this to see if the students understand what it means to find the main idea of a text and
why it is important. For the second lesson, I will open up with a discussion about the previous
lesson and I will ask the students to tell me what it means to find the main idea and why it is
important to find it. Hearing their explanations, I will be able to determine whether they truly
understand what it is and why it is important. Students will then use graphic organizers to write
down the main idea and supporting details, which I will be analyzing for understanding. The true
assessment for this lesson will be during the group discussion when I ask students to choose a
main idea and supporting details and ask them to justify their choices based on the text. If they
are able to do this efficiently, I’ll know that they understand how to use the comprehension
strategy properly. For the third lesson, the students will work with partners to write a summary.
This will allow me to assess how well the students were able to put the main idea and
supporting details from the graphic organizer together into a text based summary. After each
formative assessment, I cannot wait to see the results from the post-assessment to see what
my students have learned.]
b. Explain how the design or adaptation of your planned assessments allows students with
specific needs to demonstrate their learning.

Consider the variety of learners in your class who may require different
strategies/support (e.g., students with IEPs or 504 plans, English language learners,
struggling readers, underperforming students or those with gaps in academic
knowledge, and/or gifted students).
[During the unit, for my struggling reader, I make sure to read all text aloud so that they can
demonstrate their learning without needing to focus on their reading difficulty. When I read text
aloud, it also helps my gifted student comprehend better, since she is an auditory learner. In the
first lesson, giving students the opportunity to write down their thoughts in their reading
notebooks gives them time to process the information. Partner talks also help students process
information. The graphic organizer that is used throughout the unit is helpful for helping my
gifted student to not lose track of her thoughts as she goes along. She thinks very quickly.
Partner talks, group talks, and group summary work are all ways to get an assessment from
students who may struggle with reading and writing.]

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