Preparing secondary science teacher candidates for the edTPA: Providing scaffolding for the edTPA commentaries

a. New York State began requiring successful completion of the edTPA as a component for teacher certification as of May 1, 2014 (The State Education Department/The University of the State of New York, 2012). This performance-based assessment is already in place as part of program completion or for state licensure in eleven states. Two additional states are taking steps toward implementation, and twenty-one other states have at least one provider of teacher preparation exploring edTPA (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education [AACTE] & Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, & Equity [SCALE], n.d.). This new assessment will require teacher preparation programs, such as our Master of Arts in Teaching Program at the American Museum of Natural History [AMNH MAT], to revise existing curricula and possibly develop additional workshops and seminars in order to support teacher candidates.
When we were first informed of our state’s decision to require edTPA for teacher certification, we determined that we would begin supporting our teacher candidates by infusing edTPA “formative experiences” (SCALE, 2013, p. 1) into their coursework. We described these course-based formative experiences to the ASTE membership in a 2015 conference workshop which was attended by approximately 24 participants. This year we would like to share another aspect of the edTPA support our program has provided for the past two years; five full-day workshops based in focused instruction on various aspects of the edTPA commentaries that we have found are especially difficult for our teacher candidates. Specifically, we developed and implemented scaffolds during our the edTPA workshops for Task 1: Planning for Instruction and Assessment, in which teacher candidates create a learning segment composed of 3-5 lesson plans including supplementary materials, describe these plans, and explain how these plans are appropriate for the students and content that they would be teaching; Task 2: Instructing and Engaging Students in Learning, wherein teacher candidates videotape portions of their lessons and demonstrate how they would support and engage their students in learning; and Task 3: Assessing Student Learning, which requires teacher candidates to analyze student learning and language use (SCALE, 2012).
Several of the scaffolds we developed are in the form of graphic organizers (Ausebel, 1968; DiCecco & Gleason, 2002). These graphic organizers help teacher candidates to delve more deeply into the challenging text of the edTPA Secondary Science Handbook; they also assist candidates in their development of lesson plans and analysis of student work. Thus, graphic organizers used in our AMNH MAT edTPA workshops scaffold candidates’ interpretations of existing texts as well as the construction of appropriate text (Miller & Calfee, 2004; O’Donnell & Dansereau, 2002) necessary for their success on the edTPA. In should be noted that Stull & Mayer (2007) have argued that the actual creation of graphic organizers supports learning better than when students are given the graphic organizer fully formed (2007). While we believe that our candidates benefit the most from instructor-created graphic organizers, we are basing this proposed ASTE workshop on Stull & Mayer’s (2007) finding by asking participants to create graphic organizers to utilize in their own teaching of edTPA-based content. We will provide one strong example and describe it in depth so that participants may discuss the construction of effective graphic organizers, specifically for the edTPA, before we ask them to develop scaffolds (whether graphic organizers or other) to use in their own contexts.
The purpose of this workshop is to aid the ASTE membership, specifically teacher educators, in thinking about how they might develop scaffolds in order to support and guide their own teacher candidates through edTPA in their respective institutions. This workshop follows up on last year’s ASTE workshop (Contino, Short, & Howes, 2015), where we described and discussed the edTPA requirements, as well as work we had done in courses to support our teacher candidates. This year, we will support participants in delving more deeply into the edTPA by developing appropriate scaffolds for their own programs’ teacher candidates.

b. After attending this workshop, participants will be able to:
1. Describe how to scaffold a component of an edTPA commentary;
2. Identify the strengths of a scaffold for a component of an edTPA commentary and;
3. Develop a scaffold to support their teacher candidates in completing a component of an
edTPA commentary.
During this workshop, we will begin with an introduction to edTPA and what secondary science teacher candidates must know and be able to do in order to successfully complete this performance assessment. Next, we will explore one scaffold that we developed and implemented in our AMNH MAT edTPA workshops. Participants will then work in small groups to develop a scaffold for one component of an edTPA commentary that will then be digitally shared with the whole group. We will judge the effectiveness of our workshop at meeting our learning objectives based on the participation level of the teacher educators in the discussion of what makes a good scaffold for a component of an edTPA commentary and how to develop a scaffold that supports edTPA completion. Additionally, effectiveness will be judged based on the participation levels of the teacher educators during scaffold development in small groups and the completed scaffold.

c. The following is an outline of the workshop that shows the sequence and duration of the activities:
1. Introduction of edTPA Tasks and edTPA rubrics (20 min)
2. Guided examination of an example of a scaffold created to aid teacher candidates in answering a commentary prompt and whole group discussion (25 min)
3. Development of scaffolds for other components of edTPA commentaries in 3-5 small groups (40 min)
4. Whole group share and discussion of newly developed scaffolds (25 min)
5. Question and answer session about our experience developing scaffolds and workshops for edTPA (10 min)
The entire duration of this workshop is 120 minutes. Through this workshop, participants will learn what the requirements are for the secondary science edTPA and examine examples of scaffolds that support teacher candidates in successfully answering commentary prompts for the edTPA. In small groups they will develop one scaffold designed for one component of an edTPA commentary.

d. The presenters will obtain and share the email addresses of the participants so that they might continue to support each other in implementing supports for the edTPA following the workshop. Additionally, the presenters will be available to the participants via email after the workshop. Lastly, all scaffolds created during this workshop will be digitally shared across the participants.

e. Those within the ASTE membership who would be the most interested in our workshop would be those involved in teacher preparation at both the graduate and undergraduate levels such as teacher educators, methods instructors, curriculum instructors, clinical supervisors, and advisors. These key players in teacher preparation programs will need to support teacher candidates in successfully completing edTPA in their own programs by developing formative experiences and workshops. This workshop will give them an opportunity to explore how they might best begin developing these supports.

f. This workshop will be conducted by Dr. Julie Contino, Dr. Elaine Howes, and Dr. Natasha Cooke-Nieves. All three are Senior Specialists in Science and Teacher Education at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. During Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, Drs. Contino, Howes, and Cooke-Nieves attended various workshops focused on the implementation of edTPA, offered through the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. They used the data from formative assessments carried out in an Curriculum and Instruction course in the AMNH MAT teacher residency program in order to develop five edTPA workshops for 15 teacher candidates as they prepared for their April 2014 edTPA submission as part of the certification process in New York State. These workshops included examination of the rubrics, guided activities to help candidates tackle commentary prompts, and peer review of lesson plans, videos, and commentaries. All 15 teacher candidates passed the edTPA. Workshop evaluations, plans, and materials, formative assessments from courses, and edTPA scores from 2014 were reviewed in order to revise and implement the workshops for the next cohort of 15 teacher candidates who submitted their edTPA in April 2015. By the time of the 2016 ASTE meeting, we will have the scores of our 2015 AMNH MAT candidates, and be able to use these to assess the efficacy of the edTPA supports these candidates received.

g. We plan to offer this workshop free of charge. The workshop could accommodate 20-30 participants. Ideally, participants would come with a colleague from their institution. For this workshop, we would require space for the participants to work in small groups (possibly tables that accommodate 6-8 people per table). We would need a projector and Internet access; access to six or more laptops would be very helpful but is not an absolute requirement. We plan to provide each participant at the workshop with hardcopies of the example of a scaffold for an edTPA commentary prompt as well as access to a digital copy of this scaffold, the other scaffolds created during the session, and our presentation.