edTPA Help! Central Focus and Academic Language

What's New?

The edTPA have recently decided to shift some things around in lesson plans in order to be more in line with the Common Core that is attempting to be implemented. Some things have been taken out while others have been changed, or new things have been added. What this hub will focus on are two new additions to their lesson plan and how to effectively write them. These two additions are the Central Focus and the Academic Language.

Central Focus

The Central Focus in a lesson plan is a description of what the lesson or unit is trying to accomplish. It conveys the core concepts that you want students to develop in the learning section of the lesson plan. The Central Focus should go beyond a simply listing skills students will acquire. The Central focus should align with content standards (or the Common Core Standards) and learning objectives. Last, but not least, the Central Focus should address the subject-specific components in the learning segment.

So, The Central Focus broken down into parts should do this:


  1. Describe what you are teaching your students
  2. Describe the purpose for teaching this content
  3. Describe how the standards that you use (example: Common Core Standards) or the learning objectives that you have apply to:
  • A learning strategy that you used
  • Any skills that are learned during the lesson
  • Any content-area connections

4. Explain how this lesson plan will work with other lesson plans in a unit to help students make these connections between the skills they develop and your essential strategy OR composing text in meaningful contexts

Central Focus Example

The following is a complete Central Focus that has all the elements for a successful Central Focus.


The purpose of this lesson is to build upon the student’s previous knowledge of plotting points and graphing. The students will learn the slope intercept equation and display how to use it successfully in graphing problems. This lesson will also serve as a building block for future solving of algebraic expressions and graphing as well as real life uses. Graphing is used today in a variety of magazines and websites that students will need to know to interpret and understand.


Feel free to use this Central Focus as a guide for writing yours.

Common Core Standards

The Common Core is attempting to be implemented in the United States. So far, it has not been implemented well. The idea was to create the same education across all 50 states to make students in every state, who are in the same grade, on the same level everywhere. The Common Core Standards were written and are in use currently for those states who have approved to use them. Your Central Focus should align with the Common Core Standards (if you use them). This does not mean to rewrite your learning objectives or the Common Core Standard again, but the broader idea should be given.

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Academic Language

When I first looked at the description for what the Academic Language wanted, I was a bit confused too. But broken down into smaller pieces really helped to understand it. Academic language is essentially what the the writing or speaking that a student does to let you as the teacher know they understood what you taught them. So what do we want in the Academic Language?


  1. Language function means the verb used in for what is to be learned.This could be a variety of words like: identify, analyze, summarize, define, explain, conclude, justify, compare.
  2. Language demand means the assignment the student is to complete. This can be anything that you assign such as an essay, writing a paragraph, sentence, speech, lab write-up, graphing an equation, or answering DBQ's. These are not the only things that can be completd to this. There are many more options and this list is only a few possible assignments.
  3. Vocabulary means any of the words the student should know in order to define and comprehend the content of the lesson. These words may be constricted to a certain content-area (Internment-Camp in Social Studies) or just general words that are used in all/most concentrations (list, display, characteristics, inference, analyze).


Learning Objective Example

Students will be able to display their understanding of the content by graphing six lines using the slope intercept formula and labeling the different graphs with the proper equations.

Academic Language Example

Look at the learning objective to the right. The following is what describes it:

The language function is to display. The language demand is to graph (a line on a graph). Vocabulary includes slope intercept formula (mathematics specific) and equation (general). Adding adjectives such as six enables efficient assessment of whether students have achieved the learning target.

So, the complete Academic Language should look like this:

Students will be able to display their understanding of the content by graphing six lines using the slope intercept formula and labeling the different graphs with the proper equations. The language function is to display. The language demand is to graph (a line on a graph). Vocabulary includes slope intercept formula (mathematics specific) and equation (general). Adding adjectives such as six enables efficient assessment of whether students have achieved the learning target.

You simply rewrite your learning objective or Common Core Standard and explain it.

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