Celebrate, Inspire, Grow
vol.1 - edition 2: October 2021
Teacher Clarity For Empowered Learners
Director's Delights - Jay Trujillo
The Why Behind Teacher Clarity
Teacher Clarity is an influence that positively impacts student achievement. I’ll take it a step even further: Teacher Clarity may be the most important strategy a teacher can utilize in the classroom. Why?
Let’s first define Teacher Clarity. Teacher clarity is generally defined by two fundamental elements: Learning Intentions and Success Criteria. Learning intentions are the goals, targets, or objectives of learning/lessons. They describe what we want students to learn, and their clarity is at the heart of the formative assessment process. Learning intentions are not simply standards written on the board or vague statements made by teachers (e.g., “We are learning to read”), but deliberate and thoughtful student-friendly statements that capture the heart of a lesson or series of lessons over time:
Learning Intention Examples
We are learning about the relationship between the mass of a substance and the volume that mass occupies.
We are learning about the relationship between a horizon line and perspective in pieces of art.
We are learning about the balance of powers among the three branches of government.
It’s important to help students clearly understand the desired learning outcome and separate this from what they are doing (context):
The activities, tasks, curriculum, etc. are the tools or resources teachers bring to the classroom to help students learn. The ultimate goal of learning is for students to transfer what they learned in the classroom (context) and apply it (transfer) to new or novel situations and contexts (it surely isn’t to make a sandwich).
Success criteria relate to how students will know they have learned the desired learning outcomes (learning intentions). “To learn how to use effective adjectives,” for example, does not give students sufficient information on how they will be evaluated, or how to determine their own progress. Imagine if you were simply asked to get in your car and drive; at some unspecified time, you will be judged if you successfully arrive where you are supposed to. It’s silly, but for far too many students, this is what learning feels like. “Good learning intentions and success criteria demystify the learning for students, thus providing a clear pathway toward success” (Fisher, Frey, Hattie, Flories, 2019).
Learning Intention with Aligned Success Criteria Examples
Clarity is King
In the beginning of this article, I made the bold claim that teacher clarity was the most important strategy a teacher can utilize in the classroom. Let me restate this more clearly: teacher clarity is the most important strategy a teacher can utilize in the classroom to increase student achievement. I’ll explain. In last month’s first edition of Secondary to None, I reviewed John Hattie’s research and his use of effect size to reveal magnitude of impact. I further shared that the average effect size of Hattie’s research was d= 0.40. For simplicity, let’s just say that this equates to one year’s worth of learning in one year’s time. Below are several “high impact practices,” all of which are considerably above 0.40 effect size, with some as high as 1.33 (the equivalent of three years’ worth of learning in one year’s time).
Metacognitive Strategies (link to more information)
Self-Verbalization & Questioning (link to more information)
Feedback (link to more information)
d = 0.84
Self-Regulation (link to more information)
Assessment Capable Learners (link to more information)
Evaluation & Reflection (link to more information)
A quick scan or understanding of these practices tell of one thing they all have in common: teacher AND student clarity are foundational to each. When the goal of learning or knowledge of how to determine if the goal has been met are murky, learning will be suspect. Conversely, when goal clarity is present and students can see themselves as their own teachers, wonderful things happen, not to mention that learning multiplies in record time.
Marisol Thayre is a high school English teacher who explains how she guides students to self-assess using success criteria in a distance learning environment. The driving force behind her lesson planning centers on "increasing student engagement." Though Marisol does not explicitly say “success criteria” in the video below, you will hear strong evidence of its use in her explanation of her classroom/lesson. Though this is an English classroom example, the ideas abound for any subject in distance learning or in-person instruction 😊:
Teacher Clarity for Empowered Learners
As we approach the second month of school, teachers have been collaboratively working with their IMPACT teams to ensure that each and every one of their students is an empowered learner.
What is an empowered learner?
An empowered learner is a student who takes control of his/his own learning and can answer the following questions during the learning process:
1. Where am I going?
2. Where am I now?
3. Where to next?
In order for students to be able to answer the first question “Where am I going?” the teacher must not only share the learning intentions, but ensure that students understand, share and can communicate what they are learning. In addition, students must understand the learning progression, how the new learning relates to what they have previously learned and how it will connect to future learning. Finally, for a student to fully understand where he/she is going in the learning process, the student must be able to understand the criteria for success. Co-construction of success criteria allows the student to provide input. For example, I was visiting Mrs. Wells and Mrs. McCoy’s ELA class had students in groups and they were drafting success criteria for classroom norms. It was great to see that each student felt “empowered” by sharing, discussing and agreeing to the classroom norms that they decided on. Visiting Mr. Martin’s class, there is an acronym on his board (social studies 7 and one for social studies 8)“SLICK” S: Standards, LI: Learning Intentions, C: Criteria for Success and K: Kagan. Mr. Martin and Mrs. Wells lead their IMPACT teams by collaborating with their colleagues on best practices to support each other and their students.
At Mira Loma Middle School, it is a school-wide expectation that teacher clarity is evident in the classroom. During classroom walk-throughs, students are asked; “what are you learning today? How do you know you are learning it? And what is the next step in your learning?" As I hear from my students about their personalized journey in the learning process, my heart flutters with excitement to observe firsthand empowered learners in the making. I am proud of the work that the teachers are doing to empower each other and their students.
- Mary Boules
Mira Loma Middle School
Coordinator Connection - Janice Cloward
Where Am I Going?
It is only when teachers know and can articulate why students are learning what they are learning that they are in a position to design learning experiences that are authentic, relevant, and capable of cultivating the curiosity of the learners. (Stubbs, 2019)
Developing Learning Intentions & Success Criteria (LISC)
As teachers, when it comes to gaining clarity, we cannot just simply read the standard and assume that we know what it means in terms of student learning. The unpacking process helps provide clarity about the standards that will drive the development of our lessons and what students will learn. The following example is adapted from the structures provided in The Teacher Clarity Playbook: A Hands-On Guide to Creating Learning Intentions & Success Criteria for Organized, Effective Instruction (Fisher et al., 2019)
Identifying Concepts & Skills
The first step in the unpacking process that leads to development of LISC, is knowing what students need to know and be able to do. Identifying the concepts and skills addressed in the standard will guide our understanding of the standards. The concepts are represented by the nouns in the standard and indicate the knowledge a student will learn. The verbs in the standard are the skills students need to acquire that knowledge.
Sequencing Learning Progressions
Many standards cannot be learned in a day or sometimes even in a single lesson. In this case, our second step to unpacking is to derive learning progressions directly from the standards that contain greater detail and go deeper into the concepts and skills of the standards. These learning progressions act as the ‘big ideas’ of instruction. They ensure that students are systematically moving towards mastery of the standard in a logical, connected pathway.
Developing Learning Intentions & Success Criteria
In Step 3 of the unpacking process, we develop learning intentions and success criteria (LISC). Learning intentions focus on the ‘what’ of student learning. It goes beyond the standard in that it provides smaller nuggets of learning within the learning progressions that students can understand. Learning Intentions can focus on knowledge, skills, or concepts, but should communicate the expected learning outcomes. Additionally, when we, as teachers, know what students need to learn, we can make informed decisions about our instruction and create better learning experiences for our students.
It’s important for students to know what they are learning, but it’s equally important for them to know when they have learned it. Success criteria act as a way for teachers and students to measure student progress of their learning. “[They]...provide students with clear, specific, and attainable goals and can spark motivation in some of the most reluctant learners.” (Fisher et al., 2019) Success Criteria specific to the Learning Intentions should be written in understandable language and visible for students to have clarity. It may take several lessons or activities for students to fully grasp the concept(s) addressed in the learning intention and success criteria can help them answer the question, “where am I at?”
Consider the Before & After
In the fourth and final step, we take time to consider the vertical articulation of our standards to bring us greater clarity of our teaching. It is important to know the information our students are coming with so we can make connections. And it is equally important to know the next level of learning so we can ensure their readiness.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Developing LISC
It is important when we develop our learning intentions and success criteria that we are intentional and organized in our thinking. Take caution not to fall into any traps or old habits.
Communicating Learning Intentions & Success Criteria with Students
It is essential that we communicate LISC clearly with our students so they too have clarity about the learning and can monitor their progress towards mastery. They can take ownership of their learning by understanding and answering the questions, “what am I learning” and “how will I know when I have learned it.” This must go beyond simply writing the learning intention on the board and reading it to students. Student introduction to LISC should be intentionally designed by the teacher and well-thought activities should allow students to continually engage with LISC throughout the learning process. “There is even evidence that indicates when students know what they are supposed to be learning, they are three times more likely to learn it.” (Hattie, 2012)
Consider these quick tips for communicating and engaging students with learning intentions and success criteria in you classroom:
Allow students time to process the learning intention through a Think-Pair-Share
- After sharing and explaining the learning intention, allow students to gather their thoughts and understandings then share with a partner what they think they will learn and what they might already know about the topic.
Co-constructing success criteria through modeling or think-aloud
- There’s even greater power in co-constructing success criteria with students as it further supports student clarity and understanding of the learning intentions. It enables empowered learners to effectively self-monitor their progress.
For more information on co-constructing success criteria, read:
How to Co-Construct Success Criteria in Education (Vandas, 2020)
Modeling using examples and non-examples of student work
Watch the video below on modeling examples & non-examples
Communicating the learning intention and success criteria so students can identify where they are going in their learning, how they are progressing, and where they will go next, thus providing students enough clarity to own their learning. (Hattie, 2009)
A Few Words From Donia Briones, Teacher On Special Assignment, Professional Development
Two words...Elon Musk. I am a bit obsessed. If you need some background, Elon Musk is the innovator and entrepreneur who has been involved with PayPal, Tesla, and Space X, to name a few. His current intentions are to get a manned crew to Mars and creation of a Teslabot that should revolutionize our everyday tasks. That is all great, you could be thinking, but what does Elon Musk have to do with my classroom and my teaching?
When I think of Elon Musk, I think of a person who is driving his own learning, setting seemingly impossible goals, a collaborator who hires the best minds to work with, and is constantly seeking feedback and self assessing how to make his products the best. When we think of our Jurupa students, isn’t that the epitome of who we would like to send off as the future leaders? So, how do we get our students more engaged?
If we want to create the future of new innovators, it is not going to be with teachers as the drivers of learning. We have come to a point in teaching where we know we need to have clarity about the learning that needs to occur, but we should not be the sole contributor to our student's engagement. Instead of being the one delivering the lessons, holding all the power, and spending countless hours grading papers, we will shift the power, reflection, and engagement over to our students.
If we are going to move forward with this model of student engagement, students need to be involved in a new cycle of seeking feedback from their teachers and peers, setting a goal based on that feedback, and self assessing their progress towards their goal. John Hattie conducted research that studied factors that affected learning in both positive and negative ways. The average effect of all of the studies was .40, which is equivalent to about one years worth of growth. In Hattie’s research, self reported grading, where students are in charge of assessing their own learning has an effect size of 1.33 which translates to 3 years of learning in one year’s time.
How can a teacher make this engagement and multi-year growth happen in their classroom, especially this year when we are coming from over a year of distance learning? According to Paul Bloomberg and Barb Pitchford in chapter four of their book Leading Impact Teams, teachers should be prioritizing the following:
Modeling how to set learning goals
Modeling how to self and peer assess
Conferencing frequently with students on their learning goals
Modeling how to give feedback
Modeling for students how to take action based on the feedback they received from their teachers and peers
Modeling how to reflect on their goals.
When teachers transition from holding all the power to giving students more of the power, students will be the ones to benefit. In the article, “4 Ways to Increase Engagement in Distance Learning (and In Person),” Katie Martin states, “When we focus on learners, connect to their interests, needs, and goals, we can create experiences that ignite curiosity, develop passion, and unleash genius.” Therefore, when teachers have clarity and focus on their students as active learners , students will move from being distracted by other things like their phones, to being invested and passionate about driving their own learning.
Amy Berry highlighted a continuum of engagement below in the Distance Learning Playbook that highlights a continuum of both active and passive engagement. Students could be actively disrupting or actively driving, or anywhere in between. The difference in where they are on the continuum of engagement depends on the clarity, experiences, and modeling provided by their teachers that allows them the space to be creative, passionate, and reflective.
In that same vein of reflection and self assessment, where are the majority of your students on the continuum of engagement below?
Elon Musk is an innovative creator of technology that is changing the way we pay for items, travel to and from space, and power homes and cars. How will you focus this year to allow your students to become the drivers of their own engagement? Use this link to share ideas with your colleagues, and together we can find inspiring ways to help develop the necessary strategies our students need to move from the passenger side of the car and into the driver's seat.
Teacher Clarity And Engagement
- Maura Garcia
The Students Love This!
- Melissa Hooper
A Strong Impact Team Is The Greatest Help To New Teachers
- Theresa Mendoza
Patriot High School
Don't Forget To Show Work Examples
- Elizabeth Crespo
Jurupa Valley High School
Lessons From A Student's Perspective
- Valerie Baule
Jurupa Middle School
Impact Teams Continue To Improve Success Criteria
- Jennifer Jiannino
Patriot High School
Want to read more? Click on the link below to see more Teachers' Responses:
Student Clarity Questions
How It Feels
- Aubreana Stover Green
Patriot High School Senior
We also have stations that let us peer edit, self-edit, and she (Theresa Mendoza-Kovich), has a conference with us, gives us feedback before we finalize things and that helps us stay on track with the success criteria.
- Hayley Brown
Patriot High School Senior
We can help each other, supervise each other's work, and we can go up to her (Mendoza-Kovich) and ask her-- she's always right there. She can read it, revise it, give tips and ideas of how we can make it better.
- Ariana Gonzalez-Alcazar
Patriot High School Senior
- Emma Sheets
Patriot High School Freshman
- Lorelei Russell
Patriot High School Freshman
- Miranda Montano
Patriot High School Freshman
- Valerie Feregrino
Patriot High School Senior
Editor's Ending - Sheila Szabo
What Does Empowered Learner Mean?
CTE News - Roberta Pace
CTE and College Credit? Yes, Please!
High School students can meet their vocational arts graduation requirement and earn college credit at the same time. Did you know there are three different ways students can do this in Jurupa?
Articulation is a process in which high school CTE courses are deemed equivalent to college CTE courses through a formal review and agreement. College credit is awarded, at no cost, to students that successfully pass the course according to the terms of the agreement. The credit appears on a student’s college transcript with the same letter grade they received in their high school class. Thirteen of our CTE pathways have coursework were students can earn articulated credit. We have agreements with Riverside Community College District, Mt. San Antonio College, San Bernardino Valley College and Mt. San Jacinto College.
College Classes at the High School
RCC and Norco College offer CTE classes that meet on our campuses and are only open to high school students. These classes take place during the school day and students earn BOTH high school and college credit in Administration of Justice, Cyber Security, or Digital Media/Computer Information Systems free of charge.
College Classes at RCC and Norco College
Many college CTE programs require specialized equipment that cannot be brought to the high school campus. Through a special agreement with RCC and Norco College and using K12 Strong Workforce Program funding, transportation is provided so our students can begin their college studies in Auto Mechanics, Game Design, Manufacturing, or Welding.
- Roberta Pace, Director of College & Career Readiness
SAVE THE DATE
End of 12th Week Reporting Period
Thursday, Oct. 28th, 8-10am
4850 Pedley Road
Jurupa Valley, CA
Mark Your Calendar
- October 20th - Science UOS (8:00-3:30) PDC Training Rm
- October 21st - UOS Integration Meeting (11:45-3:30) PDC Lab
- October 26th - SMPC UOS Meeting (8:00 - 3:30) Parent Center North
- November 2nd - Principals Meeting (8:00-12:00) PDC
- November 11 Veterans Day Holiday
1 (8-oz.) can Crescent dough
3 slices American cheese
12 hot dogs
2 tbsp. melted butter
- Preheat oven to 375° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Separate crescent dough into 4 rectangles, pinching together seams as necessary. Cut each rectangle lengthwise into thin strips.
- Cut each slice of American cheese into 4 strips.
- Place a hot dog on top of a piece of cheese, then wrap with crescent dough to look like bandages. (You’ll need about 4 pieces of crescent dough per hot dog.) Repeat with remaining ingredients.
- Place on prepared baking sheet and brush with melted butter.
- Bake until crescent dough is golden and cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Using a toothpick, dot mustard onto each hot dog to create eyes.
Education Services/Secondary Education
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