Celebrate, Inspire, Grow

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vol.1 - edition 2: October 2021

Welcome to Secondary to None, JUSD’s Secondary Education newsletter designed to celebrate, inspire, and grow our practice and results. Editions will include timely information, research, and high-impact strategies in teachers’ classrooms. A focusing theme will spotlight edition features, including this month's topic--Teacher Clarity. Thank you for taking the time to explore Secondary to None, to consider new ideas or practices (or simply to affirm your own effective ones), and most importantly, thank you for contributing to this newsletter. JUSD teachers and staff are the inspiration, as we aim to highlight your classrooms and students.
Success Criteria

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):

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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

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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)

d = 0.60

Self-Verbalization & Questioning (link to more information)

d = 0.59

Feedback (link to more information)

d = 0.62



d = 0.84

Self-Regulation (link to more information)

d = 0.52

Assessment Capable Learners (link to more information)

d = 1.33

Evaluation & Reflection (link to more information)

d = 0.75

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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 😊:
Teachers and students are in the throes of learning now two-months into the school year. The pandemic effects are enormous. No single response or strategy can reverse the trauma, but this one can certainly help—teacher AND student clarity. Thank you to the many who are crafting their expertise around this high yield practice. This edition aims to highlight and learn from you, as well as from others on this important topic. Enjoy…

Principal's Place

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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?

Teacher Clarity

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?

As part of the learning process, students must first ask, “where am I going?” But if all they hear from us is a series of “blah, blah, blah,” they’re only going to feel confusion and frustration. This is not conducive to moving student learning forward. In fact, it makes learning go backwards! Thus, we need clarity of what students will learn and how they will know when they have learned it. Only then can students answer the question of where they are going. Additionally, it has been shown that teacher clarity can increase student engagement and motivation (Roksa et al., 2016) and decrease test anxiety (Rodger et al., 2007) in students, which can positively affect student learning outcomes. communicating this clearly with our students so they too have clarity about the learning and can monitor their progress towards mastery.

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)

Let’s stop expecting our students to aimlessly translate our “blah, blah, blah” and bring clarity to our classroom. We can start with the development of learning intentions and success criteria. Here’s how.
Impact Teams: Clarity through Unpacking

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.

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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)

Sharing Clarity with Students: 15 Ways to Co-Construct Success Criteria (Vandas, 2021)

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)

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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?

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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

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Baby Steps!

In math, a common question is “when am I going to ever use this?” Teacher clarity helps answer that question or eliminate it altogether. Students are told WHY they are learning and how they can successfully apply their learning. That’s what I like about this teaching approach.

- Maura Garcia


The Students Love This!

They feel heard and important. They also enjoy being involved in their learning process and it provides another level of clarity because the success criteria is in student friendly language.

- Melissa Hooper


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A Strong Impact Team Is The Greatest Help To New Teachers

By modeling via mentor texts and having clear success criteria, my students are better able to take ownership of their own learning. Not only do they they do this by setting their own learning goals, but also by improving their work through the revision process. Each of them need clarity to grow and excel. In clearly expressing the path to growing and learning, their journey continues, showing them that "mastery" is not an end point but an ongoing effort toward learning.

- Theresa Mendoza

Patriot High School

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Don't Forget To Show Work Examples

The benefits of co-constructing a success criteria with my students is that they gain a better understanding of what is expected of them from an assignment. As teachers we are not always as clear as we think we are in our expectations so my students have helped me communicate my expectations better on assignments and assessments.

- Elizabeth Crespo

Jurupa Valley High School

Lessons From A Student's Perspective

I think the important shift is including students in the loop. The whole class can then share common vocabulary such as: Learning Intention, Success Criteria, Self-Assessment and Formative Assessment. This allows them to see the route learning takes and shows them a map to content mastery.

- Valerie Baule

Jurupa Middle School

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Impact Teams Continue To Improve Success Criteria

You are a professional and you have just as much value to add to the conversation within your collaborative IMPACT teams as more experienced teachers-- maybe even more. Everybody contributing their own strength is what makes the process so powerful. Schools need to look no further than the professional resources they have under their own roof in the select fields to make impactful change.

- Jennifer Jiannino

Patriot High School

Want to read more? Click on the link below to see more Teachers' Responses:

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Student Clarity Questions

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How It Feels

It makes me feel more like it's not a classroom where you absolutely have to do, but more like 'I'm doing this as more of a learning experience and a chance to grow'. It's great to see my own progress.

- Aubreana Stover Green

Patriot High School Senior

Less Pressure

There's a lot less pressure and more freedom (as opposed to) being weighed down by grades, and this class is way different. We're determining our own grade.

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

Structured Learning

We're going to analyze the paragraph, build it up, and we could use the chart that she showed us in the notes as well.

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


I like it because it gives me a guide. That's how I end up working better and I can work at a better pace that way because I don't have to keep asking questions.

- Emma Sheets

Patriot High School Freshman


There's no one around you telling you what to do-- if you're wrong or right. It feels nice that way.

- Lorelei Russell

Patriot High School Freshman

Teacher Appreciation

I like the way Ms. Jiannino explains things. Every question she explains more throughout and she makes this class really fun. I like being in charge of my own learning.

- Miranda Montano

Patriot High School Freshman


I like having challenges. It feels good.

- Valerie Feregrino

Patriot High School Senior

Editor's Ending - Sheila Szabo

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What Does Empowered Learner Mean?

Having had the privilege of spending time talking to high school students about their experiences with Success Criteria, I became very aware of the word "empowerment." Here's what a quick search of the word's meaning produced: the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights. How does that translate into education? Look at the key words: stronger, more confident. These are the words I would use to describe the vibe I picked up from the amazing students here in JUSD. They may not be wearing capes, but you can clearly see their superhero powers when it comes to taking control of their own learning, forging their own concept of acquiring knowledge, and taking responsibility as the future adults they're training to become. Each student I spoke with was quick to respond that they regarded Success Criteria favorably and they preferred it over traditional learning practices. The freedom and control they possess because of Success Criteria was inspiring and a glimmer of hope that our future will be a brighter place. Impact Teams are a huge credit to that success as they work tirelessly to improve the standards in which we teach our kids. Thank you, JUSD Teachers, Admin, and Staff for collaborating in this transformation. Your efforts have created the invisible cape each of our students possess!

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?

Articulated Credit

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


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

Sheila's Showcase

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Mummy Hotdogs

Want to have a fun party platter for all the ghouls and goblins this Halloween? Try this recipe for Mummy Hotdogs that's sure to be a "wrap"-- with puff pastry.


1 (8-oz.) can Crescent dough

3 slices American cheese

12 hot dogs

2 tbsp. melted butter

Dijon mustard


  1. 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.
  2. Cut each slice of American cheese into 4 strips.
  3. 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.
  4. Place on prepared baking sheet and brush with melted butter.
  5. Bake until crescent dough is golden and cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. Using a toothpick, dot mustard onto each hot dog to create eyes.

Education Services/Secondary Education

Do you have feedback or thoughts for future editions?

Want to nominate a teacher or staff member for a featured highlight?

Do you have artwork, a fun side gig, or accomplishment you'd like to showcase?

Write us all about it to sheila_szabo@jusd.k12.ca.us