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Clarity for Learning

Clarity for Learning
Five Essential Practices That Empower Students and Teachers

First Edition

Foreword by John Hattie, Afterword by Larry Ainsworth

November 2018 | 240 pages | Corwin


With the ever-changing landscape of education, teachers and leaders often find themselves searching for clarity in a sea of standards, curriculum resources, and competing priorities. Clarity for Learning offers a simple and doable approach to developing clarity and sharing it with students. Are both teachers and students clear about what must be learned, why students are learning it, and how they can be successful? Are students able to determine their next steps in learning through quality feedback and assessment? Have teachers had the time and support to collaborate around clarity to ensure an aligned approach within your school system?

This book offers five powerful practices that include:

  • Gaining clarity
  • Sharing clarity
  • Feedback with clarity
  • Assessing with clarity
  • Collaborating with clarity

In addition, the book is chock-full of examples from teachers and leaders across North America who have shared their journey, struggles, and successes to provide examples, exemplars, and models for readers to use to propel their own work forward. This is a don’t-miss resource!



Foreword by John Hattie
About the Authors
Chapter 1. The Clarity Problem
What Is the Clarity Problem?

Evidence of the Clarity Problem

Categories of Clarity Problems


Reflection and Next Steps

Chapter 2. Gaining Clarity: Crafting Learning Intentions and Success Criteria
A Personal Account of Clarity From the World of Education

Learning Intentions

Effective Learning Intentions

Common Questions and Misconceptions About Learning Intentions

Generating Learning Intentions From Content Standards

Success Criteria

Effective Success Criteria

Common Questions and Misconceptions About Success Criteria

Generating Success Criteria

Planning as a Next Step

The Litmus Test

Summarizing Gaining Clarity

Reflection, Next Steps, and Evidence

Chapter 3. Gaining Clarity in Action: Voices From the Field
Voices From the Field



Chapter 4. Sharing Clarity: Co-Constructing Success Criteria With Learners
Why Co-Constructing Matters

What Does Co-Constructing Success Criteria Entail?

Steps to Co-Constructing Success Criteria

Goal Setting and Progress

Common Questions and Misconceptions About Co-Constructing

Reflection, Next Steps, and Evidence

Chapter 5. Sharing Clarity in Action: Voices From the Field
Voices From the Field


Chapter 6. Assessing With Clarity: Opportunities to Respond
What Are Opportunities to Respond?

More Than Assessment and Evaluation

Timing the Opportunities to Respond

Characteristics of Opportunities to Respond

Making Thinking Visible

Tasks Versus Exercises

Engaging Scenarios


Reflection and Next Steps

Chapter 7. Assessing With Clarity in Action: Voices From the Field
Voices From the Field


Chapter 8. Feedback With Clarity: Giving and Receiving Feedback on and for Learning
What Is Effective Feedback?

Types of Feedback

The Delivery of the Feedback

Effective Feedback With Effective Delivery

Adjust Feedback for Learners

A Balanced Approach

Reflection and Next Steps

Chapter 9. Feedback With Clarity in Action: Voices From the Field
Voices From the Field


Chapter 10. Collaborating for Clarity in Learning
Charting Your Clarity Journey

Charting Next Steps

The Journey Toward Clarity in Barren County Public Schools

What It Takes to Make Clarity Happen

In the Classroom

In the School or District: Collective Teacher Efficacy and Intentionality in Professional Learning


Put Them Together

Our Clarity Purpose

Chapter 11. Collaborating for Clarity in Learning: Voices in Action
Voices From the Field


Appendix A

Learning Intentions

Success Criteria

Learning Progressions

Co-Constructing Success Criteria

Assessment-Capable Learners (ACL)

Opportunities to Respond


Collective Teacher Efficacy

Appendix B
Afterword by Larry Ainsworth

"Clarity for Learning delivers just what its title promises: a clear and purposeful guide to making a great difference in how your students learn. This book is necessary for any educator who wants to meet their students where they are and show them just how far they can take their learning."

Gayla LeMay, Teacher
Louise Radloff Middle School, GA

"Clarity for Learning provides the scaffolding needed by both novice and experienced educators as they endeavor to make learning more meaningful for students and provide the type of instructional setting that promotes student achievement."

Melissa Miller, Middle School Science Teacher
Randall G Lynch Middle School, AR

"Clarity for Learning is a valuable book for a wide audience and is on its way to making an impact on the effectiveness of American classrooms."

Debra K. Las, Science Teacher,
Rochester Public Schools, ISD #535, MN

John Taylor Almarode

Dr. John Almarode is a bestselling author and an Associate Professor of Education at James Madison University. He was awarded the inaugural Sarah Miller Luck Endowed Professorship in 2015 and received an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia in 2021. Before his academic career, John started as a mathematics and science teacher in Augusta County, Virginia. As an author, John has written multiple educational books focusing on science and mathematics, and he has co-created a new framework for developing, implementing, and sustaining professional learning communities called PLC+. Dr. Almarode's... More About Author

Kara L. Vandas

Kara Vandas is an educator with an enduring passion for empowering learners. She began her career in education at an alternative school for youth at-risk. Kara spent several more years in the classroom in public education as a middle and high school educator and then transitioned to coaching and professional learning positions that allowed her to support teachers and leaders. Her current role as an author and consultant takes her around the world to partner with schools and school districts.  She also presents nationally and internationally at conferences, with a focus on learner agency and efficacy.Kara is the co-author of Partnering... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781506384696