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Clarity for Learning - Book Cover

Clarity for Learning

Five Essential Practices That Empower Students and Teachers

By: John Taylor Almarode, Kara L. Vandas

This book presents an instructional framework that provides readers with a systematic means to ensure that both teacher and student clarity is present.
Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781506384696
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2018
  • Page Count: 240
  • Publication date: November 02, 2018

Price: $39.95

Price: $39.95
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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!





John Taylor Almarode photo

John Taylor Almarode

Dr. John Almarode is a bestselling author and has worked with schools, classrooms, and teachers all over the world on the translation and application of the science of learning to the classroom, school, and home environments, and what works best in teaching and learning. He has done so in Australia, Canada, Egypt, England, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Korea, Thailand and all across the United States.

He is an Associate Professor of Education in the College of Education. In 2015, John was awarded the inaugural Sarah Miller Luck Endowed Professorship. In 2021, John was honored with an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia. At James Madison University, he continues to work with pre-service teachers and graduate students, as well as actively pursues his research interests including the science of learning, the design and measurement of classroom environments that promote student engagement and learning.

The work of John and his colleagues has been presented to the United States Congress, Virginia Senate, at the United States Department of Education as well as the Office of Science and Technology Policy at The White House.

John began his career in Augusta County, Virginia, teaching mathematics and science to a wide-range of students. Since then, John has authored multiple articles, reports, book chapters, and eleven books including Captivate, Activate, and Invigorate the Student Brain in Science and Math, Grades 6 - 12 (Corwin Press, 2013), From Snorkelers to Scuba Divers (Corwin Press, 2018), both with Ann Miller, and Visible Learning for Science, with Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie (Corwin Press, 2018). He recently finished a book focusing on clarity, Clarity for Learning, with Kara Vandas (Corwin Press, 2019), as well as Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom, Grades 6 - 8, and Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom, Grades 9 - 12 both with Doug Fisher, Joseph Assof, Sara Moore, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie (Corwin, 2019), all with Corwin Press. Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom, Grades K - 2 and Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom, Grades 3 - 5 with the same author team plus Kateri Thunder hit the shelves in March of 2019. He is also the past co-editor of the Teacher Educator’s Journal.

In 2019, John and his colleagues developed a new framework for developing, implementing, and sustaining professional learning communities: PLC+. Focusing on sustained change in teacher practice, the PLC+ framework builds capacity within teacher-led teams to maximize student learning. The books, PLC+ Better Decisions and Greater Impact by Design, The PLC+ Playbook, Grades K - 12, The PLC+ Activator’s Guide will support this work in schools and classrooms.

John and his colleagues have also focused a lot of attention on the process of implementation – taking evidence-based practices and moving them from intention to implementation, potential to impact through a series of on-your-feet-guides around PLCs,Visible Learning, Visible Teaching, and the SOLO Taxonomy. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, John and his colleagues developed the Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction (SAGE). In November of 2020, Student Learning Communities (ASCD) was released, followed by Great Teaching by Design (Corwin Press), The Success Criteria Playbook (Corwin), an educational textbook on teaching science in the inclusive early childhood classroom, Inclusive Teaching in the Early Childhood Science Classroom (Routledge), and A Quick Guide to Simultaneous, Hybrid, & Blended Learning (Corwin).

Continuing his collaborative work with colleagues on what works best in teaching and learning, How Tutoring Works, Visible Learning in Early Childhood, and How Learning Works, all with Corwin Press, were released in 2021.

Kara L. Vandas photo

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 with Students: Building Ownership of Learning and holds a Master’s degree of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Regis University. She has worked in K-12 education for nearly 20 years with a focus in instruction, curriculum design, using data to drive instruction, science education, learning environments, formative assessment, Visible Learning, and more. She also volunteers as a board member at her child’s local school, where she and her family live in Castle Rock, Colorado. She loves the outdoors and spends much of her free time with family and friends.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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