Apr 09, 2021

Teacher Clarity and Student Clarity | Grant Wood A E A Saturday Snippets

Teacher Clarity, Student Clarity, and Blended & Personalized Learning

Here's another Saturday Snippet from Grant Wood Area Education Agency literacy consultants, Jess and Chris! Don't forget, if you missed a Snippet you can always find them archived here.

Teacher clarity supports effective teaching and learning. When we are clear about what students need to know and be able to do as a result of being in our classrooms, blending and personalizing instruction can happen in incredibly meaningful ways. A collective focus on the following four questions can lead to high levels of teacher clarity:

  1. What do students need to know?
  2. Why do they need to know it?
  3. How does my teaching support the outcome(s)? 
  4. How will I know when they’ve learned?

Let’s take a closer look at these four critical teacher clarity questions:

Question #1: 

In Literacy, the ELA standards are the foundation for answering the question, “What do students need to know?”. Helpful tools to support these conversations about critical grade level learning can be found here:

Question #2: 

Answering the question, “WHY do they need to know it?” requires us to think about the purpose & relevance. It allows us to ensure a focus on the learning that needs to take place, rather than the activity, tool, or assignment. (Doug Fisher)

     The established purpose focuses on student learning, rather than an activity, assignment, or task.

Question #3: 

Here, we must consider the cognitive complexity required by the standards and how we will address that level of complexity and rigor through our instructional practices, tasks, assignments, and assessments. Critical, too, is that meaningful feedback mentioned in last week’s snippet. This question, “How does my teaching support the outcomes?” ensures that our teaching stays focused and aligned to what students need to know and be able to do. This Edutopia article discusses depth of knowledge (DOK) in the classroom, providing more information about complexity and rigor.

Question #4: 

Using the first three questions to establish success criteria supports the answering of the question, “How will I know when they’ve learned?”. This question is less about the assessment and more about what success in learning will look like. Students can show what they know in many different ways. If we are clear on what success looks like, we can more easily personalize opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know and can do. 

The work to create true teacher clarity begins with the standards and can lead to highly effective blended and personalized lessons and classrooms. Consider, too, how teacher clarity can support the development of student clarity & ownership as discussed by Erikka & Laura in March.

To dig even deeper, check out this recorded webinar from Doug Fisher and John Almarode focusing on Teacher and Student Clarity! And, as always, contact your Grant Wood AEA literacy consultant for additional information and support!