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Clarity about the learning

For students to progress confidently and be responsible for their learning, it is essential that teacher and students have shared clarity about what is to be learnt. They need to be clear about the big picture of learning, and the day-by-day learning steps towards it.

"For students truly to be able to take responsibility for their learning, both teacher and students need to be very clear about what is being learnt, and how they should go about it. When learning and the path towards it are clear, research shows that there a number of important shifts for students. Their motivation improves, they stay on-task, their behaviour improves and they are able to take more responsibility for their learning."

Absolum, M. (2006). 'Clarity in the Classroom'.

Essential components

Teacher sharing success criteria with students.

The essential components of clarity are:

  • learning intentions (goals, aims, achievement objectives or whatever it is you would like to name them)
  • relevance
  • examples and modelling
  • success criteria
  • checking for understanding.

When there is shared clarity in the classroom, both teacher and students are able to describe:

  • what is to be learnt – using learning intentions
  • how the learning intention relates to the “big ideas” or global intentions
  • how the learning is relevant
  • how students will go about the learning
  • how students will know it has been learnt – using success criteria.

When these are in place, what exists is a partnership between teacher and students, where:

  • planning reflects student needs 
  • learning intentions and success criteria are jointly constructed 
  • learning intentions capture the depth of learning at an appropriate level for each student 
  • the teacher has sufficient depth of understanding of the specified curriculum and its progressions of learning to work with any student to identify his/her next learning step.

As fundamental to the success of the learning and teaching process, the teacher frequently checks students’ understanding of the intended learning and whether it meets the students’ expectations and needs.

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