May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

On Using Media As a Means to Get Students Future-Ready or Intermediality in the Classroom

Posted: Thursday, November 12th, 2015

by Joseph Calmer

I recently stumbled onto the word “intermediality.” I have never seen this word before, so I did what all our students do now, I Googled it. The outputs were primarily art-based in nature. Intermediality seems to refer to the use of various media types in an art project or performance. I figured I practice this in my classroom. Great, there is a name for it now.

Most of the cases described on the Internet from my search did not describe teaching, but referred to a produced work of some type. The practice of teaching is a production, so I think this novel idea should be shared amongst teachers. Also, I think it is ubiquitous in teaching, just not discussed explicitly. I, and I believe others in the classroom, use various sources of media in our classes, lectures, and activities.

Any teacher who receives emails from list serves, visits blogs, or scrolls through articles on their phone, always has their mind asking the question, “how can I use this in my classroom?” That also means that teachers are using technology in their classroom without recognizing it. I think many teachers use Edmodo, Schoology, Remind, Blackboard, CK-12, or others. I am very accustomed to using Crash Course, PhET simulations, articles, and flash animated websites. There actually are many more that we use. Anyone who has attended a “Google Education” conferences gets inundated with resources.

I pride myself that I can flow through my various Chrome tabs and talk and display the concepts of the lesson with multiple media sources. I think many teachers use sources from media as an engagement tool. Maybe to collect data, maybe even to analyze data (Google Sheets). I would say that “intermediality” describes my teaching and the teaching styles of many teachers.

In reflection about this, I wondered, “why do I use all these various sources?” My answer came to me after I read Kevin Brookhouser’s The 20time Project and he introduced the term “future ready” to me. The reality is that we cannot simply teach students how to solve past problems, they have to be ready, and well equipped, to solve the problems of the future. This means our goals of teaching are different than earlier times of history.

“Future-ready” is a terms that I have been seeing sprinkled around. It seems to refer to the curriculum of a school. This ensures that the instructional materials that are offered to students will enable them to be “future-ready.” It seems that both the California Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) support college and career readiness, but there seems to be more needed. Maybe we should be preparing students to be the thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers of the future. “Future-ready” seems to help convey that point more than “college and career ready.”

As we transition to the NGSS, it is apparent that the NGSS recognizes this and attempts to outline the need to instruct students about science as a process and method of solving problems, rather than a list of facts to be memorized for tests. I think using the notion of intermediality helps current students see and understand topics of science, but at a level that they understand (since current students are practically living digital). Intermediality describes teaching today and helps teachers get students future ready. Intermediality can also help teachers and students see the coherence of science though school and life.

By using YouTube, Google Forms, flash animated websites, games, apps, and the like, teachers would enhance their methods of pedagogy through media use. I think that the notion of intermediality expresses an idea about teaching that should be developed and adopted by (science) teachers. Intermediality creates a virtual space for learning to occur. Students are very comfortable communicating, navigating, and engaging in expression through media. Teachers need to become comfortable with media too.

Joseph Calmer is a physics and chemistry teacher at Lawndale High School and a member of CSTA’s NGSS Committee.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.