September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.