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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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