March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

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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Written by California Science Teachers Association

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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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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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.