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March 19, 2013


Common Core Standards and Media Curriculum

by Randy Ziegenfuss

02photoThis article appeared in the March 2013 Newsletter of the 1:1 Institute.

“To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to conduct research and to produce and consume media is embedded into every aspect of today’s curriculum.” ~ from Common Core English Language Arts Standards: Key Design Considerations

Regardless of what your reaction is to the English Language Arts (ELA) Common Core State Standards (CCSS), they promote media and technology use and creation embedded throughout the traditional literacy components of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language. The Media Edge program in the Salisbury Township School District (a Project RED Signature District and Apple Distinguished Program) is a model for how Common Core standards and media and technology can be embedded in a 1:1 laptop-learning environment.

Developed by Mr. Kelly Wetherhold, the Media Edge program provides high school students with the opportunity to use technology to create, innovate, explore and promote critical thought in connection with the CCSS. Students have the opportunity, through project-based learning, to develop many of the skills necessary for college and career success: communication/rhetoric, creativity, critical thought, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, risk-taking, empathy and self-awareness. In the Media Edge program, these skills are developed throughout a series of three courses:

  • Media Studies – Students gain a foundation in media encompassing history, theory and influence.
  • Media Messages – Students are challenged to investigate the psychology of media development and how media affects society.
  • Media Management – Students develop application skills focusing on creating and broadcasting for the school and local community through hands-on work with industry-standard hardware and software.

While the CCSS reflect skills required for college and career readiness, there is room for students and teachers to explore literacy through media more deeply and develop other valuable skills not necessarily addressed through the standards. Throughout the Media Edge curriculum, these opportunities are reflected in six VISION skills:

  • Visionary skills – storyboarding to determine how what we do today impacts tomorrow
  • Inception skills – how to begin with nothing
  • Synthesis skills – how to use technology to create new iterations of ideas
  • Interrogative skills – how to question effectively
  • Openness skills – how to enhance learning through sharing and embracing failure
  • Noticing skills – how to use metaphors and unintended metaphors to critically analyze

Student learning has been strengthened through VISION skills by challenging students to push to the edge of creativity, developing projects and products with the available technology resources and access.  For example, in the Media Messages unit titled “Disclosure,” students were provided the freedom to invent (inception) based on an abstract communication theory. Students developed questions and determined the information most relevant to the presentation and the audience (interrogative). The skill of noticing was exercised and developed as the media students applied a metaphorical lens to their ideas, often comparing and connecting what was learned with familiar objects and ideas. Students then located and defined “status quo” ideas and presentations already available in their world, and then storyboarded new ideas (vision). Once students settled on a vision, they created their product, recognizing that fluidity and openness of thinking are essential to the creation process, that failing is always a way to build for the future, and that positive risk-taking generates new ideas. View a sample project encompassing the VISION skills at

At Salisbury, it is not only important to provide students with access through a personal laptop computer, but to provide students with curricular opportunities based on standards that teach students how to think, not what to think. For more information, contact Kelly Wetherhold at The Media Edge curriculum documents can be reviewed at

This article was written by Randy Ziegenfuss, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning and Kelly Wetherhold, M.Ed., Media Teacher, Salisbury Township School District, Allentown, PA

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1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Mar 20 2013

    Reblogged this on The Media Edge.


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