All of the lessons on the ENSI site involve (and expect) active learning (or interactive learning) that is student-centered. This involves frequent use of “Think-Pair-Share” strategies and other tools. If you are not familiar with how to do this, or would like some help to implement or improve interactive learning in your classroom, then this collection of “Active Learning” teaching strategies is a “must” for you.

Evidence from research is included in this series of video clips, showing how active learning is so much more effective than lecturing. Be sure to watch those clips. They are very compelling. See them at <>. Initial access requires a free registration for teachers.

I was especially impressed with the Think-Pair-Share video clip with Professor Kimberly Tanner (at SFSU) demonstrating the process and providing a number of helpful tips for being even more effective in using this strategy. Be sure to prepare and practice these ideas in your classroom ASAP. If you haven’t used active learning techniques in your classroom, I think you’ll be blown away.

Below is the letter from the iBiology project Director, Laurence Clement at UCSF. He explains the project and offers free access by all teachers to the first module of iBiology’s “Scientific Teaching Series,” focusing on “Active Learning.” Keep in mind that, although this program is addressed to biology teachers, these techniques can certainly be used in any class where you want students to solve problems, think critically, or analyze and apply information to new situations.

By the way, when you see material on using "Clickers" on the iBiology site, and you don't have clickers, consider using the "Poor-Teacher's" version: Flash Check Cards. There is also a developing smart phone/ smart pad app for doing (more effectively and privately) essentially what the Flash Check Cards do. It's called Plickers. Take a look at this app - try it in your class. If so, please let us know (here at ENSI) how well it works for you.

Hi everyone,

I am pleased to announce the launch of the first module of iBiology's Scientific Teaching Series, which focuses on *Active Learning* and can be found at

The *Scientific Teaching Series* project was developed by iBiology to provide undergraduate biology faculty with the tools to design and implement a student-centered curriculum using evidence-based pedagogy.

Course Directors Malcolm Campbell (Davidson College), Kimberly Tanner (San Francisco State University) and Bill Wood (University of Colorado Boulder) designed the first module of the series on Active Learning. Dozens of undergraduate instructors from a range of institutions and from different initiatives participated in the project and shared their experience and classroom footage.

This series of short videos was developed for graduate students, postdocs and new instructors who have little or no teaching experience, as well as for experienced educators who have limited access to training opportunities in scientific teaching, or may be unaware of AAAS and NSF's call for transforming undergraduate biology education.

All iBiology videos are free and are shared under a Creative Commons license, allowing instructors to use them for workshops and other non-commercial purposes. is a project supported by the American Society for Cell Biology and the University of California, San Francisco and funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Science Foundation, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Interactive versions of these videos as well as new videos on Scientific Teaching will be released later this year. If you would like to find out about new releases, please sign-up to the iBiology newsletter:

If you have any questions about the series, please feel free to contact us at

Laurence Clement
Laurence Clement, PhD
Associate Director, iBiology
The American Society for Cell Biology
University of California, San Francisco

1. Active Learning
is widely used in all ENSI lesson. A good place to start doing this is in your introduction to the nature of science (NOS). Click here for materials to explicitly teach the nature of science (NOS). This unit meets ALL expectations for NOS in the NGSS and Common Core. Uses several of the NOS lessons on the ENSI site, which are integrated with this text supplement: Science Surprises: Exploring the Nature of Science. Text is 8th grade reading level. It corrects many of the common misconceptions about what science does and how it does it. It also explains and provides practice in critical and skeptical thinking, especially as applied to science vs pseudoscience. Get the free Teaching Guide and sample of the eBook: Science Surprises.

2. Also, click here for review of Douglas Allchin’s book: Teaching the Nature of Science: Perspectives & Resources. These materials nicely extend the Science Surprises NOS focus/theme throughout your course.  The author explains and provides examples and resources for using authentic science historical narratives to effectively engage students. Strategies are easily applicable throughout your course.