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Get Students Active in Your Classroom: Encourage Student Engagement during Active Learning Week 2017


During the week of October 23–27, educators are encouraged to take part in Active Learning Week by using at least 10 minutes of classroom time for active learning strategies.

Active learning strategies are those in which students engage through reading, writing, thinking, and problem-solving and include experiences such as:

  • Conducting scientific research to help students understand the practice of science, technology, and engineering and promote deep learning;
  • Demonstrations that allow students to predict results and compare their predictions to observed behavior; and
  • Think-pair-share activities to encourage learners to reflect, process, and discuss ideas with peers.

An active learning technique can be as simple as using small group discussions for problem-solving, asking students to write down a question they have following a lesson, or allowing time for self-assessment and reflection by the students.

Science NetLinks offers a number of active learning strategies in our resources. Every lesson includes a motivation section, which encourages students to engage with a subject, usually as a group, before acquiring new knowledge. Once students are warmed up for learning, we encourage a variety of techniques for engaging students in the learning process, such as:

  • You might synthesize the learning acquired from a book by asking students to explore some of the key messages, such as in The Magic Schoolbus and the Climate Challenge (3-5), where students collaborate on a song or rap. Or you could do a group circle story, which works particularly well with younger children, such as in A Seabird in the Forest (3-5). Or students could role-play, such as in Estimation and Measurement (K-2).
  • In Faster Higher Smarter (6-8), students participate in a tabletop sports competition, then learn the science behind a variety of sports innovations, before returning to create revisions to their game.
  • Think-pair-share activities—in which students consider a topic on their own, discuss it with a classmate or small group, and then present their thoughts in a larger group discussion—are an easy way to build active learning into a lesson. Science NetLinks incorporates that strategy into a variety of lessons, including Magnets 1 (3-5), Earthquakes (6-8), and Belonging to a Group (9-12).
  • Marble Mania (3-5) and Slush Rush (3-5) both use Flash-based interactives to model prediction, while Big Egg Mystery (3-5), Sink It (3-5), and Wonderful Waves (K-2) rely on hands-on prediction activities.
  • Our Inventing Green collection (6-12) highlights a more complex assortment of resources that offer a framework, teaching strategies, and student activities related to innovation and engineering. Active-learning techniques include using case studies, doing research, and then designing, building, and evaluating prototypes for solutions to real-world problems.

Additionally, check out all of our hands-on lessons for even more active learning ideas!


In addition to implementing an active learning strategy, Active Learning Week will also provide an opportunity to engage in conversations about using active-learning strategies in classrooms. AAAS will host a free webinar with Jo Handelsman, Director of Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at University of Wisconsin-Madison, on Friday, October 27, at noon. She will discuss The Evidence Base for Active Learning, including the power of research courses for learning and building students' identities as scientists.

Additional free webinars will be held throughout Active Learning Week. You can learn more here.

Active Learning Week is brought to you by AAAS, American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Public Land-grant Universities (APLU), and 100Kin10.

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