This learning sequence is linked to VCE Biology Unit 3: Area of Study 2; Outcome 2: How do cells communicate?, of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) Biology Study Design (2017-2021).

Intracellular communication

Teaching sequence for: VCE Biology Unit 3, Area of Study 2, Outcome 2

4 modules

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The stimulus response model can allude some students for the inability to have a hands-on experience. Under the microscope we see cells as having a nucleus and a dark circular shape because it is very dense, while the membrane is seen because it refracts light. Otherwise, organelles and the cytoskeleton are not seen without staining, not to mention proteins, other molecules and ions.

This four-module sequence is an attempt to present a contextualised inquiry based unit that links the research of a contemporary team of scientists for cell signalling to be explored in. There are four opportunities to explore intra cell-signalling while module 4 allows students to study the inter-cellular, cell-cell and tissue-tissue systems.

Drama is used in an explain and elaborate phase as a bodily-kinaesthetic teaching pedagogy. Other activities involve exploring the wide world of science and technology investigating types of therapies and immunofluorescence. Personal stories are linked into engage parts of lessons and, think-pair-share and whole class brain storms are encouraged to explore students’ funds of knowledge in addition to their imagination. One of the difficulties in developing this resource and I think is a criticism of the VCE Biology Curriculum, is that due to the amount of assessable content to be taught in the lesson time available in year 12, contextualised learning experiences where authentic explorative and elaborative activities are used as a pedagogy must be constrained.

Sequence Outline

The modules are inquiry based and based on constructivist learning principles within the 5E constructivist pedagogical model developed by the Australian Academy of Science (AAS). Module 1 sets the context, module 2 and 3 explore the stimulus response model and module 4 explores cellular signalling.

Sequence 1: Intra-cellular communication

Links to the Victorian Curriculum

VCE Biology (2017-2021), Unit 3: How do cells maintain life, Area of Study 2, Outcome 2: How do cells communicate?

Key Knowledge

Cellular Signals


Professor Leigh Ackland tells us her story and about her research on metastatic Breast Cancer

Getting to know Leigh Ackland, her story, role, highlights and challenges
Cellular Signalling – Metastatic Breast Cancer features and treatment


Ackland, M.L., Newgreen, D.F., Fridman, M., Waltham, M.C., Arvanitis, A., Minichiello, J., Price, J.T. and Thompson, E.W., 2003. Epidermal growth factor-induced epithelio-mesenchymal transition in human breast carcinoma cells. Laboratory investigation, 83(3), pp.435-448.

Vogel, W. H. (2015). Analogies in Oncology: Explanations Made Easier. Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology, 6(2), 173–176.

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Thanks to the following for contributing to the development of these sequences: