Learning and Memory: The Brain in Action

Learning and Memory: The Brain in Action

Learning and Memory: The Brain in Action

Learning and Memory: The Brain in Action


Brain research is much in the news, but what is its relevance in the classroom? Are there ways to take what brain researchers are discovering about learning and memory and apply it to the situations that educators face every day? Practicing teacher and author Marilee Sprenger tells how to do just that in this book. Sprenger has spent years studying neurological research and training other educators in brain compatible teaching methods. This background, combined with her long career as a classroom teacher, has given her priceless knowledge of what works in a multitude of classroom situations.

Current brain research is as amazing as it can be confusing. This book discusses in plain terms the structure, function, and development of the human brain. The author describes the five "memory lanes"--semantic, episodic, procedural, automatic, and emotional--and tells how they function in learning and memory. She offers dozens of practical suggestions for teaching and assessing in brain-compatible ways.

Bridging the gap between theory and practice, the book offers valid, usable, "What you can do on Monday" ideas to incorporate into the classroom. This is an approach to brain research that educators at all levels can apply in their daily work.


In the late 1980s, I realized that my students weren’t learning as easily or eagerly as they had in previous years. For some reason, they were changing—and my techniques and attitudes were not. My first approach to this dilemma was to get them to “change back,” to fit my teaching model. I finally discovered that the only person I could change was myself. So I started searching for information. I took classes on discipline, parenting, self-esteem, and music. I researched learning styles, talked to child psychologists, and read anything I could about the brain.

In 1992 I signed up for a five-day graduate class with brain “guru” and author Eric Jensen. During that week I discovered my new passion—the human brain. Eric asked if I wanted to travel with him and be trained in presenting workshops on braincompatible strategies for teaching. I was reluctant to leave my husband, Scott, and our children for part of the summer. I was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois, attended Bradley University in Peoria, and married my high school sweetheart. The thought of traveling with a stranger from California was frightening for this Midwestern woman. So I declined.

After watching me pout for several days, my very understanding and supportive husband said the words that would change my life: “If you don’t go, nothing will ever change.” I called Eric and asked if I could still join him. He said yes. After training with him that summer, I began my own research and designed other classes on brain research and teaching strategies. I have been training educators in practical, brain-compatible teaching strategies every summer and available weekend since then.

My research on the brain continued. I began to see what a powerful factor the research had become in my classroom and in my personal life. Getting up in the morning and going to school became a joy for me once again. I realized the importance of this information and began teaching my students how their brains worked, so they could become better learners. I found that my students looked forward to growing new dendrites and strengthening their synapses!

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