Cognitive science is finding that active, self-directed activities engage the brain in deeper, faster learning than sitting passively in class. At the same time, new teaching methods using online and outdoor learning, project-based and global collaborations, along with 21st Century and Common Core requirements provide opportunities for more active, in-depth learning. Discover how cognitive science, nature and technology are changing teaching and classrooms, increasing student engagement and providing deeper learning experiences.

Explore Ways to Improve Student Engagement:

  • Place, Project-Based and Student-Centered Learning
  • The Cognitive Science of Active, Deeper Learning
  • Creating Self-Directed Learners for the 21st Century
  • How to Engage Brains in the Virtual and Standards Era
  • Using Smart Technology and Flipping Your Classroom
  • Balancing Both Outside Learning with Online Learning
  • Using Nature and Collaboration to Improve Engagement
  • Supporting Student Autonomy, Inquiry and Problem Solving
  • Combining Cognitive Science with Science/Math Learning
  • Rethinking Teacher Roles, Schools and Classrooms
  • Assessing Assessment and Deeper Learning
  • Improving Reading and Language Arts
  • Connecting Common Core to the Brain

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Track Titles & Talks

zhao Engaging World-Class Learners

Yong Zhao, PhD, Presidential Chair; Associate Dean for Global Education, Weinman Professor of Technology, College of Education, University of Oregon; Author, World-Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students (2012) and Catching Up or Leading the Way (2009)

New Basics and New Balance for a New World

Marc R. Prensky, MBA, MAT, Futurist; Game and Learning Designer; Author, Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom (2012), Teaching Digital Natives (2010) and Digital Game-Based Learning (2007); Co-Author, Games and Simulation in Online Learning (2006)


Disrupting Classrooms: The Future of K-12 Blended Learning

Heather Clayton Staker, MBA, Senior Research Fellow in Education, Clayton Christensen Institute; Former Teaching Fellow, Harvard University; Former Member, California State Board of Education; One of the World's Foremost Experts on K-12 blended learning; Named by Scholastic as one of the "Five People to Watch in Education in 2012": Co-Author of the Reports, Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive? (2013), Classifying K-12 Blended Learning (2012), and The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning: Profiles of Emerging Models (2011)


Engaging the Brain: Implications of fMRI Technology

John D.E. Gabrieli, PhD; Grover Hermann Professor in Health Sciences and Technology; Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; Associate Director, Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Co-Author, "When the brain is prepared to learn: Enhancing human learning using real-time fMRI" (2012, Neuroimage)


Blended Classrooms: How Memory Test Reduce Mind Wandering and Improve Online Learning

Karl K. Szpunar, PhD, Doctoral Research Scholar, Harvard University; Co-Author with Renowned Harvard Psychologist Daniel Schacter, "Interpolated memory tests reduce mind wandering and improve learning of online lectures" (2012, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)


Combining Pedagogy, Cognitive Science and Technology to Create Learner-Centered Classrooms

Marsha C. Lovett, PhD, Cognitive Scientist; Professor, Psychology Department, Carnegie Mellon University; Director, Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence; Developer of innovative, educational technologies to promote student learning and metacognition; Co-Author, How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (2010) and "In search of the 'perfect' blend between an instructor and an online course for teaching introductory statistics" (2010, Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on the Teaching of Statistics)


Why School?: Rethinking Teaching and Classrooms for Modern Learners

Will A. Richardson, MA, Member of the National Advisory Council, George Lucas Education Foundation; Author, Why School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information are Everywhere (2012) and Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (2010); Co-Author, Personal Learning Networks (2011)


Flip the Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day

Jonathan Bergmann, MAEd, Lead Technology Facilitator, Joseph Sears School, IL; Pioneer in the Flipped Class Movement; Winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence for Math and Science Teaching (2002); Co-Founder of the Flipped Learning Network, Advisory Board Member of TED Education; Co-Author, Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day (2012)

rekart The Cognitive Classroom: Brain Science and Deep Learning in the Digital Age

Jerome L. Rekart, PhD, Associate Professor, Departments of Education and Psychology; Director, Behavioral Science Laboratory, Rivier University; Former Postdoc, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Member, Windham School Board; Author, The Cognitive Classroom: Using Brain and Cognitive Science to Optimize Student Success (2013)
mehta Designing for Deep Learning: From Classroom, to School, to System

Jal D. Mehta, PhD, Assistant Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Adjunct Faculty, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Contributor, The Futures of School Reform Group Blog, Education Week; Author, The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations, and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling (2013); Co-Author, "Teaching differently... Learning deeply" (2012, Phi Delta Kappan Magazine) and Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings (2005); Co-Editor, The Futures of School Reform (2012)
bebell iPads, 1:1 Computing and MOOCs: Research on the Effects of Blended Technology on Student Engagement and Learning

Damian Bebell, PhD, Assistant Research Professor, Lynch School of Education; Senior Research Associate, Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Education Policy, Boston College; Principal Investigator, edX and Gates Foundation Community College Pilot Project; Principal Investigator, Natick Public School 21st Century Teaching and Learning Study; Co-Author, "One to one computing: A summary of the quantitative results from the Berkshire wireless learning initiative (2010, Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment)

Go Wild!: Promoting Play, Nature and Exercise in Our Schools

John J. Ratey, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Reebok's Ambassador for Active Kids; Author, Go Wild (Upcoming 2014), Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (2008) and A User's Guide to the Brain (2001)


How the Brain Learns: Engaging Experiences, Technology and Collaboration

G. Christian Jernstedt, PhD, Professor Emeritus and Research Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences; Director Emeritus, Center for Educational Outcomes, Dartmouth College; Adjunct Professor of Community and Family Medicine, Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth; Co-Author, "Developing resources to teach and assess the core competencies: A collaborative approach" (2004, Academic Medicine)


The Hybrid Mind: Reconnecting Students with Nature in a Virtual Age

Richard F. Louv, Founder/Chairman Emeritus, Children & Nature Network; Visiting Professor, Clemson University; Author, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in the Virtual Age (2012) and Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (2008)


Welcome to Your Child's Brain: Benefits of Active Learning, Indoors and Outdoors

Samuel Wang, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University; Co-Author, Welcome to Your Child's Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College (2012) and Welcome to Your Brain (2008)


This is Your Brain on Nature: Benefits of Green Time in a World of Screen Time

Alan C. Logan, ND, Scientist; Researcher; Invited Faculty, Harvard University's School of Continuing Medical Education; Co-Author with Harvard Physician Eva M. Selhub, MD, Your Brain on Nature: The Science of Nature's Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality (2012)


Place-Based Education: Test Scores and More than Test Scores

David T. Sobel, MEd, Senior Faculty; Director of Teacher Certification Programs, Department of Education, Antioch University New England; Author, Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors (2011), Childhood and Nature (2008) and Place-Based Education (2005); Co-Author, Place- and Community-Based Education in Schools (2010)


Evolving Kolb's Model: Using Neuroscience Findings to Rethink the Learning Experience

Jeb Schenck, PhD, Adjunct Professor, University of Wyoming; High School Teacher; Winner of the National Science Teacher of the Year, Presidential Award for Science Education, Einstein Distinguished Educator Finalist; Leader of more than 20 mountaineering expeditions including Mt. Everest and Mt. McKinley; Author, Teaching and the Adolescent Brain (2011) Teaching to the Brain, Best Ideas and Best Practices (2008) and Learning, Teaching and the Brain (2003)

tanauweber Andrew Goldsworthy-inspired Nature Sculptures for Outdoor Learning Experiences

Connie Weber, MEd, Learning Group Leader, Future of Learning, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Recipient of the American Teacher Award; and Jennifer Tanau, MFA, Nature Artist, Lower School Art Teacher, Emerson School, MI

kosik Education Faces-off with Technology and Virtual Experiences

Kenneth S. Kosik, MD; Co-Director, Neuroscience Research Institute; Harriman Professor of Neuroscience Research, Dept. of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara; co-author of The Alzheimer Epidemic: How Today's Care Is Failing Millions-and How We Can Do Better (2009)
o'neal How Art Environments Engage Students: Cultivating Real-World Learning

Ivonne Chand O'Neal, MA, Director of Research and Evaluation, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Member, American Psychological Association and American Association of Museums; Former Associate Curator, Museum of Creativity, Milken Family Foundation


Free to Learn: How Children Educate Themselves Through Free Play and Exploration

Peter O. Gray, PhD, Research Professor, Department of Psychology, Boston College; Blogger, Psychology Today and Boston Magazine; Author, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (2013)


Following Your Own Path: How Self-Directed Learning Optimizes the Learning Experience

Todd M. Gureckis, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, New York University; Co-Author, "Is it better to select or to receive? Learning via active and passive hypothesis testing" (2013, Journal of Experimental Psychology) and "Self-directed learning: A cognitive and computational perspective" (2012, Perspectives on Psychological Science)

ostroff Children Are Born to Learn:
Motivation and Engagement from a Developmental Science Perspective

Wendy L. Ostroff, PhD, Associate Professor, Program for the Advancement of Learning, Curry College; Carnegie Scholar, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Stanford University; Author, Understanding How Young Children Learn: Bringing the Science of Child Development to the Classroom (2012)

Neat, But How Do We Use It?: Translating Mind, Brain and Education to the Classroom

David B. Daniel, PhD, Professor, James Madison University; Managing Editor, Mind, Brain and Education Journal; Recipient of the Robert S. Daniel Teaching Excellence Award from the American Psychological Association Division 2; Featured in Princeton Review's 300 Best Professors; Author, "Promising principles: Translating the science of learning to educational practice" (2012, Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition)


Putting the Research on Learning into Practice: A Learner-Centered Approach

Terry J. Doyle, MA, Professor; Ferris State University; Blogger, Learning-Centered Teaching; Co-Author, The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony with Your Brain (2013), Learner Center Teaching: Putting the Research on Learning into Practice (2011) and Helping Students Learn in a Learner-Centered Environment (2008)


Unlocking Student-Directed Learning and Concept Acquisition

Judy A. Willis, MD, MEd, Board-Certified Neurologist; Adjunct Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara; Author, Learning to Love Math (2010) and How Your Child Learns Best: Brain-Friendly Strategies to Ignite Your Child's Learning and Increase School Success (2008)


Empowering Student-Centered Learning with Web and Mobile Technology

Mark Barnes, MEd, Adjunct Professor, Notre Dame College and Lake Erie College; Discovery Education Network Star Educator; Creator of the Results-Only Learning Environment (ROLE), a progressive, student-centered classroom that eliminates all traditional teaching methods; Author, Role Reversal: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom (2013)

kryza Practical Strategies for Actively Engaging All Brains and Learners

Kathleen M. Kryza, MA, CEO, Infinite Horizons; Co-Author, Developing Growth Mindsets in the Inspiring Classroom (2011), Winning Strategies for Test Taking - Grades 3-8 (2009); Differentiating in the Real Classroom (2009), Inspiring Elementary Learners (2008) and Inspiring Secondary Learners (2007)

Fitting the Pieces Together:
Deeper Learning, 21st Century Skills and Learning in Academic Disciplines

Christine M. Massey, PhD, Director of Research and Education, Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, University of Pennsylvania; Member of the "Defining Deeper Learning" Study Committee, National Research Council's Report, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century (2012); Creator, Science for Developing Minds curriculum; Author, Science for Developing Minds (2000)


Blending Real and Virtual Immersive Experiences for Ecosystem Science Learning

Shari J. Metcalf, PhD, Project Director, EcoMUVE (an Ecosystems Multi-User Virtual Environment science curriculum); Project Co-Director, EcoMOBILE (an Ecosystems Mobile Outdoor Blended Immersive Learning Environment for outdoor science projects), Harvard Graduate School of Education


Engaging Young Minds in Science and Mathematics (STEM)

John T. Almarode, PhD, Assistant Professor, College of Education, James Madison University; Former STEM Teacher; Co-Author, Captivate, Activate, and Invigorate the Student Brain in Science and Math, Grades 6-12 (2013) and "Energizing students. Maximizing student attention and engagement in the science classroom" (2008, The Science Teacher)


What Do You Think?: Engaging in Deeper Learning Inside and Outside Classroom Borders

James A. Bellanca, MA, Founder/CEO, International Renewal Institute, Inc.; Executive Director, the Illinois Consortium for 21st Century Skills; Author, The Focus Factor: 8 Essential 21st Century Thinking Skills for Deeper Student Learning (2013); Co-Editor, On Becoming A Self-Directed Learner (2013); Co-Author, Classrooms Without Borders (2011) and 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn (2010)


Essential Questions: Doorways to Deeper Understanding

Jay McTighe, MA, President, Jay McTighe and Associates; Former Director, Maryland Assessment Consortium; Author, Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding (2013); Co-Author, Integrating Differentiated Instruction & Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids (2006)

watersxenakis Making STEM Work in the STEAMworks: Maker Spaces, Math & Inquiry

Patrick Waters, M.Ed, Science, Math and Computer Teacher; Mentor to students with neurological differences, The Monarch School; Leader of the Student Website Committee and the Student blog; and Julia Xenakis, STEM Teacher, The Monarch School

The Science of Individual Assessment

Kurt W. Fischer, PhD; Charles Bigelow Professor; Director, Mind, Brain & Education Program (MBE), Harvard Graduate School of Education; Founding President, International Mind, Brain and Education Society (IMBES); Founding Editor, Mind, Brain and Education Journal; Co-Author, "Mind, Brain and Education" (2012, Students at the Center: Teaching and Learning in the Era of the Common Core)

Wad-Ja-Learn? Engaging Students with Deeper Learning Assessments in the 21st Century

James A. Bellanca, MA, Founder/CEO, International Renewal Institute, Inc.; Executive Director, the Illinois Consortium for 21st Century Skills; Author, Wad-ja-learn? Engaging Students Through Deeper Learning Assessments in 21st Century Classroom (2013); Co-Author, School Leader's Guide to the Common Core (2013) and How to Teaching Thinking Skills Within the Common Core (2012)


Common Core Vocabulary: Getting Critical Words into Long-term Memory

Marilee B. Sprenger, MA, Adjunct Professor, Aurora University, Former Teacher; Member of the American Academy of Neurology; Author, Wiring the Brain for Reading: Brain-Based Strategies for Teaching Literacy (2013) and Brain Based Teaching in the Digital Age (2010)


Connecting Cognition to Common Core Standards

Margaret C. Glick, MEd, Instructor on Cognition and Brain Development, University of La Verne; Educational Consultant, International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) and Cognitive Solutions; Author, The Instructional Leader and the Brain: Using Neuroscience to Inform Practice (2011)


Deep Thinking: Close Reading and Common Core

Kathleen M. Kryza, MA, CEO, Infinite Horizons; Co-Author, Developing Growth Mindsets in the Inspiring Classroom (2011), Winning Strategies for Test Taking - Grades 3-8 (2009); Differentiating in the Real Classroom (2009), Inspiring Elementary Learners (2008) and Inspiring Secondary Learners (2007)


Going Global: Connecting Classrooms and Schools to the World

William Kist, PhD, Associate Professor, Kent State University; Former Director, Commission on Media for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE); Lead Co-Editor for NCTE's Pathways for 21st Century Literacies; Author, The Global School: Connecting Classrooms and Students Around the World (2012) and The Socially Networked Classroom: Teaching in the New Media Age (2009) and New Literacies in Action (2004)


Raising Global IQ: Preparing Students for a Global Community

Carl F. Hobert, LLM, Clinical Instructor, Boston University School of Education; Head of the Axis of Hope Center for International Conflict Management and Prevention; Author, Raising Global IQ: Preparing Our Students for a Shrinking Planet (2013)


Global Understanding: Human Reflection as the Basis of Social Action

Thomas J. Cottle, PhD, Professor, Boston University School of Education; Sociologist; Psychologist; Author, Drawing Life: Narratives and the Sense of Self (2013) and Beyond Self Esteem (2003)


Assessing 21st Century Skills: Thinking, Action and Global Living

Laura M. Greenstein, EdD, Department Chair, Montville Public Schools, Adjunct Professor, University of New Haven and University of Connecticut; Author, Assessing 21st Century Skills (2012) and What Teachers Really Need to Know About Formative Assessment (2010)

chua Educating for Global Competence

Flossie Chua, EdD Candidate, Educational Policy, Leadership & Instructional Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Researcher & Project Coordinator, Interdisciplinary & Global Studies Project, Project Zero; Education Coordinator, Future of Learning Institute 2013, Harvard University; Interdisciplinary Consultant, Art21 Educators; Co-Developer, Global Thinking Routines; Contributor, Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World (2012)