Understanding Learning

Memory Systems and the Brain

Professional Development
Graduate Credits: 


This 3-session workshop explores how the effectiveness of our teaching can be maximized by understanding how the brain’s memory systems work in learning. With this basis, our instructional decisions become more directly connected to what furthers student learning, and we can troubleshoot individual student's challenges more astutely. We become "learning specialists." English learners, students with special needs, as well as generally struggling students particularly benefit from teachers who have "learning specialist" perspective.
Participants in this training will leave more confident in their ability to understand and successfully teach struggling learners, design more brain-compatible lessons, and maximize student engagement.
Among other topics, this workshop will explore:

  • Some basic brain-and-learning principles
  • The impact of culture on memory and learning
  • Mediated Learning Experiences
  • Working memory, the conscious space of our minds
  • Executive functions, cognitive tools humans have to self-regulate, organize and direct attention
  • Semantic memory, the storehouse of our knowledge of the world (where we “know”)
  • The importance at school of recoding direct experience into language for generalization and transfer
  • Difficulty versus complexity—how are they different, and which is better to stress in teaching struggling learners?
  • The 2 kinds of practice, what differentiates them, and when to use them
  • Applying gaming principles to design more engaging academic tasks

Audience and Grade Level

Teachers and Administrators; Grades K-12


22.5 PDPs or 1 graduate credit will be awarded to participants upon completion of these three days of training. Graduate credit is available through Fitchburg State University at an additional cost of $220. Graduate credit registration and payment occurs at the first section meeting, and payment can be made by credit card or check at that time.

Note that these PDPs will satisfy the ELL or Special Education-related requirement for recertification.


Future training dates will be announced here. If you have questions or are interested in offering this training on-site, please contact us.


  • Ken Pransky has been a teacher and teacher educator for 35 years in the US and abroad, teaching, coaching, and training, specializing in helping teachers work with struggling learners, including English learners.

For more information, contact:
Events Coordinator
413.586.4900 x5981


A maximum class size is set for each course and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. If the number of registrations for a course exceeds the maximum seats available or is too low to be able to conduct a quality learning experience, CES will inform you of available options.

Course Cancellation

If you wish to cancel your registration, please submit a request in writing (via mail, email or fax) no later than 7 business days before the workshop’s start date. After that, there are no refunds or billing adjustments.

In the event that a course is cancelled by the Collaborative for Educational Services, we will notify you as soon as possible. Please be sure to provide your best email address and phone number so we can contact you. Although every effort is made to avoid last minute cancellations, if an emergency arises, we will do our best to reach you at the phone number and email address you provide. 

Inclement Weather

Any delays or cancellations are posted online at collaborative.org. You may also call 413.588.5979 after 6:30am for information about classes that day.