Documentary Film on Connection between Learning & the Brain featuring Assoc. Prof. Vicky Krug

Date Published: March 20, 2017

YOUNGWOOD, PA.—In her classes at Westmoreland County Community College, Assistant Professor Vicky Krug uses a novel teaching method informed by the brain sciences which is the subject of a documentary film, “Grey Matters: Teaching the Way the Brain Learns,” which will be screened at 6 p.m., March 29 in Commissioners Hall, at the college’s Youngwood campus.

Grey Matters: Teaching the Way the Brain Learns follows three public school teachers, including Krug, who teaches developmental reading and writing, as they use the Brain Targeted Teaching Model in their classrooms.  

The Brain Targeted Teaching Model, developed by Dr. Mariale Hardiman, interim dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, is a model of best practices, informed by research from the brain sciences.

"Brain Targeted Teaching has impacted my approach to teaching and learning so profoundly,” said Krug.

 “The model permeates through everything that I do. I witness excitement, deep engagement and recognition of relevance of content in my students since implementing this model."

The first step in the process of executing the model is teachers having students make an emotional connection to what they’re learning.

“The brain looks for patterns all the time,” said Hardiman, who created the Neuro-Education Initiative when she joined the School of Education in 2006. “The physical environment is an important factor in students’ attendant behavior and their engagement. I tell teachers to make their classrooms as homey as possible.”

Content standards and objectives are designed using graphics to show students the connections between the skills, content and concepts they’ll be learning.

“Try putting together a jigsaw puzzle without seeing the picture on the outside of the box. The various pieces of the puzzle wouldn’t make much sense to you, and yet that’s what we do to kids all the time,” said Hardiman. “We give them activities, but we never give them the big picture—why the activities are important or where they’re leading, or how they were built from their prior knowledge.

Once students demonstrate a mastery of content, teachers design activities that enable their students to apply the acquired knowledge in real-world settings.

“Real learning is when you apply knowledge,” said Hardiman, who is the author of The Brain-Targeted Teaching Model for 21st Century Schools, published in 2012 by Corwin. “The teachers themselves are not only taught what to do in the classroom, but why they’re doing it. And they understand why they’re doing it from the basis of how children think and learn.”
The film was produced and directed by Ramona Persaud who spent a year observing teachers using the model in classrooms across the United States.

A panel discussion will immediately follow the film screening. Panelists include Krug, Persaud, and Westmoreland faculty: Nancy Rustic, assistant professor, Early Childhood Education and Kathy Mendus Dlugos, associate professor of art.

Admission to the screening is free but reservations are recommended. To make a reservation visit:

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