Pizza, Pedagogy, and the Brain: The SACRED Framework for Teaching and Learning


Pizza, Pedagogy, and the Brain: The SACRED Framework for Teaching and Learning offers educators a set of six brain-based principles that bolster student engagement and deepen learning. Each principle is paired with a series of classroom activities and practical suggestions that make it easy to infuse brain-based learning practices for immediate and profound results. Best of all, the six SACRED principles are analogized to pizza-making, resulting in an easygoing, memorable, and perhaps even mouthwatering foray into the research of how our brains learn best. Buon appetito!

Great chefs and great teachers are born from a combination of experience and education. This is why we often refer to the “art and science” of both cooking and teaching. And while the greats learn from happy accidents, just as they learn from following their intuition, they will be the first to tell you that the science behind the sorcery is indispensable.

This book is intended to serve educators as a “cookbook” that marries classroom practice with learning science. It is brimming with actionable suggestions, activities, and strategies that can be immediately put to use, but it purposes to be more than a collection of dependable recipes. Instead, every strategy is contextualized by an easy-to-remember framework for student engagement that is representative of what we’ve come to understand about teaching and learning through neuroscience, psychology, and education research. The goal is not simply to help you craft a better lesson but to help you better understand the stuff of great lessons so that you might carry those principles forward in every lesson from here on out.

The framework we’ll be using to discuss student engagement and learning is easy to remember, and if you can keep in mind that teaching has long been called “the most sacred profession” (because it is the profession from which all other professions stem), you will have a more challenging time forgetting the SACRED framework than remembering it.

The six components of the SACRED framework are the critical ingredients for quality engagement and learning. They are:

  • Safety
  • Attention
  • Connection
  • Retrieval
  • Executive Function
  • Differentiation

In this book, we’ll talk about pizza and neuroscience. We’ll unpack the practical strategies that have the most potential to enhance engagement and learning in your classroom. And by the time we’re through, you’ll be well equipped with a unifying framework that will transform how you think about teaching and learning.

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Dr. Marc Cicchino is the Director of Innovation at one of the highest rated public school districts in the United States. He is also an adjunct professor at Rutgers University where he teaches writing, research, and game design.