Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Indiana High School Psychology Teachers annual conference!

The Indiana High School Psychology Teachers Association’s 16th annual conference is right around the corner!

This year’s conference will be held in the IUPUI Campus Center (Room 405) from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Friday, October 3rd. It is open to all high school psychology teachers within the state of Indiana.

Date: Friday, October 3, 2014
Time 9am-3pm
Location: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Registration cost: $30 (registration deadline September 22)
Registration Link

Details: Come and enjoy the opportunity to meet and network with your teaching colleagues at IUPUI in an atmosphere designed to:
  • sharpen your pedagogical skills,
  • enable you to share your teaching techniques with your peers, and
  • develop collegial relationships with your fellow psychology teachers.
If you are willing to present a classroom demonstration or share an online resource at the conference, please send an e-mail message to Amanda Vanderbur at avanderbur@zcs.k12.in.us.

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, September 15, 2014


The annual Utah-Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (UTOPSS) Fall Conference is coming up soon!  There is still time to register.

Who: All high school Psychology teachers are invited to attend! Please invite any new psychology faculty on your staff or in your district.

Where: Westminster College; 1840 S. 1300 E., SLC, UT; Gore Auditorium, room 112

What: Come for a full day of learning and collaboration!

When: Friday, October 3, 2014 from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm

Why: Come and get reenergized for the new school year! There is a wonderful day planned. Look for the bios of our guest speakers online at www.westminstercollege.edu/UTOPSS.

· Rethinking Reform: Positive Psychology and Education
   Randy Ernst–Lincoln Public Schools, NE
· Experiential Metaphors in the Psychology Classroom
Dr. Ellen Behrens–Westminster College
· Competency-Based Education in Psychology Courses
Dr. Ellen Behrens & Dr. Jen Simonds- Westminster College
· Participant Idea Share
Annette Nielsen-Woods Cross High School
· “What I Wished I Had Learned in High School”
   Student panel-Westminster College

How: Go to www.westminstercollege.edu/UTOPSS to register and pay conference dues. Registration is $50.00 and is due September 26 (after that date, registration is $60.00).

If you have any questions, please contact me at kwhitlock@dsdmail.net.

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A new Phineas Gage movie

Today marks the 166th anniversary of Phineas Gage's horrific accident while working on a railroad crew in Cavendish, Vermont. I am sure you are all familiar with what happened that day, and if you are a longtime reader of the blog, surely you know that I am a wee bit obsessed with this story.

I am delighted to learn of the new movie Gage, which focuses on the interactions between Gage and his physician, Dr. John Martyn Harlow. I contacted co-producer Alyssa Roehrenbeck to learn more about the film, and this is what she shared with me:
The film really focuses on the relationship between Phineas and his Doctor, and showcases how Dr. Harlow sees the world reacting to Phineas (now that he is no longer Phineas according to society). Instead of focusing on changes in Phineas per se, it depicts the change in attitude towards him ... We've tried to remain as factually true to the real story of Gage as we can, but also know that in order to make a film, there has to be a "story" - so we've worked to imagine the relationship with Harlow and how that came to be and flourished, as well as how Gage may or may not have behaved after the accident. 

What makes this even more fascinating to me is that Roehrenbeck told me that director Keith Wilhelm Kopp is an Army veteran, and is focusing on the story of Phineas Gage as a victim of a traumatic brain injury as many modern day soldiers are. Kopp was inspired by witnessing some of his buddies in similar circumstances as Gage. And this is where the story takes a more interesting turn:
Ultimately, we are looking for the funding to take the film we already have and add to it with interviews from neuroscientists, psychologists and soldiers returning from the middle east to make a docu-drama about traumatic brain injury... Interestingly, we were sponsored by the United States Veteran's Artist Alliance (http://www.usvaa.org/) and wound up with over 50% of cast and crew also being veterans. We'd love to air the docu-drama on Discovery Channel, BBC, or even PBS.  We are in works to plan other screenings at colleges in the UK and the states, and also have several film festival submissions in, and are just waiting to hear if we got in. 
Below is the film's trailer (or use this Vimeo link), then share your thoughts in the comments below. For more information the film's Facebook page. Thanks to Alyssa Roehrenbeck for sharing this information with me, and to Keith Wilhelm Kopp for making this film.

GAGE TRAILER from Mike Marchlewski on Vimeo.

--posted by Steve

Friday, September 5, 2014

Webcasts from APA!

 The APA and TOPSS are organizing two webcasts that look like they might be VERY useful for high school psych teachers:
  • The great Barney Beins (Research methods textbook author! AP Psych reader! Long-time friend of high school Psych! Good guy!) is presenting "APA Online Psychology Laboratory: Experiments and Demos to Engage your Students" on Sep. 12 at 1:00 eastern time. This time probably conflicts with most teaching responsibilities, but there should be a video posted after the webinar. Barney is one of the smartest fellows I know, an expert in research methodology, and a fabulous presenter, so I think this will be a great webcast!
  • On Sep. 23rd, Eric Chudler will present "Neuroethics and Neurotechnology" (7:00 p.m. EST) Many of us have used Dr. Chudler's "Neuroscience for Kids" website for years, and his explanations/demonstrations of complex neurological research findings are always clear and understandable. I predict this will be another great webcast!
By the way, if you aren't yet a member of TOPSS, what's holding you back? Webcasts like these from the APA are a great example of the research-based, accessible materials that TOPSS provides - please consider joining!

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, September 1, 2014

Motor and sensory cortex activities

Yesterday I spotted these posts on BrainFacts.org. It looks like they are taken from a NSTA presentation by two professors, with one video and set of activities on the motor cortex, and another on the sensory cortex. Good activity to do in class with creating and using the two-point discrimination probes.

Part one: http://bit.ly/1uluycZ (goes to brainfacts.org - I shortened the really long link)
Part two: http://bit.ly/1rIUfaE

(Though one wonders how one would "enliven your chemistry or physics lessons" with this information. No mention of high school psychology either. Sheesh.)

--posted by Steve

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Bloom Stuff" and "Maslow Stuff"

I stumbled across this picture (via Twitter, retweeted originally from @DocbobLA) and this quote/idea reasonates with me: I believe that if we don't attend to the "Maslow stuff" with students (e.g. sense of belonging/trust, etc.) we won't be able to even get to the "Bloom stuff" (e.g. analysis, synthesis, other critical thinking skills).

In my district, I get to co-present with other administrators on the topic "Relationship Matters." The main idea of that presentation supports the claim this quote makes: relationships are the "oxygen" in teaching/learning situations. Positive relationships have to be in place before learning can occur - they are the atmosphere teachers and learners breathe and operate in.

I think I've always had and operated on that belief as a teacher, but I've never thought about the belief in this "Bloom and Maslow" context before. I'd love to hear from other psych teachers about
  • whether or not the quotes "fits" with your teaching (or not!) 
  • how you attend to "Maslow and Bloom" stuff in your classroom
  • possible connections to the motivation unit? If this quote is true for learning, maybe it could be the basic idea behind some really interesting discussions/activities during the motivation unit?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Friday, August 22, 2014

To Type or not to Type: Is that the Question?

Last week several of us had a fascinating discussion via Twitter about the advantages/disadvantages of taking notes on computers or by hand on paper. 

The whole discussion started when Heather Chambers (@irishteach on Twitter) tweeted a question about the advantages and disadvantages of getting students to use computers for notes, or if they are better off handwriting notes.

I responded a few days later with an article I found: "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages ofLonghand Over Laptop Note Taking" These authors found that students who took notes by hand tended to summarize ideas in their own words rather than type quotes verbatim, leading to deeper processing, better encoding, and better recall. Our twitter community chatted about the implications for a while and then Dr. Chew chimed in (@SChewPsych - he's our resident expert on studying research) and said: 

So what should we tell students about how to take notes? The most important factor seems to be that students need to PROCESS ideas AS they take notes, not mindlessly write things down. It's easier to mindlessly write things down when they are using a computer (it's faster!) so students need to learn HOW to take better notes, no matter what method they use. The memory chapter is a PERFECT opportunity to help students learn this! Psych teachers can demonstrate the power of deep processing in note taking via mini-classroom experiments! Heather hit the nail on the head, and I hope our community continues exploring her question:

Note about Twitter: If you're not yet a Twitter user (don't call us Twits! :) , consider giving it a try! After you create an account, you can search for the hashtag #psychat in the search window, and you'll see a thriving conversation and dozens of psych teachers' accounts to follow!

image source: http://fremdeng.ning.com/profiles/blogs/online-replacing-paperback - labelled for reuse, creative commons

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, August 17, 2014

First Day Activities

So what should we do on the first day?  Here are some ideas:

I posted a couple activities to my Google Drive.  Included are:

  • a couple docs that Louis Schmier posted some time ago about establishing trust in the classroom
  • Dr. Drew Appleby's activity on memory and created connections within schemas--an adapted PPT file I use on the first or second day
  • A Psych True/False PPT Activity based upon chapters from the book, 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology by Scott O. Lilienfeld, et al
  • A "Psych or Not" PowerPoint I created a few years ago

Feel free to check these out, use, and adapt as needed.  There is some personalization in the PPT files.

I was going back through some files from the 1990s.  Yes, I am old.  I found a file that had day one mingle activities that require little to no set up.  I do not know who shared these or what the origins were.  I do know the ideas are very cool, depending upon your class goals.


For my first day interest-generating activity, I use a "mingle" format where they walk around the room introducing themselves to each other, at least five others anyway, except that they can't use any names or grade levels or usual items. Instead, they must introduce themselves by 1) what they ate for breakfast, 2) their weight, or 3) their zodiac sign:
***"Hi, I'm yogurt and frozen waffles, who are you?"***

This generates fun and laughs, then we sit down and discuss it. I ask what interesting aspects of human behavior they noticed during the mingle. Typical observations will bring up excellent items for brief comment on by way of connecting real-life scientific research that will be covered later in the class. Examples:
- Most of the girls didn't say their weight (gender differences, cultural norms, body image, interpersonal attraction, etc.)
- Some people knew the zodiac stuff really well, and other people didn't 
     (pseudoscience, magical thinking, parapsychology, experimental methods)
- A lot of people had nothing for breakfast (memory, cognition, applied vs. basic research, human development, longevity, etc.)
- Most people only introduced themselves to people sitting close to them already, even though we all had to stand up and move around   

     (propinquity effect, familiarity, out-group homogeneity, introversion vs. extraversion, etc.)
- It felt uncomfortable to do a familiar activity in a different way
     (schemas, social norms, interpersonal distance zones, elements of humor, ...) 


....usually I will tell them about my background and why I teach this class and on the second day we begin to have fun
...I have had them interview others and introduce the person to the class
...we arrange people according to birth date, age, without speaking
...we balance a ball on a 30 strings with a ring in the middle and challenge other classes
...we do a history of psychology on a string line ending with each of them
...we go on a blind walk
...we jump rope in a cooperative manner and competitive manner
...we discuss why they chose this class
...we discuss my best first day, when my son was born one of the first days of school (some students have said it was their best day as well when I was not there on the first day)
...we have discussed who was out best teacher and why
...we have formed a line over 60 feet long and passed our books from a storeroom into the class
...we have all cried when it was announced a teacher we had all known had died the day before...

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Start of the year! Woot! (and Crash Course videos!)

Howdy psych teachers! School started in my district yesterday - if you've started, hope you are having a great beginning!

I never expected this to happen, but I think my 12 year old shared a great psychology teaching resource with me! She asked me if I ever watched the "Crash Course" videos on YouTube, and whether or not I thought the psychology ones are any good.

I think they are very good! Hank Green (brother of John Green, who students and teachers may recognize as the author of The Fault in our Stars, and the narrator of other Crash Course videos) races through some great psych topics on the videos, including research methods, S&P, consciousness, and others. There are 17 videos so far in the psychology video collection:

The videos might be useful in psych classrooms as introductions to topics, or summaries, or possibly students could "check" Hank Green's summaries and connect his analysis with terms/concepts/studies from their textbook.

Last note: the online video system EdPuzzle might be useful as a way to insert questions into these (and other!) videos. If any of you use these videos, please sound off in the comments and let us know how it goes!

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Friday, July 18, 2014

Brainless or will the ten percent myth ever die

By now you no doubt have seen the trailer for the soon to be released movie Lucy, staring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freemen - and if you haven't surely your students have, and some will see the movie. If you have you know that the key concept is that the character played by Johansson has a drug of some sort implanted in her body, and when it begins to leak, it begins to give her super powers.

Why? Because this drug heightens her cognitive abilities, and since "we only use 10% of our brains," Lucy now has the ability to use much more of her brain to become this seemingly unstoppable force.

UGH. UGH. UGH. Psychology teachers have to know that this is a myth, and we must teach it to our students, particularly in light of this movie. If you need some resources to use in class, here's an excellent article from the Wall Street Journal by Chris Chabris and Daniel Simon (yes, the Invisible Gorilla guys), and here's an phenomenally good TED ED video by Richard Cytowic (yes, the synaesthesia guy who wrote The Man Who Tasted Shapes).

But what really drew my ire yesterday was this tweet from one of my favorite new science writers, Jordan Gaines Lewis:

WHAT??? How can this be? Surely this has been a mistake, so I tried to track down the source. I looked in the Chabris and Simon article and found this:

These "neuromyths," along with others, were presented to 242 primary and secondary school teachers in the Netherlands and the U.K. as part of a study by Sanne Dekker and colleagues at VU University Amsterdam and Bristol University, and just published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. They found that 47% of the teachers believed the 10% myth.
This can't be right, can it? So I tracked down the journal article - which fortunately you can to, since it's open access - and this is exactly what researchers Sanne Dekker, Nikki C. Lee, Paul Howard-Jones and Jelle Jolles found. What is amazing is that in the appendix to this article the researchers publish the entire list of 32 statements that they used, and they are perfect for use in the classroom. PERFECT. I will not copy and paste them here, but I strongly urge you to visit the article and get those statements to use in your classroom. Maybe even as some sort of pre-test and post-test around your bio unit? (Used formatively, naturally.)

What else can we do? Just what I'm doing now: using this movie to my advantage. I'm using this moment to remind you about this myth, and I think that you and I should spend time in our classes this fall introducing the factual evidence of what neuroscience research has given us to confront these stereotypes. And we may also want to do this in a faculty meeting, since if the research above is valid, our own colleagues may be just as clueless about the truth here. Use this as a springboard!

And as for me, will I see the movie? Oh, you betcha, though I'm probably going to wait for it to show up on Netflix. (I've been a huge fan of director Luc Besson since Leon and The Fifth Element.) What about you? Will you see it, and in what ways can you think to use this as a teachable moment in your classroom?

--posted by Steve