Thursday, December 30, 2010

Upgrade your tech skills today!

If you are a regular reader of THSP I'm guessing you have some degree of comfort level with technology. Today's post is about a web site that will give you great ideas about how to use technology, both for yourself and in your classroom, and show you how to do it in a very easy manner.

Sue Frantz teaches psychology at Highline Community College near Seattle, and is an amazing technology guru. She has a new website at but under the name Techology for Teachers this sit has been around for a while. I subscribe to her RSS feed and every week she posts something else that I am vaguely aware of but don't know much about, or she describes how she uses something that I know about but didn't really know how to implement. For example, here are some posts that she has done in the past month:
There are many more examples here, but clearly this should show you that Sue is a genius. My advice is to learn from her and then nonchalantly display your knowledge to others at your school. They will think you are brilliant and you'll just smile knowingly. (Not sure if Sue has a tip jar, but she may want to add that feature!)

P.S. Still wondering what that thing at the top is? It's called a QR code and someone can use a mobile phone's camera plus a code-reading app to read the code and go right to a URL without having to know the URL. Cool, huh? The one above was generated for THSP and when scanned will go right to our site. (And yes, I learned about this from Sue Frantz!)

  --posted by Steve

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Visual Jokes in Art History

Psychologists were not the first people to be interested in visual illusions nor the use of illusions or multiple interpretations within a painting.  The January 2011 issue of Smithsonian has a great article called "Feast for the Eyes" along with pictures about the artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo who did such work for the Hapsburg dynasty (in the 1500s) who had humor enough to appreciate his work.  Check out the article at the link above-quite fascinating.

If you like the work of Arcimboldo, check out his complete works on this site.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, December 27, 2010

Attribution Error and the Quest for Teacher Quality

This post may be of limited "classroom" use to everyone, but I thought it was an intriguing example of an application of social psychological principles. In her article "Attribution Error and the Quest for Teacher Quality" (Educational Researcher, 39 (8), pg. 591) Mary Kennedy argues that many researchers investigating "teacher quality" may be committing the fundamental attribution error.

Dr. Kennedy's explanation and support for this idea are fleshed out very clearly in the article, but here's a quick summary of the basic idea: Researchers looking into "teacher quality" primarily use data about personal characteristics (e.g. years of experience, certifications received, degrees attained, licensure test scores, etc.) as variables in studying teacher quality. They rarely (ever?) include situational factors (available resources, planning time, intrusions into instructional time, etc.) in their research. Kennedy says "We study teachers' credentials because we can . . . Researchers are limited by the circumstances of their funding agencies, which may hesitate to pay the cost of gathering these difficult to define and difficult to measure variables."

What are the implications of the error in this context? I suspect no one knows, but until Teacher Quality studies include situational factors, can researchers really claim to know what factors are associated with "good teaching"?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Music in Psychology Class--A Different Way to Approach Things

Most of us have seen the items on the listservs about lists of music that go with particular units.  Some of us use the music as a transition into class.  Some of use show the lyrics on the board/screen while the students listen to the song, adding observations or comments afterward.  A nice little combination, a free one, can be found on

The first example here is The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.  The poster has already printed the lyrics for you/us.  Some concept ideas include schema, the role of individual in society, perception,  states of consciousness, communication, hearing versus listening, and more.

A perennial favorite of my students is the Green Day song, Basketcase.  This song questions the writer's sanity while he is reaching out for help.  Some great psych idea are used including "neurosis," perception/misperception, therapy, dream interpretation, the role of drugs in interpreting reality, and more. 

As with anything from the internet, I would caution that you view everything first prior to sharing it with your students.  While they may be superficially mature and sophisticated, they are still children and we have an obligation to screen and contextualize everything we do with them.  Also, each community has different standards--what may be usable and successful in one class may not work in another school. 

There will be more of these posts coming up with some of my personal favorites.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Los Angeles Brain Bee is Seeking High School Contestants!

I'm delighted to share this information from Amy Sweetman.

The Los Angeles Brain Bee is Seeking High School Contestants!

The Los Angeles Brain Bee is just one of many national neuroscience competitions for High School Students that are held across the nation.  Students study a 70 page booklet that is written by the Society for Neuroscience and demonstrate their learning at their local Brain Bee Challenge.  Currently there are over 70 competitions held across the nation.   

The competition consists of a full day of neuroscience learning opportunities and gives students a chance to practice their speaking skills as well as making a great addition to their college applications.  This is the 3rd year of our competition, but we need candidates.  

The competition is sponsored by UCLA Brain Research Institute, USC Neurogenetic Institute and Los Angeles City College.  Please see our activity schedule below.  Students do NOT need a coach, no teacher involvement is required.  

All information can be found at the website  contact Amy Sweetman
8:30 am arrival and refreshments
9:00 am introduction of candidates
9:15 am Scavenger Hunt/ Brain Storming Activities
10:00 am Written Portion of the test
10:45 am Anatomy Practicum by Interaxon
11:00 am Understanding CT scans by Save a Brain Foundation
11:30 am Guest Lecture
12:30 pm Lunch Break
1:30 pm Interaxon Neuroscience Panel
2:15 pm Announcement of finalists 2nd round of Brain Bee Jeopardy format
3:00 pm Announcement of finalists for 3rd round
3:30-4:00 pm Winner is determined

Part of the contest involves students studying from a book prepared by the Downloadable book from the Society for Neuroscience  The book itself looks to be a potentially good review for neuroscience issues in AP Psychology.  Be sure to check it out.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

A Natural History of the Senses

A Natural History of the Senses is an excellent book by Diane Ackerman.  You may wonder why I share this book from 1990 now.  If you appreciate words and writers' views of the world along with fantastic turns of phrase, this book is for you.  If you teach psychology within a Humanities department, this book will be an excellent resource.

She, of course, takes from the writings of many sources dealing with all the senses.  Perhaps my favorite is when she examines how "bad smells" are dealt with medically.  Apparently, the Merck Manual has a category on flatulence.  Whether she is citing sweetness of smell or something musky or acrid, Diane Ackerman shares with the reader a delightful romp through history, psychology, and literature to enlighten us as to how people have perceived and used the senses in their daily lives.  A good read and worth quoting in class.

Below are two other excellent books related to psychology from Diane Ackerman:

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Value of Self-Reflection--Thank You to Beth Lewis

I share the ideas here from Beth Lewis at  Her words are incredibly important to those of us in the profession.  I give her full and complete credit for the ideas below.  I just wanted to make sure my fellow psychology instructors also saw these.

The Value of Self-Reflection - Any Time Of Year, It's Important To Self-Reflect

Examining What Worked And What Failed In The Past Can Lead To Future Triumphs

By , Guide
In a profession as challenging as teaching, honest self-reflection is key. That means that we must regularly examine what has worked and what hasn't in the classroom, despite how painful it can sometimes be to look in the mirror. Then take your answers and turn them into positive, resolute statements that give you concrete goals on which to focus immediately. Be honest, work hard, and watch your teaching transform for the better!

Ask Yourself These Tough Questions - And Be Honest!

  • Where did I fail as a teacher in the past? Where did I succeed?
  • What is my top teaching goal for the coming year?
  • What can I do to make my teaching more fun while adding to my students' learning and enjoyment?
  • What can I do to be more proactive in my professional development?
  • What resentments do I need to resolve in order to move forward more optimistically and with a fresh mind?
  • What types of students do I tend to ignore or do I need to spend more time serving?
  • Which lessons or units am I only continuing to perform out of habit or laziness?
  • Am I being a cooperative member of my grade level team?
  • Are there any aspects of the profession that I am ignoring out of fear of change or lack of knowledge? (i.e. technology)
  • How can I increase valuable parental involvement?
  • Have I done enough to foster a productive relationship with my administrator?
  • Do I still enjoy teaching? If not, what can I do to increase my enjoyment in my chosen profession?
  • Do I bring additional stress upon myself? If so, how can I decrease or eliminate it.
  • How have my beliefs about learning and pedagogy changed over the years?
  • What minor and/or major changes can I make to my academic program in order to directly increase my students' learning?

What Happens If You Refuse To Self-Reflect

Put earnest effort and pure intention into your self-reflection. You don't want to be one of those stagnant teachers that drably presents the same ineffective and outdated lessons year after year. The unexamined teaching career can lead to becoming just a glorified babysitter, stuck in a rut and no longer enjoying your job! Times change, perspectives change, and you must change in order to adapt and remain relevant in the ever-changing world of education.
Often it's difficult to get motivated to change when you have tenure and "can't be fired" but that's precisely why you must undertake this effort on your own. Think about it while you're driving or doing the dishes. It doesn't matter where you self-reflect, only that you do it earnestly and energetically.
snip snip

Posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Taylor Mali--"What Teachers Make"

I could have sworn I posted this earlier, but my memory must be tricking me.  Here is former teacher and current poet Taylor Mali performing, "What Teachers Make."

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Arts and Letters Daily (great website)

When I have time, I love to go to the website, Arts and Letters Daily for some intellectual challenge.   They link to articles, book reviews, and essays and opinion.  Each link contains a brief intro to help the reader decide if it is worth checking out.  Their archives go back to 1998.  Along the left side column there are links to sites they draw from, web radio, and other favorites of the editors.  The site is updated six times a week.  Here are some psych-related links that are on the front page just from today's edition.  The site is an incredibly rich source for virtually anything.

What makes music sad?
The Case Against Peer Review in Scientific Research
An Interview in the Economist With Oliver Sacks
The Truth About Suicide Bombers
In Defense of Disgust
How Weird is Consciousness?

Put this site in your favorites--you will be glad you did.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, December 20, 2010

Google Books Ngram Viewer - Research tool?

Michael Sandler sent me a link to this Boston Globe article about how researchers are using a new tool, Google Books Ngram Viewer, to examine social/cultural trends in language use.

The Ngram viewer graphs the occurrence of any word/phrase you type in across the 15 million books Google has scanned into their database. You can even enter multiple phrases to get multiple lines.

This interactive link from the Boston Globe article is a good "taste" of what the Ngram Viewer can do (the Boston-centric bias of the terms included in the graph made me laugh too :) but I had fun just diving into the actual Ngram viewer and typing in some phrases. The phrase "high school psychology" has interesting peaks and valleys!

I liked this quote from the Boston Globe article: "Going forward, digital humanities researchers have increasingly powerful tools, but the challenge will be interpretation — finding links between quantity and meaning." This might be a good "angle" to use in a psych class during research methods: What research method(s) would students use along with Ngram viewer to try to get at "links between quantity and meaning"? Naturalistic Observation researchers have been grappling with this question for years, right?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Power of Silence

Late yesterday afternoon, my neighborhood lost power due to a "winter" storm.  All told, we were without power for about four hours.  For me, it was four hours of bliss.  I went to the mailbox, seeing several neighbors who had come outside to see if they were alone in the powerlessness.  I then walked to the garage, grabbed a couple of fire logs, and built myself a fire.

I was no longer connected to the interwebs; the tv was not working; and there was no hum from the fridge or from the air purifier.  I refused to put on the earphones of my iPod.  I listened to the rain as it got darker and the fog rolled in.  That, in combination with the fire were, to me, priceless--one of those times when my needs were met with some outside event.

You see, I need silence.  I need solitude.  When I was growing up, I had a series of ear infections and ear aches that cost me part of my ability to hear.  I was 75% deaf in one ear, 50% in the other.  I started school one year later than the other kids because of this.  When I was ten, I had surgery to put a little blue tube in each ear drum to release the fluid build up.  I could not swim for a year and had to keep water out of my ears (had to wear earplugs during showers).  The days after the surgery were the most intense pain I've ever felt--I lay on the couch having ear drops used to lessen the pain.  But I could hear things I'd never heard before--the birds, the traffic, the sounds that we all try to put out of our consciousness, but without which we would feel somewhat empty.  This was part of my introduction to silence by choice versus imposed silence.

My students seemingly need noise, distraction, something to grab at their attention, rarely listening to the voices in their heads (the self-talk kind, not the hallucinatory kind).  When I tell them I need silence from time to time, they look at me like I am crazy.  I tell them that time moves differently when there is silence--it goes more slowly and I can do more of what I need to do, including think. 

I did some cursory research on the issue and found not nearly enough to my liking.  There were many items on meditation and prayer and the power of silence in relation to those practices.  There was even a little about American culture and how Americans tend not to like silence--we will fill up silence with words rather than let the silence sit there, lingering.

As I write this, I am reminded of a story Desmond Morris told of an African tribal group where women did not speak for about six months (if I recall correctly) as a method of mourning the loss of a loved one.  They had developed a wealth of signs to communicate, but speaking was forbidden.

I recall a radio interview some years ago with an author who explained that people who cannot handle silence cannot handle the thoughts that are in their own head.  I do not know of research, but that sounds intuitively true.  In our culture, our children are growing up increasingly distracted--I have students who are very uncomfortable just sitting still during or after an exam.  "Can I listen to my iPod. . .please?" are the plaintive cries, especially this past week during finals. I often think to myself, "What are you afraid of with the silence?  Will it hurt you?  Do you not like what you will find in the world without external noise?  Are you afraid of your inner voice?  Are you so addicted to distractions that it hurts to have silence?"  And I wonder on.

What can one do with this topic in class?  I offer some suggestions:
  1. Explain the importance of silence both in terms of culture (social psychology) and in terms of perception--how does time perception change?  You could do a demonstration with students closing their eyes--you will not tell them how long--have them estimate how long--then tell them the actual time.  Discuss implications of this perception change.
  2. Have the students listen to the sounds of the classroom--can they hear the buzz of the lights?  Can they hear traffic (my classroom is at one of the busiest corners in town)?  Can they hear the shuffling of papers, the crinkling of gum or candy wrappers?  Are they aware of how much noise they themselves make each time they move?  Can they hear their own joints creak when they move (maybe that is just for the teachers)?
  3. Find a film clip(s) or use a willing student as a demonstration in a discussion--how to use silence to set people off guard.  How uncomfortable do we get when people just look at us without saying anything?  It's amazing how much of our insecurity we project into situations when we expect someone else to say something.
  4. Ask students for their own examples of when silence has changed their view of an experience or a conversation.
  5. Try watching a film clip or a sporting event without the sound of the announcers or the crowd--how much does sound fill us up emotionally and send us context clues as to how to respond?
  6. Talk with your local sign-language teacher about the role silence plays in the life of a deaf person--how is the world different for them?
  7. Have students write about how their lives would be different if there were no longer sounds in their lives?  
  8. I'm certain there are dozens more ideas--please feel free to add them in the comments section.

All in all, sound and silence is a fascinating set of topics.  During your vacation (or at least time away from school) I wish for you time to sit in quiet and time to reflect on all the good you do in your work with children. 

Some links for further reading--these are highly rated books that deal with the role of silence in our lives.

A paper that discusses how different cultures use silence in the communication process

Can Silence be Eloquent?
The Eight Core Values of the Japanese Businessman: Toward an Understanding of Japanese Management
A book about Japanese business that has a section on the importance of silence

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

TV alert: 60 Minutes

 Tonight's 60 Minutes looks right up our alley: an entire hour on people who have "superior autobiographical memory." These people, including the actress Marilu Henner, have the uncanny ability to recall exactly what they were doing or what was happening in the world virtually every day of their lives. According to the preview info, recent research with MRIs suggest people with this ability tend to have larger temporal lobes.

Can't wait to see this one! Be sure to comment below if you watch it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Serious Games!

We've posted about psychological aspects of games before, but in a recent comment Michael Britt (of "The Psych Files") posted a link to a Prezi "Games and Learning" presentation he created. In the presentation Michael addresses (among other topics) "Serious Games" and recent research about how playing games can deepen learning experiences.

I recently got to hear critical thinking researcher Diane Halpern speak about a Serious Game she's helping develop to promote/teach scientific reasoning: Operation Aries. The game is in development, but the YouTube clip is intriguing.

Do you incorporate "gaming" into your course somehow? How?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Google Body Browser

Google recently released the Google Body Browser - kind of like "Google Earth" for our inner spaces. When I went to the site to try it out, I was informed that I needed a newer/better browser (I usually use Firefox), but the site worked well after I downloaded Google Chrome.

I haven't played with it much, but I like what I see so far. It seems like a well thought out and thorough body atlas (what else would we expect from Google, eh?). I liked "swooping" to different brain structures and the labels feature is nice. It seems to work well with discrete, named brain structures (e.g. hippocampus, amygdala), but less well with general areas of the brain (e.g. frontal lobes).

I'm sure the Whole Brain Atlas is more complete, but I think I'd like using the Google Body Browser with students. Opinions?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Puzzles, games, memory and more puzzles!

Have you seen the Science section of the New York Times today? Holy moley! There's an incredible array of articles, interviews, videos and interactive games that are just begging to be squeezed into a unit on cognition or memory, or at the very least as filler for 15 minutes. Among the highlights:
And there is so much more, on topics like jigsaw puzzles, mind-bending puzzles (which came first, the chicken or the egg?), and a great essay on puzzles by the usually mute magician Teller of Penn & Teller. Enjoy solving!

  --posted by Steve

*In a future post I'll discuss one of my claims to fame: I've had five crossword puzzles published in the New York Times! If you have questions about how puzzles are made (or why anyone would even attempt to do it) let me know and I'll address them in my post.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Multitasking or Task-Switching?

A previous post on this blog referenced a great NYT article about attention, focus, and "multitasking" ("Ear plugs to Lasers")

Since reading that article, I feel like I keep seeing good articles about the "myth of multitasking" (this is a good reference list, I think). The general idea of "multitasking" is so pervasive and impacts all our students (and us!) so it might make for a great discussion topic whenever you tackle selective attention? When would it "fit" in your classes?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stereotype Threat and Social Costs of Academic Achievement

Researchers from the University of Colorado recently demonstrated that a simple intervention, a 15 minute writing exercise, essentially "closed" the gender achievement gap on a physics assessment. I read about this simple and elegant study demonstrating the power of stereotype threat on test scores on the same day I read Daniel Willingham's excellent summary of "The Social Costs of Academic Achievement"

This might be a tough (but important?) topic to discuss with students in a psychology class, but maybe its more important that we talk about it with our colleagues. We all read and hear about how the importance of "closing the achievement gaps" between ethnicities. How much of these "gaps" can be accounted for by a combination of stereotype threat and the social cost of “acting white” as described by Willingham?

And, more importantly, what can we do about it?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, November 28, 2010

On Happiness and Long Life: Dan Buettner-Another NPR Find

On this morning's NPR Weekend Edition show, I caught a piece of an interview with Dan Buettner, a researcher examining why people are happy (or unhappy) in an interview titled, "How To 'Thrive': Dan Buettner's Secrets Of Happiness."

He's recently published some fascinating results that had me sitting there in the car with the engine running rather than taking my groceries inside-you know, typical NPR.  His results are cross-cultural, examining people from Denmark, Singapore and the US.  The happiest people are just over an hour away from me in San Luis Obispo, California where they had taken steps back in the 70s to focus on quality of life rather than commerce.  It seems to have paid some 'happy' dividends.  Buettner also examines the myriad factors that go into happiness including health, financial security, sunshine, location, vacation time, jobs we love (or not), and more.  Check out the story at the link above.  

Below is a YouTube link for a speech to a TED conference.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks

Please forgive the possible cheesiness of this blog entry's title.  As we approach this particular holiday, I'd like to share a couple of thoughts I have every year at this time and a personal perspective.  First is that I am thankful for my health and happiness along with the people in my life.  I am also thankful for having a full-time job that I love and am happy to go to nearly every day and work with teenagers who benefit from my work.  I live in arguably the most gorgeous part of the nation near both mountains and the ocean.  I am also thankful for having the opportunity to be a part of this blog and working with the tremendously talented, intelligent and committed colleagues with whom I work with on this endeavor.

However, I do not "celebrate" Thanksgiving.  Every year, I have the same discussion with my various classes--"what are you doing for Thanksgiving?"  My reply is that I do not celebrate that national holiday.  The first response is that they are aghast with horror that I could possibly not celebrate any and every potential holiday that is available.  I explain that I am thankful for all the positives and challenges in my life on a daily basis and that  I do not need a date that someone else gives me to be thankful and grateful (and that I do not endorse or celebrate genocide, whether intentional or not).  I also do not celebrate my birthday--I do for others, but mine holds no special place in my heart.  I give gifts to myself and the people I care about throughout the year when I think the time is right.  For those who know me well, they "get" me and understand.  No worries. 
I find that a daily "thanksgiving" makes me more aware and appreciative of all I have and a peace at a deeper level.  With this daily attitude, I find that I am nicer, more forgiving, and more loving.  I do not appreciate just the larger, grand aspects of life.  I am grateful for the small things, like the smile of the cashier at the grocery store, the wave of a person letting me go in traffic, a student thanking me for helping, as well as waking up to the awareness that I have more than everything I need to live a happy life.   I look around at the people in Haiti, the Sudan, Afghanistan, and in other places around the world and re-realize that I have a tremendously fortunate existence.  I may complain from time to time, but my focus is generally upon the positives which, in turn, reduces my ability to be angry and resentful.

After our discussions, my students seem to acknowledge the merit of my choice not to eat turkey and spend time with my family (the closest is 2000 miles away).  I spend the time doing the things that I want to do--they are private and personal.  Ultimately, they may be confused or disagree with my choices, but they are my choices, not anyone else's.  I am comfortable with that.

If you'd like some good reading to raise your spirits, check out Louis Schmier's Random Thoughts.   You will find either inspiration there.  Here is another blog extolling the virtues of being actively thankful.

During this brief time away from the classroom, I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday weekend.  May you have all the free time, football, turkey, family, food, hugs, and smiles you can handle.  Make it a tremendous weekend and thanks to you all for reading our blog.

Chuck Schallhorn

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rob Gonsalves--Artist We All Know, But Don't

If you have been teaching psychology for very long, you've undoubtedly run into the work of Rob Gonsalves, a Canadian painter whose work is quite well known for the illusions that it contains.  Below are some samples.  A large portion of his work can be found at this link on Discover Galleries.

There are dozens more on the website linked above.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brain: The Inside Story

New York's American Museum of Natural History opens a new exhibition on November 20 called Brain: The Inside Story. According to the accompanying website the exhibit features these amazing components:
  • a dramatic 6-foot-tall homunculus, a human figure with abnormal proportion that highlight how much of the brain is devoted to the sense of touch in different parts of the body; 
  • a multimedia video piece with a clear resin brain that lights-up the functional areas used by a student dancer as visitors view a video that follows her while she auditions for Julliard 
  • an engaging neuron gesture table that shows how brain cells connect and communicate with each other
  • a glowing 8-foot-tall model of the subcortical brain (the region that includes evolutionarily “older” parts like the brain stem and cerebellum) that, by connections to exhibits, illustrates how the brain processes language, memory, and decision-making
  • a deep-brain stimulation implant, the first of its kind on display in a museum
  • a “brain lounge” where visitors can watch scans of the brain of a New York Knicks shooting guard as he reacts to the whoosh of the net and the roar of the crowd and see how the brains of musicians light up to classical and rock music. 
The website itself also has some terrific features including videos, interactive games (geared more toward younger kids) and a special site for teachers that includes an educators guide. If you check out the exhibit itself or just poke around the website, please comment below to let everyone know what you liked. The exhibit runs through August 15, 2011.

  --posted by Steve

Figure-Ground Artwork--3-dimensional

Scene360 has another nice set of examples of art that have figure-ground aspects built into them.  Great art.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Faces on Walls--from Scene360

This next site has the work of the graffiti artist Alexandre Farto (a.k.a. Vhils) who makes portraits by removing parts of walls and the use of paints.  The 3-D effect seems dramatic in this 2-D representation

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

What to Say & Not Say to Someone With Depression

Great article I found while perusing link is from The original info is from Excellent advice.

Posted by Chuck Schalllhorn

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hero and Villain on

While searching for something else, I ran across this set of illusions/ambigrams that contain both the heroes and villains in the drawings.  The artist is Simon Page.  The site is

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hidden Meanings in Popular Logos

Just discovered a blog site called "Wallet Pop" while looking for some visual illusions in popular culture.  That was when I ran across this beauty: Hidden Meanings in Popular Logos on

This site also explains why the logos are special.  I claim no ownership of this idea, but am happy to share their collection of images that I know your kids will find fascinating.  In the Fed Ex logo, there is an arrow in the ground of the Ex figure. 

In this next image, the Big Ten created an "11" in the ground when they added Penn State. I've looked at that logo all my life and never noticed it.  Hmmmmmmm

I will be posting more illusion sites this week that have flown below our radar.

Posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MedicineNet Stages of Pregnacy Slideshow ( has put together a short (23) slide show detailing the stages of pregnancy. Each slide includes an brief explanation of events happening during that particular stage.

While primarily designed for expectant mothers, the slide show could easily be used within a developmental psychology unit.

For more information on the stages of pregnancy slide show, go to In addition, check out the "Ten Principles of Good Parenting" slide show at

Monday, November 8, 2010

Which Books for the Library? Feedback/Ideas Needed!

On the AP-Psych listserv, the question was asked as to what psychology books we would recommend for a school to add to its own library.  I find this to be a fascinating question.  I have my own favorites which I will add later, but please take a moment to add your own idea(s) in the comments.  If I were to add one, this one would be it.

There are many, many more, but this is my current first choice.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Operant conditioning from the 1940s?

 I know that debates about reinforcement and punishment often leave high school psychology teachers (and their students) tied in knots, so I post this with some trepidation. But when I spied the picture above on BoingBoing this week I thought - whoa - this has got to be a new example for students to ponder!

I say sewing the lace on the bottom is a great example of negative reinforcement. What say you, gentle readers?

(P.S. No way to know whether the mother here was Mrs. Skinner. I tried in vain to find similar images from the same source.)

-- posted by Steve

Friday, November 5, 2010

Milwaukee Area Teachers of Psychology Meeting - November 9, 2010

Since 1993, Milwaukee area psychology teachers have gathered twice a year to share teaching ideas and develop friendships. Our group has come to be called the "Milwaukee Area Teachers of Psychology" (MATOP). Below you will find an invitation to our next meeting on November 9th. If you live within driving distance of the Milwaukee area, please feel free to attend. If you would like to be included on the MATOP mailing list please contact me at the email address below.

For those of you not within driving distance of Milwaukee, feel free to "check out" our agenda for items you might find useful in your classroom. Whenever possible, I have tried to include email or website addresses for further information. Please contact me with any questions you may have.


Kent Korek
Germantown High School
W180 N11501 River Lane
Germantown, WI 53022
Phone: 262-253-3400
Fax: 262-253-3494

Dear Psychology Teacher:

Please consider attending our semi-annual meeting of the Milwaukee Area Teachers of Psychology (MATOP) on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at Pius XI High School, 135 N. 76th Street, Milwaukee 53213 in the Library.

Our meeting will include:

■ an inspection of the new Myers’ Psychology for AP supplements courtesy of Eileen Tanania, Bedford, Freeman, & Worth Publishing, (866-843-3715 ex 1714) Thanks to Eileen for providing copies of the Teacher’s Edition and Student Study Guide for everyone coming to the meeting. For more information on this text, go to*+Social+Studies&isbn=1429244364/

■ insights from the 2010 AP Psychology Reading. We anticipate a number of AP Psychology table leaders and readers will be attending our meeting. Come listen to their reflections on Kansas City and the 2010 reading. The FRQs, rubrics, sample responses, etc. can be found at

■ a review of the new 19th edition of Psychology and Life by Gerrig and Zimbardo. Everyone attending our meeting will receive an examination copy of this mainstay text through the generosity of Kevin Kuckkan of Pearson School (866-340-3692) To read more about this text, go to

■ a report from the October 22nd College Board One-Day Workshop at Grayslake, IL. We would ask anyone who attended this institute, to briefly discuss the events of the day. We’ve been in contact with Mary Spilis, the College Board consultant who coordinated the day at Grayslake, who has agreed to share with us some items from the day.

■ an analysis of the supplements for Psychology: Themes and Variations 8e by Wayne Weiten. Thanks to Katie Golem, Holt McDougal Sales Representative for Advanced & Elective Programs, (800-479-9799 ex. 3870) for providing us copies of these resources. For more information on Weiten’s text, go to

■ a demonstration of the new inversion goggles from These new goggles, selling for only $25, literally turn the world upside down. One lucky person will leave with a pair of these goggles courtesy of Gerry Palmer of Psychkits at

■ an examination of the supplements for the new REGULAR Psychology textbook, Psychology: A Discovery Experience by Stephan Franzoi of Marquette University. These supplements were provided by Mary Sommers of Cengage Learning (608-239-1928) Thanks to Mary for all her help. To find out more about this new text, go to

■ information from the October 22nd CHI-TOPSS meeting at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox, IL.

■ a Powerpoint presentation of AP Psychology Exam statistics. The 2011 AP Psychology Exam will be the nineteenth time the exam has been given. Over the course of those years, a number of stats have been generated.

■ a discussion of changes in the AP Psychology Exam. Items include; online retrieval of scores, moving the exam to the first Monday of the cycle, scoring changes with regards to guessing, and more.

■ information on smartphone apps for Quizlet flashcards. A number of different cell phone apps have been developed applicable for Quizlet files. Your students can now study their psychology terms and concepts using their smartphones and iPads, iTouches, etc.

■ and more.

Everyone is welcome to attend. There is no need to RSVP. Please feel free to invite anyone you feel might be interested in coming.

If you have any questions concerning our meeting, please contact Ruth Regent-Smith at Pius H.S. (414-290-7000) or Kent Korek at Germantown H.S. (262-253-3400)

For more information on MATOP go to For directions to Pius go to

We look forward to seeing you.

Ruth Regent-Smith
Kent Korek

Myth of Pink and Blue brains?

This recent (and great!) article in Educational Leadership by Lise Eliot summarizes piles of research about gender based brain differences (her conclusion: its much more accurate to talk about "brain similarities" than "brain differences"!)

The article is very accessible and is a good example, I think, of how responsible researchers try to look comprehensively at the evidence and reach a conclusion. This conclusion is also controversial - there is a different article by Gurian later in the same issue of Educational Leadership that seems to contradict Eliot's conclusion. Eliot responds to that article , and then Gurian responds to Eliot's criticism.

This might be a great experience for students - to see researchers disagreeing, and how that disagreement helps the whole field move forward.

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, November 1, 2010

DVR alert: Trapped in an Elevator

 Just in case you need something extra for your unit on phobias: on Tuesday November 2 at 9 pm PBS' NOVA series is offering Trapped in an Elevator (check your local listings). Among other stories it includes is that of Nicholas White, who in 1999 was trapped in an New York City skyscraper's elevator for 41 hours! His story was captured in a terrific piece in the New Yorker by Nick Paumgarten  and there is an accompanying video on the magazine's web site that shows a time elapse of images of White captured by the building's security cameras.

No reference to elevators and psychology would be complete, though, without this classic:

  --posted by Steve

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Power of Disgust

This New York Times article describes a clever (devious?) political campaign that involved sending out flyers impregnated with the smell of rotting garbage. The article is a bit undecided about the impact of these specific flyers, but it does provide a nice overview of some of the psychological impacts of "disgust".

The article also reminded me of some clever (and gross!) Disgust tests the BBC posted on their website quite a while ago. Students could use these tests to gather data about differences in rates of disgusts between different groups, and/or track their own emotional/physiological reactions during the tests

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, October 25, 2010

Year-long versus Semester AP Psychology - Data Needed Please

I (Kent) received the following from Jim Frailing of Neenah High School, Neenah, WI. Please take some time out of your busy schedules to help Jim as best you can.

In March of 2009, we here at the THSP Blog ran a short survey regarding year-long versus semester-long AP Psychology classes. For more information or to take part in that survey go to

Thanks for your help.

From Jim Frailing, 10/25/10

Year-long versus Semester AP Psychology - Data Needed Please


I am in need of some assistance. Our school is moving from a Trimester schedule (5 classes a day - 70 minutes each) to a Semester schedule (7 classes a day - 50 minutes each).

I currently teach AP Psychology in two trimesters (120 days - 70 minutes per day). I was originally told that when we switch to semesters, AP Psychology would be a Year-long course. Now I am being told it will only be a one semester course.

I am in need of research, data, statistics, antidotal evidence, and anything else I can get a hold of, to make the argument of AP Psychology being taught as a Year-long course.

I know others have had to fight this battle, and I would love to hear how you approached it, and what information you used to make your case.

Thank you in advance for any assistance you can offer.

Comments and resources can be sent off-list at the email below.

Take care,


Jim Frailing
Neenah High School
1275 Tullar Road
Neenah WI 54956
Phone: 920-751-6900 ext. 223
Fax: 920-751-6920

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Writer Who Could Not Read

I depend upon NPR for much of my news and entertainment.  This is the story of a man who was an author, but due to a brain injury, was no longer able to read what he wrote (alexia).  Absolutely fascinating.  The case also deals with brain specialization.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dr. Phil (Z) on Dr. Phil

In our latest installment of News About Phillip Zimbardo, a tweet by Social Psychology (@PsychNews) announced that our own Dr. Phil would be on the Dr. Phil show this Monday, October 25. According to the episode summary Dr. Zimbardo is taking his research to the masses:

When Good People Do Bad Things
"Is it possible for a really good person to turn evil? Do you think you have an inner demon that could be triggered to make you rob a bank, steal from a neighbor or torture another human being? Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, professor emeritus at Stanford University and author of The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, has performed some of the most groundbreaking experiments in the history of psychology. Find out what happens when several Dr. Phil audience members are put to the test! Will they blindly follow instructions from an actor who looks like an authority figure? And, find out how the horrific abuses discovered in 2004 at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq mimic the results from Dr. Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment in the 1970s. See the surprising parallel that demonstrates just how easily a good person can be drawn to the dark side. And, find out how an Army Ranger, who says he was following routine orders, would up in prison for bank robbery. Are you susceptible to manipulation by an authority figure? Tune in to find out!"

Okay, I have a question. Isn't "some of the most groundbreaking experiments in the history of psychology" a bit much? I love Dr. Z. like the rest of you, but come on, besides an awesome experiment nearly 40 years ago, has he done another "groundbreaking experiment" that you know of?

All right, point taken, that was probably written by some PR hack who slept through her intro psych classes. I'm setting my DVR on record anyway!

  --posted by Steve

Brain Scans as Art

Thanks to Eric Chudler over at Neuroscience for Kids for this find.

The artist, Elizabeth Jameson has taken brain scans and made art from them.  Check out her work here.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Can you think it if you can't say it?

Our current textbooks are fabulous at summarizing mounds of existing research and reaching a conclusion, but how often do our students get to form their own conclusions about psychological phenomena? At first, this might seem like an overwhelming task that would take way too much time, but we have an advantage in our "young" science of psychology: in many other sciences (e.g. physics, astronomy), you need to get to graduate school before you really get to do original research, but in psychology MANY important issues are still "undecided" and the relevant research is accessible and understandable. Students won't be able to form a final decisive "conclusion" about the issue (and we shouldn't pretend that anyone can) but the experience to looking at the evidence and forming a "conclusion for right now" is a valuable part of critical thinking.

I think the connection between thinking and language is one example of an accessible "open" issue. How much does our language impact our thinking? This NYTimes article provides a good overview of the issues, includes the ups and downs of Whorf's linguistic relatively hypothesis (and it includes one of my favorite untranslateable German words: Schadenfreude).

A recent Radiolab podcast looked at the topic in three different ways:
1) a teacher's breakthrough with a deaf adult who grew up with no language (this one made be cry!)
2) a neurologist's story about her brain injury that left her without any language or "brain chatter"
3) a summary of a longitudinal research project with an isolated group of deaf children in Nicaragua who developed their own language whil researchers watched! (full disclosure and bragging: One of my former students was involved in this research.)

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

I recently ran across a site called, RSA: 21st Century Enlightenment.  While there is so much on the site to digest, I discovered their "animated" lecture called "The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" which is also available on YouTube. 

The RSA Animate series of videos takes semi-dry lectures, then has an artist put the words to pictures, graphics, graphic organizers and thought-bubbles.  For those of us (read, me) who are not artistic, but appreciative of art, this approach is wonderful.  It is also great for those who like to share with students another way to transmit information to others.  The payoff is later in the lecture, so it is definitely worth watching the entire 11 minutes.

If you like the premise of the video, check out all the other works here.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Depression Awareness Month

October is National Depression Screening Month, with the 7th of the month being the National Depression Day of Awareness.  Below are some resources to assist the classroom teacher. 

John Grohol
Post about the National Day of Screening

PsychCentral Depression screening test
18 questions with an online score with recommendations

Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic site has a tremendous set of resources which include background, Q/A about depression types, links to other disorders, video clips to describe depression, expert answers, expert blog with research updates and much more.

The new issue of Educational Leadership (publication of ASCD) has an article entitled, "Responding to a Student's Depression" in the October 2010 issue.  You can read it online if you are a member.  The article has a nice chart with one column for symptoms and another column for how those symptoms would manifest themselves at school.

Mental Health America
information, help, action for many disorders

Army website on the topic and related resources for military members and mental health issues

Real Warriors program encouraging those who need help to ask for it along with many resources

In terms of depression screening quizzes online, there are dozens.  Here are links to a few:
Depression-Screening dot org
The Wakefield Questionnaire
WebMD diagnosis and tests page

Posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fall Post from TOPSS

The following message was sent out by Emily Leary from the APA/TOPSS.

The American Psychological Association (APA) Committee of Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) met in late September to discuss ongoing plans and priorities to support the teaching of high school psychology.  Please see below for recent and ongoing information from APA and TOPSS:

FALL MEMBERSHIP BLITZ: TOPSS reminds all high school psychology teachers that new members who join TOPSS NOW through December 31 will receive bonus months of membership for no extra cost!  For just $40, new affiliates can join TOPSS NOW and be members through December 2011.  An application is available online at  TOPSS is aiming to reach 2,000 current members by December 31, 2010, please help us reach our goal by forwarding this note to any psychology teacher you know!  Visit the TOPSS website at to read about the TOPSS mission and programs.

STUDENT RESEARCH: The APA Education Directorate sponsors annual awards for students at the Intel ISEF competition, and at all ISEF-affiliated fairs. Please visit to find a local research fair!  Please be sure to read the TOPSS manual on conducting research with high school students:,

PSYCHOLOGY TEACHER NETWORK (PTN): The Summer PTN 2010 issue is posted online at  We are always looking for submissions! The PTN is sent four times a year to TOPSS members.

UNIT LESSON PLANS:  Two new unit plans on Motivation and Emotion were published earlier this year; all units are posted to  There are currently 19 units available free of cost to TOPSS members, including four teaching modules on topics like the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Positive Psychology!

NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR HIGH SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY CURRICULA: The National Standards are available online at and are currently being revised!  We expect the new revision to be released in August 2011.

APA MONITOR: TOPSS members receive the monthly APA Monitor in the mail, with up-to-date news from the field of psychology:

POWERPOINTS: Visit for newly developed PowerPoints for high school teachers!  TOPSS has invited every APA division to develop a PowerPoint for teachers!

NEW TOOLBAR:  Be sure to read about the new TOPSS toolbar for teachers!

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT:  The 2011 APA/Clark University Workshop dates will be announced this fall!  The 2011 APA Convention will be held in Washington, DC, August 4-7, 2011.  Visit for information, videos, and more from the 2010 convention.

UPCOMING AWARDS AND COMPETITIONS: Stay tuned for announcements for the call for nominations for the 2011 TOPSS Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2011 student competition.

AND MORE …  New initiatives include funding for professional development, the development of classroom posters, the ongoing revision of unit lesson plans, and more.  Please be sure you join TOPSS to stay on top of ongoing projects and initiatives.  Please contact TOPSS Chair Kay Minter      ( or Emily Leary ( with questions or recommendations.