Friday, March 30, 2012

An Assignment to Obtain Examples & Enhance Vocabulary

One of the most difficult things is to help students learn different examples and how they connect to specific vocabulary terms.  As part of that, our school has been focusing on "academic vocabulary" and using books such as Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Communities at Work, Building Academic Vocabulary: Teacher's Manual, and Inside Words.  We use these books are references for tools for creating assignments that help us modify our instruction to help our students who do not necessarily grow up reading and who are likely not reading at their own grade level.  While I do not have that as a big problem in my psych classes, it is definitely there in my government classes.

So to help compensate for those two ideas, I have created this assignment using the 40 or so introductory psych texts that I have been able to obtain over the years.  Let me know how you would modify it--I am always looking to improve.
My sample graphic using the term "cult."  I drew it on MS Paint and inserted it into a sample term as an illustration.

The original document can be downloaded from this link:
posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Therapy Assignment

I do not know where I got this assignment or even if I made it myself (I did specify page numbers in my text, Coon and Mitterer's Intro to Psych).  If you have proper attribution, I would love to find out.  This is an assignment for the therapy unit that I am assigning today.

AP Psychology Poster Making Assignment

ase Study—Cindy Rella is a young woman who suffers generalized anxiety as well as a phobia of furry creatures that are dog-like.  She has many conflicts with her sisters and feels abandoned by her parents who died (she is being raised by a step-mother).  She engages in fantasy-prone thinking and has difficulty focusing on reality.  Her inability to focus has given her difficulty keeping jobs.  She also feels persecuted by her step-mother.
Using the assigned therapy technique:
A.    diagnose her (using DSM information)
B.     explain where you think the problems are coming from
C.     assess which aspects of her life you can assist with, and how would you go about doing so (include basic counseling skills on 590-592)
D.    Describe the process using concepts found in the text
E.     Create a graphic that illustrates a key component of the therapy you’ve been given
1.      Psychoanalysis
2.      Client-centered Therapy
3.      Existential Therapy
4.      Gestalt Therapy
5.      Behavior Therapy
6.      Cognitive Therapy (include REBT)
7.      Group Therapy
8.      Biomedical Approach

The poster will look like this:
Title of Therapy
First/Last Names of Makers/Date
Give her a tentative diagnosis based upon existing information to set up possible therapies.  Yes, the information is incomplete. (use the DSM as guide)

Explain where you think the problems are coming from (from your therapeutic perspective)

Assess which aspects of her life you can assist with, and how would you go about doing so (include basic counseling skills on 590-592)—(this is the “what”)

Describe the process using concepts found in the text that your therapy would use for this case (this is the how)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Call for Submissions: Whitman Journal of Psychology

From Marisa Del Savio, Advisor, Whitman Journal of Psychology:

"The Whitman Journal of Psychology is currently looking for submissions for the Fall 2012 issue. DEADLINE  is June 1st!  This is the only high school student-run psychology journal in the country. This provides your students with a unique opportunity to have their psychology research published nationally.

Please note the changes for submissions.  We are looking not only for experiments and research but also literature reviews conducted according to APA guidelines. Submissions may relate to any aspect of psychology. Students should send their submissions to with the word "submission" somewhere in the subject line. Please note that articles must be written in the third person and follow APA guidelines. Students may refer to for previous articles and the full list of requirements.

If you have any questions you can email me at  Please encourage your students to submit.  Thank you for your continued support.  "

posted by Rob McEntarffer

The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain

I was going through my books today and rediscovered a wonderful reference for class.  It's called The Scientific American Day in the Life of Your Brain.  It takes a person from 5 am and waking up, what brain chemicals are activating us and other sensory issues.  It goes on to deal with coming to consciousness, morning emotions, directions to work, facing others, performance at work/stress, decision making, the hungry brain, the tired brain, boredom, pain, exercise, the dimming of the day, getting home from work, music, humor, love and lust, getting to sleep, falling to sleep, sleeping and problems, and people who have to work at night.  The book is at a reading level appropriate for those of use brushing up on brain science as well as high school students.

In short, take any person on any day and the book will have a section on what is happening in a person's brain.  I can imagine a creative teacher, with proper resources, making this a class assignment--what is going on with the brain and rest of the biology of humans during each part of the day, and dividing it up like the chapters/sections of this book.  If you do that, just keep this book hidden ;)

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 APA/Clark University Workshop for High School Teachers

The announcement below (from the wonderful Emily Leary and Caitlin Crowley at the APA) about the 2012 APA/Clark University Workshop for High School Teachers provides details about the nature of the workshop and how you can apply. Several of us involved in this blog have participated in this workshop (if you look closely at the picture above you can spot Kristin and Steve!) and I think I can speak for everyone when I say: APPLY! It's a great experience: wonderful college faculty, wonderful facilities, wonderful relationship-building with other teachers, and you will learn heaps and gobs of good stuff for your classroom! Apply!

From Emily Leary:

"We encourage all interested high school psychology teachers to apply for the eighth annual APA/Clark University Workshop for High School Teachers, to be held July 16-18, 2012 at Clark University in Worcester, MA.  The workshop will be open to 25 teachers. Workshop presenters will include faculty from the Clark University Psychology Department. Michael Sullivan of Hopkinton High School (Hopkinton, MA) and Debra Park of Rutgers University and West Deptford High School (West Deptford, NJ) (retired) will also present. Randy Smith, PhD, of Lamar University (Beaumont, TX) will give the keynote address, titled Though This be Madness, Yet There is Method In't: The Importance of Research Methods in Introductory Psychology

Housing in the Clark campus dorms and materials will be provided for all participants. There is no registration fee. Participants will also receive travel stipends of $100. Five travel scholarships of $250 each will be available to teachers in need of extra travel support (please note that the maximum travel reimbursement any teacher would receive is $250). A hard copy application form (PDF, 40KB) and an online application form are both available.  The application deadline is April 15, 2012 and participants will be selected by approximately May 1.

This Workshop is sponsored by the American Psychological Foundation, Clark University, and APA, with generous support from Lee Gurel, PhD.  Please contact Caitlin Crowley by email ( or at (202) 336-6076 if you have any questions."

image credit:

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Multi-tasking"/Task Switching tests

I discovered two "multi-tasking" tests via Twitter recently and they both look like they might be useful during the Cognition or Sensation and Perception chapters (whenever you discuss selective attention, etc.)

  • The Dual Task website created by Hal Pashler has several very effective tests for "multi task performance." The one I tried is the "Visible PRP Effect" When you click on that link, you may have to wait a bit for an "applet" to load, but after that the test ran smoothly, and it is a very effective demonstration of how trying to attend to more than one "channel" impairs performance. 
  • Sue Frantz tweeted a test from the Scientific American website: "Test Your Multitasking Skills" This demonstration is more complicated, with graphics and more complex instructions, but the scenario it uses is engaging and effective. 
These demonstrations could be extended into conversations about the "multi-tasking" many of us commonly engage in, and the specific topic near and dear to many of our students hearts: talking on the phone while driving. 

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Friday, March 23, 2012

School Discipline, Race, and Social Psychology

Are your districts talking about the recent Department of Education report about different rates of "punishment" among student racial groups? The data are pretty stunning (and depressing): Across the 70,000 high schools studies, about 18% of the students were black, but about 30-45% of students who were suspended one or more times (or eventually expelled) were black. The report goes into much more detail about the statistical analysis, but it looks thorough and well done.

Although it might be a sensitive discussion topic, our psychology students could think about these (depressing) findings and others like them through a social psychology lens: They could talk about how the social psychology concepts they know (e.g. in/outgroup bias, stereotyping, prejudice, confirmation bias, representativeness heuristic, etc.) might contribute to this "over-identification" of black students for suspensions and expulsions. This conversation might extend into other stereotypes about people their age: I bet most of them have been followed through a store by a clerk just because of their age or appearance.

There may also be other psychological "angles" to explore as well:
  • Learning: In certain classes, I felt comfortable asking students to try to explain acts of racism through classical and/or operant conditioning principles (write up of this activity: Conditioning and Racism)
  • Developmental/Historical: The "doll" experiments of Kenneth and Mamie Clark are significant in both the history of psychology and U.S. History.

Unfortunately, it's not hard to find current event examples of racial bias. We have to handle these discussions with sensitivity, but our classrooms can become one of the places young people "unpack" reactions/feelings/prejudices related to race, and maybe these discussions could be a small start to a change.

image source:, creative commons attribution share-alike license

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Academic "Fights"

Two neuroscientists wrote an extensive review of Jonah Lehrer's new book Imagine. The comments section under the review is a fascinating example of how scholars "fight".

The reviewers point out some serious concerns in their review, for example:
"He is at his best when putting his considerable talents to the task of telling a story that is true according to the facts as we know them, rather than telling a story people want to hear."
Students could critically examine how well they support these criticisms (what evidence do they provide? How do they "prove" their criticism?)

Then students could look at Lehrer's response to the critics. He starts his response with the polite phrase "Thanks for the thoughtful and critical review" and then goes on to try to answer each critique. Students could examine this "debate" and decide which evidence is most important, etc. Later in the responses, the two critics respond to the responses.

I worry sometimes that the argumentative tone of the national debate on science topics (e.g. climate change, etc.) sounds like matters of opinion and bias. Cognitively productive, scientific "arguments" like this one are great examples about how disagreements in science can be PRODUCTIVE. The history of science is full of debates like this one, and without these disagreements, science wouldn't progress!

I'd love to hear your thoughts: does anyone help students work through "scientific disagreements" like this one?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hello All!

I'm not sure how many of you have taken the time to check out the online resource Psych Exchange, but I recommend taking a look. After registering, there are SO many resources that you can upload for use in your course. You can also sign up to receive emails of new posts. Recently, I received a link to a video clip for Dissociative Identity Disorder ( INSIDE Multiple Personality Disorder; ). It is a theatrical portrayal of DID, but a great one to use to open a discussion about this disorder. After viewing the clip, my students and I discussed the accuracy of the portrayal of DID. Then we discussed the controversy surrounding the diagnosis and existence of this disorder.

I recommend taking a look at Psych Exchange and see what if might have to offer you and your students.

Kristin H. Whitlock

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Minds on Trial--Great Book for Forensic Psych

When recently searching for some forensic psychology books, I stumbled upon this wonderful overview about the "great cases in law and psychology."  Among the famous cases that are worth examining:
  1. Lee Harvey Oswald
  2. Patricia Hearst (kidnapping and brainwashing)
  3. The Twinkie Defense (the junk food made me do it)
  4. John Hinkley (presidential assassination and Jodie Foster)
  5. The Judas Priest Trial (the evil music made my kid attempt suicide)
  6. John Demjanjuk (the recently deceased "Ivan the Terrible" Nazi Guard living in the US)
  7. Jeffrey Dahmer
  8. Woody Allen and Mia Farrow
  9. Mike Tyson
  10. Andrea Yates (who killed her kids)
  11. plus ten more cases
This is a very readable book with some excellent details that most of us are not aware of.  Definitely worth the read.

posted by Chuck

Harlow plus Mraz plus Wray equals MAGIC

This amazing video (embedded above) comes from the students of Brad Wray, AP Psych teacher who's been featured on THSP before (see our posts on his cognitive bias and cognitive dissonance songs). It's a brilliant song about the choice that Harlow's monkeys had to make -- food or comfort? -- set to the tune of Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours." I'm definitely showing this to my students when we review for the AP. Love this!
--posted by Steve

Saturday, March 17, 2012

TV alert: Prosopagnosia on 60 Minutes

This Sunday (March 18) CBS' 60 Minutes is airing a two-segment episode on prosopagnosia. Also known as face blindness, prosopagnosia is a disorder in which a person with otherwise normal vision cannot recognize faces. (If you can't see the preview above, click here to go to the 60 Minutes site.)

I first learned about prosopagnosia years ago when reading about Dr. P, the title case in Oliver Sacks' book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. It's ironic, of course, that Dr. Sacks himself has recently disclosed his own prosopagnosia and appears in the program too. Dr. Sacks and the artist Chuck Close who also has prosopagnosia were featured talking about the disorder in a 2010 Radiolab podcast called Strangers in The Mirror.

I'm setting my TiVo to record 60 Minutes on Sunday - plus extra time in case the NCAA games run long. If you watch it and have thoughts about the program, or have other prosopagnosia resources to share, please do so in the comments below.

--posted by Steve

Friday, March 16, 2012

State law and the psychology curriculum

The Utah State Legislature recently passed a law (HB363) that mandates abstinence-only sex education. While the Governor has yet to sign this bill, it is creating a lot of discussion at high school, colleges, and universities in my state. Weber State University (located in Ogden, Utah) has said that it will discontinue offering certain Concurrent Enrollment (CE) classes in high school. CE courses are college-level courses that high school students can take for college credit. Representatives from Weber State have said that they will no longer offer courses, such as human development and family relations, because they will not change their curriculum to go along with this new law. Read about this development at:

I believe this bill will also influence how Psychology courses (both CE and AP) are taught . This law could potentially impact what is taught in Motivation and Emotion (sexual motivation and homosexuality), Human Development (adolescent sexuality), Personality (Freudian theory), Genes and Environment (Evolutionary theory), and Social Psychology (love and sex). In addition, the college-level textbooks that are currently used to teach these courses could not be used in the high school classroom.

For AP Psychology students in our state, they would be placed at a distinct disadvantage. Content, that is currently included in the AP Psychology Course Description, would have to be dropped from the curriculum.

For CE students, if certain content is dropped, should those students earn college credit? What happens if they transfer to another institution? Would credit from institutions that have altered their curricululm be accepted?

Personally, I can't see how college level psychology courses can be presented without the all relevant material and still be representative of the current field. Our students deserve better.

Are educators in other states dealing with these same issues?

Kristin H. Whitlock

The Basal Ganglia and Habits

This post comes from Delancy Place, a daily email that takes extended quotes from a variety of sources to illustrate fascinating ideas.  Today's excerpt comes from the new book, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.  I just started reading my own copy of the book and it looks excellent for understanding not only habits, but for how it gathers disparate research.

In today's excerpt - when a habit is formed, that activity is governed by your basal ganglia cells, in a region completely separate from the primary cognitive areas of your brain. That's why you can brush your teeth or give someone your phone number without giving it the slightest thought, and while thinking intensely about something completely different: 

"The process in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine is known as 'chunking,' and it's at the root of how habits form. There are dozens - if not hundreds - of behavioral chunks that we rely on every day. Some are simple: You automatically put toothpaste on your toothbrush before sticking it in your mouth. Some, such as getting dressed or making the kids' lunch, are a little more complex.

"Others are so complicated that it's remarkable a small bit of tis­sue that evolved millions of years ago can turn them into habits at all. Take the act of backing your car out of the driveway. When you first learned to drive, the driveway required a major dose of concen­tration, and for good reason: It involves opening the garage, unlock­ing the car door, adjusting the seat, inserting the key in the ignition, turning it clockwise, moving the rearview and side mirrors and checking for obstacles, putting your foot on the brake, moving the gearshift into reverse, removing your foot from the brake, mentally estimating the distance between the garage and the street while keeping the wheels aligned and monitoring for oncoming traffic, calculating how reflected images in the mirrors translate into actual distances between the bumper, the garbage cans, and the hedges, all while applying slight pressure to the gas pedal and brake, and, most likely, telling your passenger to please stop fiddling with the radio. Nowadays, however, you do all of that every time you pull onto the street with hardly any thought. The routine occurs by habit.

"Millions of people perform this intricate ballet every morning, unthinkingly, because as soon as we pull out the car keys, our basal ganglia kicks in, identifying the habit we've stored in our brains re­lated to backing an automobile into the street. Once that habit starts unfolding, our [primary] gray matter is free to quiet itself or chase other thoughts, which is why we have enough mental capacity to realize that Jimmy forgot his lunchbox inside.
Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly look­ing for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often. This effort-saving instinct is a huge advan­tage. An efficient brain requires less room, [and] ... also allows us to stop thinking constantly about basic behaviors so we can devote mental energy to inventing ... video games....

"This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. Over time, this loop-cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward-becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and crav­ing emerges. Eventually a habit is born.
"Habits aren't destiny. [They] can be ignored, changed, or replaced. But the reason the discovery of the habit loop is so important is that it reveals a basic truth: When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision mak­ing. It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks. So un­less you deliberately fight a habit - unless you find new routines - the pattern will unfold automatically. However, simply understanding how habits work - learning the structure of the habit loop - makes them easier to control. Once you break a habit into its components, you can fiddle with the gears."

Author: Charles Duhigg  
Title: The Power of Habit
Publisher: Random House
Date: Copyright 2012 by Charles Duhigg
Pages: 17-20

You can get the book from here

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, March 12, 2012

Framingham State University - High School Psychology Teacher Institute!

Michael Sandler, psychology teacher from Arlington HS (MA) sent me this announcement about a summer learning opportunity for high school psychology teachers. Looks like a valuable experience! Mike will be leading this course (which counts for continued education credit). Here's the course description on their web page (where you can also find the registration form)

Strategies and Resources for Teaching Psychology: An Institute for High School Teachers

This institute will provide teachers with practical tools for instructing secondary-level students. The sessions will focus on student-centered activities, project-based learning, and new resources to help teachers and students connect with the wide-ranging and ever-changing field of psychology. There is an emphasis on cross-cultural perspectives and the use of technology in the curriculum. Collaboration with colleagues is encouraged as we share successful ideas and useful information that will enrich our courses.

Monday, August 6th – Friday, August 10th

Framingham State University

Center for Global Education

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Online post-session

45 PDPs, three graduate credits optional for $225

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Australian Psychology Teachers

They read us in OZ!  I was recently contacted by an Australian colleague, Penny Collins, a psychology instructor,  fellow blogger and organizer of psychology teachers in South Australia.  Thanks to Penny for reaching out and sharing her expertise.  Cheers!

Take a few minutes and check out their resources.  They have a different structure for their courses within their national system (Stage 1 and Stage 2 as well as year 10, year 11, etc.), and their resources are definitely worth checking out.

South Australian Psychology Teachers Site

The SACE Resource Page has THSP as their number one source--thank you so much for the share Penny!

Another way to download YouTube videos

Their 2012 Conference featuring information on adolescent mental health by Professor Tracy Wade

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Friday, March 9, 2012

An animated introduction to social science

I just spotted this video from Soomo Publishing on Ken Halla's excellent blog for world history teachers. I thought it was a pretty nice overview of the social sciences and could be used when we find our students struggling to understand how psychology and sociology (for example) are different. If you cannot see the video embedded above, check out this link at YouTube.

And if you teach US history, civics and/or US government and don't know about Soomo Publishing's most famous video with nearly 3 million YouTube views, well, it's too late to apologize.

--posted by Steve

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The surprising and continuing saga of Little Albert

I was fascinated and surprised a couple years ago when at team of psychological historians"solved" the long-standing mystery of the identity of Little Albert. I loved the story of their research, their exhaustive and careful examination of all the evidence they could find, and their explanation of the reasoning behind their conclusion about his identity.

Well, now I'm even more impressed: They didn't stop there! Some members of the original team kept digging into some details in the original story as told by Watson (including the detail that Little Albert was a "healthy, normal boy" when the researchers found he died a few years later of hydrocephalus.) The research team recently published their conclusion: Little Albert was likely suffering from neurological issues since birth, and that Watson purposefully misrepresented his condition when we wrote about the case.

A good example of researchers not quitting and eventually uncovering an ugly truth that casts further doubt on Watson's legacy.

photo credit:

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Teaching Blogs-Some Favorites

Many of us are the only teachers of psychology in our schools.  That was one reason we created the Teaching High School Psychology Blog.  However, I suspect that most of us also teach other subjects in addition to Psychology.  I wanted to more directly point you to the other teaching blogs that are out there.

US History Teaching Blog

World History Teaching Blog

US Government Teaching Blog

Teaching High School Sociology Blog

Free Technology for Teachers

Teaching High School Psychology Blog (our very own)

While I am biased toward these sites since they are written by high school teachers, I wonder if there are others our there.  What other blogs are you currently reading or utilizing?

Posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Downloading Video Files From Internet Sources; CatchVideo

We have posted in the past sites that help you save video files from and other video sites.  The site below does the same thing, but allows you to choose the format you'd like to save it in, whether you are a Mac or a PC user.  Very cool tool for you to back up all those videos you love but seem to disappear when you try to show them in class.

You can also convert to .mp3 files

A video I may want to download:
Copy the URL and go to CatchVideo.Net

Let the Java Program run on your computer.

Choose your preferred format and download to the folder of your choice on your computer.

As with all computer data, be sure to back it up--frequently!

posted by Chuck Schallhorn