Friday, November 30, 2012

TOPSS joins Facebook

The 2012 TOPSS Committee:(L-R) Emily Leary (APA), Janie Graves, Steve Jones, Tonya Hinton, Caitlin Crowley, Tammy Hughes, Katie Clark, Ken Keith, Jann Longman, Jeannee Blakeslee, Mike Hamilton, Mike McLane
Announcing: the TOPSS Facebook page! I know this doesn't seem like much of a big deal, but for those of use who have been poking and prodding APA to get involved with social media this is a huge victory. Kudos to Emily Leary and Caitlin Crowley of the APA for helping to make this happen. Please take a moment today to show TOPSS that you are a fan by clicking LIKE on the page!

--posted by Steve

Howie Mandel and OCD

I was looking for some "real people" and not dramatizations of mental illness and ran across this about comedian/host Howie Mandel and his battle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

As an aside, in class, I avoid dramatizations and prefer to use documentaries.  To me, that creates a more realistic and accurate picture of the complexities of the disorders rather than one actor's interpretation.

This link will take you to other interviews with Howie Mandel:

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Summer Research Opportunities for HS Students

I was just reading through the new issue of the Psychology Teacher Network on the APA website and found this little nugget of opportunity for our kids.

Here are the links from the web page (

High school student research opportunities

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Like many introverts, I cherish my time alone.  Many of my friends and family have often misunderstood my need to be alone.  The first cartoon is definitely me.  While I have things to say, I often choose not to say them--and I find those who say whatever pops into their head to be quite annoying.  I hate small talk.  I am often overwhelmed by the energy that gets sucked out of me by my more social colleagues and friends.  While I love my job of being an educator, I need time to recharge.  But my being alone does not mean lonely.

I'm not sure how many psych teachers (or teachers in general) are also introverts, but I've read quite a number of anecdotal stories of actors who are shy/introverted in real life.  In any case, I was thinking about this topic over my Thanksgiving break and decided to share a couple of items.

First is a book about being an introvert.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Second is the Brainpickings recent entry on the book above--it also contains a couple of videos, one is an RSA animation and a TED talk.  I definitely recommend them if you wish to understand introverts.

Additionally, I decided to search for and post some cartoons. I am also enclosing the original links.  I have no intent to violate copyright, but am simply sharing what I have found online.









This cartoon below is quite large and may not fit into your browser window--click on it to see the entire cartoon.


Additional links to introversion and articles about us:

posted by chuck Schallhorn

Friday, November 23, 2012

Report on NCSS, Day Two

[Note from Steve: This is the second of two reports from Arizona psychology teacher Scott Reed about last week's psychology presentations at the National Council for the Social Studies annual convention. If you missed the day one report, please check it out here.]

Reed’s Report of NCSS 2012- Day 2

Saturday also had a strong group of speakers, but did end on a serious note with a report from Randy Ernst to the Psychology Community Meeting.  The CCSSO is an organization that has been working for three years on the plan to incorporate social studies into the Common Core Standards.  They released their initial report, and only history, economics, civics, and geography were mentioned in the report.  Even though psychology fits in very well with the four dimensions of social studies in the report, our subject area was not even mentioned in the six page report.  It is going to be important for teachers and the major organizations (APA, College Board, state boards) to come up with a method to effectively let this group understand the importance of psychological science  to social studies and the development of a well educated student.


Keith Ferguson- My Psych Study
If you have been intimidated like myself in having students do class research, check out the PowerPoint and handouts from Matt Ferguson.  He has two pages of links to websites that have online research as well as a list of many of the research projects his students have done.  I highly recommend you look at his resources, it is exactly what I have been looking for.

Catherine Jaquith – Windows to Your Future: Using Psychology Concepts to Strengthen Character
I have been looking forward to Catherine’s presentation on the VIA Institute of Character survey since I met her at the AP reading. My  AP roommate, Todd Dilbeck, also told me about how great this character assessment is for students and a psychology class.  Catherine’s PowerPoint gives many ways to use the VIA in the classroom.

Steve Jones- Not Tacked On: Effectively Incorporating Diversity in Introductory Psychology 
Steve focused on using as many different outlets throughout the course to show diversity without necessarily focusing on diversity.  He really likes the movies Hoop Dreams and Babies (there is nudity in Babies, so pick clips carefully).  To quote Steve, “White people do not need more movies about white people,” when referring to the movie The Breakfast Club.
Eric Chudler- Featured speaker -Neuroscience for Kids: Brain Science in the classroom
Dr. Chudler of the site Neuroscience for Kids offered his view on many misconceptions of the brain, as well as some of the legal and moral issues that are going to surround the breakthroughs in brain image technology.  Dr. Chudler also announced that about eight high school teachers and additional students are going to have the opportunity to work in his lab this summer. Get more information about this here.

I would encourage you to try the site I have never wanted to invest the time and money in clickers, but this is a good way to get information from your students through their cell phones.  Charlie Blair-Broeker showed us a great way to use Google Docs to not only gather data, but the program also will take the data and make charts without prompt.

Because of the hard work of the Psychology Community, NCSS is a very worthwhile professional development for a full time psychology teacher or someone who teaches just a few sections.
See you in Saint Louis in 2013!

--posted by Steve

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Report on NCSS, Day One


I was one of the fortunate ones to attend the National Council for the Social Studies' Annual Conference (aka NCSS12) in Seattle last week, and I'm still trying to juggle processing all of the terrific presentations that I saw with my "real job" of teaching these last days before the Thanksgiving break.

Fortunately for our THSP readers, though, our colleague Scott Reed from Chandler, Arizona volunteered to do a guest post about his experiences there. His report from Day One is below, and later this week we'll share Day Two with you. If you attended NCSS12, please add your thoughts in the comments below.

 Reed’s Report of NCSS 2012

A special thanks to TOPSS for the grant assisting me in attending my first National Conference on Social Studies in Seattle.  The Psychology Community for NCSS of Jenn Schlicht, Joe Geiger, Sejal Schullo, and Daria Schaffeld put together a tremendous program where there was a psychology speaker during every session during the all day Friday and Saturday conference. The focus of each session was generally geared towards practical applications that would benefit both veteran and new teachers.  There were also socials for psych teachers on both Friday and Saturday to hang out with psych teachers all over the country.

The presenters and committee were gracious enough to post their materials on a Moodle site for others to view.  [Note from Steve: if you are a member of the NCSS Psych community, you can get the access info from Daria Schaffeld - and if you are NOT a member of the community, please e-mail Daria to join. Her e-mail address is:


Rob McEntaffer-  Psychology Test Banks Not Just for Assessments
Rob really emphasized what he called a Table of Specifications to assist teachers in making their tests where they are content valid.  This is a way to make sure you are focusing on the areas you want to in the unit.  He described how he started to allow test corrections and how much this assisted his students.  I am always a skeptic of doing test mastery or test corrections, but Rob is among many that I have heard from who really support this.  He has provided a worksheet to use to show the reflection students must do in order to either get back the points or retest.

Amy Fineburg- Psychology and Social Justice
Amy focused a lot on how to teach to multiple aspects of psychology all at the same time.  This would include looking at social justice during the S and P unit, cognition, memory and others.  This is one of the reasons the APA High School Curriculum know looks like a bullseye instead of a more linear outline.
Tomorrow I am going to focus more on the technology I saw some of the teachers use during their presentations, but Amy insisted that Twitter is such a great tool.  There is a #psychat every Thursday (at 8pm ET).  For Twitter newbies like me, you can go back and look at the chat and the links and ideas after the fact.  I now am dumbfounded that there are a dozen people following me.   I am not sure what they will follow besides my updates on my student born without eyelids.

Charlie Blair-Broeker and Randy Ernst- Psychology: A Window into the Mind and Behavior
I will let their handouts speak for the demonstrations they did for the teachers, but want to say that Charlie did an excellent job explaining why the “Jim and Dwight” on The Office clip is NOT classical conditioning as it is often labeled on  There is no unconditioned stimulus and response.  Charlie pointed out that the noise of Jim’s computer was a discriminative stimulus that would elicit Dwight to stick out his hand and be reinforced by an Altoid.

Kent Korek and Maureen McCarthy- Interpreting Historical Events through the Lens of Psychological Science
Kent and Maureen have an excellent handout of many psychology terms that can be used to tie current and historical events to psychology.  They focused on either giving the students an event and having them come up with terms, or giving the students terms and having them come up with historical events.

Allison Shaver- Connecting Psychology and Sociology Classes Across State Lines
Alison and her students have what I will call a millennium generation version of pen pals.  Her presentation shows how the two schools find information to share about their school and community culture and share it through videos.

Maura Gavin- Integrating Literacy and Technology into a Psych Classroom
Sorry, but I attended a presentation on Samuel Adams during this time, but the topic sounds great.  I am going to the Moodle page to check it out.

Tomorrow I will share the excellent presentations of day two and write about something more serious that could have a big effect on psychology classes in high school.

--posted by Steve

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Are Babies Born Good? 60 Minutes

I am catching up this week on my DVR recordings.  This past Sunday, 60 minutes had a segment on babies and morality examining some current research (which is shown on screen) about potentially inborn moral preferences.  Fascinating segment involving research and operational definitions.
The segment is 13:33 long.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day

In this New York Times article, author John Tierney calls Thanksgiving the "most psychologically correct holiday of the year."  Tierney then goes on to relate the many positive "consequences of giving thanks," among them better health, sleep, less anxiety and depression, increased satisfaction with life and kinder behavior towards others.  The author provides specific research findings on the benefits of gratitude and strategies to help you get into the holiday mood.

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Kristin H. Whitlock

Monday, November 12, 2012

Understanding happiness with TED and Wiley

Wiley Publishing has just released TED: Psychology - Understanding Happiness, a page that mixes TED videos with instructor resources. There are seven TED talks gathered here, and for each one there's a PDF of instructor materials. I've only glanced at a couple of them, but the instructor materials look good. Kudos to Wiley for doing this!

I also noticed a survey on the site asking for feedback, so please feel free to check out the resources and give them your opinions.

-- posted by Steve

Thursday, November 8, 2012

No one "needs" more examples of optical illusions, but...

I expect everyone out there has way too many examples of optical illusions, but I just can't resist:

@MrFrisa posted this image on Twitter and I really like it. Is he facing to the side in profile or is he staring straight at you? Anyone know how to make these? @MrFrisa, chime in if you see this?

- I just saw this "antique" optical illusion using a rotating disk. Click on this link  to get to the animated GIF if it's not displaying correctly- cool! Here's the explanation:

"Optical illusion disc which is spun displaying the illusion of motion of a ball with a wedge-shaped piece missing passing through a hoop and of a monkey swinging on branches of a tree and a zebra jumping through an opening between two trees in a circle at the outer edge of the disc."

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No, you are NOT "right-brained"!!!

This blog post from Psychology Today is important, I think. Discouraging, but important.

Sam Dekker and others surveyed a large sample of teachers who reported being interested in neuroscience. The results are intriguing:

- these teachers scored fairly high on the test overall.  On average, they answered 70% of the items correctly.

- BUT (and this is a great big but) these teachers seemed to be MORE likely to believe several myths about learning and the brain, including:

  • "students learn better/faster when they receive information via their preferred "learning style"
  • there are left-brain and right-brain learners
  • co-ordination exercises improve the integration of function between the hemispheres"

There was also a positive correlation between higher scores on knowledge items about the brain and belief in these myths! The authors suggest that teacher training programs do a better job incorporating factual information about the biology of learning into their programs.

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Parents and Politics

Today may be a good time to talk about this research! Vote vote vote!!!

The Association for Psychological Science recently posted about research linking parenting behaviors to the eventual political views of children.

Their quick summary might be a great discussion starter in your classroom (as long as it doesn't start a fight!):

"Existing research suggests that individuals whose parents espoused authoritarian attitudes toward parenting (e.g., valuing obedience to authority) are more likely to endorse conservative values as adults."

Discussing parenting style research in the developmental chapter can be engaging, but a bit of a minefield: sometimes my students wanted to leap to "diagnosing" their parents, and it's a good opportunity to talk about the complexities of human behaviors vs. the simplifications needed for operational definitions.

Here's an online article with a bit more detail about the study

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hearing and Audition Videos

I am never satisfied with how I present certain concepts.  While researching materials on hearing, I ran across these two videos.  I hope you like them as much as I do.

3D Human Ear

The Process of Hearing and How it Works

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hey! You got your D&D in my Psych. study! No, you got your psych study in my D&D!

My adolescent self would be thrilled with this development: A psychologist at the University of British Columbia was struggling to figure out a research protocol that would allow him to test whether people automatically look at others' eyes or if they are just looking at the centers of faces. He explained the problem to his son, and together they figured out how to use images from the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual to figure out a new experimental protocol! And adults thought I was wasting my youth with all those hours of D&D... :)

12-year-old uses Dungeons and Dragons to help scientist dad with his research

posted by Rob McEntarffer