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

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