Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Stunning Visual Effects--New Software and Hardware

This is a must-see.  Share with your students--this includes visual illusions, robotics, art, and more.  Too cool for words.

Box from Bot & Dolly on Vimeo.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rat Park

Psych teacher Scott Miller recently sent me this link to a graphic novel about a psychology experiment. A graphic novel! I didn't know anything like this existed! This is an interesting way to present the complexities of a series of animal studies in a compelling, visual way.

The studies were conducted by Bruce Alexander, professor emeritus at Simor Fraser university. Dr. Alexander's bio page links to the wikipedia page explaining the study, so someone there must think that wikipedia is representing the study accurately.

NOTE: I expect there are controversies and complexities galore involved in this study and the researcher's conclusions, so as always, please read through the material thoroughly and use it only if you think it's appropriate for your classroom. Thanks for sending this link my way, Scott!

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, September 23, 2013

A breakdown of the recently released AP exam

If you are an AP Psychology teacher, we (Steve and Nancy) hope that you've seen the new released AP Psych exam that was shared (via the AP Course Audit site) earlier this month. As Nancy did last year with the previous released exam, she's again analyzed the exam and broken it down by content areas. She had questions on how to categorize a few of them, so we looked at those questions together and then came up with table below.

How to use this? A great way is to give it in your class as a practice exam, and then later let students see which questions they missed by content area. If they get 100% of the bio questions correct but only half of the sensation and perception questions, then they have a way to focus their review.

A final reminder: DO NOT SHARE THESE EXAMS ONLINE. I know that some teacher out there will think about posting this to their school's server and sharing it "just for my students to practice with," but very quickly that could be discovered and distributed widely. The College Board also has a pretty sobering reminder on the download page about what you could lose if you do this. I always just copy them, give them to student in paper-and-pencil mode, and then collect them at the end of the period.

Content area and CB range - comes from the AP Psychology course description
Numbers - represent the question numbers on the test. 

If you have questions or comments about how these were categorized, please let us know.
-- posted by Steve (for Nancy and Steve!)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What to Do With $500

So imagine you have just won $500 for your classroom (does not have to be psychology).  What technology-based items would you purchase?  What non-tech items would you buy?  I already have an LCD projector, a document cam and lots of software.  Guide me--what suggestions do you have?  

Please leave ideas in the comments section.

Posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Psychology of Fight Club: An inforgraphic

Most of us cannot show R-rated movies to our students, but will occasionally recommend them.  Fight Club is one such example. Lots of psychology and social commentary, but also lots of language, violence, and sexuality.  While the movie is not showable in class, this graphic is.  Here is an infographic taking us through the movie that was shared with me recently. I love the way it takes us through the movie and book and describes the steps of the various changes.

The sizing of the graphic does not work on this blog--no worries--click the link above or this link to see it properly.

Harry Potter and the Myers-Briggs???

Yup.  Someone went and did that and turned it into an infographic.  Check it out at this link:  While I am not a fan of the MBTI, it is very well-known and can be a nice intro into testing and the 16 types that were created.  Have fun all you Potter fans!

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, September 16, 2013

The DSM and the AP Psych Exam

In case you missed this email, here is a clarification from the Collegeboard about the DSM-V and the AP Psych Exam.

Dear AP Psychology Teacher:
As many of you know, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was published last May with revisions to the criteria for the diagnosis and classifications of mental disorders. In the interest of fairness and to allow time for publishers to integrate such changes into pertinent sections of AP® Psychology textbooks, the College Board has made the following decisions regarding upcoming AP Psychology Exams:
  1. Questions on the 2014 AP Psychology Exam will adhere to the terminology, criteria and classifications referred to in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR).
  1. Beginning with the 2015 AP Psychology Exam, all terminology, criteria and classifications referred to among multiple-choice and free-response items will adhere to the new fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5).

We appreciate your hard work to update your instruction and prepare students for success in earning college credit and placement in the study of psychology. Additional teacher support and updates can be found on theAP Psychology Online Teacher Community 
Kind regards,  Advanced Placement Program® 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Neuroscience Haiku--Poetry in Psychology

Brain plaques and tangles
Memory loss, dementia
You are someone else.

This is but one of many haikus that Eric Chudler (from Neuroscience for Kids fame) wrote for his new book, The Little Book of Neuroscience Haiku.  This book combines my love of the brain and love of words and poetry in such an enjoyable and informational manner.  You can use these Haikus as topic or class starters, as clarification, or as a lesson in itself about a term.  Each poem is accompanied by an explanation and cover a wide variety of neuroscience topics.  Chudler also uses humor, puns, and straight learning in his poems.  While I like them all, here are a few of my faves.

Fresh neurons arise
Call it neurogenesis
New tricks for old brains.

EEG awake
Muscles paralyzed, eyes move

A very large stressed reptile
You're a nervous rex.

Strange homunculus
Little man inside the brain
My, what large fingers.

Large, small nerve fibers
Melzack, Wall control theory
Closed gate, reduced pain.

Do get this book--it's a great addition to your arsenal of classroom teaching tools.

For some context, here is Wikipedia's entry on haikus in English:
Haiku in English is a short poem which uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition.[1] It is a development of the Japanese haiku poetic form in the English language.
Some of the more common practices in English include:
  • use of a caesura or kire represented by punctuation, space, a line-break, or a grammatical break[1] to compare two images implicitly.

Posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hmm. Maybe NOT the best way to start a class?

I have mixed feelings about this "prank" a University of Rochester professor used to start a chemistry class. Video in the link below:

Fake Professor, Real Course

Brief summary: A professor ("Dr. H") allowed a group of students from a campus radio show to pretend to pull a prank on the first day of class. They hired an actor to pretend to be Dr. H and start the course, emphasizing difficulty of the course and describing a very restrictive cell phone and laptop policy.

This prank seems fairly harmless (the real Dr. H shows up and "debriefs" the class) but I wonder whether there are potentially long-term impacts to this prank. Specifically: we know that first impressions and the fundamental attribution error are powerful (irresistible, to some extent) and I wonder if some students in this class might develop harmful schemata about the course (and/or their success in the course) based on the prank?

One semester I asked a student to help me with a fundamental attribution error demonstration. We pretended to have a verbal fight in front of the class, then I surveyed students about their attributions. The demonstration "worked" - students attributed my behavior to the situation and hers to her inner disposition - but I never did that demo again because students told me that it "colored" their experience in the class for days.

I'm sure that the demo in this video did "enliven" the experience of the chemistry students, but I wonder about it. What do you think? Am I taking it too seriously? Would you do a demonstration like this? Since many of you reading this probably just started your teaching year, how do you "enliven" the first day of class?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Updated resources for teachers new to high school psychology

Welcome new psychology teacher! Congratulate yourself on finding/stumbling on/being forced to teach the best class in high school!

There is an abundance of materials out there so you don't have to reinvent the wheel your first year (although you should feel free to after that). Here are some of the best resources to start with:

1) TOPSS stands for Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools and is part of the American Psychological Association. Join TOPSS and you become an affiliate member of the APA at a fraction of the cost that other professionals pay, only $50 per year.

*NEW* In 2011 teachers on the TOPSS board created a manual for new high school psychology teachers. This was written by high school psychology teachers who have "been there" with few resources and little help among your building colleagues. Be sure to check this out!

TOPSS has lesson plans for every unit of the high school psych course and is in the process of revising older units so that the lesson plans remain vital and useful. They're created by high school teachers and are edited by psych professors. There's also a quarterly newsletter, the Psychology Teachers Network, and an annual workshop for high school teachers at Clark University. Finally, and maybe most importantly, the APA and TOPSS have created the National Standards for High School Psychology. The first version of standards was created in 2005 and the newest version of the standards was released in 2011. (Full disclosure: I'm currently chair of the TOPSS Board.)

2) The College Board. Even if you don't teach AP Psychology this is a great resource -- and if you do, it's terrific! Here are some pages to start with.
a) The AP Psych home page
b) The course description (aka the Acorn Book, in PDF; updated Fall 2013)
c) The AP Psych teachers guide -- written by THSP's own Kristin Whitlock, this thing is a beauty and a GREAT place to get started if you're new to the course (also in PDF)
d) Old AP Psych exam questions
e) AP Psych store - you may want to buy the 2004 and 2007 released exam multiple choice questions at some point
f) *NEW* If you are an AP Psych teacher, be sure to join the online AP Psychology Community.

3) *NEW* Twitter! You will be amazed at all the valuable resources that are at your fingertips via Twitter. Many high school psychology teachers (like myself) consider my colleagues on Twitter to be an extremely valuable part of their personal learning community, and often share ideas and resources with each other. In the past couple of years #psychat has become a great way to share information as well - see this post for more information.
Other teachers are also using Twitter as a way to interact with their students online in many ways, such as commenting on news articles, sharing new sites and even homework reminders.

3) Teaching psychology activity books. These were compiled by Ludy Benjmin et al. and have a wide variety of activities for intro psych courses. Some are hits and some are misses (in my opinion) so you might want to buy one and see what you think. Here are several to try.

4) Forty Studies that Changed Psychology. An excellent overview that will be invaluable to you if you're just getting started, and is often used by many AP Psych teachers during the year or as a summer  assignment.

5) The publisher of your textbook. Find out what book you'll be using, then contact the publisher and get in touch with the high school representative for psychology. They are usually very helpful and can give you an idea of what might be available for you for free. A great tip from Michael Donner on the AP Psych list is to contact a publisher of another psychology textbook and see if you can get an exam copy of that book (or even find a used copy online). A second book can be very helpful for helping you come up with alternate examples or explanations for your students.

6) The National Council for the Social Studies Psychology Community. This group is part of NCSS and helps psychology teachers in many ways, including annual presentations at the NCSS conference, newsletters and more. You can e-mail chair Daria Schaffeld at daria.schaffeld AT to get a copy of the latest newsletter and to find out more. Also, consider attending the annual NCSS Conference to hear great presentations.

7) Your fellow teachers! If you know others in your district or region who teach psych, contact them and ask for help. Most psychology teachers are still the only ones in their school, so getting in touch with folks who are nearby and are willing to share can be immensely helpful. Or join an e-mail list for psychology teachers such as Psych-News, TIPS or PsychTeacher (see a full list here) and make connections all over the world!

8) A final rec and plug: this Teaching High School Psychology blog which is run by Kent Korek, Chuck Schallhorn, Rob McEntarffer, Nancy Diehl, Kristin Whitlock, Trevor Tusow and myself. It's a site for us to share with our fellow teachers the things that we like, find interesting, have questions about, etc. Follow us via e-mail so you are notified every time we post something new, in your RSS reader or just bookmark us and visit when you can. You can also follow me (Steve) on Twitter at @highschoolpsych.

One final bit of advice: Psychology is a science. It doesn't matter what your background is as long as you're willing to embrace the scientific perspective and run with it. Have fun and enjoy teaching psychology!

--posted by Steve