Monday, August 25, 2014

"Bloom Stuff" and "Maslow Stuff"

I stumbled across this picture (via Twitter, retweeted originally from @DocbobLA) and this quote/idea reasonates with me: I believe that if we don't attend to the "Maslow stuff" with students (e.g. sense of belonging/trust, etc.) we won't be able to even get to the "Bloom stuff" (e.g. analysis, synthesis, other critical thinking skills).

In my district, I get to co-present with other administrators on the topic "Relationship Matters." The main idea of that presentation supports the claim this quote makes: relationships are the "oxygen" in teaching/learning situations. Positive relationships have to be in place before learning can occur - they are the atmosphere teachers and learners breathe and operate in.

I think I've always had and operated on that belief as a teacher, but I've never thought about the belief in this "Bloom and Maslow" context before. I'd love to hear from other psych teachers about
  • whether or not the quotes "fits" with your teaching (or not!) 
  • how you attend to "Maslow and Bloom" stuff in your classroom
  • possible connections to the motivation unit? If this quote is true for learning, maybe it could be the basic idea behind some really interesting discussions/activities during the motivation unit?

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Friday, August 22, 2014

To Type or not to Type: Is that the Question?

Last week several of us had a fascinating discussion via Twitter about the advantages/disadvantages of taking notes on computers or by hand on paper. 

The whole discussion started when Heather Chambers (@irishteach on Twitter) tweeted a question about the advantages and disadvantages of getting students to use computers for notes, or if they are better off handwriting notes.

I responded a few days later with an article I found: "The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages ofLonghand Over Laptop Note Taking" These authors found that students who took notes by hand tended to summarize ideas in their own words rather than type quotes verbatim, leading to deeper processing, better encoding, and better recall. Our twitter community chatted about the implications for a while and then Dr. Chew chimed in (@SChewPsych - he's our resident expert on studying research) and said: 

So what should we tell students about how to take notes? The most important factor seems to be that students need to PROCESS ideas AS they take notes, not mindlessly write things down. It's easier to mindlessly write things down when they are using a computer (it's faster!) so students need to learn HOW to take better notes, no matter what method they use. The memory chapter is a PERFECT opportunity to help students learn this! Psych teachers can demonstrate the power of deep processing in note taking via mini-classroom experiments! Heather hit the nail on the head, and I hope our community continues exploring her question:

Note about Twitter: If you're not yet a Twitter user (don't call us Twits! :) , consider giving it a try! After you create an account, you can search for the hashtag #psychat in the search window, and you'll see a thriving conversation and dozens of psych teachers' accounts to follow!

image source: - labelled for reuse, creative commons

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, August 17, 2014

First Day Activities

So what should we do on the first day?  Here are some ideas:

I posted a couple activities to my Google Drive.  Included are:

  • a couple docs that Louis Schmier posted some time ago about establishing trust in the classroom
  • Dr. Drew Appleby's activity on memory and created connections within schemas--an adapted PPT file I use on the first or second day
  • A Psych True/False PPT Activity based upon chapters from the book, 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology by Scott O. Lilienfeld, et al
  • A "Psych or Not" PowerPoint I created a few years ago

Feel free to check these out, use, and adapt as needed.  There is some personalization in the PPT files.

I was going back through some files from the 1990s.  Yes, I am old.  I found a file that had day one mingle activities that require little to no set up.  I do not know who shared these or what the origins were.  I do know the ideas are very cool, depending upon your class goals.


For my first day interest-generating activity, I use a "mingle" format where they walk around the room introducing themselves to each other, at least five others anyway, except that they can't use any names or grade levels or usual items. Instead, they must introduce themselves by 1) what they ate for breakfast, 2) their weight, or 3) their zodiac sign:
***"Hi, I'm yogurt and frozen waffles, who are you?"***

This generates fun and laughs, then we sit down and discuss it. I ask what interesting aspects of human behavior they noticed during the mingle. Typical observations will bring up excellent items for brief comment on by way of connecting real-life scientific research that will be covered later in the class. Examples:
- Most of the girls didn't say their weight (gender differences, cultural norms, body image, interpersonal attraction, etc.)
- Some people knew the zodiac stuff really well, and other people didn't 
     (pseudoscience, magical thinking, parapsychology, experimental methods)
- A lot of people had nothing for breakfast (memory, cognition, applied vs. basic research, human development, longevity, etc.)
- Most people only introduced themselves to people sitting close to them already, even though we all had to stand up and move around   

     (propinquity effect, familiarity, out-group homogeneity, introversion vs. extraversion, etc.)
- It felt uncomfortable to do a familiar activity in a different way
     (schemas, social norms, interpersonal distance zones, elements of humor, ...) 


....usually I will tell them about my background and why I teach this class and on the second day we begin to have fun
...I have had them interview others and introduce the person to the class
...we arrange people according to birth date, age, without speaking
...we balance a ball on a 30 strings with a ring in the middle and challenge other classes
...we do a history of psychology on a string line ending with each of them
...we go on a blind walk
...we jump rope in a cooperative manner and competitive manner
...we discuss why they chose this class
...we discuss my best first day, when my son was born one of the first days of school (some students have said it was their best day as well when I was not there on the first day)
...we have discussed who was out best teacher and why
...we have formed a line over 60 feet long and passed our books from a storeroom into the class
...we have all cried when it was announced a teacher we had all known had died the day before...

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Start of the year! Woot! (and Crash Course videos!)

Howdy psych teachers! School started in my district yesterday - if you've started, hope you are having a great beginning!

I never expected this to happen, but I think my 12 year old shared a great psychology teaching resource with me! She asked me if I ever watched the "Crash Course" videos on YouTube, and whether or not I thought the psychology ones are any good.

I think they are very good! Hank Green (brother of John Green, who students and teachers may recognize as the author of The Fault in our Stars, and the narrator of other Crash Course videos) races through some great psych topics on the videos, including research methods, S&P, consciousness, and others. There are 17 videos so far in the psychology video collection:

The videos might be useful in psych classrooms as introductions to topics, or summaries, or possibly students could "check" Hank Green's summaries and connect his analysis with terms/concepts/studies from their textbook.

Last note: the online video system EdPuzzle might be useful as a way to insert questions into these (and other!) videos. If any of you use these videos, please sound off in the comments and let us know how it goes!

posted by Rob McEntarffer