Thursday, December 31, 2015

12 Days of Psychology Class - Day 9: Cognitive Principles of Effective Teaching

Happy New Year's Eve to everyone! Enjoy the night and have a class of champagne for me! (I have 2 bottles of San Pelligrino on reserve. Whoopee.)

If you're a #psychat fan or if you follow me on Twitter, you may know that I (and many of my fellow psychology teacher friends) have a certain fond affection for a wonderful friend to High School Psychology, Dr. Stephen Chew out of Samford Univeristy. Like many other teachers out there, I reference and show Dr. Chew's videos to my students who are often first-time AP-ers or who may struggle in a more-rigorous class like AP Psychology. The videos for students can be seen here .

Stephen L. Chew, PhD
Dr. Stephen L. Chew of Samford Univesity 

Did you know, however, that Dr. Chew has a new series of videos out for TEACHERS, attempting to translate the scholarship of teaching and learning in 5 "best practices" videos? The videos are linked from this site and are thanks to the American Psychological Association and the Educational Leadership Conference.

These videos are a quick watch, and might be an excellent way to recharge your battery and rethink your practice before heading back to school Monday.

Cheers for a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous, and Wonderful 2016.

---Posted by Amy Ramponi

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

12 Days of Psychology Class - Day 8: 8 Fascinating Things We Learned About the Mind in 2015

On this New Year's Eve Eve...the "2015" lists are out in full-force. I recently saw this one in my news feed - and found it interesting and informative. But, how many of these did you truly find "new"?

8 Fascinating Things We Learned About The Mind In 2015

--- Posted by Amy Ramponi

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

12 Days of Psychology Class - Day 7: Growth Mindset in the Psych Classroom in 2016

Image result for growth mindset
If your school district is like mine, "Growth Mindset" is a pretty huge deal right now. Carol Dweck and her colleagues have come up with some pretty great stuff. I've been doing some reading and digging - and it got me to wondering - is there a place for "Growth Mindset" in the high school psychology classroom? Without jumping on a bandwagon too quickly or too furiously...I think the answer is a resounding, "Yes."

How can it be done? Here's a few ways I think we as psychology teachers can embrace growth in our classrooms, for the benefit of every kid in them. ***(I teach AP Psychology every year, and general psychology some years, so this is coming from the perspective of AP Psychology, because that's where I am in my thinking right now.)

1. Consider every kid that walks through your door is college material or "AP caliber". Do we ALL get students we *think* shouldn't be in our class and possibly vocalize that to colleagues in moments of frustration? Students who don't work as hard as we want them to, who don't study in ways we want them to, who don't read the text, or turn work in? Sure. But to say, based on their past performance, their past behaviors or their standardized test scores that a kid "shouldn't be in AP" or shouldn't be in a College Prep class is setting them up for failure. The data is staggering - a kids who TAKES an AP class in high school is 171% more likely to enroll in college. Even if they don't rock a 5 and boost your stats, didn't they get something out of your class? Aren't they likely more prepared for whatever they do next - be it college, tech school, work force, military, etc...?

2. Focus of low-stakes formative assessments. AP Psychology has many opportunities for small, formative assessments that give students opportunities to demonstrate knowledge and build their base. FRQs (Free Response Questions) can be done for practice that get students in the habit of writing & relating psychological concepts to real-world applications. If your classes are like mine, despite a lot of practice, they still perform lower than I'd like them to on the national tests (a number that still freaks me out on my reports each year). Writing lots and lots of practice FRQs with no grade attached or only a small "daily work" grade attached can get kids to a point where they feel accomplished. Anyone who teaches AP Psychology can change in most student's first FRQ attempt and their last.

3. Practice quizzes and tests Every semester I have students (especially after their first failing test grade) say, "I'm just not a good test taker." Their parents usually say the same thing a few weeks later at Parent-Teacher Conferences. And I say (to both of them), "Well, that's a skill you can develop." I am sure we ALL as educators KNOW that kids can get better at testing skills (the number of kids who take ACT or SAT Prep classes in my district is a great reminder of that) - but do we GIVE them the tools they need to get better? As part of my teacher goal/SLO/PPG (Acronym Soup) for the year, my goal was to increase student confidence on exams and their test-taking ability. Dr. Gurung's work presented at the EPIC Conference at UWGB this October and via the TOPSS Webinar really motivated me to hop on the practice test train, and I have seen some great successes in test scores this past semester in AP Psychology from students who use the practice tests. (All aren't, I know. But that is their choice.) On a recent tests, I put out a practice test on Socrative, and told kids I would give them a bonus point (like...1, literally, one point) for each time they took it. Some of them took it many, many times (and some of them struggling students) and their exam score the next day was significantly higher than they'd been scoring on past exams. With hundreds of exam questions out there on the interwebs, test banks, practice and review books, and released exams - you should easily be able to put together a cache of questions for the kids to test out their meta cognitive skills and to take the "I'm not a very good test taker" kid to "I got a 90% on that exam? Wow." (Gurung's work and research suggests mandating this and also rewarding it - much better than a mindless worksheet for them to fill in, IMHO.)

4. Teach about Growth Mindset - Dweck and her colleagues at Stanford (Dave Paunesku - who actually replied to my email about this!) have reported that just SHOWING A VIDEO about growth mindset (video to be released some time in 2016) can change how kids think about themselves! So - teach growth from the beginning of your course and show your students some videos and see if there's a change! Here's a few of my favorites (Hmmmm...Mindset Mondays? Motivational Mondays?):

Dweck: Developing a Growth Mindet

Infobundl: Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset Animation 

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset 

How do you develop a growth mindset in your classroom? What strategies work with your student population? How can you better your classroom in 2016 and allow for everyone in your class to achieve some success?

---- Posted by Amy Ramponi

PS: It snowed. 12.2 inches. Glorious.

Monday, December 28, 2015

12 Days of Psychology Class, Day 6: OPL (Online Psychology Labroratory)

Helping students learn psychology

Fellow THSP Blogger Kent Korek featured the National Science Federation and the American Psychological Association's Online Psychology Laboratory in 2009 - but this site is so good it needs another post. There are numerous online studies that are actual RESEARCH that kids can take part in, from Implicit Bias tests to "Be a Juror" to the Stroop Effect.

Visit OPL here.

These activities could be great in the memory unit, social psychology, sensation and perception, or research.
It could also be a good activity to use if you have students doing independent research projects, science fair or psych fair projects, or if you're a SBG school and kids need to demonstrate advanced proficiency.

Still no snow here in the Frozen Tundra (which isn't so frozen) and the Ramponi's are out of coffee. Happy December 28th.

----Posted by Amy Ramponi

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The 12 Days of Psychology Class...Day 5: Steven Pinker, Steven Pinker, STEVEN PINKER

Steven Pinker.

Enough said...I love him and anything he touches. Saw this article about his work in my social media feed and read it immediately and loved it. This short article would go great as an opener in the Thinking and Language unit. Here's the article from Inc. called "The 20 Most Abused Words in the English Language." 

(Apologies on being out of the loop the past two days. I found myself at my parents/in-laws unexpectedly overnight without my computer and posting from my phone was tricky. Don't worry - I still got 7 more posts in me. I think.)

Still no snow here in Wisconsin. I'm hoping for a white New Year's Eve.

-----Posted by Amy Ramponi 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

12 Days of Psychology Class - Day 4: Videos, videos, videos!

A most happy Christmas Eve to everyone!

Today's post is all about classroom video clips you can use - that are NEVER taken off Youtube....grrrr....
Looking for a video to reinforce a concept, add a quick laugh, or even help make sub plans for when you will be out? had hundreds of psychology videos organized by unit.  There are documentaries, full-length movies, classic footage and clips from popular shows (Big Bang, Modern Family, Simpsons, The office, Cheers, Frasier. etc)

1. Go to
2. Click on teacher section 
3. click on create an account.  
4. use an email address that ends in .edu or .org 
5. Joe will send you a confirmation email within 24 hours (usually)

Image result for santa with video camera

Thanks, Joe, for this awesome cache of clips!

Still no snow in Wisconsin....

-- Posted by Amy Ramponi 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mental health week on Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed just published an amazing series of Mental Health Week articles that you should be aware of. I'll be honest and admit I've only checked out a few, but the ones I did were great. Be aware that Buzzfeed's posts aren't always classroom appropriate (in language and/or content), so be sure to read each post before sharing it with your students - I would not advise just sending students to this link without doing so first.

Here are a few of the posts:

  • This Is The Difference Between People With Social Anxiety And Without
  • 13 Powerful Stories About College Students Living With Depression
  • 21 Of The Most Beautiful Lines In Literature About Anxiety
  • What Your Doctor Is Looking For When Diagnosing Mental Illness

Check out more at:

-- posted by Steve

12 Days of Psychology Class - Day 3: Essay Writing, Social Psychology, Relevance and Rigor, and Ca$h....

Happy Holidays! It's the 3rd day of the 12 days of Psychology Class!

If your district (like mine) is into the Danielson Model, relevance and rigor are big buzzwords that come up in your lesson planning, your instruction, and with what you give kids to complete. When I saw the TOPSS essay competition and question for this year - wow. Racial bias and social inequalities is both a relevant topic, rigorous, and engaging to students across the nation. 

The implications of what you could do with this in an IB, AP, or general psychology class are vast and could be quite profound. Paired with instruction, discussion, some student completion of the Harvard Implicit Bias test , and various other classroom implications  This could be a formative assessment in the course or some kind of summative assessment.

Here's all the details you need to know from the APA TOPSS people on the competition.

Plus, your kids could win cash. $250 to be exact.

Still no snow...50 degrees and raining here in Wisconsin. Sigh...

-- Posted by Amy Ramponi 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

12 Days of Psychology Class: Day 2 - IQ Activity

Happy Holidays, everyone! Here is my 2nd "12 Days of Class" post. We got a dusting of snow last night - but I'm waiting for the real thing and still holding out hope for a white Christmas.

At the NCSS New Orleans conference this past November, I attended a REALLY FABULOUS workshop session by Laura Brandt and David Elbaum of Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL on incorportaing Law/Psychology. I was leafing through the "The Intersection of Law and Psychology" booklet that they shared with those who attended. In the packet, there was an article I read on the flight home entitled "Death by IQ: US Inmates Condemned by Flawless Tests" published by New Scientist.  As I was reading the article - I realized (basically) the WHOLE unit was in here! With very limited time (especially second semester) I need activities and articles that cover A LOT of ground.

Students were engaged, asking questions, and very interested in the topic when applied to the death penatly.

Sheet to accompany PPT slides

PPT slides 

Thanks to Laura and David for the great presentation and the great idea!

-- Posted by Amy Ramponi

Monday, December 21, 2015

12 Days of Class Day 1: What Doesn't Belong Review

Happy December Everyone! I was thinking of making my New Year's Resolution "make more blog posts" but a number of factors might make that rather unlikely (such as transitioning to all AP Psych, all day...and getting it all in on a semester block, a baby arriving in April, and another resolution to actually make it to my book club which will require me to actually read the books.) But...I'm going to at least pound some out here in the 12 Days of Psychology...

My good friend Virginia Welle turned me on to a seriously good review technique. I love making them for most every unit - and I just made a new one for my Social Psychology review today in class and I thought I'd share it with the psychology teachers out there (who likely won't get to social psychology until April...sigh...). But anyway, here's how it works:

Kids get the sheet and have to reason which term/name/study/etc. DOES NOT BELONG with the other. I am constantly trying to teach my kids to review in ways OTHER THAN REREAD THEIR TEXT, NOTES, or MAKE MINDLESS I like these very much because it tests their metacognition. (Thanks Dr. Chew for turning me on to THAT term!)

Social Psychology - What Does Not Belong?

Do you make reviews like this? Don't you love them? Want to share with others? If so, email me and I can link them up to this blog.

A very happy holiday from the snowless "frozen tundra" of Wisconsin.

- Posted by Amy Ramponi

Monday, December 14, 2015

Critical Thinking and "Classic" Psych research

Reading this interview with Gina Perry, author of Behind the Shock Machine, is fascinating, and disillusioning. It turns out that a lot of what I thought I know about the Migram study ain't true! It got me thinking:

Many of us have students review/summarize/discuss "classic" psychology experiments (using books like 40 Studies that Changed Psychology and the "Classics in the History of Psychology" archive). But maybe there is value in going BEYOND that kind of thinking - maybe we should encourage our students to think like "mythbusters."

Maybe students could dig deeper and figure out if what we THINK we know about these studies, what gets summarized in our textbooks and other summaries, is the "whole story?" This would be darn challenging, and sometimes impossible, but I like the message it sends: Psychology is a science, and all "truths" in science are tentative and get revised based on later findings.

Do any of you out there do anything like this? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Professsional Development Opportunity this Summer

News on this coming year's Clark University Workshop came out today!

Here's all the info you need to consider before applying. The workshop is FREE, there are travel stipends, and you get to learn from the amazing Alan Feldman and the spectacular Virginia Welle. And spend some time in MA in the summer. Oh, and Freud visited there - who doesn't want to say they walked in Freud's footsteps?! (Ok, maybe there are a few.)

This workshop is made possible each summer due to the kind and generous spirit of Dr. Lee Gurel, PhD and his wife, Linda. (I hear he's a fan of this blog, so "HEY DR. G!")

APA/Clark University Workshop for High School Teachers participants

- Posted by Amy Ramponi 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Webinar on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning!

This post is shamelessly stolen from the APA/TOPSS email all members received from Chair Mike Hamilton yesterday. 

Next Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 7:30 PM ET, The American Psychological Association and  TOPSS is pleased that Regan Gurung, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay will be presenting a free webinar for TOPSS members: “Cultivate Learning: Capitalizing on the Science of Learning.” A description of the webinar is provided below; the hour-long event will include time for questions and answers. To watch the webinar, please visit this site. The webinar will be posted online after the live event. We hope you will be able to join us next Tuesday!

Cultivating Learning: Capitalizing on the Science of Learning 
Regan Gurung, PhD, University of Wisconsin–Green Bay

What is the best way to conceptualize what we do as teachers? What are some evidence-based strategies to foster learning? This talk will answer these questions and more, providing a variety of key research findings relating to what works in the classroom (and what does not). Packed with pragmatic strategies teachers can implement immediately, the presentation will raise some thought-provoking questions about what learning should look like.
Dr. Gurung received a BA in psychology at Carleton College and a master’s and PhD in social and personality psychology at the University of Washington. He teaches various courses in health psychology, research methods and culture development and health. He is a past-president of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA’s Division 2) and a dedicated teacher with strong interests in enhancing student learning and faculty development.
This webinar has been made possible through a grant from the American Psychological Foundation, thanks to a generous gift from Lee Gurel, PhD.

I recently saw a version of this talk at the EPIC conference held at UW- Green Bay in October and IT. WAS. PHENOMENONAL. I've very excited to see what else Dr. Gurung has to share and for all of you to join in! I took home immediate and very helpful resources to bring to my classes, and you will, too.

A very happy, healthy, and grateful Thanksgiving wish to all the THSP readers from my house to yours! 

- Posted by Amy Ramponi 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Easy YouTube Videos - Bypass Publishing "Difficult Topics Explained"

Teaching AP Psychology on a semester block requires some innovation and quick activities. Imagine my delight when I found this set of videos online this morning! At a few minutes running time each for difficult topics - this is perfect for any psychology, AP Psychology, or IB Psychology review!

Important and difficult topics explained - schedules of reinforcement, action potentials, Weber's Law - yes, please!  Thank you very much Bypass Publishing!

Find the YouTube Channel here:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thoughts from NCSS New Orleans

Last weekend, I had the great luxury to attend the National Council of the Social Studies (NCSS) conference in New Orleans. It was great to reconnect with old friends, make some new ones, and to get some seriously good professional development in. I asked attendees to give me a few comments on their experiences, and here's what I got. 

"I liked how so many presentations dealt with real world issues, and showed how they linked back to psych (instead of focusing on a psych topic and how to teach it.) 

"The entire weekend was amazing! One thing I want to try is actually from your session (Amy Ramponi) with Jen Schlicht and Allison Shaver, Talk Tuesdays, I believe you called them. My students struggles with developing good questions, this sounds like just the thing!" 

"It was awesome to attend the first session Friday morning on teaching AP Psychology. I also feel a bit like it is {AP Psychology} set up like a vocabulary course. As the only AP Psych teacher I know (maybe the only one in Maine?) it was nice to talk with others who are teaching it and I loved the ideas from the presenter (Sean Tischler). Super effort by everyone! Thank you! 

"Don't teach kids psychology, DO PSYCHOLOGY."

"You can learn about psych in lots of places (like the THSP blog!) and the things you learn about psych at NCSS are fantastic. But the best thing about the conference is the chance to develop personal relationships with other psych teachers. It is helpful (and wonderful) when these new colleagues' names come up on the Psych Community Facebook page or with the #psychat tag on Twitter. NCSS always leaves me feeling energized and connected. 

"I liked how all presenters mentioned doing projects or activities that were very open-ended and unencumbered by rubrics and exemplars. This is such a great way to encourage students to explore something of interest to their lives.

Thank you to the NCSS leadership committee, NCSS, New Orleans, LA and everyone who attended for enriching the experience. Next year, plan on attending in Washington DC, if you can! Also, if you're looking for the presentations and links keep your eye on the NCSS Psychology Community web page for the links from the presentations to go up. If you're not a member, consider joining. The fee is a ridiciously tiny $30 for a lifetime membership. (Wha?) Membership information is included on the website linked above. 

My two-cents about the NCSS conference? An engaging & passionate group of psych teachers putting some seriously thought-provoking and good stuff out there. And I'm set for pens and pencils free from the Exhibition Hall for at least 20 years. 

---Posted by Amy Ramponi, who has almost caught up on her sleep  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Webcasts and Online Modules from APA/TOPSS
The fabulous folks at TOPSS/APA have done it again! They are making webcasts and online modules available for FREE teacher use! Check out this list!
  • Does that Psychology Demonstration REALLY work? (Rob McEntarffer - warning: you may not be able to stand this guy's voice for long :) 
  • Neuroethics and Neurotechnology (Eric Chudler - Neuroscience for Kids!) 
  • Research Methods, Measurement and Statistics (the great Stephen Chew! If we all listend to Dr. Chew more, all of us would actually KNOW how to study!) 
  • Key Points to Remember in Biopsychology
  • Classroom Activities in Biopsychology
Please comment when you find great things in these resources so that we can all share your joy! AND if you aren't a member of TOPSS, why not? They do great stuff!

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Friday, October 30, 2015

Help compile a resource of psychology podcast episodes

We need your help! In November at the NCSS Annual Conference Rob McEntarffer and I are presenting "Now Hear This," a look at using podcast episodes in introductory psychology classes. While I have collected a slew of them to share, I know there are many out there that YOU think are pretty great. So I created the Google Form below (and if it's not embedded, please click here to go to the form directly) to create a starting point to collect these resources.

Here is what we are looking for:

  • podcast episodes that you think would be good for a intro psych class, whether high school or college (note: it's better to suggest episodes rather than entire podcasts - for example, there are many episodes of This American Life which are excellent for this purpose, but not all of them)
  • why you like this podcast - what makes it compelling
  • where it fits in the curriculum (using the fourteen content areas from AP Psychology as a guide)
  • HOW to use podcasts - we are looking for a wide variety of ideas here
  • who you are - tell us who you are and how to get in touch with you

Please share these with us by Friday, November 6.
Following the NCSS conference, we will publish the compiled list for everyone to use as a resource and continue to add to! (Also, here is a list of all the psych-related presentations at NCSS.)

If you have questions, let me know ( Thanks!
--posted by Steve


I spotted a few GENIUS level psychology related costumes from Facebook friends - check it out!

Can you tell who this is? Hint: he's been having trouble with emotional control...
(source: I believe this is Psychology teacher James Roscoe - James, if you're out there, let us all know how you did this!)

If you don't recognize this costume, ask anyone who goes to movies with kids...
(source: Psychology teacher Melissa Rogers - cheer up, Melissa!)

Get it? Get it? I wish I could remember the term for this ... let me check my mother textbook ... Oops! I meant ANOTHER textbook!

(source: I don't know! Attributed on Facebook to the mysterious"Cookie Cookalooka")

If you have other psych related Halloween goodies, please share them in the comments! 

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Sunday, October 25, 2015

#ThisPsychMajor and Political Fallout

In case you missed it, Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, recently stated that most psychology majors would end up working in fast food. This spawned a series of people tweeting what #ThisPsychMajor does in their professional lives. Psychology Today blogger Travis Langley posted a number of tweets stating what the psych majors have done. You can find that information here:

From the blog post:
""Universities ought to have skin in the game," former Florida governor and current presidential candidate Jeb Bush said at a South Carolina town hall meeting Saturday morning, "When a student shows up, they ought to say 'Hey, that psych major deal, that philosophy major thing, that's great, it's important to have liberal arts … but realize, you're going to be working a Chick-fil-A.'" (link is external) Psychology and philsophy [sic] weren't random examples used to put down all college education because he also bemoaned a shortage of, among other things, information technologists and teachers."
Dr. Ali Mattu,, has extensively covered the event as well, retweeting many posts, including my own. Below is a picture he tweeted about his own work. Be sure to check out his YouTube show and other work-they are linked on his Twitter account.

For checking out the posts directly, here is the twitter search:

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, October 19, 2015

Iowa Teachers of Psych Conference is Nov 6th

The midwest sure does seem to be hub of psychology-teacher professional development lately. This time, it is in Iowa!

Image result for iowa

The 16th annual Iowa Teachers of Psych Conference is being held in Pella, Iowa at Central College and all are welcome.

Information can be found here  and registration is a mere $35.00.

----Posted by Amy Ramponi

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Teaching with GIFs?

We should probably start with the pronunciation controversy: some people insist that  ".gif" is pronounced like the first syllable of "Jiffy," while others are equally passionate that it sounds like the first part of "Gift." I don't care how anyone pronounces it :)

But something I do care about: maybe we could use .gifs in teaching? Greg Shenk, psych teacher extraordinaire from CT shared this .gif his students made of neural depolarization. I love it - short, detailed, and on a loop. Might be cool to have this running behind a lecture/discussion of depolarization, talking about the process and pointing at details in the animation. Or students could look at it on their own devices and be ready to narrate the process using correct terminology? Cool possibilities.

Does anyone else do "animations" or other small videos like this with your classes? Maybe this could be a new thing!

Credit for the video goes to a few of Greg's awesome students:
Alec Bernardi
Aleks Nowicki
Mason DiCicco

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Replication - an opportunity for high school researchers?

The article from Noba below is a good read, and got me thinking about connections between the "replication crisis" in psychology and high school psychology research projects:

The Replication Crisis in Psychology

The Noba article addresses the importance of replication thoroughly and makes a compelling (to me) argument for the importance of thinking of the "replication crisis" carefully AND the importance of replication to the field of psychology.

Which made me wonder: can high school psychology teachers and students help? Many of us help students complete research projects - what if high school psych students took on the task of replicating a psychology study and sharing/publishing their results? I wonder if projects like "Center for Open Science" would be willing to help publicize well-done replication studies by high school psychology students?

Hmm. Would love to hear your thoughts. If anyone wants to take this on, I'd love to talk with you.

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TV Alert: David Eagleman and the Brain

David Eagleman, of Baylor University has written and presented a new series on the brain. It looks incredibly cool. I just watched one of the streaming segments on energy used in he brain when one is a beginner versus when one is an expert-they used a champion cup stacker. Eagleman has a nack for describing the brain in ways that are new and helpful to the viewer. This is a great follow up to his book, Incognito.

Am on an iPad, so no cool graphics, but check out the link and record this show. You will be using it as an amazing complement to Brain Games. The site below has resources and video clips you can watch. Launch the interactive link to get to the videos. 

Check your local PBS station for details on air times.

Posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, October 12, 2015

Project Look Sharp: A Media Literacy Site

I recently ran across a cool site called Project Look Sharp. In their words, "Project Look Sharp is a media literacy initiative of Ithaca College that develops and provides lesson plans, media materials, training, and support for the effective integration of media literacy with critical thinking into classroom curricula at all education levels, including integration with the new common core standards." Definitely worth a look if you deal with any of the topics below. They also have some intriguing lesson plans and materials to use.

Check them out at:

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Grading: Making the Mundane Less...

When I was a small child, I used to like to play school. My favorite parts of the pretend school day were writing on the chalkboard and grading papers. While chalkboards have been replaced with whiteboards, the seemingly endless grading has not disappeared. In what ways can teachers make the mundane and endless task of grading less so?

I've discovered (maybe new to you, likely not...but I thought I'd share anyway) a few tricks to the trade that might make your grading tasks easier, or, if nothing else, might save an awful lot of paper and keep your desk a bit tidier.

Classmarker - this is a website in which you can house exams for your students, you can push out tests on the day of an exam electronically. It is quite slick, because the questions can be randomized as well as the options randomized, so it gets rid of many cheating possibilities. Students get instant feedback and the exams scores can be easily transferred to the grade book. I really like the paperless options and there's never any lost test sheets. A free Classmarker account give you 100 tests a month, with other pricing options starting at $20. With a switch in many's teaching philosophy to a "Growth Mindset" - this also makes retakes a breeze. No more looking for the copy of the test they want to retake from under the piles and piles on your desk.
The drawbacks: well, cost, for one. If you have many sections, 100 tests a month likely isn't gonna cut it. So you'd have to take the paid options. Another drawback I found was that many of my kids had a difficult time remembering passwords and keeping that straight. Despite directions to change it to their school password or to write it down, there were always a handful that couldn't recall their password and thus class time was spent working on that. Other drawbacks include the worry by some AP teachers that "AP tests aren't taken online so I don't think this works for me." I see both sides to that argument, but in the wise words of my colleague Brad, "Kids nowadays don't know how to fill in a bubble sheet on a standardized test?" Students may not like the option of an online test - it doesn't give them opportunities to cross off options like a paper-pencil test, which some kids like. Also, it doesn't allow for kids to skip questions and come back to them as easily as a paper-pencil version. A final drawback I found was that typing in all the exam questions (as I don't think it allows me to upload from the test bank I use for many questions) was time-consuming.

Socrative - I enjoy Socrative very much for short quizzes or formatives in my class. I love the spreadsheet of scores that gets sent to you right away. I love that you can put the explanation in to the questions so kids know what the right answer is right away if they get it wrong. I like that they can go through a quiz several times for repeated practice (if they so chose) and I like that it is paperless and easy to find on the site if they miss a quiz and they need to come in and make one up. (Again, not going into the files on a computer, printing it off, running to get the printed copy, and then having to hand grade it.) The drawbacks to Socrative are that they do have to have a device that hooks up to wifi or that you have to be 1:1, the fact that some kids like the paper-pencil option to cross off distractors. Socrative is FREE and in my honest opinion, glorious!

Zipgrade - (full disclosure, ZipGrade recently generously donated free subscriptions to the EPIC conference held at UWGB). Can I just say that I love this app? I have it downloaded right to my phone and it has completely gotten rid of the fact that I ever have to run upstairs to use the archaic scantron machine EVER again. Zipgrade is an app on my smart phone that allows me to scan student multiple choice papers and give them an instant score and instant feedback. The key is stored right in my phone so any time a kids needs to make up a test all I have to do is pull the key right up and there it is! (No more looking for the scantron key). It is also super helpful that I (or my kids) can scan their paper right when they finish a test and then start working on test corrections right away if they so choose. I have also seen a dramatic increase in kids staying after on the test day to ask questions on what they got wrong while everything is fresh in their head. Zipgrade saves the student's score right in the app on my phone for an easy transfer to my Infinite Campus grade book. It isn't totally paperless, as you have to print off the "bubble sheets" for students to mark their answers on. There are diagnostics that are great for analyzing your questions. Another benefit is that if a student looses their "bubble sheet" you have a scanned copy saved right in the app. A small drawback I have noticed is that when students use pencil sometimes the glare from the pencil lead's shineyness will cause my iPhone camera to "miss" the mark and mark it wrong, so I have to be careful to check kid's papers twice to make sure there aren't any lighting issues. Overall, I'm super happy with Zipgrade and its inclusion in my classroom. Another drawback is that it isn't free. The small price of $6.99 for a year is totally worth it, IMHO. 

Akindi - our school district has moved to using this site. Since I'd bought a year subscription to Zipgrade, I don't know too much about Akindi. I believe Akindi is very similar to ZipGrade. Akindi has free trials with benefits to its use including analytics, customizable scan sheets, and other benefits I am interested in hearing about from my colleagues. (They just started using this - so I'll check in with them soon.) Akindi is not free, and I had a difficult time finding out on their website just how much it is, exactly, a year. 

GradeCam (full disclosure, Gradecam donated free year memberships to the EPIC conference held at UWGB, as well.) I don't personally use this product, but after investigating the website it seems like many benefits to it, for sure! This product is a purchased product, but for a few dollars a month, it seems like they give you a lot of great tools to assess students. I really like that you can put standards in, and that there's an option to transfer to the gradebook and also export options. Gradecam offers free trials for teachers, so it certainly seems worth taking a look at their site and seeing if it is right for you and your classroom. Gradecam states on their website the following, additional, benefits: immediate personal feedback, sharing assessments with other teachers in real time, use of any web or smart phone camera, and easy links to state and common core standards. 

What other options are out there? What do you like to use for quick, painless assessments or for longer ones? What are the benefits and drawbacks to what you're using? Are any of you stuck with Scantrons? Email me if you want to share your experiences with any online or app grading systems at

Here's to hoping you're spending your Sunday watching football with a crisp Oktoberfest (or warm apple cider for me), and NOT grading papers. 

- Posted by Amy Ramponi 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

More Psych Teacher Professional Developement in St. Louis, MO!

2015 Fall St. Louis TOPSS (SLTOPSS) Workshop!

**Partially funded by a grant from the APF Psychology Teacher Network Grant 

This conference is being held Wednesday, October 21st from 5-7 pm at Education Plus (formerly Cooperating School Districts) at 1460 Craig Road in St. Louis, MO.

The cost is free, zero, zilch, nada. There is a side dish/dessert pot luck - so bring a dish to pass. Also, bring your best stuff for a sharing session.

Email Jennifer Flores at or Melody Barger at for details or to sign up!

Want to start your own TOPSS group!? Click the link about for information on how to do so or where to get some cash!

---Posted by Amy Ramponi