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