Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stress and Music Assignment

Hi All,

A couple of you noticed that I had a regular psychology assignment embedded as an option in my Emotions/Stress Hyperdoc. I forgot I had put that in there. I believe that music can be a wonderful way to connect with students. We share and they share. Of course, we all experience stress. At the end of this assignment, I ask the students to share other songs that make the stress connection.

My regular psychology class is project-based and I wanted to show my kids that love and sex are not the only things singers croon and rap about.

So here is the link to my stress and music assignment:


posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, January 23, 2017

FRQ Preparation Activity by Jen Schlicht

Jen Schlicht is a fellow AP Psych teacher in Olathe Kansas as well as a friend of the blog. This past weekend, she shared a method she uses for FRQ preparation with her students. Below is her excellent contribution.

One of my favorite activities to do once my students have quite a few FRQ's under their belt is "Build your own FRQ." I come up with a bunch of really generic scenarios that give them just enough information to build a real prompt. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • your dog gets sprayed by a skunk 
  • possum trapping 
  • babysitting 
  • a surprise party 
  • meeting your celebrity crush 
  • teaching your grandparent how to text 
  • oversleeping on your ACT test date 

I usually put 15 or so in each round. I have a little bucket where I place the scenarios. Then I choose about 50 vocabulary terms and put those on separate slips of paper. Examples would be:

  • amygdala 
  • avoidance-avoidance conflict 
  • encoding 
  • punishment 
  • Big Five trait of openness 
  • fundamental attribution error 

or just include terms that maybe your students need more practice with.

The beauty of this is that it takes very little prep time and you can tailor it to your classroom needs.

My students are in families of 5-6 students so each family is divided into 2 groups and would draw a scenario and then 3-5 terms. In some cases I have them draw one more term than they would be using so they have one term they can toss out. I have them write a prompt and then a rubric to define and apply their terms.

Then each group shares their prompt and we answer come up with our responses as a class. I love this activity because it provides them an opportunity to think critically about how to apply terms to a prompt and allows for quite a bit of laughter because they get pretty creative with their prompts!

Thank you Jen!

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hyperdoc for Emotions/Stress Unit

Hi All,

Previously, I told you I would post the hyperdoc I created for the Emotions/Stress portion of the Motivation and Emotions unit. I finally have a chance to do that. FYI, this doc is created for my textbook Myers for AP, 2nd edition. Myers does not include everything and has some materials that I find to be superfluous. Careful reading will show where I have added and omitted questions.

As always, I appreciate feedback and constructive criticism.

Happy emotions!


posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Ultimate Portable Brain Model

Back in the day, that is, the early 90s, I learned from Professor Suzi Shapiro, of Indiana University East, about her Ultimate Portable Brain Model. Somewhere, in the intervening years between then and now, I lost the idea. Fortunately, Dr. Ali Mattu had discovered it and created a wonderful video to show our students how to use it. Simply put, it is a fantastic learning tool. So check this out and share it with your students!!!

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Louis Schmier: A Student-Centered Teacher

Have you ever heard of Louis Schmier? He was a history professor whose "Random Thoughts" I used to read on some listservs. Newer teachers would likely not have heard about him. I have found him to be an incredibly valuable resource in my teaching.
He was an old-time hard/demanding lecturer/teacher/professor. Then his epiphany came in the form of a health issue. As he discusses, he changed his approach to teaching. His views have been influential in my approach to students. It's the person first, then the content. He asks many questions about his teaching and reflects on these questions, along with conversations he has with colleagues and students. If you are a person who values students and are a risk-taker, you will enjoy his writing. He took chances on both his teaching and on the humanity of his students. 

You can find his complete collection here:

I find going back and reading one or two (takes less than 5 minutes) helps me recenter when I get away from my preferred approach to teaching.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Blended Learning: Caveats, Cautions, and Adjustments

The Move From Sage to Guide

I currently teach at a school (Mountain House High School, California) that has implemented a 1 to 1 method, with Chromebooks being the tool of choice. We are a Google (Google Apps for Education-GAFE) campus--all students have a school-issued Gmail account which enables access to Google Drive, Docs, Spreadsheets, Drawing, Slides, etc. This basic suite of tools alone can make your life so much easier. There are some shortcuts and tips to using these tools which Alice Keeler has demonstrated. Be sure to follow her on twitter and/or on her email list. I will make another post about things to definitely do and things to avoid while using the GAFE tools.

One of the biggest things to become accustomed to in the blended learning environment is no longer being the person at the front of the room with something to do all the time. You will experience some cognitive dissonance. They key is how you will resolve that internal conflict. How will you overcome the old habits and expectations that have become engrained in your schemas about the education process?

Over the years, I had created many daily lessons that involved me at the heart of the classroom asking questions, being the primary reviewer, going at my pace, doing what I wanted/needed to do. What students did I leave behind? What advanced students did I slow down in order to keep them in lock step with my calendar and pacing? How can I use the tools at my disposal to expose them to a variety of psychological content? How can I use those extras to enhance primary content without losing the primary content? How can I leverage what I've learned from other teachers

As adults, when we are learners, we are busy, occupied with reading or solving problems or thinking of ways to address various issues we encounter. We may be deep in thought one moment, though ready to converse or ask a question at another. When we allow students to take the time to learn in class, there can be periods of silence where there is nothing immediately for teachers to do. This can make many of us very uncomfortable. This could be down time or sit at the computer time, but I see that as a waste. In my opinion that "down time" can be incredibly valuable.

The teacher can walk around to:

  • make oneself available for questions as they arise
  • make sure students are on-task
  • ask questions of students--have them explain what they are reading or HOW they are solving a problem, depending on the work being done by students
  • identify students who complete the work early or quickly and ask to check out their work and question what they have learned--often, students overlook key feature/aspects of an assignment when it is done too quickly
  • get their ten thousand steps in
  • identify classroom relationships and interactions

When a teacher is freed up to allow the students to work, something potentially magical can happen. Rather than 30+ teenagers looking bored, falling asleep, or using their phones, we treat them like adults, let them know what they are responsible for and allow them to live up to expectations.

One Tough Change

Let go of your ego. Many of us who have been teaching in the traditional style see ourselves as an actor, entertainer, laugh maker, steward of knowledge, and more. We need to change from being the focal point of the classroom to being "only" another important part of the classroom. This switch is more difficult for some than others. Instead of preparing lectures to be delivered at our pace, we will be creating learning experiences that students can follow at their own pace.

You must reexamine what you want students to get out of your classroom and your subject matter. Do you want them to "know things" or do you want them to be able to "do things"? What is more important, that students know about Ghrelin and Peptide YY and be able to recall the difference in a multiple choice question? Or is it more important that they learn about the hormonal processes about hunger and take that knowledge and be able to use it while explaining eating disorders to a wider audience in a student-led TED-style talk/presentation? Goals may change with blended learning.


If you are anything like me, you will love getting out from under the literal mountain of paperwork that comes with traditional teaching.

  • It will take time to become accustomed to not having handouts all the time
  • Get used to asking students for technology help
  • Learn to be comfortable with the potential chaos and the unknown
  • As my principal, Ben Fobert says, "embrace the ambiguity"
  • The more you get used to the internet as your best friend, the happier you will become
  • The more you get used to the internet, the more frustrating it will become if it does not work
  • The internet will not always work
  • I repeat, the internet will not always work
  • As with other methods, become knowledgeable enough to have backup plans in case your primary ones do not work

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hyperdocs: A Key Part of Blended Learning

Graphic by Diana Mancuso
My first experience with the internet goes back to roughly 1992 and my TA Eric. I purchased a 14400 baud modem from him to use with my Macintosh Classic. He told me about bulletin boards online and I had recently learned about this strange new thing called AOL. They had been sending 3.5 inch floppy disks to my apartment. Later it was CDs. I must have received at least 50 of those over the years. Thanks to that student, I began learning about the internet, email, TCP/IP, modems, handshakes, FTP, and so much more. He became my teacher. For those of you not old enough to remember this, 1992 was before the World Wide Web had been "invented." The Web was born in 1989, but the general public was not using it until 1994 or later. At that time, many teachers were wondering how to use their Apple IIe or Apple IIgs, the one with a color screen and a mouse.

I digress.

Frontloading Content

If done well, the most work/effort will go into creating learning opportunities that allow students to think and grow at their own pace. Yes, we usually want them to grow so we can assess at the same time, especially true for those of us who teach Advanced Placement courses. At this early point, I like to create study guides that hit upon key ideas.

  • I review the text
  • I create a google doc as a study guide; questions/terms in the left column--student responses in the right column--this format makes grading so much easier than traditionally formatted documents.
  • I may add video links with questions
  • I may add memes and ask the kids to interpret them within the reading
  • I may add songs/lyrics for the students to interpret within the current unit
  • I definitely add multiple choice questions for practice AND short answer for FRQ practice
  • FRQ practice is done in class
In class, I ask the students to be done with a particular reading by certain dates so we can discuss and do activities/demonstrations in class that can extend the book learning. My first hyperdoc is for motivation for my AP Psych course using Myers for AP 2nd Ed. (the online version). Any feedback and suggestions are quite welcome. I will be the first to admit that my first attempt falls short of the goals in the image above.
I must confess that I had not heard the term "Hyperdoc" until this most recent winter break when I was doing some research and purchasing. That said, I've created various kinds of hyperdocs without realizing it before.

Creating hyperdocs, planning projects, and creating anything resembling blended learning will require a great deal of planning, perhaps even more so than lecture since we want to ask questions and elicit particular kinds of thinking and responses. After developing the initial lessons for your units, you can make changes each semester, or even class period to class period--there are no master copies to fix--just edit your primary document!

The Internet

Become very familiar with resources on the internet. They will be your best friend. You will need to give up the control I gave up when showing videos to class. I would pause the videos, asking questions, pointing out subtleties, making arcane (and sometimes irrelevant) references to ideas the students would never need or remember. I would go for the easy laugh. I learned I can still be a good teacher, perhaps even a better, without showing off some obscure thing I happened to recall in the moment.

Creativity in assessment will allow you to use assessments that can be evaluated without relying on multiple choice exams

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Santa Clause came to Psychology Class

Image result for santa

This school year my high school's winter break didn't start until December 24th. Kids get antsy...I get antsy...so I needed some creative ideas to get kids reviewing for their mini-finals and the May AP Exam and keep them engaged while visions of sugar plums were most likely dancing through their heads. So, on the fly, I came up with "Psychology Letters to Santa.":

I had kids pick 4 terms randomly from our study of psychology. (We had covered everything to Social Psychology by this time.) The students were not told anything more than to pick 4 psych terms from the past semester and that they needed to be from different units. I then had them crumple them up into a ball and toss it to another student in the classroom. The students then needed to write a letter to Santa using the terms in context and correctly.

What I thought was a silly exercise turned into a truly hilarious and fun review that made the long, arduous days prior to a break more fun. This could be amended to add more terms if you wanted, or to make it an assignment for specific terms (as in more FRQ styled.)

What fun activities did you do for the winter holidays/Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa in your classroom? What other holidays do you celebrate in class and make psychology relevant to?

Blessings and Happiness in the New Year!

-----Posted by Amy Ramponi

Calling All Texans!

The first ever TTOP (Texas Teachers of Psychology) will host a workshop in Colleyville, Texas on Feb. 18th from 9am - 3:30pm. For only $25 you can get lunch, presentations by featured speakers, and the sharing of best practice and lessons. Featured speakers include Dr. Sarah Hill of Texas Christian University and Dr. Karen Huxtible-Jester of University of Texas - Dallas. Tiffany Karns, who serves on the leadership team of the College Board's AP Reading will also present.

Image result for texas

Register here  and if you have any questions or require more information, contact Jill Compher at jill.compher@gcisd.net

On another notes: HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone who follows this blog! Apologies for my long absence from the blog-o-sphere. School, teaching, and being a mom is a lot more work than I ever imagined. (Kudos to all you parents out there who've been doing this for years! I tip my hat to you!) OF COURSE I'll post a gratuitous Baby George Arthur photo...)

----- Posted by Amy J. Ramponi

Monday, January 2, 2017

Blended Learning: My Introduction

This is the first post I (Chuck) will be making in regards to blended learning. There are probably as many versions of blended learning as there are teachers who use the style. One key aspect of blended learning is that the instruction moves away from teacher-led/teacher-directed class learning to more student-centered and self-paced learning.

In this entry and the entries to follow, I will be sharing my experiences, both positive and negative as well as frustrations and adjustments that I have had to make.

Some context is merited. After teaching for 29 years in traditional schools, that is, where technology may be considered important, but not a priority, I was often an outlier in my attitudes about teaching and learning. I never wanted to be the "sage on the stage." My teaching philosophy is mainly Constructivist where the learner must make his/her own meaning from the material. Student reflection has always been important. But lecture was the most expeditious way to transfer knowledge. So I poured the cup. I tried so many activities, projects, and discussions as well to avoid being the talker every day. That said, I also hated the idea of seat work. I thought I was wasting everyone's time. I was so very wrong. But with technology, the idea of seatwork has been transformed into practice that helps students learn, not just be filling out worksheets. In the past ten years or so, I have changed my tune on that topic. Guided practice is very important.

As a teacher, I have always second-guessed myself, my lessons, and my effectiveness. This has led to much reflection throughout my career. When it came to utilizing technology to help make learning more effective, I had some successes, but my classroom was always short of the desired resources and I lacked the expertise to implement the ideas I read about effectively. I was often frustrated.

When I learned of a school that focused on blended learning as a schoolwide priority, I became excited at the possibilities. After much effort, I was able to come to Mountain House, a planned community on the outskirts of the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. The community is quite diverse and also has a mix of suburban, rural, as well as international experiences. Mountain House High School opened in 2014 and continues to grow, graduating its first class last spring.

Coming into my thirtieth year teaching at a new school was a strange and wonderful experience. I was still a teacher. The kids were still kids. That part definitely still worked. There was a new building, a new home, a new city, new people. All the teaching and professional habits I had built up had to be changed and reevaluated for their effectiveness.

My biggest challenge was changing my mindset/schema/paradigm for the new school. I had to learn lots of new software. The toughest was Canvas, the Learning Management System that is a combination of gradebook, website, testing tool, and structure for everything that goes on in a course at our school. The kids had lots of experience with it, whereas I had very little. My students were teaching me on a regular basis both in terms of using Canvas as well as about the culture of the school. "It's not published" was a regular refrain early on. My kids had so much patience with me. I had neglected to click a button so the kids could see the assignment or the exam.

I was also fortunate that I had colleagues that I was able to meet with daily during a period called "collaboration." This department period is scheduled into every school day. This has been an amazing resource--to lesson plan, to pose questions, to get feedback on the kids/culture of the school, and to share both successes and frustrations.

*If you have questions or topics you'd like me to address, please ask in the comments and I will be happy to take them on

**Next time, more on moving the expertise from the teacher to the student and an introduction to Hyperdocs.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Book by Michael Britt: Psych Experiments

Recently, a friend of the blog and creator of The Psych Files podcast/educational website, Michael Britt, published a book called, Psych Experiments. In short, for those teachers who want the learning of research methods to come alive, this is the book we've been waiting for. This is a book written with high school students in mind--no unnecessary complications and attempts to bulk up the academic language for publication. Just old-fashioned direct language that is highly understandable.

After piquing the curiosity of the reader with some psych history and a couple cool stories, Britt lays out the thinking behind the book. He explains that the replications will not be exact, but rather "conceptual replications" by examining the key ideas behind the famous and infamous experiments.

In preparation for the research to be carried out, Britt emphasizes respecting the participants, using informed consent and ability to withdraw. He examines the ethics, risks, and benefits. Britt points out that he also avoids using technical terms like independent and dependent variable, operational definitions, etc. in order to make the book accessible to non-academics. Teachers can use this intentional omission as a tool to use with students.

With his signature style, Michael Britt takes classic research studies and breaks them down into understandable bits in a way that is highly readable and informative. The primary and basic information for each research study covered in a way that students will find very helpful.

Here is one example:

Noticing a Face in the Crowd

Psych Concept: Identifying Emotions
Name of Experiment: Constants Across Cultures in the Face and Emotion
Original Scientist/Research: Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Friesen (1971)
Name of Replication/Extension: Finding the Face in the Crowd: An Anger Superiority Effect
Replication Scientist/Research: Christine H. Hansen and Ranald D. Hansen (1988)

Overview of the topic
Original experiment/research described
"Let's Try It" section
"What to Do" section to carry out one's own version of the research with step by step instructions
The Results section
Why It Matters section

So what kinds of research does Britt put into the book? Well, the book is less than 300 pages but manages to deal with 50 research studies. Here are some of the topics he deals with:

  • classical conditioning
  • manipulation and money
  • memory
  • creativity
  • method of loci
  • getting workers to be more productive
  • mental sets
  • psychiatric labels
  • ergonomics and design
  • roles and how they impact behavior
  • romance and partner choice
  • conformity
  • happiness
  • persuasion
  • cognitive dissonance
  • inkblots
  • false memories
  • attractiveness
  • brain imaging
  • curiosity
  • superstitions
  • discrimination
  • and so much more!

So I give my strongest recommendation for purchasing this book. Go out to a bookstore and get it. Go on Amazon and get it. Just get it! It will likely become an integral tool in your teaching tool belt.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn