Friday, July 31, 2015

Crash Course Video Details

Aaron Portenga from Michigan is awesome possum! He put together a minute-by-minute description of the Psychology Crash Course video series on YouTube.

You can find a viewable link here:

The file is view only, so copy/paste into a Word Document or save to your own Google Drive.

Each episode includes links to the respective videos. Seriously, Aaron is awesome!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


The new school year is almost upon us and a former student and now teacher posted a request for icebreakers on facebook. I found immediately found this link from APA Division 2.

I did a post last August called, "First Day Activities," but it was far from complete.

Which icebreakers do you use? Do you have them written up? If so, email me a copy/link to your file so I can add them to our Teaching High School Psych (THSP) Google Drive. Use: thspblog AT



posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Psychology and Clickbait

This week I saw an article from History Today called, "25 Times History Made Perfect Clickbait."

For those not familiar with the term, it is a technique used to create curiosity in the reader of a headline and "encourage" them to click on the link to a page that has many ads, at least one of which you will accidently click on making the page owner richer.

Along those lines, I thought of a couple myself, but tend not to be that creative, so please add your own suggestions for clickbait headlines in the comments below!

  • What Secrets About Prison Life Does Zimbardo Reveal?
  • Do You Have the Right Mindset to Be Successful?
  • Authorities Opened the Door, Found Genie. You Won't Believe What Else?
  • Monkeys Were in For a Nasty Surprise with Harlow!
  • Which Scary Psychologist Created Sex in Advertising?

So get creative and add as many as you'd like in the comments.

Here is a screenshot from the article.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Psychology Memes

--an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.

  • a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

I posted about an app that makes memes back in 2014 at this link:

Since then, I have found more than a few psychology memes online. Some are accurate, some are not. You can use accurate ones for lesson starters or inaccurate ones as a way to check for understanding. You could have students create their own. So many possibilities.

Here are some fun ones.  Enjoy!

posted by Chuck Schallhorn

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New for AP/Regular Psychology Teachers--Resources Galore

The following is a combination post with new material from Chuck and reminders from Steve

Updated resources for teachers new to high school psychologyWelcome 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 pageb) 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 questionse) 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. In 2015-2016, the group will be tweeting the First Wednesday of each month at 8PM EST, 7PM CST, 5PM PST
4) Teaching psychology activity books. These were compiled by Ludy Benjamin 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.
5) 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.
6) 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.
7) 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.
8) 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!
9) 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, and Steve Jones. 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.
10) Brain Games, the video series from National Geographic is outstanding for psychology and neuroscience demonstrations. In fact, it has overtaken many of our in-class demos both in terms of quality and quantity.  You can purchase the DVDs online at or stream a couple seasons on Netflix. For content guides for all five seasons, click here.

11) Chuck Schallhorn has a YouTube Channel that can help out with some of the more complex ideas for the students at:
12) Chuck also has an entire online AP course in video format @  It costs money, but if you are desperate, this should help out

13) We have a THSP Psychology folder on Google docs that has many resources for each unit. These activities have been vetted and are appropriate and quality lessons**test out this link and make sure you can get inside each folder. Contact Chuck if there are any issues with the link.

14) When planning a new unit, check out this blog at and do a unit search for videos and assignments that we have. You can do this by checking out the list of units in the left-hand column of the blog. There are hundreds of ideas and resources we have posted throughout the years.
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!

15) APA Division 2-The Society for the Teaching of Psychology. They have an amazing set of resources on their OTRP website.

16) Check a later post in which Rob will take a look at the videos of Joseph Swope.

17) Check a later post in which Chuck adds Crash Course Psychology video guides.

If there are any resources we missed, please leave them in the comments.

posted by Chuck Schallhorn and Steve Jones

Monday, July 20, 2015

APA/Clark University High School Psychology Teacher Workshop, part 1

Maria Vita and I get to work with a fantastic group of teachers here at Clark University!

The APA Clark University High School Psychology teacher workshop is becoming one of the "great traditions" in high school psychology. Way back in 2005, Dr. Lee Gurel decided to donate to the American Psychological Fund and establish a continuing endowment so that high school psychology teachers could gather during the summer to study at Clark. (you can find more context and background here)

Watch this space for updates on the 2015 Clark experience - a good time will be had by all, and some good psychology learnin' is about to commence!

posted by Rob McEntarffer

Monday, July 13, 2015

Art brings neural circuitry to light

[I've been a fan of Greg Dunn's work for a long time, so when I heard that his work would be appearing in a Philadelphia museum, and that there would be a media night, I asked the amazing Maria Vita if she could be a THSP correspondent for the event. This is her report!  --Steve]

Dr. Brian Edwards (left) and Dr. Greg Dunn (right) at the 
Mutter Museum’s exhibition preview: Mind Illuminated, Philadelphia, PA
To introduce students to the parts of a neuron, teachers often use two-dimensional drawings or videos with simplified animations of pre and postsynaptic neurons.  Some students even build a neuron out of candy or act out the communication between cells.  But do these lessons and activities genuinely capture the complex web of connections in the brain?  Can our students visualize the transformative neural dynamics behind concepts like plasticity or long-term potentiation?

A new exhibit by Dr. Greg Dunn at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, PA may help to shed some light on the topic, literally!  Dunn earned a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania.  As a graduate student, his artistic experiments included blowing a drop of ink across a piece of paper.  Dunn chose this technique because traditional hand painting failed to capture the neuron’s naturally chaotic treelike branches.  One can view Dunn’s minimalist approach in the silk scrolls below which are now on display at the Mutter Museum.

“Cortex In Ink” Ink used to portray a cross section of cerebral cortex
or “Alzheimer’s Tangles” Gold and ink used to illustrate diseased neurons

Ultimately, Dunn found the exclusive use of ink limiting: A mass of neural fibers could not be portrayed because the individual neurons lost their distinctiveness.  Faced with this obstacle, Dunn and a colleague, Dr. Brian Edwards, an electrical engineer at the University of Pennsylvania, designed a revolutionary technique called reflective microetching.  This complex innovation gives the artists a way to “compose...many neurons” yet “digitally assemble them as individual units.”  The blown ink designs are “hatched” or engraved onto photoresist/photolithography (the same material used to make nanoscale bits on microchips).  These embossed neurons are layered at different angles with the potential to reflect light.  Then the material is metalized or gilded.  To showcase the work, the microengraving is carefully placed in a frame with strategically placed lights.

One impressive and brilliantly lit piece at the Mutter exhibit was the Brainbow Hippocampus - where millions of neurons are clustered. For this particular piece, Dunn was inspired by Harvard studies using fluorescent proteins on mice; however, the anatomy of each neuron comes from his imagination.

Brainbow with colored lights

Without colored lights, the microetchings are thin, steel gold-plated sheets.  This is what the same Brainbow Hippocampus piece looks like without the reflection of colored bulbs.

Brainbow Hippocampus - no light
After turning off the colored bulbs, Dunn waved a flashlight in front of the reflective microetching to demonstrate the transformative powers of light.  Suddenly, the layers of neurons in the microetching became more pronounced and the circuits appeared animated.  This 37 second video clip shows the Brainbow in action:  

This is Dr. Dunn explaining it on a previously web published YouTube video Brainbow Hippocampus

The expression of the microetchings changes as one moves side to side.  Using another piece from the exhibit entitled “Chaotic Connectome,” one can contrast two angles of the same piece. 

Dunn believes this technique captures the energy of neural networks.  Thanks Dr. Greg Dunn and Dr. Brian Edwards for “illuminating” the mind for the public and psychology students nationwide.  Your science-infused artwork helps to clarify the complexity of the brain.  Greg Dunn’s work will be on exhibit at the Mutter Museum from July 3, 2015-January 7, 2016.  See 

More Web published material on this topic -
Greg Dunn’s website:
Introduction to Microetching