Monday, March 30, 2015

Eastern Conference on the Teaching of Psychology

The Department of Psychology at James Madison University is hosting a two-day conference for high school and college psychology teachers June 26-27 in Staunton, Virginia. This conference should provide excellent professional development and networking opportunities for teachers of Psychology in Virginia. The conference offers workshops, a poster session, participant idea exchange, and keynote addresses on issues related to the teaching of psychology.

Each of the keynote participants have an impressive resume and topic, but Dr. Stephen Chew has been a strong advocate of high school psychology through his past service to the APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools committee. Dr. Chew provides an excellent perspective on the application of Cognitive Principles in teaching and learning. His video series on "How to Study" is useful not only to students, but also in the high school psychology classroom as a tool for learning about memory and cognition. His most recent series addresses the application of Cognitive knowledge to our practice as teachers.

Conference organizers are hoping to increase participation in the conference from high school teachers and at $50.00, the registration cost is reasonable. More information on the conference as well as registration information can be found at the conference website: Eastern Conference on the Teaching of Psychology (ETOP) 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fall Conference Agenda

We're just four days away from the VaTOPSS Fall Conference.  The registration deadline has passed, but there is plenty of physical space for anyone to come, and most likely there will be enough food for additional participants if you'd like to come.

If you have a laptop or tablet device, it would be useful to have for a few of our sessions. Also, if you're not on the agenda, I've built in time for teachers to share ideas and resources with each other, so if you have an activity or two you'd like to share please bring it in.

Please let me know if you have any questions between now and Monday. (

Here's the agenda for the day.

VaTOPSS Fall Conference
Monday, November 10, 2014
Monticello High School

Dan Willingham:
“What Every Educator and Student Should Know About Human Memory”
11:30- 12:00
Lunch and Table Talk
Kevin Denson: “Using Socrative in the Classroom”
Lani Hoza: “Psychology Research and Applications”
Gail Marney: “Virtual Virginia: Psychology”
Teresa Muse: “Brain Awareness Activities”
Open Sharing and Other Ideas
Closing Remarks and Next Steps

Thursday, October 30, 2014

2014 Fall Conference Updates

The 2014 Fall VaTOPSS Conference is less than two weeks away! If you haven't registered yet, please be sure to do so by Friday, October 31. You are welcome to register after that date, but in order to receive lunch and other materials, you must be registered by the deadline.

A final agenda will be posted next week, but the conference will officially start at 10am, and our featured speaker Dan Willingham will be our first presentation of the day. The conference will run until about 3:45 in the afternoon.

Once again, the conference is at Monticello High School in Charlottesville, VA. Click the high school name for directions. Certificates of attendance will be provided which along with a copy of the days agenda should be sufficient if you wish to receive professional development credit from your district.

Several teachers plan to share ideas and lessons with us for the day, but we will also have some time built in for informal sharing with each other, so if you have a lesson or idea that others may benefit from, bring it with you. Also, bring a laptop or other device if you have it in order to fully participate in some of our presentations.

If you have any questions, email

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2014 Fall Conference

Mark your calendars for Monday, November 10 for our second VaTOPSS conference. This conference will bring Psychology teachers from across Virginia together to share ideas and resources for teaching high school Psychology in the commonwealth. The fall conference will feature Daniel Willingham, professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Virginia and author of "Why Students Don't Like School" and "When Can You Trust the Experts".

Once again, the conference will be held at Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Virginia. There is no cost to attend the conference thanks to a grant from the APF, but pre-registration is required to receive conference materials and lunch.

The conference hours, agenda, and other details will be posted as available on this site and e-mailed to everyone registered for the conference.

2014 Fall Conference Registration Form

If you're unable to attend the conference, consider submitting your contact information on the "VaTOPSS Information List" form to stay updated on VaTOPSS activity.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

March Conference Wrap Up

It's been almost three months since our first VaTOPSS conference so I'm a little delayed with the promised recap. In addition to finishing up the school year, I just returned from the AP Reading for AP Psychology in Kansas City last week. If you're an AP teacher I highly recommend that you apply to become a reader. It is hard work and a large commitment of time, but the benefits certainly outweigh the difficulty.

Of course, our initial conference date of March 3 was preempted due to snow. We still had about a dozen teachers and our featured presenters able to attend the rescheduled date on March 24.

After introductions in the morning, our first session was led by Dr. James Freeman. Dr. Freeman spoke about his involvement with TOPSS and the College Board. He shared some of the resources available through these organizations for both new and experienced teachers of Psychology. I knew that Dr. Freeman had played a role in strengthening instruction in high school Psychology courses, but only last week in Kansas City did I realize that "he's kind of a big deal."

In Kansas, there was a presentation by Randall Ernst in which he detailed the history of AP Psychology beginning in the early 1990's. Dr. Freeman was there from the very beginning. Sitting through the presentation I felt a bit proud that he was able to also be a part of the first VaTOPSS.

Our session after lunch started with Dr. Fred Smyth. Dr. Smyth's presentation focused on bias and implicit associations. While his presentation focused on this topic, we also had an opportunity to discuss other topics such as application of scientific method in the classroom and what expectations college professors of psychology have of students entering their classes. In addition to his work with Project Implicit, Dr. Smyth teaches the Psychology 101 course at the University of Virginia.

We finished the day with a more informal sharing of ideas and lessons that have worked in our own classrooms. Topics on perception, nervous system, mental health, and others were shared by classroom teachers. I've already incorporated one of the activities into my classroom this year.

VaTOPSS has received a second year of funding through the American Psychological Foundation. I'm hoping to schedule our second conference in late October/early November this year. Currently, Dan Willingham has agreed to present to our group. If you're not familiar with him, I suggest you check out his website. He is a cognitive psychologist who has focused much of his work on student learning in the educational environment.

I'll update soon when a date is confirmed. In the meantime, start thinking about what you'd like to share at the VaTOPSS fall conference 2014, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.

Here are a few other opportunities that you might be interested in coming up:

APA Pre-Convention Workshop for Teachers of Introductory Psychology : August 6 in D.C.

APA Annual Convention: August 8-10. Special rate of $95 for TOPSS members with several special sessions of TOPSS invited speakers.

NCSS National Convention November 21-23 in Boston. Thanks to the NCSS Psychology Community there are numerous Psychology related sessions to attend.