Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Report from San Antonio

I was thrilled to be able to participate in this year's AP Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas from July 16-18. Even though it was crazy hot in southern Texas - 110 degrees - the even was no doubt a success. (The heat should explain my puffy appearance in photos...or at least that's what I'm blaming it on)

As you can see from my previous post, one of my goals for the conference was to meet David Myers. Unfortunately, he ended up not being able to come! I was much disappointed to discover this, but my wounds quickly healed. For one, I was able to attend some fabulous sessions where I picked up some new tricks for demonstrating psych concepts. For two, I was able to sit in on a focus group for Worth Publishers, where the editor for David Myers' new text sought input on the book. And as a result....I got an email from Mr. Myers himself when I returned home! (A thanks for participating in the focus group). Maybe I'll still get to meet the guy in the future.

Another highlight of the weekend was the closing speaker: none other than Gwen Ifill from PBS! I was very impressed with her talk, which centered on her recently published book. And that surprised me, because I expected a lot from the gal (remember, she moderated the Vice Presidential Debates last fall?). She was not only well-spoken and intelligent, but very witty and displayed a great sense of humor.

For me, the conference sparked new ambitions: I'm now going to bite the bullet and submit my application to be an AP Exam Reader, so if all goes well in a few years I'll be lending what experience I have to that exercise. Also, I made some great connections and met a friend with whom I hope to present at next year's Annual Conference in Washington D.C. Both initiatives, of course, depend upon acceptance by the College Board, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

People I Hope to Meet in San Antonio

Later this week I depart for San Antonio, Texas, site of this year's AP Annual Conference. From the schedule, it looks there will be no shortage of awesome psychology-teaching related topics to investigate. But, by far, I am most excited to attend a session on Friday afternoon entitled "Active and Relevant: Bringing AP Psychology to Life".

Why? One of the presenters is none other than David Myers! No offense to the other presenters that afternoon, as I am sure I'll find them interesting and motivating, too, but Myers has a sort of celebrity status in my classroom, as he is the author of our course textbook.

Since, thus far, my encounters with academic celebrities have been limited, I wonder whether it is proper to ask to have one's photograph taken with a textbook author? Or to ask for an autograph? Too nerdy? Too needy? Cute or just tacky? Hmmm...

Your suggestions would be appreciated! You can bet any successes will be documented here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Great Summer Read: My Stroke of Insight

I just finished up what turned out to be a great book: My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor.

You might recognize the name...or perhaps you've seen this amazing woman on one of her many television appearances. My students will perhaps recognize her from her spot on a Discovery Channel production I sometimes show in class called, "The Amazing Brain." Jill was a Ph.D. neuroanatomist (a.k.a. brain scientist) when she suffered a stroke at age 37.

The book describes in great detail what her experience of the stroke felt like, her path to recovery, and the new perspective the experience gave her. Personally, I learned quite a bit about the different types of strokes that our brains are susceptible to in the opening chapters. Since it was Taylor's left hemisphere that was most affected by the stroke, the book does an excellent job of highlighting the distinctive tasks of each hemisphere of the brain. Still thinking like a psych teacher, I also found that the account highlighted the brain's role in perceptual processes quite nicely, since Taylor describes perceptual distortions she had to overcome during recovery. All of it is accompanied by cute diagrams of which areas of the brain are being discussed.

I would definitely recommend the book to other psych teachers and students of psychology. It's a quick read, and I found her amazing story to be inspirational as well.