Friday, May 20, 2011

Can't get enough of Jim Jones and his Creepiness?

This week in class we watched the WGBH American Experience film "Jonestown," which is the story of the People's Temple and its ultimate tragic end in 1978. The film is LITTERED with examples of basic principles of social psychology, and I think my students did a great job identifying them.

For those of you who can't get enough of the People's Temple, Jim Jones, or survivor stories, there are plenty of resources online for you to consult. A great place to start is the film's companion website. The teacher's resources section has links to several different websites that each examine the incident from a different angle, as well as a list of printed resources for futher study. There's also a photo gallery that includes many of the still images seen in the film.

I'd highly recommend the film, though it does involve some very "mature" and disturbing content. My students can attest to the fact that it is shocking and emotional, and extremely well done.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Long Overdue Thanks

With my end-of-the-year grading slowing down for a moment (and sure to pick up again very soon), I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to thank some folks for various acts of kindness over the past few weeks.

First, a big thank you to Clarissa C.-P., whose generosity helped me fulfill a life-long dream: owning my own Sigmund Freud Action Figure! While shopping at the Mall of America, this thoughtful student stumbled upon the item and was kind enough to gift it to me. Not only did this make my day, but Action Figure Sigmund will retain a place of honor in my classroom for years to come. I may have to build a special shelf for it.

Secondly, I would like to thank the anonymous friend who left me a copy of Demitri Martin's This is a Book. You obviously know my taste very well. The note inside suggested this book would "put a smile on my face," and that was exactly what happened. I had time to read it while recovering from the oral surgery I was out for a few weeks ago, and I quickly learned that I had to be careful to control my laughter because I was at risk of ripping out my many stitches. :) It was laugh-out-loud hilarious and even contained a few pithy quotes that will be useful in teaching psychology. Definitely brightened my day.

Moreover, these acts of kindness have reiterated to me the greatness of the people I am priviledged to work with every day. 2011 has been rough for me (so far) in a number of ways, but I have been so pleasantly and gratefully surprised by the support and encouragement I have received from friends, colleagues, and students throughout the mess. It seems like every time I had a day where I felt hopeless or lost, someone was always there to pick me up.

I can't thank you enough for that.

Friday, May 13, 2011

And we're back!

Hooray for Blogger being up and running again! That makes finding THIS LINK TO YOUR RESEARCH PROJECT APPROVAL FORM so much easier.

Be sure to save a copy to GoogleDocs and share it with your team members so you can all work on the form simultaneously, if needed. The completed version is required for approval no later than Friday, May 20, but I would advise you to get it to Mrs. Welle ASAP so that you can begin your data collection without delay.

Sand Brains

Check out this video of neuroscience enthusiasts building anatomically correct sand-art brains in London. If my classroom was located anywhere near beaches adequate to do this, it already would have happened. Brilliant.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vincent Van Gogh - Mental Illness and Genius

Some of my students are aware of artists and great thinkers who suffered from mental illness. Among them was the popular painter Vincent Van Gogh, known for his impressive use of color
in works such as "Starry Night" (shown to the right).

There is some speculation about how a modern psychologist would respond to Van Gogh's constellation of symptoms. Some have suggested that he suffered from bipolar disorder, given his bouts of significant productivity that might be understood as manic episodes. He certainly suffered from bouts of severe depression, and ultimately took his own life in 1890.

Knowing Van Gogh's struggles gives one an interesting lens to view his numerous works. Although it's difficult to know how much his illness influenced each particular piece of his art, it certainly is tempting to believe that his depression seeped into some of the more somber scenes and faces he created.

Below, a compilation of images from Van Gogh's work, set to Don McLean's "Vincent," which references the artist and his difficult life.

Repost: John Nash Info

Note: This is a "re-post" of information I posted last spring in coordination with our classes' viewing of the related films. I'm putting it up again for the benefit of my current students, who may want to explore more about Nash's life.

The case of Nobel Prize winner John Nash presents an interesting platform for exploring the nature of mental illness. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1994 for his contribution to game theory, Nash had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia much of his life.

Nash's life was depicted in the 2001 film, A Beautiful Mind, which took considerable dramatic license with his story (although still a good film, in my opinion).

For a more realistic consideration of his illness, treatment, and remarkable recovery, check out the American Experience documentary, A Brilliant Madness. The companion site features bios, extended interviews, and a timeline of mental health treatment.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Only a few hours to go!

As I write this, there are still a number of AP Psych students reviewing in my room. We had a great turnout for this afternoon's study session, and I hope to see some of you tomorrow in the hours before the test.

I am VERY PROUD of all of the hard work my students have put in so far this year to prepare for this exam. I am confident that you have the tools to do well tomorrow, if you stay focused and apply what you already know. For those that I do see tomorrow, we'll work on quick vocabulary refreshers to keep these terms at the forefront of your thinking...and some relaxation techniques so that you don't let anxiety get the best of you.

With less than 24 hours now remaining before the AP Psych exam, some reminders:

  • You need to be at the testing site (CVTC-Chippewa Falls) by 11:45 AM. Please remember to wait quietly, as classes will be going on and you do not want to disturb them.

  • You will be released from classes after 3rd hour, unless you have a parent call you in so you can prepare/rest at home prior to the test (which is acceptable, BTW).

  • You will be excused from the rest of your classes for the remainder of the day (hours 4-7).

  • Plan for how you will obtain a light lunch/snack before the test, since lunch will not be served at school by the time you are released. And you don't want your tummy to be growling during the test...that's embarrassing and uncomfortable. :)

  • DO bring a couple of No. 2 pencils, a blue or black pen (or 2), and a watch that does not beep.

  • DO NOT bring calculators, cell phones, or psych-related clothing.

  • What to wear? Comfort is key, and since you don't know what the room temp will be (think of how cold/hot my room has been over the course of this past year!) the best strategy is to dress in layers. Comfy t-shirt topped off with a sweatshirt that you can take off if you get uncomfortable is probably ideal.

  • Remember to employ your best test-taking strategies on both sections of the test! We have discussed these at length throughout the year, so you know what to do.

And finally, AFTER THE TEST, NO DISCUSSING OF TEST CONTENT! Especially on social networking sites or other information outlets, but this does technically also apply to face-to-face conversations. Saying, "I think it went well," is okay; saying, "What did you put for question 32?" is not okay.

Good luck, everyone!!!! You can do it!

Today: Austin, Jeremy, Matt, and Tel review in the recliners.