Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Year in Learning at Elk Grove: Psychology - Part I

By Melissa Curtis, Devin Peterson, Brien Art, Paige Hermann, and Mark Heintz

This is part of a blog series intended to document and define learning at Elk Grove High School throughout the 2018-2019 school year in order to increase student learning, give professionals autonomy, increase trust in our learning community, and foster a sense of personal-intellectual collegiality within the building across departments.  You can read all of the previous posts here


Psychology might be the epitome of learner agency in a school.  I've yet to meet a student who didn't want to take the course or isn't interested in taking it.  In Melissa Curtis's psychology class, the kids are engaged.  They want to learn.  It isn't a required class nor does it give the student college credit, or a certificate.  They want to be there.  It's pretty amazing and the conditions that Melissa sets up in her class continue to allow for the students to explore their passion and their interests.



Melissa Curtis 

What did learning look like in the lesson? 

Students were using an interactive tutorial called Psych Sim.  These are lessons presented as slides that students read, click and answer questions as they move through the program.  There was also a worksheet for them to fill out on their iPads while using the desktop computers to complete the simulation.  This lesson was about how psychologists use statistics in their analysis of data.  Specifically, topics like frequency charts, histograms, measures of central tendency and measures of variance.  As I circulated around the computer lab, I was pleased to see students on task with their assignment.  Several students asked questions throughout the period and I offered clarification or instructions as needed.  This was a little risky because even though they were supposed to have read their textbook outside of class regarding these topics, they had received no classroom instruction on them.  Then, I checked the assignment the next day in class for a homework grade.  Most students completed the assignment.

What do you hope to do for the next time? 


I’d like to follow up with examples of experiments and how the data is used in real-life Psychology research.

Why do you love teaching psychology? 

 It’s practical to everyday life and students seem genuinely interested in the content.  Understanding the causes of human behavior can lead to a better reflection of ourselves and our personal/work relationships




Devin Peterson

What did you learn in this lesson? 

Right now we are learning about how psychologists analyze data through different types of experiments. The graphs and data tables they create based on the experiments are analyzed to prove if their hypothesis is correct or incorrect. Afterward, they use this data and find out why this might be the case based on the experiments.

What do you hope to learn for the next time? 

I want to learn about how different experiments have changed our lives. This means I would want to know what a certain idea was like in the past and the experiments were done on that idea. Then analyze why this idea has changed.

Why did you want to take psychology? 

I wanted to take psychology for my own career. I want to go to college to become a neuroscientist. To achieve this I decided I wanted to take Psychology 1 and 2 during my junior year. When I’m a senior I want to take AP Biology and AP Psychology.


Brien Art

What did you learn in this lesson?

In this lesson, we learned different methods used in experiments done by researchers such as twin studies with identical and fraternal twins and how similar they are to one another.

What do you hope to learn for the next time? 

For next time I hope to learn how the mind works and functions under different circumstances. I also want to learn more about experiments were done in the past about how the mind works.

Why did you want to take psychology?

I wanted to take psychology because I thought that it would be cool to learn about the mind, behavior, and to learn more about myself.

Paige Hermann

What did you learn in this lesson?

In this lesson we learned a little about twins but mostly focused on how scientists take data and different types of methods and charts.

What do you hope to learn for the next time? 

In our next lesson, I hope that we learn more about the brain and how it actually works in different situations.

Why did you want to take psychology?

I wanted to take psychology because I'm still not sure if I want to be a psychologist or not so taking this class can help me decided if I'm interested in it.



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