I have also set up the easel board at Meet the Teacher/Open House events with parents or with psychology club in the lunchroom. It is always a hit! You can also use it in the Sensation & Perception lessons with the students.
Purchase an easel at Hobby Lobby with a 40% coupon on the mobile app. Usually the easel is $39.99 but with the coupon is about $24.99. I went on a week when easels were 50% off so be on the lookout for a great deal.
Purchase foam boards at any arts and crafts store. I recommend Michael's because they give discounts to teachers and they also have a coupon on their mobile app. Order prints of optical illusions at Costco. I get 16x20 posters for around $14.99. Or get your school to make poster prints if it is available!
My 9th grade students love memes so I am making memes part of my door decoration for the second semester! For the second semester I plan to challenge students to create a meme (using a meme generator) about what we are currently learning in the class. The students will submit their meme to me by the end of the week and the best memes will be posted on the door. By the end of the semester there should be a lot of memories posted and it will be a great representation of what we are learning in class.
I call the system "Beyond Buttons" because the students must do something extra to earn the button. It is kind of like earning badges in Boy/Girl Scouts. Throughout the unit the students can extend their learning by watching a recommended movie, a psychology Ted Talk, reading a book, reading an article, or even making an art project about the unit. The students complete a form about what they did and submit it before the unit test. I review their submissions and gift the button to the students to keep! I like that it isn't graded but something that is driven by interest in the course. If the students earn every button throughout the entire course they can earn the "AP Scholar Award" at the end of the final semester.
Don't Forget This!
FREE BUTTON DESIGNS (1.75")
I have very little background in science but the brain unit in AP Psychology is one of my strongest! One activity that really seems to help the students is the sheep brain dissection. It is a great activity to recruit students to AP Psychology and for the students to be hands on with the content of the class!
You should first get permission from your administration and talk to your science department. My administration was so excited for the activity! The administration all came to observe the dissection and were willing to pay for the supplies! If my administration didn't pay I would have used department funds or set up a donors choose to send out to AP Parents. If you reach out to the science department you may be able to borrow the safety glasses, laboratory aprons, and disposable gloves. I was able to save a lot of money by borrowing rather than spending money on the supplies. You need to start planning at the very beginning of the school year so that you can secure funds and plan for shipping to arrive before you give the lesson.
In the Biological Bases of Behavior unit I first teach the structures/functions of the brain (1-2 days) and then I let the students do the sheep brain dissection (1 day). It is so cool to learn about the cerebellum/brainstem and then actually hold one in your hand!
I recommend small groups of 1-2 students but for cost you can do a group of 4. Some students may be completing the worksheet attached above and the other students may be completing the dissection. The students follow the instructions and have a chance to explore and be curious! At the end of the activity the students should help clean up and make sure to bring clorox wipes to wipe off the dissection areas.
*Random Tips: The room will smell after the dissection so don't forget to bring some Febreeze or set up your candle warmer! Also, make sure to plan for disposal with the science department (speak to the anatomy teacher)!
Young Scientist's Brain Dissection Kit
Estimated Cost with Shipping $26.95 (One Brain per 2-3 Students)
All the supplies I needed came with this dissection kit. Quick shipping and reliable!
I love how many awesome teaching tips are shared on Twitter! @Kusherner_Steven shared a specific strategy about retrieval practice that has taken my AP Psychology course to the next level! Retrieval practice is a great general teaching strategy that also makes sense to psychology because we teach about memory!
"Retrieval practice is a learning strategy where we focus on getting information out. Through the act of retrieval, or calling information to mind, our memory for that information is strengthened and forgetting is less likely to occur. Retrieval practice is a powerful tool for improving learning."
How Challenge Grids Work
At the beginning of the week the students complete a retrieval challenge grid to start class. I set a timer for 3 minutes and the students answer questions from the previous lesson, the previous unit and further back material. The questions are DOK level one (recall a fact or information). If it was recent it is only worth 1 point (yellow square) and if it is further back it is 2-3 points (blue/red). The points aren't for the gradebook but "brag points" for the students to feel confident as they approach the AP exam in May. We review the answers and the students self grade!
Students Retrieve & Teach
Over winter break I have the students create a set of 5 challenge grids on a PowerPoint template and the questions must come from first semester content. When we return from the break I have over 100 grids to choose from! On Mondays I select a grid for the students to complete in 3 minutes. After the timed 3 minutes I have the student that created the grid review the answers. They become the teachers and it is truly a powerful moment!
I see the value in this strategy because we can't just teach something one time in September and expect the students to remember it in May! We should be actively revisiting course material throughout the school year!
Check out this article about retrieval challenge grids!