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 : June 6 in D.C.
APA Annual Convention: June 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.