Friday, June 14, 2013

The NEW Student-Built Psych Class

This last year I got to teach psychology for the first time in a long time.  Most of the students and I had a great time to the point where I had a core of students asking if they could take a "psych 2" class.  Hmmm.  That was a great idea, but at first I couldn't see it happening as I'm not a psych expert and we didn't have enough students to make up a whole new section of a new class.  I told the kids that we needed to keep talking and keep thinking as I would love to create a new class of psych at a different level.  
After lots of back and forth with the students and our administrators we came up with a new hybrid.  Seven students are going to be AP Psych students as they are going to be prepared to take the AP Psych test, but they are going to be what we call Special Project Coordinators (SPC's) as we don't have an AP Psych class.  The students are going to build the AP Psych class.  We've found a MOOC we are going to use as our "textbook" and we are going to build a curriculum that we'll use in the regular psych class and at an AP level.
The students are going to trade off with different responsibilities for each unit we build while also keeping up with their progress in the MOOC.  Throughout the year, they are going to build iBooks to keep as their individual textbooks which they can keep and I can use and cannibalize for current and future students.
Our units are going to be truly multimedia.  We are going to set a regular length of each unit and in each unit there will be text to use a resource alongside infographics that will be taken from the web as well as built by the students.  We will have exercises and experiments the students will test and conduct to keep the class as interactive as we can make it.  We will also have different videos like feature length movies that have particular relevance to the current unit's concepts.  For example, we'll use "The King's Speech" when we cover therapy.  The students will watch the movies and create guiding questions for future students to use.  Each unit will also have a Simpsons episode complete with guiding questions along with other popular TV shows and documentaries.  The students will also build interactive and multimedia powerpoint presentations which will cover all the relevant concepts for each unit.  Finally, we'll also build short conceptual videos to supplement what we find elsewhere. 
As the teacher/guide, I'll create rubrics with the students to allow them to understand the standard to which they'll be held from the outset, but the most important standard will be the judgement of their fellow SPC's.  As the students collaborate to complete the units, their peers are going to be the people they'll most want to support and please
With the efforts of seven motivated students and an experienced teacher to guide them, we're hoping to learn a ton, create some deep and engaging curriculum, get the kids some college credit, and have a great educational experience.  Check back to see how we progress!

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