New high school teacher resources available
High school psychology teachers who
want to enhance their skills have new
resources at their fingertips. Teachers
of Psychology in Secondary Schools
(TOPSS), APA’s national membership
organization for high school
psychology teachers, now offers its
members a new unit lesson plan,
a new teacher’s manual, 16 online
videos and a Facebook page.
These resources include:
• “Resource Manual for New
Teachers of High School Psychology,”
a guide for first-time psychology
teachers on lesson planning, selecting
textbooks, bringing course content
to life with interactive activities,
establishing class rules and much
more. Members can access the manual
• Learning, a new unit lesson
plan that includes information on
classical conditioning, instrumental
learning and operant conditioning,
and cognitive learning and the
role of biology and culture in
learning. TOPSS offers 19 unit lesson plans on such topics
as the biological bases of behavior, memory, motivation and
psychological disorders. Several of the plans have recently been
updated, thanks to funding from the American Psychological
Foundation. Members can find the lessons at www.apa.org/ed/
• Online videos from APA’s 2012 Annual Convention
and from the 2012 APA/Clark University Workshop.
The videos feature talks by distinguished psychologists
discussing their research and master teachers discussing
activities and best practices. Topics include evolutionary
psychology, development, the biological basis of behavior,
microaggressions, adolescent sleep, race and achievement,
sensation and perception, learning science and research
methods. An APF grant supported these videos. To watch them,
go to www.apa.org/ed/precollege/topss/videos-teachers.aspx.
• TOPSS Facebook page, offering an online community
for high school psychology teachers. The page also enables
APA and TOPSS to communicate and share information with
members. To join, visit www.facebook.com/apatopss.
In addition to enhancing and updating teaching resources
for members, TOPSS and APA have been working to promote
two important policy documents: the revised “APA National
Standards for High School Psychology Curricula” and the
new “Guidelines for Preparing High School Psychology
Teachers: Course-Based and Standards-Based Approaches.”
The standards provide teachers and others a foundation for
designing introductory psychology courses for high school
students. The guidelines outline the training new high school
teachers should have before they begin teaching.
TOPSS and APA sent letters last spring to all 60 state,
provincial and territorial psychological associations and to all U.S.
state boards and departments of education, as well as Washington,
D.C.’s, outlining the importance of both documents.
“The guidelines promote quality teacher preparation, and
the standards are important for providing learning benchmarks
for the high school class,” says Emily Leary Chesnes, assistant
director of precollege and undergraduate education at APA.
“They define what content is appropriate to teach 16- to
18-year-olds about psychology.”
— ROBIN TRICOLES