Resources: two lessons on recreational drugs and synaptic activity

Image by Philippa Willitts.

Here are two lessons on recreational drugs. The first helps students understand the range of mechanisms by which different recreational drugs affect synaptic activity. There is a lesson planslideshow and an activity in which students must work out the effect of a different drugs on postsynaptic firing rates. The second lesson explores where our understanding of cannabinoids comes from and contains different activities to get students thinking about biopsychological research. There is a lesson plan, a slidehow and a reading on cannabis research. Edit: here is a link with more detail on the reciprocal teaching routine. Also, I forgot there was a Socrative quiz to go with this lesson.

Resources: a lesson on synaptic transmission

Here are some resources for a lesson on synaptic transmission. It’s based around this modelling activity for teaching synaptic transmission. There are some slides, a text on synaptic transmission, a Socrative quiz on the structure of synapses and a moderately tricky activity on summation and excitatory/inhibitory inputs.

Resources: 47,XYY kayrotype and criminality

Souce: wikimedia. Creative commons license.

Here’s a lesson on the 47,XYY karyotype (XYY syndrome) using the jigsaw format. It starts with a factual learning check and some slides to support an explanation of three different explanations of the association between XYY and offending. The jigsaw element is oriented towards using research into 47,XYY as a way of discussing various issues and debates in psychology. These are based on some of those specified by Edexcel (reductionism, socially sensitive research, development of knowledge over time and nature/nurture) but I imagine they’re fairly broadly applicable. There’s a slideshow, a Socrative true/false quiz on XYY and a set of jigsaw materials on XYY for four groups.

Resources: the glutamate hypothesis of schizphrenia

A colleague needed a short text on the glutamate hypothesis for a reciprocal teaching activity but couldn’t find one pitched at the right level. I therefore wrote one, because it was more fun that what I was actually supposed to be doing.

Resources: a lesson on neural transmission

I’m not getting tired of this any time soon.

Here are some resources for teaching neural transmission. There’s a lesson plan with various activities and a slideshow to support it, along with an unlabelled diagram of a neuron and a set of sequencing cards for events that occur during the action potential. These have been prepared for students who are scared of science, so descriptions have been simplified and you might want to use them as a bridging resource to something more complete.

Resources: two lessons on jury decisions

‘The INSET’ by John Morgan (Creative Commons).

Here are two lessons on jury decision making (plans). Both assume that you have set advance study of the relevant material.

The first addresses the characteristics of the defendant. There is an analysis task (based on an Edexcel sample question) you can use to structure a group discussion on  influences on jury decisions, explanations of those influences and the evidence that relates to them. This is followed by a consideration of the weaknesses of mock-jury research and an activity on research design to help integrate RMS knowledge and understanding with the topic of criminological psychology. Invite students to design studies and summarise them on this form, then stick them on a visualiser/photograph/scan and project them for a group critique. There is a slideshow to structure the lesson.

The second lesson focuses on pretrial publicity. It is also RMS-focused and structured around a content analysis of two newspaper articles about the Joanna Yeates case, one from the Daily Mail and one from The Guardian. The slideshow gives a structure for the lesson.

More action potential GIFs

Here are a couple more GIFs I’ve been mucking around with whilst teaching neural transmission.  Right click to save, or link to the URL if embedding in Google Slides.

Refractory period

Resources: introductory lesson on the brain

Here are some resources for an introductory lesson on the brain.  It assumes that you have set the students a preparation task before the lesson. There is a lesson plan, a slideshow, an advance organiser on the brain and brain scanning and a Socrative quiz on some key brain areas.

Improving assessment with a single-point rubric


I’ve started using single-point rubrics for assessing and feeding back on essays since coming across them on  This post has a nice summary of the benefits which I won’t repeat here.

Here are a couple of essay questions and single point rubrics designed to develop and assess critical thinking and writing skills in line with Edexcel’s Psychology specification. They are both ‘context’ questions requiring a combination of analysis/application, critical thinking and knowledge and understanding. I’ve tried to construct them to facilitate the sort of structure that works with Edexcel (but which is also consistent good academic writing). There is one on different types of brain scanning/imaging and another on eyewitness testimony (weapons effect, postevent information). These are RTFs, so you can hack them about to make your own. If you do, please share in the comments.  

Resources: two lessons on interviewing witnesses and suspects

Photo: Krystian Olszansky (Creative Commons licence)

Here are two lessons on interviewing witnesses (cognitive interview) and suspects (ethical interview). Each lesson assumes you have set advance reading from whichever textbook or other source you are using.  Lesson one starts with students making comparisons between standard police interviews and cognitive interviews using this visible thinking routine for comparing. The main application activity is to write a letter to a chief constable persuading her to adopt cognitive interviewing in her force.  I’ve found that some students get all up tight about writing an essay because it smells like assessment and they do a better job if they write a letter instead, even though the same skills are required. The slideshow gives a structure for the lesson.

Lesson two starts with the use of the same VTR. This is followed by an analysis task using this recording of a police suspect interview.  Finally, students work up an evaluation using a handout of evidence. A slideshow structures the lesson.