Sunday, March 15, 2009


For my project, I contacted Julie Damschen, a psychology teacher at Helix Charter High School in San Diego, California. I found Ms. Damschen by searching Yahoo for web pages of high school psychology teachers, and stumbled onto her very extensive page. Ms. Damschen's Psych(o) Stuff can be viewed here. At first, she did not believe she could teach me much about incorporating technology into teaching but quickly discovered that she knew more than she thought.

One really cool thing about Ms. Damschen was that she was able to achieve one of my main lifetime goals and backpack through Europe. She recommended that I be sure to visit Budapest, Prague, Rome, Barcelona, and Paris when I take my own trip. When she got her degree, she never thought she would become a teacher. However, living out of a backpack really made her reevaluate her priorities. She taught many social studies classes at first, but took over teaching the psychology department from a friend and has since expanded it greatly, even adding her school's second AP Class.

She created her classroom webpage not because it was mandatory at her school, but because she thought it would be a great way for teachers and students both to access information. She offers sections pertaining to homework, AP tests, and practice quizzes among others. I asked her if educational webpages were more prevalent in California, but she believes it is more of a school-by-school initiative than state-by-state.

One of the main tools that Ms. Damschen uses to bring technology into her classroom is her laptop. She is almost never without it. She does all of her grading and attendance online, and also uses her computer to show Powerpoint presentations, watch Youtube videos, and play DVDs. She also has a document camera, which is like an overhead projector that can display any type of media. She uses it to highlight pertinent articles in magazines. She expressed interest in maybe one day using blogs and podcasts, but does not yet feel she has adequate time or training.

Ms. Damschen has never collaborated with a teacher in another state but thinks it sounds like a neat idea. The main obstacle to such a project would be access to computers. Ms. Damschen only has one computer in her classroom and it is very difficult to book time in the computer lab. She also feels she is on a "time crunch" to teach skills and content so she must be very careful about what types of projects she assigns. Her main project is for her students to conduct experiments and present them in the school Psychology Fair, using freshmen as their guinea pigs.

Ms. Damschen does not believe that any teacher will be able to survive being technologically illiterate. The teachers in her school must post all of their grades and attendance online and also correspond via email. Her school is also being re-accredited this year, and the whole process is being done over the internet. Instead of holding lengthy faculty meetings, teachers are able to interact with eachother through online bulletin boards. This is just an example of the technological activities that teachers do behind the scenes.

She was also able to give me a lot of suggestions of things I can incorporate into my future psychology classroom. She has her students create models of the brain out of such objects as Play-Doh, candy, and Legos. She has her students simulate drug addiction by becoming "addicted" to ice cubes. They must use ice cubes in all of their beverages, but also have to hide them from their family. She says her students' favorite interactive activity is a meditation session she holds to teach about consciousness.

Miss Damschen is very passionate about her teaching career and gave me many ideas of what type of teacher I would like to become. In a couple of years, I will have my own classroom. I am saving her emails even after this class has ended to give me ideas for when I create my own curriculum.


  1. This was a very good post the teacher you interviewed had a lot of interesting things that she have done.

  2. Wonderful! Your contact alone has made this assignment worthwhile for me!