Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Culture, Media and Photography of Athletes

I ran across this article while reading some others on Slate.com.  The title got me:  "What if every Olympic sport was photographed like beach volleyball?"  I knew exactly what they were referring to--the obsession to objectify and de-head the photos of the players and focus on particular body parts.  Granted, the uniforms for beach volleyball are already tiny bikinis for the females and board shorts for me, but check out this article and see the examples of how men would be photographed in the same style.

You could use this in a gender and media unit or in the culture unit.  Great examples.  I'll let the reader check out the link rather than posting them here--I would rather make this high school classroom friendly without some contextualizing.

The Teaching High School Sociology web site

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Teaching the Perspectives--Several Ideas

With this post, I am sharing what I have done in the past with perspectives.  I know there are many successful ways to teach this and so I welcome comments and/or guest bloggers.  Let's get these ideas out there.

At the beginning of the course, we look at group norms, class rules and what sociology is as compared to other social science courses--in particular, the differences.  Each is a way to look at the same thing, human behavior, but using a different lens.

In fact, that is what perspectives are in any field/across fields, a way of looking at different phenomena in different ways.  One way to do this is to stand on a chair or a table and ask the kids what I am seeing.  Another is to get close to the ground like a cat to see what they might see (a video example here--there are quite a few.  Ask students to look at adults from the point of view of a child--adults seem like giants.  So this gets them thinking about perspectives.

I then hit them with this lesson:
It's the Riding Hood Story from the point of view of the wolf.  It changes everything.  The discussion we have after that can be good to great, but I've never had a bad discussion.  This primes the pump.

Another lesson I use is the Poem, "Six Men of Indostan."  The Powerpoint is here.  This lesson deserves its own post, but no time at the moment.

We then go over each of the three perspectives.  What are the main points of structural functionalism?  Conflict Theory?  Symbolic Interactionism?  I rely heavily on our text and other resources I've collected over the year.  We examine quotes from the various people (this is incredibly challenging) and available here:  https://sites.google.com/site/teachinghighschoolsociology/01-perspectives
As I write this, I realize that I have so many examples that are sitting in my brain about each of the perspectives.  Perhaps some will venture out and play.  Since I am not teaching sociology right now, the examples are not always at the surface.  I cannot adequately express how I teach each of the perspectives.  I gained so much over the years working it out with the kids and reading more and more on each topic.  One of my favorites is "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" by Erving Goffman.  Some links and analyses are listed here:

We examine the dramaturgical approach with every person being an actor playing a part in their interactions.  What parts do we play?  What roles do we fill?  What norms do they reflect?

At that point, I help the students create a set of questions that each perspective would ask when examining a society or part of a society.  This can get tricky and may require lots of contextualizing for them.  Most are not necessarily good at this part, so I get very involved.  For the Ph.D.s among us, I realize this is an oversimplification, so I am scaffolding and I end up with something like this:

*"It" refers to society or the group dynamic we could study

Structural Functionalism
How is it set up?  What are the component parts?  How do they work together?  What is the primary function of each part?  What are the intended consequences of the part/action?  What could be unintended consequences of the part/action?  We get into manifest and latent functions.

One example I use is license plates--manifest function?  keep track of auto owners and collect fees. unintended consequence--create collectible plates for later generations

Who has the power?  What kind of power is it (overt or covert)?  How is the power used?  Describe the "sharing" of the power?  How is it distributed?  Are there conflicts or fights over power?  What happens when part of the group gains power and another loses?  and so on

Symbolic Interactionism
Look at the individuals who are interacting--they are doing something--who is doing what and HOW are they doing it?  What kinds of meaning can be attached to what is done?  Has anyone changed status as a result?  What messages/metamessages are they conveying with the action?  How is a person representing him/herself to the world or the context we are examining?  Are they mismanaging an impression?

We can take a look at Myspace and Facebook profile pages--examine what kinds of things people post--what image(s) and impressions are they creating?  What do they want people to think of them?  Are they literally playing the fool or do they have some other goal?

After making sure they are reasonably well-versed in the perspectives, I then demo an analysis of American football from each of the three perspectives.  I take them through the perspectives, answer the questions and look at the game and the spectators in a whole new way for them.

Then I ask them, in small groups, to do the same analysis of one of our high school pep rallies.  Each group has a different perspective.  I go from group to group guiding.  The kids create posters to share and we then do a share-out.

So all this happens in the first couple weeks of the course.  Let me know if you all do something different.  The rest of us sociology teachers would LOVE to hear from you.

Day 1 of this year begins in roughly 12 hours for me.  Enjoy yourselves everyone .

The Teaching High School Sociology web site

Friday, August 3, 2012

High School Sociology Syllabus

I have alluded to it a variety of times and people have asked for it.  I perceive it as nothing special, but please feel free to take it and modify it however suits you.

The link for my entire set of docs (will be updated soon) is here:

This includes a link to a .doc version of the file below.

Mr. Schallhorn
Class Behavior Expectations: What I expect from you!
®      This is a “Safe Classroom” and therefore certain types of behavior are encouraged and others discouraged.  I hope all students will feel welcomed and included and be free from harassment based upon ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation or any other difference.  I encourage you to take risks, share ideas and stories appropriate to the class.  Respect is a very big issue for me.  To that end, I expect all of us to avoid “put-downs” as well as derogatory comments or gestures.  Should I do any behavior that violates this principle, please call me on it.  You and I are responsible for every behavior we do. This is a college-prep course and you will be treated as responsible adults, not children.

We will observe three fundamental rules:
1.       all students have the right to express their own ideas, and
2.       all students' ideas are to be heard and treated respectfully.
3.       Each student will bring the text, paper, unit materials, and writing utensils to class (be prepared)

                Greetings!  I am Mr. Schallhorn, your teacher for this course.  You ought to know a few things about me.  I taught in Indiana and Illinois for 15 years (1987-2001) and began at San Benito High School in the fall of 2001.  I have taught Psychology, Advanced Psychology, AP Psychology, Government, Sociology, Honors Sociology, Comparative Religions, World Geography, Philosophy, Anthropology, US/World History/Government (Civitas), Hindu Literature, American Metropolis, and Popular Culture.  Over the years, I have coached volleyball and basketball.  I’m also a bit of a computer and video geek.  Basically, I have been into a lot of different things.

To paraphrase Emile Durkheim (a famous sociologist) - Society was/is more powerful than any of us and is beyond our personal control.  It’s separate from us, yet we are a part of it and it’s a part of our consciousness.  It outlives all of us and we depend on it.

                Introduction to Sociology is one semester course for seniors intended to give you a broad picture of the field of sociology with an emphasis on preparation for college and critical thinking.  This course is all about problem-solving and working in groups.  The course will offer you a set of intellectual tools with which to more accurately understand the society in which you live.  Your participation, discussion, and feedback are needed.  Group activity, work and cooperation are heavily emphasized.  Most of the readings in this course are on the college level.

Things you ought to learn by taking this course:

A.      To understand how sociology views society and to develop a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the complex society in which we live.
B.      To explain the relationship between the most basic cultural concepts: values, norms, roles, and sanctions.
C.      To explain why people behave the way they do employing the concept of socialization.
D.      To explain why people deviate from and conform to the norm.
E.       To evaluate our society's system for dealing with deviants and deviance.
F.       To identify and explain the basic causes for human hatred and prejudice.
G.      To explain the unique position of blacks in our society and why they are in that position.
H.      To critically examine how the school as a social institution has molded their behavior.
I.        To understand the nature and variability of cultures in order to better understand our own.
J.        To explain human motivation in terms of interaction and group membership.
K.      To begin to be able to explain human behavior in terms of abstract sociological concepts.
L.       To analyze how families and family systems influence their behavior.
M.     To identify major social concerns and understand their importance so that students as future citizens will be better prepared to confront these problems.

Course Content
Units Covered
1.       The Sociological Perspective
2.       Culture
3.       Socialization
a.       Education
b.       Sex and Gender
c.        Media
4.       Race and Ethnicity
5.       Families and Intimate Relationships
The grade you earn will be based upon the number of points within the context of the following weights.
·         Classwork/HW/Projects/Essays=40%
·         Quizzes/Tests = 40%
·         Final Exam = 20%
Final Exam—Yes, we have one.
The final examination will be comprehensive (cover the entire course) and will represent 20% of your semester grade.
Grading Scale:
92+ = A
90-91.9  = A-
88-89.9  = B+
82-87.9  = B
80-81.9  = B-
78-79.9  = C+
72-79.9  = C
70-71.9 = C-
68-69.9  = D+
62-67.9  = D
60-61.9  = D-
Below 60%  = F

Materials: bring daily your textbook, loose-leaf (binder or notebook) paper, notebook, folder, pens/pencils

·         Please make note of the San Benito High School Attendance Policy.  Everyone is expected to be in class.  This is a participation and experience-based class and although class notes can assist in making up information, nothing can totally replace the experience of being in class. 
·         Be sure to go to attendance to obtain an Admit Slip. 
·         ***I will not allow you in class without an admit slip/pass/being on excused list after an absence.

Late Fees” (for homework and other assignments)
  1. For major assignments (40 points and above), late assignments will have a penalty of 10% per school day. 
  2. Late homework is worth 50 percent of its original score if it’s done well and turned in by the day of the exam. 
  3. If work is turned in after a unit exam, only completion credit is available.


Every assignment will be labeled with the following information
(if not, it will be counted as a late grade): 
·         Staple all assignments before class begins
Name (First and Last)
Assignment/Title of Assignment
Date turned in
To the left, the format
To the right, an example
Charles Schallhorn
Syllabus Project
January 4, 2014

Testing procedures:  Tests will be given at the end of most units.  Quizzes will be given at a variety of times during the course.

Extra credit:  Extra Credit may be earned only after the regular work is completed.  It will be available only at the instructor’s discretion.  Most often it will be for a superior effort on an assignment.

·         I strongly encourage you to participate in class discussions and activities.  Students assist in creating the atmosphere and mood of the class.  Please become actively involved when appropriate.  Participation in a class such as Psychology where we will be doing many demonstrations and activities will enhance your interest in class and learning.
·         You are also encouraged to bring into class any materials, ideas, news, articles, artifacts
·         Positive class participation is expected.  It includes: paying attention; not sleeping in class; looking interested in the class material; asking questions about the material you've read; bringing in cartoons, magazine, newspaper and journal articles related to the topics studied; being willing to summarize the content for the class; arguing with me on the basis of evidence/logic; and actually contributing something to the class activities of the day.

Topics We Will Examine

·   The Sociological Perspective
·   sociological points of view on group behaviors
·   Durkheim and studies on suicide
·   suicide from both sociological and psychological viewpoints
·   Culture; definition
·   language and culture
·   values, roles, status and rules of cultures
·   American culture
·   Socialization; agents of socialization;
·   personality as created by the social processes;
·   sociological theories of socialization;
·   the roles of the media, education, birth order and family;
·   Social Structure and Interaction; 
·   groups, roles, status
·   nonverbal communication
·   Sex and Gender
·   Sexism
·   gender role socialization
·   Deviance
·   personal abnormality
·   the handicapped
·   history of deviance
·   theories of deviance
·   crime, prisons, and penal reform
·   Race
·   Ethnicity and Prejudice
·   sociological definition of minority
·   causes of bigotry
·   stereotypes
·   prejudice
·   discrimination
·   sexism
·   theories as to the causes of prejudice
·   History of prejudice in the U.S.
·   Sexual Harassment
·   Multiculturalism
·   The Family and Intimate Relationships
·   What is love?
·   family types
·   forms of marriage
·   historical change of the American family
·   attraction
·   relationship issues
·   perspectives on families
·   Social problems
·   Current Issues as decided upon by class


1.         You are expected to read all assignments given in this class (text, boxes in text, handouts, additional readings)

2.             I will give periodic "pop" quizzes on the readings but, in most cases, I will require you to turn in notes over the reading the day the assignment is due or assign a worksheet to go with a reading.  Handing in the assignment when you return can make up a missed assignment.

Academic Integrity and Ethical Standards

                Students are expected to abide by ethical standards in preparing and presenting material that demonstrates their level of knowledge and which is used to determine grades.  Such standards are founded on the basic concepts of honesty and integrity.  An Academic Integrity Policy is an important part of your academic life.  You are responsible for knowing, understanding, and following that policy.  Should any questions arise regarding the policy and your activities, please contact the instructor as soon as possible.

------------------------------------------------------------cut here-------------------------------------------------------
Please sign below and return to the instructor.
I acknowledge my reading of the course syllabus and the demands and responsibilities and consequences that will be required for the Sociology Course.  Extra help is always available—set up an appointment for before or after school.
Student Name (print):

Student Signature

Parent Name (print)

Parent Signature:

Textbook Companion Sites-Great Resources

While writing the blog on choosing a textbook, I decided also to do a post that has a listing of sociology text companion websites as well.  Some have freely available instructor resources while some have them password protected.  Please do take some time to check out these resources and bookmark those that have been most helpful.  If there are any activities or ideas worth sharing, let me know and you or I can blog them.  

Check out the activities that are posted on these sites-let us know which ones are working for you in your classroom.

McGraw-Hill's Mega-Site of Sociology Instructor Resources for the Schaefer text

Richard Schaefer's Sociology: A Brief Introduction, 4/e

John J. Macionis' Sociology 10th Edition

Henry L. Tischler Cengage Advantage Books: Introduction to Sociology, 10th Edition

William Kornblum  Sociology in a Changing World 
8th Edition ©2008   ISBN: 0495096350http://www.brookscole.com/cgi-wadsworth/course_products_wp.pl?fid=M20b&product_isbn_issn=9780495096351&discipline_number=0

Essentials of Sociology 
6th Edition ©2005  ISBN: 0534626769

David B. Brinkerhoff, Lynn K. White, Suzanne T. Ortega, Rose Weitz

Social Problems Supersite

Henslin's Sociology Quizzing and Review Materials

Henslin's Sociology Spanish Quizzing Materials

The Teaching High School Sociology Web Site

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sociology Textbooks

I am a bit biased when it comes to sociology textbooks.  I dislike most of them.  David Nehring has a nice blog post about soc texts and their value in this post.

I would rather go back to the "old days" when I had no text and put together a reading list that accomplished the goals I had for the unit/course. That said, in the world of sociology texts, there are some good books out there.

Concerns in Selecting a Sociology Text

  • Is the subject matter high school appropriate? (what grade levels are being taught?)
  • Is the reading level appropriate to the students I have (not the ones I wish I had)?
  • Is the reading engaging for a high school level student?
  • Is the content substantive enough so there will not have to be much teacher-added explanation? 
  • Are the complex ideas simplified enough to be understandable, but still retain the complexity?
  • Is the text one that my school board would adopt--or is it too controversial? (some communities are more conservative than others--in fact, some would not even allow sociology)
  • What kind of funding do I have?  Will I be able to afford the ancillaries?
  • If the book is a college intro book, will the binding hold up for more than two or three semesters?
  • How much will I have to supplement the text?  Is the book solid enough in terms of content for me to use frequently or will I be using photocopies of articles more?
  • How extensive are the ancillaries?  To what extent will they be able to assist me?
    • Test bank (if this will be a part of your course)
    • videos
    • additional primary source readings
    • Presentations/lectures--are they more than just chapter outlines?
    • online tutorials, glossaries, flashcards, etc.
    • webquests online?
    • Instructor's Manual--are there good activities for engaging students?  Who has written them--a theoretician or a practitioner)?

Publisher Reps
McGraw-Hill Higher Education
McGraw-Hill High School Teachers (there are several HS level soc texts)
Cengage Rep Finder
Pearson Rep Finder (for college teachers)
Pearson Main Page (rep finder is in top right corner)
Worth Publishers

If you know of others, please leave a comment.

If you were to go to Amazon.com and look for sociology texts, you'd get a nice list.

The list of possibilities from ecampus.com

Textbook.com offers this list

To be honest, I've not examined the sociology texts available in the past eight years.  When I created the sociology course at my school, I adopted the Diana Kendall book, Sociology in Our Times.  I really liked the approach that she used--her examples were relatable and her point of view as a woman gave her some gravitas in the eyes of my students.  The text also had great ancillaries.  Henslin and his texts are pretty popular and with the ones I've read, one cannot go wrong with either of them.

The Teaching High School Sociology web site

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I'm New to Teaching Sociology: Now What?

Let's assume that you were like me 25 years ago and given an assignment to teach sociology at the high school level.  I had taken some sociology courses, but I had no usable textbook and was pretty clueless.  Where do you begin?  What should you teach?  What the heck is sociology and how is it different from psychology or history anyway?

There are a few steps to take if you are completely new to sociology.  Feel free to skip steps based upon your experience level.

Step 1:  Determining what sociology is

Check out this entry of defining sociology:

Get your hands on as many good sociology readers as you can find.  Read the intro chapter from at least three different texts.  That will give you a good idea of the readability of the text as well as a better understanding of the sociological perspectives.  It will take some time, but will be well worth it.

Step 2:  What should be in my sociology course?

The American Sociology Association Curriculum--click here for link
This is an intro college curriculum, so high school teachers can leave out a few topics.  What I teach can be found at this blog entry.

Step 3:  What are some basic tools that I can use to make sure I stay ahead of the kids?

Read, that is to say, actually study the textbook/reader you are using.  Underline, highlight and mark up the text with questions in the margins.  This intellectual dissection of the material will give you knowledge of the topic, but also insight into what the students are experiencing.

But as I was reminded at the AP Psychology reading, when faced with a question, ask the student, "how would you understand it?"  As they explain, listen and see if it makes sense.  If it does not, ask follow up questions for clarification.  You do not need to know everything.  Keep some notecards around for kids to write questions on.  Admit when you do not know an answer.  Tell the kids that you'll need to look it up, that you do not want to give them wrong or misleading information.  The more honest you are about this, the more forgiving and supportive they will be.

Step 4:  How can I get my kids interested and still "teach" sociology?

This is where projects come in.  Sociology is not on anyone's list of standardized testing.  It's nearly always an elective.  Know your students.  What interests them?  Using your library media teacher (if you are fortunate enough to still have one), co-create at least one project where the kids are NOT doing a "bird project*"  Make the project on that allows the kids to get creative but still deal with sociological concepts.

Find some controversial readings about a topic that interests them.  Ask questions.  What do they think?  WHY have they reached that conclusion?  How does this debate tie into sociology?

Check out the various projects on this blog and in other teaching sociology blogs.  There are some really amazing ideas out there.

*a bird project is one where a student tells you the name of the bird, what it looks like, what it eats, where it lives, how long it lives, etc. It is a regurgitation of easily 'googled' facts and requires virtually no thinking. These are to be avoided like the plague and replaced with projects that include critical thinking and higher order thinking skills. Acknowledgement to Dr. Doug Achterman who has helped me create a variety of projects in my classes.

Step 5:  Where can I get support?

The ASA Sociology listserv
The Teaching High School Sociology Blog
Sociology Sal's Blog, "Ways of Thinking"
Join the ASA High School Affiliate Program (January to December)

Step 6: Knowing Yourself

Know that it will take you at least a couple of years (four or more times teaching the course) to get comfortable with teaching sociology.   Accept that.  The sooner you do, the more you will enjoy the course while you keep learning about it.

photo credit: http://awkwardlistdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/ahhh.jpg

The Teaching High School Sociology web site