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St. Ignatius College Preparatory


Teachers Name: Eric Castro (AP Psychology) Department: Social Science
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Observation Date: October 1
, 2014 Observer: Helena Miller-Fleig
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The purpose of the collegial observation is to provide teachers with the opportunity to
visit other classrooms and learn from their colleagues. These observations are collegial, not
supervisory, and are intended to promote collaboration.

(Not written on board, but deduced)
1. Students will use inquiry and reason to determine the psychological
motivation behind the absurd actions of Dorothea Puente
2. Students will deeper their understanding of sensation perception by applying
what theyve learned to a case study on Froot Loops
1. Freak of the Week: Dorothea Puente
2. Case Study: Froot Loops and sensation perception
3. Activity: students explore 3 styles of perception goggles

Use the space below to record what happens during your visit.

Before class:
- Eric stands out in the hallway and greets students as they walk in.
- Eric has his screen down with the words Dorothea Puente on the screen

Class begins:
- Eric gives an introduction
o Welcomes the visitors
o Says that Wednesday is a fun day because its a day for case studies
o Well be doing a demonstration/taste test with Froot Loops to do a case
study on sensation perception; then well go outside and have some fun with
perception goggles

- Freak of the Week Dorothea Puente a local case; Goes through a Keynote with
various information about Dorothea and her life:
o Born to two alcoholics in San Bernardino
o Mom died when she was four (fire from cigarette); dad when she was six
o Lived in an orphanage none of the family members wanted her
o Married at 17, but husband died within 2 years
o To support herself, she forged checks
o Arrested and imprisoned for six months
o Upon release, shacks up, gets pregnant, gives up baby for adoption
o Married 2
time to abusive husband
o Arrested in a brothel, 1960 (works there to make money for husband)
o Arrested again for vagrancy
o Upon release, she finds work as a live-in care provider for disabled and the
o Runs a few boarding houses in Sacramento
o 3
husband is 19 years younger than her
o Asks a handyman to make her a box to hold books (size of a coffin)
o Asks him to drive her to a dump to dump the box
o Fisherman sees the box floating in river and finds decomposing body in it
o She is arrested for 34 counts of treasury fraud after picking men up in bars,
getting a copy of their signature, then forging their signature on checks
o 4
marriage lasts only 4 months
o Imprisoned again when one of the elderly men charges her with drugging and
robbing him in a care facility
o New York Times article: No Cause Determined in Deaths of Boarders
o Seven bodies found in the lot behind the care facility
o No cause of death discovered seemed the old men died of natural causes
- Eric asks the class: From a psychological point of view, why did she do it?
- Students can ask Eric about her past, medical history, people she knew or talked to
or make a diagnosis.
o Q: Did she have any friends?
o A: Yes, very sociable. Most of her friends were men. Hung out at bars, played
bingo, did comfort runs, etc.
o Q: Were all the victims men?
o A: Yes, all the boarding homes were single sex
o Q: What happened at the orphanage?
o A: She wasnt abused or maltreated. She just left at the end of the road when
she turned 18
o Q: What were her feelings about her parents?
o A: Didnt really talk about them. They died when she was so young.
o Q: Were all the husbands that she married wealthy?
o A: They all had jobs and money and she did not. None of them were
millionaires, but they had money. This is important. When you get divorced in
California you get 50%.
o Q: What about the guys who died?
o A: There were no death certificates. She never reported any of them dead.
They were all senior citizens who were getting pensions and Social Security
o Q: Did she have any mental illnesses?
o A: No
o Q: Was she just concerned about money?
o A: Yes! Her entire motivation was financial gain.
- Prosecutors estimate that she gained $5,000/month in fraud
- Shes still making money through publishing: Cooking with a Serial Killer: Recipes
from Dorothea Puente
- A student asks: How is she a serial killer if she didnt kill all those people?
- Eric answers: She killed one person, but the rest died naturally. Technically not a
serial killer; more of a serial collector
- She died March 17, 2011 in prison at Chowchilla, age 82

- Transition: Eric takes roll while students introduce themselves to the 8
visitors; Eric also notes that it is one of the students birthdays

- Froot Loop Case Study
o Eric jokes that he has no life, as he sorted two pounds of Froot Loops by hand
o Eric notes that the mascot is Tucan Sam thats why there are tropical
flavors like lime but then why strawberries, grapes, and blueberries? Those
are not tropical!
o Eric passes out small cups of Froot Loops
o Tells students to enjoy the Froot Loops apologizes for not having milk
o One student jokes, I dont trust you. Eric says hed never do anything
terrible to 8
o One student notes, They all taste the same. Eric notes that they all float
around in the same box
- Has students go on to Canvas theres a link to a Google survey: Froot Loop
Taste Test Survey
o Students take the survey
o During interim, one student says that hes never had froot loops. Eric jokes,
Do your parents not love you? Have you never been to Disney Land either?
The student quips that he doesnt want diabetes when hes 90.
o After a minute or two, Eric says to submit the survey
- Eric instructs students to open the PDF posted on Canvas in Notability.
Instructions: With the folks around you, think of some short, quick answers to the
o Notes that there are really no flavors theres just one generic fruit
flavor. In fact, Kellogs doesnt even claim there are fruit flavors they spell
the cereal Froot Loops. But if people expect there to be fruit flavors, they
trick themselves into believing there are flavors.
o Eric has students brainstorm the psychological roots of this phenomenon with
their partner and then jot down their thoughts in Notability.
- Taste testing: Students work independently and chat amongst themselves while
Eric gets some materials ready and passes out toothpicks. Engages 8
visitors: Do you want to play along? They do.
o Eric explains: our taste preferences are culturally determined. Ex: Who likes
Nutella? (Many students raise their hands). Now who likes Vegemite (the
Australian version of Nutella)? Students havent had it before, so they try it
with their toothpicks. Students acknowledge that it smells bad and looks bad,
too. Its salty and tastes liked condensed soy sauce. Eric says its umami,
referring to a term they had learned earlier in the week.
- Students continue to fill out the pdf worksheet. Eric notes that if something looks
good, we expect it to taste good
o One student needs a reminder of the definition of schema. Eric notes that
schema is a mental model/construct that organizes thoughts, concepts, ideas,
and experiences. Ex: you have a schema of school; when you come to school,
you expect certain things.
o While students work, Eric jokes that everyone in Australia is a convict since
thats where Great Britain sent its criminals. Its a continental version of
Alcatraz. The students laugh.
- Eric helps students as they work and answers questions. He discusses with one
student about how when you eat something orange, you expect it to taste like an
orange. He notes that subliminal is something youre unaware of.
o Eric gives a two minute warning
o One student asks, So if you give Froot Loops to Mr. DeBenedetti, would he
say they all taste the same since hes color blind? Eric says, Absolutely. He
would realize that very quickly because he wouldnt be fooled by the different
- Eric notes that students should submit the pdf to Canvas when theyre finished.

- Activity: Perception goggles
o At 9:05 Eric says that they are no longer going to relocate because they will
lose too much time. He has students move their bags under the desk. He
turns off both lights and closes the door.
o Has a volunteer put on special goggles and asks him to give him a high five.
It takes him several attempts to do so. He then asks him to catch a ball its
too difficult for him to do so. He passes out several more goggles to other
members of the class, including the 8
grade visitors.
o Tells students to stand up and walk around
o The students have a lot of fun trying to walk in a straight line, or play catch
while wearing the goggles 3 styles of goggles.
o Students given a good 8-10 minutes to play with the different types of
o As parent visitors walk by and peer in through window, Eric opens the door so
they can see what theyre doing. Some parents stand in the doorway to
o Eric gives a five-minute warning and has students put the goggles and balls
back in to the box.

- Eric gives students instructions for HW/upcoming items:
o Do open note reading quiz online
o Do scary video project
o Perception test tomorrow in class (on Canvas): closed notes
o Out of 60 points, 10 points are neuro: be sure to review your notes
o Midterms in 2 weeks
- Students start to stand near the door; Eric says, I dont think the bell rang, stay
tight, dont disappear.
- Eric answers questions about the test and talks to students until the bell rings
- Class dismissed at 9:20 am

What activities, resources, or strategies did you observe that you might be able to use in your class?

Erics class was very engaging and lively. One of the first things I reflected on after his class
was the fact that I can be somewhat controlling in the type of classroom environment I seek
to create. I prefer to have the students absolutely silent when Im talking, and only
conversing throughout the class in a structured way that is facilitated by me. This is no
doubt the result of a difference of personality, but I also think that some of my desire for
control comes from the fear that my students wont respect me unless they perceive that I
am in complete command of my classroom. Although there may be benefits to this type of
teaching style, I was impressed by the way Eric was able to give the students more
flexibility in how they interacted with one another in the classroom. There were times when
the students were a little chatty, but it seemed to result from excitement and energy in
response to the curriculum, rather than disinterest or disrespect. The students were truly
having fun, and they seemed to be taking the lesson seriously, too.
I also noted that for a significant portion of the period, the students were up out of their
seats and able to move around the classroom. I know that sitting down for long periods of
time can really drain us of our energy, so the students seemed really happy to be able to
get their blood moving while they played with the perception goggles. Lastly, as was
expected, Eric was a master at integrating technology into his lesson. He had students use
their iPads/Canvas for multiple activities both in the classroom and at home. This is
something that I continue to work on with my own Religious Studies curriculum.
After your observation, please email or meet to discuss questions or comments.

Eric and I met together during 4
period on Friday, October 10
to discuss my observation.
He clarified for me that there three different types of perception goggles: one shifted your
perspective 20 degrees, then 90 degrees, then 180 degrees. He noted that if the students
had been able to wear the goggles for long enough, their brains would have adjusted to the
change in perspective, and they would have been able to function more normally (as far as
being able to catch a ball, give a high five, etc.). Eric and I also talked about the level of
energy in his classroom. He noted that he doesnt find higher levels of student energy
intimidating, but rather enjoys and encourages it as a positive response to learning. Eric
also further explained to me what the Scary Movie Project is. Students have to wait until
their family goes to sleep and then they have to watch a scary movie alone before bed. The
next morning when they wake up they have to write a paper about how the movie impacted
their sensory experiences when trying to fall asleep. It sounded really fascinating, but I
joked that I was glad Im not in his class because I dont like scary movies. As far as the
class I observed being very activity-based, Eric noted that he does alternate such classes
with more lecture-focused classes; but even with lectures, he feels theres a degree of
stand up comedy involved in order to make the learning fun and keep the students
attention. It was really great to observe Eric and learn from his insights.

A copy of the completed observation should be placed in the EIT portfolios of both the observer and
the teacher. Additionally, the observer needs to provide a copy to Jeannie Quesada.