The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2019 | JUNE 9 – JULY 27

GPGC Blog

Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Three

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

At the beginning of the week, we finished talking about the importance of the poleis in Greece, particularly Athens and Sparta, and we watched excerpts of a wonderful documentary about the Battle of Thermopylae from the History Channel. The students’ discussions were great. They were able to give highly in depth answers to why Athens evolved into a direct democracy. We also had a rather fun debate today concerning reality and perception. I showed them how Xerxes was interpreted in the movies 300 and One Night with the King. They immediately recognized that they were the drastically different. One of the main themes of the week seemed to be what actually history is when we only know it through the lens of the victors.

The Sophists were introduced to set up Greek Philosophy for next week. The students made good analogies deciding that the Sophists, particularly Protagoris, were born far ahead of their time and would do very well in our modern society. We also talked about how most of what we know of them is from Plato, therefore one should always consider the source when looking at historical figures.  We introduced Socrates and I’m really sad that I have to teach him his ending next week. The kids really seem to love him so far.

 

Sophomore Humanities (Kevin Delaney, Instructor) 

We finished reading Utopia by Sir Thomas More. Students discussed big ideas from the book such as wealth, virtue, equality, justice, and symbolism. Students were assigned homework finding two symbols on the book and describing what those symbols represent. Next we began a project based on Utopia. Then we discussed the concept of the Social Contract. Students also began reading Lord of the Flies as a class and discussed foreshadowing. To close out the week, we took a quiz.

 

Senior Humanities (Ms. Jackson, Instructor)

So this week we wrapped the novel 1984. Students had their usual class discussion and also thought about how our world today is similar to the world in 1984.

 



Weekly Reports – Grad Classes, Week Two

Conflict and Diplomacy (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

We addressed bargaining, negotiations, and deterrence. The bargaining discussion pulled heavily from James Fearon’s work. Students learned about credible signals within bargaining including tying hands, which involve audience costs, and sunk costs, which involve the movement of resources like military troops. We covered how time horizons, iteration, power differences, reputation, settlement ranges, and information affect bargaining. Students read the chapter of Force and Statecraft on negotiations and I addressed the import role 3rd party mediation plays in negotiations between states. They also read portions of Arms and Influence and a selection from the chapter of Force and Statecraft on deterrence. We discussed how deterrence and coercive diplomacy intersect. We ended the week with the State Development project. Some states have struggled with attempts to democratize or secure important resources. Few states considered military pacts.

 

Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

During Week 2, we finished our examination of perceptual biases and began our examination of cognitive biases that often lead to faulty beliefs and poor decisions.


Weekly Reports – Afternoon Classes, Week Two

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our afternoon classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Choir (Colette Tanner, Instructor)

The theme of the choir program this year is THE GREATEST SHOW. As the title infers, we will end the program with some selections from THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, but the remainder of the concert will deal with titles dealing with what one might see at the circus or historical events that were “great shows.” As soon as I have the GPGC CHOIR BLOG up and running, I will supply you with a link. That page will have all of the possible performance titles listed with listening links.

 

Publishing (Christa Bell, Instructor/Editor)

In publishing, students actually write and produce a newspaper for the Governor’s Program. In the first week, we discussed the basics of design and the basics of what makes news. Students spend the first part of each week brainstorming story ideas for the paper. The rest of the week is spent researching and turning those ideas into stories. Wednesday and Thursday the students use the computers and Adobe InDesign, which many of them are learning this summer, to lay out and produce the newspaper. Friday, we critique the paper that’s just been printed, and the cycle starts again for the next week.

 

Computer Tech (Barry Humphus, Instructor)

Students mostly did 3D objects related to Father’s Day though some did other objects. Some were successful and some of the prints failed. This is due to the original design of the objects and not what the student did to print these.

 

Debate  (Robert Markstrom, Instructor)

The first week was spent creating a foundation for argumentation. This Monday brought a new student to class who didn’t have previous debate experience. With all students now present, week 2 was spent learning how to write the first affirmative speech and how to record the speech on a flow (form of note taking used by debaters).

 

Critical Thinking (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor) 

This week was puzzle week in Critical Thinking. Students worked in groups and attempted to connect as many pieces possible for a 500-piece puzzle within the class period for their first activity. On separate days they worked on puzzle packets. One packet had simple math problems, 2 very difficult sudoku puzzles, mazes, and shape puzzles. Another packet had logic puzzles that ranged in difficulty from easy, medium, and difficult. On the last day of puzzle activities, the students competed to see who could complete 3-D puzzles within a short time period. These puzzles included creating a close-circuit with pieces with an incomplete pattern provided, using different tiles to create a circuit with new pieces added per completed circuit, a cube that contains odd shaped parts that must fit into a box, a square with different sized and shaped pieces that must be 100% filled, and Cubitz. Each activity provided a different type of puzzle for students to solve throughout the week. On Friday we played games. Games included: Blokus, Bloodborne (the boardgame), Chess, Forbidden Island, Get Bit, Hippos and Crocs, Pandemic: Contagion, and Twixt.


Weekly Reports – Sciences, Week Two

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

 

Freshman Science & Sophomore Science (Ms. Keesha Jennings, Instructor)

Freshmen: This week was all about geometry and physics. We built gumdrop structures to learn that when a force is added to a triangle it is spread evenly through all three sides. We also built catapults to discover how it is possible to use stored energy to hurl a projectile or payload.

Sophomore: This week we started off with a discussion about saturation and solubility. The students discovered that heat can affect how fast and how much of a solute is dissolved in a substance. We wrapped up the week with a fun hands-on experiment using oobleck to learn about viscosity and non-Newtonian fluids.

 

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week 2 was devoted to 1) covering background in science to bring all students toward an accurate understanding and usage of terminology, 2) exploring various research methods, 3) connecting the methods to the studies of students doing science projects, and 4) introducing students doing to the class study to the concepts and procedures for that study.

 


Weekly Reports – Composition, Week Two

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Composition classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Sophomore Composition (Ms. Stacey Simien, Instructor)

This week was short story week. We started the week off learning about, reading, and writing flash fiction pieces. We used the 8pt story arc, instead of the Freytag’s plot pyramid. Student flash fiction pieces were the best I’ve read in years and what made it challenging for the students is that they couldn’t have more than 500 words, this was a real struggle for many of them. We ended the week with each student analyzing an assigned short story and creating a Google Slides presentation about their story to present in class next week. (kind of a book report)

 


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Week Two

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Humanities classes for last weeks in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

We began the week by talking about the importance and the evolution of the polis. How did this change Greek society? How did the polis rise up in importance? The students also analyzed some archaeological evidence. We also had a test over the first week’s material of which I was very pleased with their results. Next, we delved into the ancient Greeks viewed religion and how it differs from modern concepts of religion. These discussions led us into the polytheism of the Greeks; what we know today as Greek mythology. Of course, most of the student adored this part of the lesson.

For the second half of the week, we talked about the colonization of the Greeks in the Mediterranean and its difference from European mercantilism. The students loved our discussion over the polis of Sparta and how the Spartans fear and paranoia led to their military state. I’m afraid that I might have burst the bubbles for many students who no longer want to run off and become Spartans.

 

Sophomore Humanities (Kevin Delaney, Instructor) 

We started the week with a quiz on the different types of government and the state of Nature. Students were suppose to have read Book I of Utopia, we conducted a discussion on that and various societal issues presented such as poverty, thievery, and begging. Further discussion was held on the nature of virtue, religion, morals, and human happiness. Discussion was also held on the value of money and currency and why it exists and how a Utopia could exist without currency. Students also related the law of Nature and aspects of virtue to the Utopians view and treatment of gold, silver, and other precious minerals. The Utopia Project was introduced and students were asked to create 3 groups, each being responsible for a different project.

 

Senior Humanities (Ms. Jackson, Instructor)

So this week we got into the meat of our anchor text,1984. The students handled mature topics with grace and rigorous thought. We also discussed the value of tradition in society and what happens to reality when the truth is overwritten with lies. This week your student also got to use their creative side and create a thematic poster. Their poster had to reflect 1-2 themes they thought were present in the novel. Ask them what they put on theirs!!

 

 


Weekly Reports – Afternoon Classes, Week One

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our afternoon classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

 

Computer Tech (Barry Humphus, Instructor)

Student are very excited to get started doing 3D printing. We have some preliminary ground rules to set up, but as soon as that is complete, we should be good to go.

 

Debate  (Robert Markstrom, Instructor)

This week was spent establishing the context for debate. Area’s of emphasis include: Aristotle’s 3 modes of persuasion, 3 types of resolutions, 4 different debate formats, Affirmative goals in a debate, and exploring topic areas for future debates.

 

Musical & Musial Leads (Ms. Elayne Gabbert, Instructor)

The show has been cast and we have begun learning the music. There are 22 songs in the show and we have made it through all of them in the prologue to ACT I and scene 5 of ACT II.

Since we cast the show on Monday, we are working on learning all the music and fitting it with the dialogue. We also started sectional and individual instruction on solos and small ensembles.

 

Large Ensemble & Musically Gifted (Mr. Rod Lauderdale, Instructor and Director)

Ensemble: We have begun rehearsing and discovering our sound with the different players and instruments available to us this summer. It should be an exciting time for us all this summer

Musically Gifted: We have begun our studies of Music Theory as well as Music History. Also the students are already beginning the necessary work of practicing their musical skills throughout the summer.

 

Conflict and Diplomacy (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week we covered basic paradigms of international relations including realism, liberalism, and constructivism. I placed a special focus on realist theories like balance of power and hegemonic stability as explanations of when to expect intrastate conflict or peace in a system. I used candy to explain basic issues of conflict, resource scarcity, and maximum utility. We also addressed how the international system and conflict has changed since WWII. The students read the first chapter of Thomas Schelling’s “Arms and Influence,” which examines what coercive diplomacy is, its role in conflict in the past, and how it operates in a post-nuclear age. They also read a piece by Jack Levy from “Leashing the Dogs of War” that provided systemic and regional explanations for interstate and intrastate conflict as well as reinforcing realist theories of conflict. The last reading came from Daniel Drezner and it applied paradigms of international relations to a hypothetical zombie scourge. The students enjoyed debating which approach they would employ to combat a zombie plague. We ended the week with the students receiving their assigned countries for the State Development project and they began discussing alliances and trade deals.

 

Critical Thinking (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor) 

This week the students took a personality test that determined their animal personality (you can access this test at animalinyou.com). This test is fun for the students and allows me to sort them into groups based on their traits (shy, leader, etc.). We played numerous games in the course. Zero sum tactical games (Twixt, Score 4, Hippos and Crocs), a tactical game involving vectors (Pirateer), a new variant on chess (Tile Chess), spatial games (Blokus and Tsuro), resource games (Pandemic Contagion), and odds games (Get Bit).


Weekly Reports – Sciences, Week One

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

 

Freshman Science & Sophomore Science (Ms. Keesha Jennings, Instructor)

Freshmen: In freshmen Science we will have different design challenges to learn more about the Scientific Method. This week we will learn about cylindrical strength by using paper to support weight from different items, forces, such as aerodynamics, to create paper rockets, and how external structures of animals can give us insight on how to build tools to retrieve items from hard-to-reach places.

Sophomore: Chemistry is the study of matter and energy. It is everywhere around us – in the products we clean our homes with, plastic water bottles, and even bags from the grocery store. Each week will the students will conduct experiments to improve their understanding of atoms and the way molecules react with one another as well as improve their skills and knowledge of laboratory equipment. This week we reviewed laboratory safety, discussed how nucleation sites assist the physical separation of solid, liquid, and gas, and learned how temperature can affect solubility and saturation.

 

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

During the session, seniors complete courses in science, composition, and humanities and choose one of these areas in which they complete a project. Thus, Science III is oriented around moving students from students to researchers. During the first week of the session, we focused initially on the choice of the senior project. Students who choose a science project must go through all of the steps in the scientific method, which begins with choosing a topic. Several students had ideas about a science project on the first day, all of which were (or could become) feasible. Students who choose a project in humanities of composition participate in a class study in which they collect data and work as a group on a presentation, so all students have a science experience but not the same science experience.

 

Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

This session’s topic in psychology is “Perceptual, Cognitive, and Social Influences on Behavioral Outcomes,” with the subtitle “The Psychology of Bad Decisions and Stupid Behavior.” People often associate psychology with abnormal behavior that is irrational, but people with no mental disorders also exhibit poor judgment and bad decisions. My plan is to examine these various psychological processes that lead people to weird beliefs and unwise behavior. To prompt student involvement, each student will receive several topics related to perception, cognition, memory, or social influences to define and be prepared to discuss. Each topic of influence begins with at least one Crash Course video on the topic to which I will add PowerPoints and summary outlines.


Weekly Reports – Composition, Week One

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Composition classes for the last week in the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshman Composition (Ms. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

We had a successful week in Composition 1. The students wrote a letter introducing themselves to me after they read my letter to them. Of course, not many people write friendly letters now, myself included, but the letters give me a chance to evaluate organization, mechanics, and sentence structure without making the assignment seem like a test. I also get to know them a little bit better. The assignment that caused some consternation was drawing a self-portrait! Some of the results are hilarious! Next, they used the poem ” If I Ruled the World” as a example for their own poem, but they used their own thoughts and ideas. These poems revealed that these students are very compassionate and kind. They read “Harrison Bergeron” aloud taking turns if they wished to read and discussed the story in class. We’ll use this story and the poem to create a utopian or dystopian short story next week.

 

Composition III (Ms. Sarah Harshbarger, Instructor)

This week, we began our unit on short fiction. The students read short stories and flash fiction by Tobias Wolff, Flannery O’Connor, George Saunders, and ZZ Packer. They did writing exercises individually and as a group to build skills that will help them write their own flash fiction stories, which will be due in the second week. We discussed genre conventions and point of view, as well as strategies for reading short fiction effectively.

 

English 001 (Ms. Sarah Harshbarger, Instructor)

This week, we started our unit on fiction and flash fiction. We read stories by Tobias Wolff, John Cheever, George Saunders, ZZ Packer, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, and more. The students were assigned a flash fiction piece of 500-1000 words due at the end of the second week. We did individual and group exercises to build skills that will be useful in writing the story. We discussed how to build tension through character development, how writers use elements of surrealism to explore theme, and how to read short stories effectively.

 

 


One of the best parts of the program


for me was, for once, it allowed me to be one of the "normal" kids, instead of the "brainiac" nerd. I cherish that gift.


– George A., Alumnus