The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2019 | JUNE 9 – JULY 27


Weekly Reports – Composition – Weeks Four and Five

Here are the reports from the Composition teachers for Weeks Three and Four.

Freshmen Composition (Mrs. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

Week Three:

The students chose to write a mystery story this week. I led them through a guided story exercise in order to review the parts of a short story, and practice adding descriptive details to scenes. After sharing their stories and exchanging ideas, the students are writing an original story. They also had more practice correcting run on sentences. Because they are writing stories, I have included practice and a review of quotation marks for dialogue. To break things up a bit, I gave them a poetry assignment just for fun – an eight line (minimum) apostrophe. I hope they have enjoyed the week as much as I have!
Week Four:
Students turned in their original stories, the rubrics, and partner peer review feedback. In order to practice writing from another character’s viewpoint, they wrote a response to the apostrophe poem. The person or thing they wrote to in the first poem had to answer the author. Because students will have to respond to literature or historical pieces, I have assigned several chapters in Socrates, The Man Who Dared to Ask. They will look for answers to the question “what is beauty?” according to Socrates.
Sophomore Composition (Ms.Stacey Simien, Instructor)
Week Three: 
Each day we begin class with a ten minute quick-write to get the creative juices flowing. We watched a video on, The art of persuasion and learned several different Persuasive writing techniques. Tuesday we discussed feminism and stereotypes associated with the concept. Then we watched a Ted talk- “We should all be Feminists” and then discussed feminism again. Because students had two essays this week one for Humanities and one for Comp I allotted classtime for writing Wednesday. In preparation for next week’s essay we Read aloud a Comparison article “How Modern Like Depletes Gut Microbes” hmwk- Think of something you’d like to compare (ideas, subjects, themes, cultures, etc). And Friday we Read aloud “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston discussed symbolism, authors purpose, character development within the short story.
Week Four: 
Monday- Assigned essay topic: comparison contrast Essays, discussed several organizational types for this type of essay, and possible topics.
Tuesday- Returned last week’s essays, discussed common mistakes. Watched short videos on the following topics: Evaluating sources, connecting your audience through writing, and understanding tone and voice.
Wednesday- Reviewed videos from yesterday, Read aloud three different comparison essays and critiqued each orally discussion style.
Thursday- Students asked for an extension on this week’s essay. I decided to give them until Tuesday to turn in. Students will be allowed to work on and share essays for peer critique in class next week.
Senior Composition (Mr.Cody Magee, Instructor)
Week Three: 

This week we finished up on poetry and started transitioning to fiction.

Week Four: 
This week we worked fiction/prose. Both how to examine short stories from the perspective of craft, as well as how to begin writing fiction. We started by introducing very short stories (one sentence to 200 words) and moved on to discussion a couple of contemporary short stories. Additionally, those students who are choosing to do senior projects in composition received feedback and direction.

Weekly Reports – Humanities – Weeks Three and Four

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

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

Week Three:

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. Figures such as Solon and Clisthenes were also introduced.

The Persian War was discussed at length including the battles of Marathon and the one at Thermopylae ten years later. 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 is history when we only know it through the lens of the victors.

Week Four:

Although it was a short week, we made great headway in Greek philosophy. We spoke about the life of Socrates and his school of thought concerning Truth. After going over his trial and death, they made the connection between Socrates to other historical figures who’ve been killed for passive beliefs in teaching. They brought up Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and even Jesus to name a few. To introduce Plato, I had the students act out the allegory of the cave. I had students face the wall with their backs to the door. I then placed the overhead projector behind them to mimicking the fire casting shadows and I opened the door for more lighting which mimicked the outside world. I think they really enjoyed when one of the captives left the cave to discover Truth outside.


Humanities Two (Mr. Cody Magee, Instructor)

Week Three:

This week we continued working on making connections between dystopian societies in literature and civics/government/class/technology issues in contemporary society.

Week Four:

This week we discussed the beginning of Brave New World, as well as upcoming Utopia Projects. Because our plan is to finish the novel by next Thursday we also spent a class time reading. As a reward for working hard this week (and also to attempt to teach them to stop talking OVER each other) we played a game modeled after the 60’s game show Password.

Humanities Three (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor)

Week Three:

This week we wrapped up discussing 1984. This included discussing Emmanuel Goldstein’s The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, which led to fruitful discussions about the cyclical nature of history, economic theory, and the notion of perpetual war. Admittedly, the class did not enjoy the novel as a whole, though they seem to understand why it remains relevant and why it should be read and discussed. The students sat for an essay exam on the book on Wednesday. While they tell me the exam was challenging and difficult, I expect they are either being modest or attempting to assuage my ego, since I wrote the test questions. It was another good week. Students continue to impress. Next week will begin with a discussion of “The Lottery in Babylon” by Jorge Luis Borges, and I will also distribute copies of our next major text, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Week Four:

Our week began with a discussion of the Jorge Luis Borges story “The Lottery in Babylon.” Borges is a notoriously arcane writer and I’m always a little nervous how well the students will grapple with him, but they did an exemplary job and we had a good discussion about this short story. We then started reading and discussing Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which is a novel-of-dystopia in the tradition of 1984 and Brave New World. To my knowledge, The Handmaid’s Tale has never been taught at the Governor’s Program, and with this in mind I’ve asked students to serve in an advisory role and be honest about how much they’re enjoying the reading experience. While I don’t believe that literary fiction has to be wildly entertaining, I also realize that an engaging text is far more instructive than a tedious one. So far, students claim to be enjoying the book, though some of them have minor squabbles about Atwood’s style.

Weekly Reports – Science – Weeks Three and Four

Here are some reports from the teachers of each of our Science classes for the past two weeks of the Program. We have organized them by class:

Freshmen Science (Mr. Jimmy Newman, Instructor)

Week Three

This week we looked at the tools scientists use and they measured and recorded 20 different things. We then used the scientific method to figure out the Sherlock Holmes Mystery of the Dancing Men. We finished up with some activities in which the students performed examples of Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion.

Week Four

The freshmen science students learned about the 3 laws of motion with several hands-on activities. First they did the thumping of the index card from underneath several stacked pennies. So far the record is 16 pennies!!! Then they each had the opportunity to ride a hovercraft which demonstrated Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion. They also did the ring, bottle and nail activity which showed Newton’s 1st Law of Motion. We finished up the week with a time travel activity dealing with the Big Bang Theory and how motion was involved with that and they saw a seltzer rocket and a common science measuring tool disappear because of density.


Sophomore Science (Mr. Justin Higginbotham, Instructor)

Week Three

Students studied the relationship between absorbance and concentration this week. Students developed lab skills in preparing standard solutions and learned how to calibrate and use a colorimeter.

Week Four

Students experienced a few chemical reaction demos this week and were taught how to research and debate science topics.

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week Three

During the third week, students worked toward collecting data. Students planning their own studies were required to work on providing a list of the material they will need and writing instructions to participants. I also encouraged them to find additional background information so that they have some information about similar research related to their topic. (Last week we discussed background sources and how to find them. In addition, I provided students with one background source to get them started; they must find at least two others.) That is, these students pursued the details of turning a good idea into a process of data collection.

Students not conducting science studies for their Senior Projects began data collection on the class study, which involved testing in the rat lab. We spend Tuesday through Friday in the rat lab collecting data from 8 rats.

All students completed two worksheet assignments to develop that knowledge of correct terminology in science. Science project students turned in additional written work related to the development of their projects.

Week Four

We spent the week in the rat lab collecting data for the class study. As the rats were spending time in the Skinner boxes pressing the lever, I conferenced with students conducting science studies to help them with questions and suggestions for design, instructions, procedure, and materials. Students were moving toward collecting data, and two finished their data collection this week. Others must finish next week.

Students conducting science studies were expected to turn in a rough draft of their reports. Most did, and I gave them feedback on changes that they should make.

What’s on the Menu?

You may be wondering what your student is being offered each day – so here’s the link to the cafeteria’s website where you can see a daily menu.

You will need to use the drop-down menu at the top of the page to see the menu choices for where the GPGC kids eat. The cafeteria is called “Rowdy’s.”

This menu doesn’t include all of the things that the cafeteria offers on a daily basis including a salad bar, a sandwich bar, cereal bar, and a waffle making station.

Weekly Reports – Afternoon Classes – Weeks One and Two

Most of our afternoon classes don’t lend themselves well to weekly reports – the students are learning songs to sing in Chorus, the music and dancing in Musical, their lines and blocking in Drama, etc. We are looking to do at least one in-depth post over the summer about each one of those classes but for now, here are some reports from the few afternoon classes for which a weekly check-in makes sense.

Critical Thinking (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

Week One

This week the students took a personality test that allowed the instructor to see what types of traits they had (shy, leader, etc.) in order to place them into teams. We also played numerous games in the course. The games ranged from zero sum tactical games (Chess, Twixt, Score 4, Hippose and Crocodiles). I also introduced spatial games (Blokus, Tsuro), resource games (Ticket to Ride), rule based games (Fluxx), word games (Bananagrams), and odds games (Zombie Dice, Get Bit).

Week Two

This week was puzzle week in Critical Thinking. The students were challenged with various puzzle activities. One activity had each team putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle during the period. Another activity involved non-traditional 3 dimensional puzzles including placing odd shaped blocks back into cube-shaped box, a slide puzzle that was rectangular in shape in that students had to match the pattern and color on each side, and IQ Fit (a spatial puzzle game regarding patterns and resource allocation). The students had a packet of puzzles that included brain teasers, geometric puzzles, an extremely difficult sudoku puzzle, and mazes. Another day of puzzle week included logic puzzles.

Debate (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

Week One

Students were introduced to the Greek concept of topoi. Aristotle’s requirements of persuasive speaker was discussed. Different forms of logic were applied in a brain storming exercise. Socratic reasoning was introduced. Students were able to determine the 3 different types of debate resolutions. The week ended with the discussion of the prima facia burdens.

Week Two

The students were able to identify the prima facie burdens as well as the parts of a plan during in-class activities. Negative on-case argumentation types, such as “turns” and “take outs,” were introduced. Students wrote and presented topicality positions. A mock debate was performed to encourage public speaking abilities.

Computer Tech (Barry Humphus, Instructor)

Week One

Met the students and we introduced ourselves. Day two I discussed network topology and day three discussed network protocols. We also set up the initials computers in the lab.

Week Two

While we have had some technical problems with the equipment we have, we are managing to go forward so each student has an opportunity to learn.

Drama (Joey Boyette and Keith Chamberlain, Directors)

Week One

Students were given their roles in the drama, according to their auditions. They were introduced to warmups, theatre exercises, and some basic acting techniques. Students then did a “table read” of the script, so as to become familiar with the material. Character analysis assignments were given to the students.

Week Two

Students are getting experiences with different types of theatre games and warmups at the beginning of class. For the remainder of the period, we have been blocking the show each day, and have managed to get as far as act 2 thus far.

Musical (Keith Chamberlain, Director)

Week One

During the first part of the week, students were made familiar with the material through a viewing of the staged version, and were introduced to warmup techniques and theatre games. Toward the end of the week, they were assigned their final roles and began learning the vocals.

Week Two

We are just about finished learning the music for Act 1, and have determined that there are some cuts to be made to the material. Students have been doing very well, considering the difficulty level of the material.

Chorus (Colette Tanner, Director)

Week One

The students are now separated into voice parts and are in the process of learning the warm-up and ear training routine. We are also starting to learn a few of our performance pieces. This summer, the “theme” for the CHORAL CONCERT will be “A BRITISH INVASION.” The compositions of BRITISH composers from the Renaissance to the present will be highlighted…including the music of Tallis, Morely, Byrd, Dowland, Purcell, Handel, Holst, Vaughan-Williams, Britton, Rutter, Webber, Bowie, Queen and the Beatles. We will soon have our GPGC Choir Blog up and running (hopefully by the end of the weekend). You and the students can access information on the music and composers, recordings of their performance music and topics for discussion. Here is a link to the blog:

Large Ensemble (Rod Lauderdale, Conductor)

Week One

Large Ensemble is a group that anyone can join. Preparation for this ensemble is my biggest challenge. I never really know how many or what instruments I will have to work with until the second day of the program. Then I get to work figuring out what kind of group I will work with.

Week Two

Yes, this continues to be one of the most challenging summers for me. GPGC Large Ensemble is full of great children with a very wide range of musical experience. Though not unexpected for this age group, still a real challenge to deal with. In addition to arranging music of the whole group to play, I am arranging music for small groups of similar levels. Seems to be working so far.


Weekly Reports -Musically Gifted Morning Classes – Weeks One and Two

Our musically gifted (MG) students take one academic class in the morning with the rest of their class and then head over to the fine arts building for the rest of the morning. There they take two musically-focused classes (Music History and Music Theory) as well as have practice time. Mr. Rod Lauderdale is our MG Coordinator and the instructor for Music History and Music Theory. He has provided the following summaries:

Music History

Week One

Music History is a T/TH class. The MG’s are working out of a real College Music Appreciation text book. With that in mind, we break the book down into three sections for a three summer sequence to complete the entire text. Common to all summers is a review of terms including topics like; properties of musical sound, category of musical instruments (Western-European and scientific), musical terms like dynamics, tempos and expression marks.

Week Two

This week we finished our review of Elements of Musical sound and covered the Scientific Categories of Instruments. We continued with the Western European Categories of Instruments starting with the Strings. We made our way thru the String instruments and will finish the Winds, Brass and Percussion next week.

Music Theory

Week One

Took placement test and got started on individual theory books.

Week Two

We are all now working in individual workbooks and progressing as planned.

GPGC gave me a sense of community,

a place where being smart was acceptable, where bullying was not the norm, and where creativity was welcomed.

– Cashman P., Alumnus