The Governor's Program for Gifted Children

GPGC 2019 | JUNE 9 – JULY 27

GPGC Blog

Weekly Reports – Grad Classes – Weeks Three and Four

Our older students (9th and 10 graders usually) are called “Grads” here at the Program. That’s a long story for another day but these students take college-level classes in the morning. This summer we are offering English (Creative Writing), Psychology in Film, and Special Topics in Criminal Justice.. Here are reports from Weeks Three and Four for each of those classes.

Creative Writing (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor):

Week Three: 

We began our poetry workshop this week. Students generally treated one another’s work with respect and made useful and insightful criticisms. My main responsibility in this workshop is to identify how an individual poem is working in or against a certain aesthetic tradition, if the class is unwilling or unable to do so. Otherwise, I sit back and let the students manage the discussion, and so far they have done a good job. On Thursday, we discussed what distinction, if any, exists between art and obscenity. This had the potential to devolve very quickly into hysterics and giggles and attempts on the students’ part to talk about their experiences viewing pornography, but the class did a good job of paying attention and demonstrating maturity. We read through Judge Woolsey’s majority decision in United States v. One Book Called “Ulysses,” which is a landmark obscenity case. On Friday we talked about flash-fiction, its emergence in the digital age, and how the brevity of the form lends itself to either 1) macabre humor or 2) existential meditation. Students have a 500 word response paper due for Monday.

Week Four:

On Monday, the students discussed their homework – a 500 word typewritten response to either Primo Levi’s “A Tranquil Star” or Amelia Gray’s “Date Night.” “A Tranquil Star” is concerned with the limits of language in describing the physical universe. “Date Night” is far more ambiguous and led to a good class debate about whether literary works have to contain “a deeper meaning” or whether they can be read for purely aesthetic or formalist reasons. On Tuesday, we discussed Realism as a literary movement. I lectured briefly about how Realism was a response to Romanticism and attempted to portray “ordinary life” in a way that was sincere and impartial. Then we discussed “The Destructors” by Graham Greene (which I did not realize was the inspiration for the Grad Fruit Drop) and “Are These Actual Miles?” by Raymond Carver. The students noted the plain, unadorned style, the impartial tone, and the lack of abstraction which these works share. On Wednesday, I introduced the concept of metafiction by showing the class a self-referential sketch from a British comedy show. We then talked about metafiction in a historical sense, and I pointed out that texts have been markedly self-referential since antiquity. I also shared with them Paul De Man’s belief that all fiction is metafiction since all fiction is at the very least implicitly concerned with language. As a corollary to metafiction, we also discussed Ars Poetica, poetry which describes poetics. The students read “A Continuity of Parks” by Julio Cortazar as their textual introduction to metafiction. On Thursday, we continued our discussion of metafiction by discussing Margaret Atwood’s “Happy Endings.” We then transitioned to literary Postmodernism by discussing Donald Barthelme’s “Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Colby.” The class seems to respond well to stories which involve macabre humor. I attribute this to their youth and intelligence.

Special Topics in Criminal Justice (Mrs. Jessica Markstorm, Instructor):

Week Three:

This week focused on problems encountered with police work. Issues such as aggressive patrol and excessive force were discussed. The students were presented with a thorough explanation of the 4th Amendment that included coverage of numerous Supreme Court cases. The exclusionary rule, “plain view” doctrine, and warrantless searches were evaluated.

Week Four:

Students learned the basic requirements of Miranda Rights and the exceptions to those requirements. The roles of the prosecutor, judge, and defense counsel were explored for a criminal case. Jury selection was discussed. A special emphasis was placed on issues regarding bail and plea bargains.

Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor):

Week Three:

During the third week, we finished our examination of perception with a discussion of the difficulties of recovery of vision. We saw scenes from the movie Blink, which is a fictionalized story that involves this topic.

Our main topic for the week was memory. We discussed memory systems, including their limitations and failures. Students saw two movies about memory: Inception and Memento. Inception is about implanting false memories, and Memento is about a person with anterograde amnesia, which is not the typical movie portrayal. Students enjoyed both, and we spent time critiquing the movie version of amnesia, which pretty much no movie does correctly.

Week Four:

We finished our examination of memory with a discussion of the misinformation effect, which is a process that results in false memories. This phenomenon is important for false criminal convictions based on eyewitness testimony as well as many memory failures.

We continued to the topic of sleep, which we discussed mostly in terms of the physiology of the stages of sleep and the brain structures that are activated during the various stages. We talked about the relationship between dreams and the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. No discussion of dreams is complete without Freud’s theory of the symbolic content of dreams, so we talked about that view, but we also considered a physiologically based theory of dreaming called the activation-synthesis theory. We also discussed some of the effects of sleep deprivation.


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.

http://www.dineoncampus.com/mcneese/show.cfm?cmd=menus2

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: http://gpgcsings.blogspot.com/

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.

 



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