Category: Academics

Weekly Reports – 2022 Week Two – Morning Classes

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Freshmen (First Year) Classes:

Freshmen Science (Calvin Runnels, Instructor)

This week we continued to explore chemistry, using exciting experiments ranging from dissolving magnesium in acid to inflating balloons with dry ice to learn about solution concentration, gas laws, electromagnetic radiation, and the organization of the periodic table! I was very impressed with the students’ commitment to laboratory safety. Their curiosity about the world around them continues to encourage and inspire me!

Freshman Composition (Reese Menefee, Instructor)

Students shared their first finished fiction piece this week and participated in a writing workshop. In the writing workshop, the class was respectful, collaborative, and communicative. I am impressed with their feedback and creativity! In addition to workshop, they have become more comfortable with literary analysis. Overall, this was a great week! I am looking forward to seeing the class grow in their writing as the summer continues.

Freshmen Humanities  (Christine Bertrand, Instructor)

This week we continued learning about communication in society by learning about logical fallacies that often pop up in arguments to distract audiences from the main purpose of a message or to attempt to defend a weak position. If an audience can recognize fallacies, they can better analyze the true purpose behind a speaker’s message. After learning about persuasive techniques last week and logical fallacies this week, students wrote a letter of application for acceptance into a zombie-proof compound during a zombie apocalypse, hoping to convince the staff at the compound of their value to the community and the future of humanity. This week, students will vote based upon the merits of the contents of the letters, which are written anonymously using fake names and identities.

Graduate Classes:

Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

For week two, the students chose to focus on gender issues, the details of which appear in the day-by-day breakdown. The week went well.

Monday: I carried over one of the concepts from Freud by explaining one of the most famous psychological assessments—the Rorschach Inkblot Test. That test dates back to the early part of the 1900s, when Hermann Rorschach borrowed Freud’s concept of projection (seeing our own faults in others rather than in ourselves). He constructed blots of ink as ambiguous stimuli and asked psychiatric patients to interpret these images. The test became very popular and continues in the present, although its validity as a psychiatric diagnostic is questionable.


Tuesday: We began the material on gender with an examination of gender stereotypes and how stereotypes can lead to prejudice and discrimination. We also reviewed the history of gender stereotypes and how those beliefs still echo in our society. Our discussion included both how men and women are subject to stereotyping, as well as prejudice and discrimination based on these stereotypes.


Wednesday: I led them through a review of the “bad old days” when sex discrimination was legal and some of the changes that have occurred as a result of legal changes.


Thursday: We ended the week with an assessment that I intended to test how well they had paid attention and remembered some of the terminology that we discussed.


Our continuation of the topic of gender consisted of a discussion of some of the big changes that have occurred in gender roles and how those changes are well-accepted by some people but not others.


The students asked for next week’s topic to focus on mental disorders, which is always of interest.

Conflict and Diplomacy (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week we discussed three major paradigms of international relations (realism, liberalism, and constructivism). We discussed the rise of weapons of mass destruction and the impact they had on conflict and diplomacy during the Cold War and in a post Cold War environment. Coercive diplomacy, the use of force, and interstate conflict were explained. Students learned about game theory and how it relates to conflict including the Prisoner’s Dilemma, Chicken, and Stag Hunt games. Bargaining theory and a basic theorem for bargaining was introduced.

Readings for the week included: Arms and Influence, Chapter 1, by Thomas Schelling; Night of the Living Wonks by Daniel Drezner in Foreign Policy, June 15, 2010; Leashing the Dogs of War, Chapter 2, International Sources of Interstate and Intrastate Conflict, by Jack Levy, 2007.

Graduate Creative Writing (Reese Menefee, Instructor)

This week was great! Students shared their flash fiction pieces. They were enthusiastic, focused, and collaborative. They effectively communicated their goals for each piece and provided constructive feedback for each other as a class. They are making progress in their writing and I am excited to see them continue to grow as writers.

 


Weekly Reports – 2022 Week One – Morning Classes

Throughout the summer we will be posting weekly reports from the classes. Please let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see or if you have any questions for specific instructors. We will be posting the first issue of The Thinker (the student newspaper) as soon as the online version is ready.

We are also posting regularly on Facebook. You don’t have to join Facebook to see our posts. The link is: https://www.facebook.com/gpgcla/

Freshmen (First Year) Classes:

Freshmen Science (Calvin Runnels, Instructor)

We had an excellent first week in science. The students were each assigned a plant for the summer, and they were asked to choose any ONE aspect of its care to change — we’ll compare each plant’s growth to a control plant over the course of the summer. The kids got pretty creative, from watering their plants with Gatorade instead of water to depriving their plant of light. In class this week, we carried out experiments to explore important topics in chemistry such as density, precision versus accuracy, and acid-base reactions. We are emphasizing laboratory safety, scientific note taking, and above all, excitement and curiosity about the world around us!

Freshman Composition (Reese Menefee, Instructor)

During the first week of class, students were exposed to major literary genres. They discussed and analyzed works of short fiction and wrote stories of their own. Students are becoming more comfortable with their own writing and the class atmosphere is encouraging and community-focused. Students have been excited to share their work aloud with the class and their feedback has been constructive and thoughtful. Overall, this was a wonderful first week of class! I am impressed by the students’ creative ideas, writing capabilities, and critical thinking skills!

Freshmen Humanities  (Christine Bertrand, Instructor)

We all differ in our beliefs and values, holding a wide diversity of opinions on everything from politics to popsicles. While these differences could and should present opportunities for fascinating, engaging civil discourse, a quick peek at Facebook proves that instead of celebrating and embracing others’ views and taking the time to find commonalities, many of us instead attack and disparage one another. It should be clear to anyone living in our society today that humanity as a whole needs better communication skills.

Considering the need for better communication skills overall and as a foundation for continued discussion, this week the Humanities I class has focused on the art of discussion and persuasion, identifying various means of conveying one’s message. We’ve considered various categories of thought and evidence, including illogical, emotional reasoning, scientific reasoning based on empirical proof, and philosophical reasoning based on subjective but logical assumptions. We then explored the three primary categories of rhetorical appeals used in persuasion (logos, pathos, ethos) to equip students to recognize them in texts or media and to use them for developing their own arguments.

Graduate Classes:

Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Psychology includes a wide range of topic, which even a full college semester cannot cover adequately. No chance to do so during the 6-week GPGC session. Therefore, I chose to ask students what they were most interested in so that we could cover information about their interests.
I began by showing them a 40-item True/False quiz that includes some of the “myths” of psychology—things that are “common knowledge” yet incorrect. As expected, the students did poorly (but I did not score the activity or count it for a grade). The activity worked to prompt a discussion that covered many topics in psychology.


I asked students to write down topics that were covered in the quiz or that they had heard about and wanted to know more. This list forms the basis for the class this summer.

Conflict and Diplomacy (Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

Students watched the movie Dr. Strangelove. It provides an understanding of the Cold War international system and brinksmanship. The class engaged in a discussion regarding the Russian invasion of South Ossetia and Abkhazian regions of Georgia in 2008, the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, and the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The students started the state development project on Friday. Each student will run their own country and engage in international relations with the other countries in the fictitious international system.

Graduate Creative Writing (Reese Menefee, Instructor)

During the first week of class, students were introduced to creative writing! We discussed genre, craft, and literary elements of fiction. Students were introduced to flash fiction this week. They read, analyzed, and discussed three pieces of flash fiction in class, as well as an article relating to craft. In addition to literary analysis, students participated in daily writing activities. Overall, this was a great first week of class! Due to the small size of the class, every student was able to share their work aloud and receive constructive feedback from each other! The work each student produced this week was creative and included strong sensory details and imagery. Each student has their own style of writing rooted in tone and interest! I am proud of their participation this week and very excited to read more of their work as their writing progresses in my class!


Weekly Reports – Afternoon Classes, Final Weeks

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 students are working very hard on preparing their music for the end of the summer concert. Students have also been taking rhythmic and melodic dictation. All of their repertoire is listed on our GPGC CHOIR BLOG with listening links. We have discussed our END OF THE SUMMER BRIDGE PROJECT that is due next Wednesday. We have also discussed dress for the end of the year concert. The students seem excited about their songs and I greatly enjoy working with them.

 

Computer Tech (Barry Humphus, Instructor)

Students were introduced to the Arduino platform and Integrated Developer Environment and constructed their first of several electronic circuits.

 

Critical Thinking (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor) 

This week students participated in a quiz bowl. Questions come from a high school Quiz Bowl tournament. We also played games. Games included Blokus, Chess, Hippos and Crocs, Lords of Waterdeep, Score Four, Set, Stratego, Tsuro, and Twixt.


Weekly Reports – Sciences, Final Weeks

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:

 

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week 4 was briefer than anticipated due to hurricane Barry; we missed Friday’s class. When students left for 4th of July, none of the students conducting science projects had collected data. This situation prompted me to impress upon these students how little time they had left to complete their projects. They got to work, and all students began (and two completed) their data collection this week. Data collection for the class study was complete before the holiday.

This week is the one during which we prepare for presentation of projects on Friday. Ideally, all students would be finished collecting data and would have a good rough draft of their final paper. However, some students working on their own projects had not completed data collection, which created a time problem. I drilled students doing science studies repeatedly to help them become very clear about the design of their study and what their variables are. We also discussed their hypotheses and how analyzing their data would allow them to confirm or fail to confirm those hypotheses. Students worked on creating a PowerPoint for their presentations and a final paper. I went to study hall on Wednesday evening to provide assistance to students working on science, both individual projects and the group working on presenting the class study. All students had a completed PowerPoint and were able to present their studies on Friday. Three of four students who chose science projects had not submitted a satisfactory paper so must spend Week 7 on this task if they are to graduate.

 

 


Weekly Reports – Composition, Final Weeks

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 (Mrs. Cecile Tate, Instructor)

Composition I continued working on adding concrete details and commentary to their literary response using one of the short stories they read in class. The plan was for the students to write  a topic sentence then structure the paragraph using one concrete detail from the story and two sentences explaining the concrete detail. This pattern was repeated and the paragraph ended with a concluding sentence. I wanted the students to be aware that literary responses are more meaningful if they have structure.

Senior Composition and Grad Composition (Ms. Sarah Harshbarger, Instructor)

With the seniors, we discussed poems from various periods of American literature. We talked about narrative poetry and lyric poetry and what differentiates each from flash fiction. The students began brainstorming for their poems to turn in on 7/3.

The Grads discussed poems from different periods of American literature and how each period influenced the poetry that came after it. We discussed different kinds of poetic technique and how to make writing choices based on the subject matter and tone of the poem. The students began brainstorming for their poems which are due on 7/3.

 


Weekly Reports – Humanities, Final Weeks

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 four, 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.

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. For when he returned, according to Plato, and tried revealing Truth to the others, he’d be killed. They really enjoyed the play acting and no students (or teachers) were harmed in the making of the cave.

At the end of the week, we continued with Plato’s concepts of Utopia and what Utopia actually means. The students brought up ideas such as socialism, capitalism, and communism. Again I let them debate with on the idea of the Philosopher-King and the caste system.

In week five, we began with the introduction of Aristotle. We discussed his history and his concepts of the Unmovable Mover. We also discussed Aristotle’s influence during the Middle Ages due to the Muslim world and his reintroduction to European thought through St. Thomas Aquinas. After Aristotle, we then moved to how the Romans adopted much of Greek culture.

 


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes, Week Three

Conflict and Diplomacy (Ms. Jessica Markstrom, Instructor)

This week we finished our analysis of interstate conflict. We continued the evaluation of deterrence, which included students reading excerpts from chapters 5 and 6 from Arms and Influence. These chapters included problems facing long terms disarmament and the potential issues facing states who desire to deescalate a standoff between major powers. We evaluated intervention into conflicts regarding why states intervene, how the intervene, and the likelihood of success regarding mediation. We ended our discussion of interstate conflict by spending time addressing the current conflict with Iran and the continued conflict with North Korea. On Thursday we began our evaluation of intrastate conflict (civil conflict or civil war). We covered state failure and intrastate conflict onset and economic explanations for intrastate conflict onset. Students were assigned a reading from Leashing the Dogs of War entitled “Economic Causes of Civil Conflict and Their Implications for Policy.” On Friday students continued the state development project. Several students sent out spies, some students developed weapons programs, and other students worried about rebellions within their borders.

 

Grad Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

This week was devoted mostly to the topic of memory formation and especially to problems in memory.


Weekly Reports – Sciences, Week Three

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 we continued our research to create the perfect catapults. The students learned about kinetic and potential energy to help design a catapult that could succeed in three areas; distance, power, and accuracy. After catapult testing was complete, we focused on Newton’s Laws of Motion. This new focus lead to the creation of balloon powered cars! Designs included ideas about friction, action and reaction, and aerodynamics.

Sophomore: In Science II the students learned about chemical reactions. They discovered how a catalyst can speed up the rate of a reaction, the way energy is released or absorbed in terms of endothermic and exothermic reactions, and the way a closed system can help explain the Law of Conservation of Matter.

 

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

During the third week, students planning their own studies had conferences with me to work toward a good design and a feasible plan for data collection. 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 Monday through Friday in the rat lab collecting data from 8 rats in s study that varies the amount of prior exposure the rats had to sucrose reinforcement pellet (4 days vs. 0 days of exposure). The study’s hypothesis is that prior exposure to this flavor will make the rats more willing to work for the same flavored pellets in comparison to pellets of a different flavor. The training boxes measure how many bar presses the rats make, enabling us to make the comparison. Each day, half of the rats work in a Skinner box with banana-flavored reinforcers, while the other half worked in a box that dispenses plain sugar-flavored pellets. Our study seeks to determine if the prior exposure affects the rats’ bar-press responses.

 


Weekly Reports – Composition, Week Three

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’s focus was on What is Rhetorical and the Art of Persuasive. Students began the week learning about ethos, logos, and pathos. They were assigned a topic then wrote an argumentative essay based on their stance on the issue. Then we spent some time learning about rhetorical analysis, by analyzing nytimes student written editorials and then wrote a rhetorical analysis of Steve Job’s Commencement Speech from 2005.

 


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.