Category: Weekly Reports

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.


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.

 


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.


Weekly Reports – Composition – Weeks One and Two

Here are the reports from the Composition teachers for Weeks One and Two.

Freshmen Composition (Mrs. Cecil Tate, Instructor)

Week One:

During the first week, the I required the students to write a letter introducing themselves to me, but they had to include a self portrait with the letter. This assignment allows me to assess their grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and sentence structure skills while learning a little about them as individuals. The class worked on pre-writing techniques in order to generate material for use in later writings. We ended with a “debate” that made it clear that these students have some very strong opinions! I hope they enjoyed the week as much as I did.
Week Two:
The freshman classes had a very good week. They practiced adding elaboration to concrete details in paragraphs they wrote. Next they chose a character from The Odyssey, decided on two outstanding character traits then used his/her actions in the epic to illustrate those traits. The students enjoyed writing poems and haikus and sharing those poems with their classmates.
Sophomore Composition (Ms.Stacey Simien, Instructor)
Week One: 
We wrote Imaginative Stories with a focus on Plot. Thank you for sharing your kids with me this summer.
Week Two: 
Descriptive essays
Senior Composition (Mr.Cody Magee, Instructor)
Week One: 

This week we discussed class format as well as senior projects. We also discussed the way that ideas can be formed into arguments for the purpose of essay writing, as well as writing about the writing process in craft essays (metacognition). 

Week Two: 
This week we worked on poetry. We spent time looking at a poetry packet made of poems picked out by the students. We talked about formal elements of poems and how these elements impact meaning. The students worked on poems of their own to be submitted the following Monday. 

Weekly Reports – Humanities – Weeks One and Two

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

Freshmen Humanities (Ms. Kristen Harrell, Instructor)

Week One:
On Monday, we began classes by discussing the Latin phrase on their t-shirts and what that meant in the context of this class and the program. This led into what the Latin and Greek languages were/are and why they were important to Western Civilization. They were given a Greek alphabet sheet as well as a list of ancient Greek names and their meanings. Their homework for the next few days was to choose a name from that list to be their own for the class. This usually leads to a discussion on etymology and the understanding of English words with Greek roots. I also gave them a cheat sheet of sorts that they can use for their cursive handwriting. I have been tremendously proud of them and have told them that they have better handwriting than my high school students.


Also this week, we delved into the pre-Greek culture; the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. We discussed their beliefs their structures and inferred a great deal about their lives by looking at the ruins and artifacts from the palace complex of Knossos. They understood that with a lack of written history, understanding archeology and art history can help fill in the gaps.


The Greek ‘middle ages’ discussion was dominated by the Iliad and the Odyssey and how that sets a standard for any epic tale or journey story for the western world even into modern society. We discussed the Greek hero and what were considered the most desirable traits for a Greek. They agreed that it was different from today’s standards. I quizzed them over this material with an Open Notes Quiz and was able to gauge their progress in composition with a free response worksheet. We finished the week by watching excerpts from the miniseries, “The Odyssey”, and discussing everything from its accuracy, the set design, to the ‘Hollywood’ changes.

Week Two:

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, though some of the students might not be. 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. We also looked at history in Hollywood and how the subject fares in the medium of cinema. For homework they were asked to answer four critical thinking questions/prompts concerning Sparta.

Humanities Two (Mr. Cody Magee, Instructor)

Week One:

This week we set foundations for the course, discussed Utopia as an ideal and how that ideal fails when applied in real life. We read some short stories in the genre and discussed matters of justice and morality. We also discussed the historical context of the stories and how literature can serve as the window into studying any one time or period.

Week Two:

This week we worked on more dystopian literature. We finished reading the second part of Fahrenheit 451, as well as two short stories. We discussed some parallels between these “future worlds” and our own. Finally, we continued applying some of the issues regarding equality, freedom, social justice, and civics as we moved forward to begin designing our own utopia.

Humanities Three (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor)

Week One:

Class began in earnest on Tuesday when we discussed dystopia and utopia within the context of the “GPGC Canon.” The students talked about the texts they’ve read during previous summers: Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and The Giver, and how these books have helped inform their understanding of real-world dictatorships and totalitarian states. As usual, the students are able to discuss grave subjects in a very mature, intelligent, incisive and often humorous manner. On Wednesday, students received their copies of 1984 and we discussed the historical backdrop against which Orwell wrote both 1984 and Animal Farm. We also talked more generally about why speculative dystopian fiction remains so popular in the West. On Thursday, we discussed the first four chapters of 1984. Popular topics from that discussion include the idea of conformity, surveillance, and whether our society, like Oceania’s, has become too desensitized to violence and human suffering (the students say “no”). On Friday, students presented on Donald Barthelme’s “I Bought a Little City.”

Week Two:

The students spent Monday finishing their individual presentations on “I Bought A Little City” by Donald Barthelme. Tuesday through Thursday were devoted to class discussion on 1984. These discussions are going well, although I’ve had to remind the class about providing textual evidence to support their comments about the novel. Recurring topics were the psychosexual development of Winston and Julia, Julia’s hedonism, competing epistemological philosophies and their relevance to a totalitarian state, and the relationship between language and thought. On Friday, we held a show trial or kangaroo court in class. I do this to demonstrate how arbitrary and absurd justice can be in a singleminded, totalitarian state. We tried Bronson Jordan for several heinous crimes, including murdering a Papa John’s delivery man, slapping a fellow student, stealing brain bucks, and using his editorial position on The Thinker to embarrass GPGC teachers. Naturally, he claims to be innocent. We will wrap up our discussion of 1984 next week and the students will sit for an essay exam on 1984 on Thursday or Friday.


Weekly Reports – Grad Classes – Weeks One and Two

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 One and Two for each of those classes.

Creative Writing (Mr. Avee Chaudhuri, Instructor):

Week One: 

I spent Monday and Tuesday introducing, or re-introducing, myself to students. On Wednesday, I went over the syllabus and I explained my expectations for workshop. We talked a bit about the historiographical relevance of poetry and fiction, i.e. how creative texts form a cohesive alternative to national myths and narratives. I think this was an important discussion to have because hopefully it has disabused students of the belief that this class, because it’s largely craft-centered, will be intellectually or analytically shallow. On Thursday, we read and discussed the rules for writing put forth by several prominent authors in list form. These lists often contradict one another, and illustrate that there are no set rules for writing well. To each his or her own. The following maxim from Jonathan Franzen engendered the most debate: “It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.” I was surprised to learn that many students agree with Franzen. I asked students to compile their own lists on writing well. They shared their lists on Friday and we began talking about poetry. I used William Blake’s “The Tyger” to review certain traditional elements of poetical language: rhyme, meter, lineation, etc. Next week, I’ll give the students a selection of contemporary poetry which challenges these conventions.

Week Two:

The Grad English class began the week by reading the poetry of Russell Edson, specifically “Ape” and “On The Eating of Mice.” Edson is considered the “father of the modern prose poem.” We talked at length about what distinction, if any, exists between prose poetry and micro- or flash fiction. The class readily, perhaps too readily, accepted my thesis that it is a matter of literary marketing, admittedly a jaded outlook but I think a fair one. We then discussed the lyrical and narrative impulses in poetry by reading Pablo Neruda and Kevin Young. I tried to disabuse the students of the belief that the lyrical and narrative impulses are mutually exclusive, although it remains to be seen how successful I was. On Wednesday we began discussing intertextuality and ekphrasis in poetry. On Thursday we discussed the political connotations of poetry, the visual elements of poetry, and I also lectured briefly on the Cento. We concluded the week by discussing how the poetry workshop will run next week, and doing a practice workshop.

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

Week One:

This week was defined by the question “what is criminal justice?” Types of crimes ranging from mala prohibita, mala in se, felonies, misdemeanors, cybercrime, occupational crime, and visible crime were introduced to students. The elements of a crime, including mens rea, were discussed and a Supreme Court case was used to demonstrate statutory crimes, which do not require mens rea. Students debated the merits of the due process criminal model versus the crime control model. The week ended with an evaluation of victimology that included a discussion on who is most likely to be a victim of crime.

Week Two:

This week we discussed basic due process rights. We briefly covered the civil liberties established in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th amendments. Supreme Court cases such as Gideon v. Wainright were used to illustrate incorporation of civil liberties to state governments. Students were introduced to defenses and excuses for committing crimes. Special attention was placed on Louisiana’s insanity excuse requirements. We also discussed basic aspects of policing, requirements of joining the police force, styles of policing, and the different sources of stress for police officers.

Psychology (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor):

Week One:

This session’s topic in psychology is Psychology in the Movies, and my goal is to present topics in perception, learning, memory, sleep and dreams, hypnosis, and altered states of consciousness from drugs. I hope to funnel these topics into the question: Is mind control possible? To accomplish the goal of exposing students to these topics in psychology and exploring the possibility of mind control, we will see movies that touch on these topics.

We began with a discussion of the definition of psychology and progressed to the history of psychology and how psychologists consider psychology to be a science. Many people have trouble accepting psychology as a science, partly because they focus on psychologists as therapists and partly because they view psychology as a subject that cannot fit within the rules of science.

To examine the discrepancy between the scientific view and mystical views, I showed the students scenes from the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which presents a clash of views revolving around the death of a young woman, Emily Rose. One view is that Emily suffered from a medical condition; the other view is that Emily was possessed by demons. I wanted students to evaluate the evidence (as depicted in the movie). We will continue with some analysis and discussion next week and then proceed to topics of perception and learning.

Week Two:

This week was devoted to the topic of learning. We began with classical conditioning—Pavlov and the slobbering dogs—and analyzed that process. Then, we discussed the factors of consistency and timing, which affect this process of associative learning. Classical conditioning applies to a number of everyday responses, so we talked about examples from our own lives.

We moved on to the topic of operant conditioning, with the concepts of reinforcement and punishment. Students have some experience of positive reinforcement through the token economy, but we discussed examples and applications of this type of learning.

Students had a written assignment that covered psychology as a science and classical and operant conditioning.

Students saw the movie The Matrix to introduce the topic of perception, and we began a discussion of how tied we all are to our sensory and perceptual limitations.


Weekly Reports – Science – Weeks One and Two

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

Freshmen Science (Mr. Jimmy Newman, Instructor)

Week One

The freshmen science students learned about the nature of science by working together and alone to experience inductive and deductive reasoning, the need for motivation to do science, generating data, collecting data, interpreting the data, the importance of communication of this data, and respect for others especially in their findings. These things were accomplished through the historical studies of Thales, Democritus, Ptolemy, Galileo, and Newton. The students discovered patterns in activities and drew conclusions from these patterns. They were exposed to the wrong conclusions (logical fallacies) just as Ptolemy was. They were tested on the scientific method.

Week Two

The freshmen science students learned about how people can be mistaken so easily by completing the Dragon Illusion. We also discussed the 3 laws of motion and we did a ‘Story with Holes.’ The week ended by us going into Starlab Planetarium for 2 days and we looked at constellations, Greek Mythology, colors of stars and temperature, how to read star maps, the living cell, faults and ridges of the planet earth, the continents of the globe, and Native American constellations. Take a look at the pictures below.

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Sophomore Science (Mr. Justin Higginbotham, Instructor)

Week One

All of the students were very productive and attentive this week! We investigated some chemical properties of various metals and used a flame test to observe the color of these metals in an excited state. Students worked in groups to design an experiment and identify unknown metal compounds. Students then prepared formal lab reports and use peer review techniques to critique lab reports.

Week Two

Students investigated the effectiveness of various antacid tablets and participated in the peer review process of lab reports.

Senior Science (Dr. Linda Brannon, Instructor)

Week One

For the Seniors, Week 1 was devoted to choosing the area in which they plan to complete their senior projects and forming plans to proceed. The first day of class was devoted to exploration of students’ ideas for science projects and my evaluation of how feasible those ideas were. (Similar discussions occurred for other areas.) Six of twelve students chose science projects, and all have feasible ideas that they are working to develop.

The students also completed a pre-test to allow me to know the status of their science knowledge and to assess their progress at the end of the session. Lecture and class discussion will cover material on this test to allow students to develop their understanding of terminology in science as well as the processes involved in conducting research.

We split the week with lectures and discussions of terminology and history of science and developing the ideas for senior projects. One part of that development involved developing a background, and I found a background study that relates to each of the projects to get students started in understanding past research on their topics. Another way in which students progressed with projects was writing a brief description of the proposed study.

Week Two

Week 2 was devoted to covering background in science to bring all students to a correct usage of terminology and to explore various research methods. We discussed the history of science, from beginning to the present, then reviewed the scientific method, talked about descriptive research methods, and finished with experimental methods. I presented the challenges and advantages of various choices, tying the discussion to students’ projects to give them suggestions about developing their studies. Students completed a worksheet for a grade, and everyone did well. I handed out a second worksheet that is due on Monday.

On Friday, we visited the McNeese Animal Behavior Lab (rat lab) to introduce students to the equipment and procedure for collecting data in this setting.